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June 1, 2016

Reduce, reuse, recycle — and compost, Act 148 implimentation progresses

By Carl Diethelm

The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and Solid Waste Management Entities (SWME’s) has been phasing in the implemention of the Universal Recycling Law (Act 148) over the past four years. A big step was made last year when the law officially banned recyclables from the landfill. Act 148 will ultimately remove all organics from landfills in Vermont, as well, which will result in a drastic reduction of landfill waste and Vermont’s carbon footprint. This is a large challenge for the state, as 28 percent or more of what is thrown in the state’s landfills is organic material.

As a resident, this law means there will be more opportunity to reduce your carbon footprint with increasing services that collect compostable materials separate from trash.

By July 1 of this year, all current trash pick-up services must offer separate yard waste collection. Yard waste can already be dropped off by Rutland County residents at most transfer stations, check with your local trash hauler before leaving yard waste at the curb, as services may differ.

By July 1, 2017, trash haulers and transfer stations will collect food scraps separate from trash as well. As more haulers and transfer stations accept organic materials, it will be accommodating for you to separate food waste from the trash.

The final step to implement Act 148 is to ban all food scraps from the landfill by July 1, 2020.

There were 38,261.6 tons of compostable material that entered landfills from Vermont homes in 2012. Those materials break down slowly without oxygen, producing potent greenhouse gases as a result. The widespread effects of greenhouse gases include quickened change of climates and overall environmental damage, even in Vermont. Burning yard waste will result in greenhouse gas and pollutant production, which will have similar effects on the environment.

Main goals of implementing Act 148 include reducing waste overall, other than just preventing it from reaching the landfill. Residents have reduced their waste in large ways through meal planning and backyard composting.

The food that goes bad in the back of a fridge costs time and money to everyone, but keeping a schedule of what to cook for each day helps reduce lost money and time.

Composting food waste in your backyard can help save money that it may cost for waste collection services. While the smell of food being decomposed is not always pleasant, there are ways to avoid that with proper care.

Attend the Master Composter panel at the Rutland Free Library in the Fox room on Tuesday, June 21, from 7-8:30 p.m. for help and advice about backyard composting.

For more information about the Act 148: Universal Recycling law, visit the Department of Environmental Conservation’s website dec.vermont.gov/waste-management/solid/universal-recycling.

For information on what materials transfer stations in Rutland County accept, and to find backyard composting resources, visit www.rcswd.org.

Carl Diethelm is a summer intern with the Rutland County Solid Waste District.

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