On June 27, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced that trash disposal throughout the state decreased 5 percent, while the recycling rate has increased from 33 percent to 35 percent since the new recycling services and requirements went into effect in July 2015. Over the past year, the Vermont Foodbank has also seen an increase in fresh food donations and in 2016, they estimate over 4 million pounds of food will be rescued from producers and retailers in Vermont, a 60 percent increase over 2015.
“Vermont’s Universal Recycling law is working,” said DEC Commissioner Alyssa Schuren. “Vermonters are throwing away less and recycling more, while excess food is finding its way to hungry Vermonters.”
For the last 15 years, Vermont’s recycling rates have stagnated, with about two-thirds of our waste still being landfilled. The Universal Recycling law (Act 148 of 2012) aimed to change this by increasing convenience and providing incentives to recycle and compost more.
“Recycling makes sense environmentally and economically, and the Universal Recycling Law has reinforced that,” said Paul Tomasi, director of Northeast Kingdom Waste Management District (NEKWMD). “Recycling is simply what we do here in Vermont.”
The NEK District’s Lyndonville recycling facility saw a 25 percent jump in recyclables during the first three months after the recycling requirements went into effect (July, August, and September 2015).
“Since state recycling kicked-in, we’ve seen a huge jump in recyclables from both residential and commercial customers. Most people already did this, but now there is a little extra motivation,” said Jeff Myers, president of Myers Container Service.
Beginning in 2015, the Universal Recycling law banned disposal of baseline recyclables and required solid waste transfer stations and haulers to collect these materials. Baseline recyclables include the statewide six: paper (mail, magazines, newspaper, office paper, paper bags, and box board); aluminum (cans, foil, and pie tins); cardboard; steel cans; glass bottles and jars; and hard plastic bottles and containers (#1 and #2).
“Act 148 is another step in the strong history and already robust ethic of recycling in Vermont. It is certainly a crucial element in the progression of the value of resource renewal and conservation across Vermont’s economic and environmental landscape,” said John Casella, CEO of Casella Resource Solutions.