Local News

Rural areas seek exemptions from new recycling law with little success

By John Herrick, VTDigger.org

As new mandates to ban recyclables from landfills take effect July 1, the solid waste industry says the law will be costly for rural areas of the state, prompting some solid waste districts to seek exemptions from the law.

The state’s universal recycling law, known as Act 148, aims to ban all organic material and recyclables from landfills by 2020. The law requires all haulers who pick up trash to also offer curbside pickup of recyclables. Haulers will only be able to charge a single fee that includes trash and recyclables pickup.

In 2012, when Act 138 was passed, the value of plastic, metal, paper, glass and other recyclables combined was $127 per ton, according to Tom Moreau, general manager of the Chittenden Solid Waste District. The value of recyclables is currently low, which drives up the expense of getting rid of the material, and Moreau expects the value to drop to about $70 per ton by July.

The rural districts who say they will struggle have so far failed to convince policy makers that their concerns should be addressed. Their proposed exemptions received a tepid response from top lawmakers and the Shumlin administration.

“It’s no surprise that as the deadlines are coming up, people are feeling anxious about it,” said Deb Markowitz, secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources, which oversees the state’s solid waste program. “We think there is enough flexibility in the law.”

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