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July 21, 2016

Calling all future composting entrepreneurs

Calling all future composting entrepreneurs

By Carl Diethelm

Modern entrepreneurs understand that as times change, so do markets for goods and services.

Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law will ban food scraps from entering the landfill in 2020 and already has banned yard waste, and there will be great opportunity to earn money by collecting these materials and composting them at a certified facility. If you are a landowner or aspiring entrepreneur in Rutland County with a love for healthy, nutrient-dense soil, then you should consider becoming a certified compost facility operator.

Improvements in materials management for goods and food on the market could reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of the USA by 42 percent, according to the EPA. The Act 148 Universal Recycling Law is estimated to reduce Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions by 38 percent, thus reducing the climate change effects from the state’s carbon footprint.

While recycling facilities have proliferated in Vermont, compost facilities are much harder to come by. If there aren’t any compost facilities in Rutland County by 2020, food scraps will have to be trucked to neighboring counties to comply with the law. That is why it is important for entrepreneurs to take action to divert food scraps from the landfill in the next few years.

Green Mountain Compost in Chittenden County has become a prominent leader among the 16 currently operating certified facilities in Vermont. They process around 4,500 tons of food scraps each year on 12.5 acres of used land. The facility consists of several bays for aerated static piles, with pipes pushing air through from underneath, areas for windrows, or piles that are turned by a machine, and collection and mixing areas. They usually operate 40-60 hours a week, depending on the season. Other facilities may operate more simply, with much less initial capital investment.

How to start a certified facility

First, choose a site. Some general requirements include sites to be at least 100 feet from surface water, property lines, and public roads, and at least 300 feet from buildings or water supplies not owned by the operator. The compost management and liquid treatment areas must be outside the 100-year floodplain and wetlands, unless special exemption is made.

Someone developing a certified facility must take a certification course less than six months prior to registering it with the ANR.

Before opening up a compost facility, it makes sense to find out where to get the food scraps and yard waste to make the perfect recipe to meet the proper requirements of the finished compost. The Rutland County Solid Waste District office can help with that. Their staff will connect an upcoming facility operator with the waste haulers and transfer stations that collect food scraps and yard waste from residents and businesses throughout the county. They will also aid in the official registration and reporting requirements for the facility.

To learn more, contact Deane Wilson at deanew@rcswd.com or 802-775-7209.

There couldn’t be a better time to start up a compost facility. Collecting yard waste began this July, and food scraps will start a year from now, so there will be an abundance of local material that can be processed. This progress in Rutland County is a necessary component of the Universal Recycling Law implementation and and a thriving Vermont climate economy.

The Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) offers 90 hours of technical assistance from its composting technical services to current and prospective food scrap recyclers, including compost site assessment, site design, and implementation of best management practices. To schedule a visit or learn more, contact Ben Gauthier at benjamin.gauthier@vermont.gov or 802-522-5080.

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