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Trash Talk: Seven Things to Know About Vermont's New Recycling Rules

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Deb Markowitz, secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, at a press conference on Thursday - ALICIA FREESE
  • Alicia Freese
  • Deb Markowitz, secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, at a press conference on Thursday
Deb Markowitz was standing amid beer cans in milk crates and piles of scrap wood Thursday afternoon. A towering stack of repurposed encyclopedias served as her podium. The secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources was holding a press conference outside the ReSOURCE Building Material Store in Burlington to discuss what she called the “maybe not-so-sexy issue of waste.” 

Unsexy as the announcement was, it affects all Vermonters. Several years ago, the legislature passed Act 148 to step up the state’s recycling and composting efforts. Despite Vermont's green rep, Markowitz said the state's efforts have plateaued during the last decade. The law has phased-in requirements, and a number of the new changes take effect on July 1. (Depending on where you live, based on local practices, they may be nothing new.)

Here are seven things you should know about the new rules:

  • Recyclable items — glass bottles, newspaper, aluminum cans, etc. — can no longer be dumped in the landfill. 
  • But you can leave them curbside, if you have that service already. Trash haulers now have to offer to take away your recyclables, in addition to your trash.
  • You can bring your leaves and pruned branches to any trash facility. They are now required to accept yard debris in addition to trash and recyclables. (Next year, haulers will also be required to pick this up.)
  • If you're thinking this will cost more, you're probably right. Haulers and trash facilities can't charge residents a separate fee for their recyclables and yard waste, but they can raise overall fees to cover the extra costs.
  • Businesses and institutions that produce more than one ton of food scraps per week must compost that waste if there’s a facility within 20 miles. Previously, only places that produced more than two tons had to do this.
  • If there’s a trash can on public property, it must be accompanied by a recycling bin as well. (Bathrooms are exempt.)
  • Markowitz pointed out that Vermont now has just one state landfill, which can only hold so much waste.



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