What Happens on July 1

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What Happens on July 1

Posted by Karen Horn on 18 June 2015

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July 1, 2015, is a big date in the Vermont Waste Management World, one that will affect everyone who tosses out trash. On that date, solid waste districts, alliances and groups, transfer stations, and drop-off facilities must charge for residential trash disposal based on volume or weight. Recyclables – including residential recyclables for which transfer stations and drop-off facilities already may not charge – are banned from the landfill. Transfer stations and drop-off facilities must accept leaf and yard debris. Haulers must offer residential recycling collection at no separate charge. Public buildings must provide recycling containers beside all trash containers in public places (except rest rooms).Food scrap generators of 52 tons per year or more must divert material to any certified facility within 20 miles.

While this may be an easy progression in densely settled areas of the state with robust solid waste districts or alliances and large solid waste hauling businesses, it is a much heavier lift in the more rural and remote parts of Vermont. Yet those very places succeeded in diverting recyclables from the waste stream and in providing cost effective waste management for their residents during the decades since the state solid waste law was enacted in 1987.

VLCT recommended several amendments that would make it easier for local officials around the state to meet the goals of Act 148. They included:

  • establishing that leaf, yard and food residuals may not be disposed of in a landfill after dates certain, leaving it to individuals and waste management officials as to the best management of that waste;
  • providing clear authority for municipalities to offset administrative costs of waste management with property tax revenues if agreed to by the voters;
  • limiting the number of Household Hazardous Waste Days the Agency of Natural Resources may require of districts, alliances, groups, and municipalities and
  • ensuring that municipalities may continue current waste management affiliations whether they be through participation in districts, alliances, groups, or individual municipal management, as long as the Act 148 goals are met.

A long day of testimony as to the difficulties that smaller municipalities and alliances would face in complying with the law fell on deaf ears in the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee last winter, and the entire legislature did nothing to create flexibility so that, statewide, Vermonters could comply with the law that will take effect in just a couple of weeks.