Vermont’s new recycling law

Newspapers for recyclingDespite Vermont’s reputation as  being “green”, we have a record of recycling only half of what could be recycled here in the state.  The problem: we have one small landfill that was getting landFULL!  And that landfill has now been closed due to noxious odor problems.  All around the country, people send plastic bags full of glass bottles, plastic bottles, newspapers and food waste to sit in a big pile of trash for centuries.  If you threw away only the real trash from your household, it would probably take you weeks to fill a regular 13-gallon kitchen trash bag.  I know because I’ve done it!

When you throw away glass, plastic and other recyclables, you’re saying, “I’m OK with using virgin materials to make new stuff.”  This is a very irresponsible attitude to have at a time when the world’s resources are becoming more limited and our aim should be to use MUCH less carbon.

After the Moretown Landfill closed in Vermont, folks were dumping trash on the roadsides.  But here’s the irony:  most of it probably wasn’t trash at all and could have been recycled FOR FREE!

Here are the great things that can come out of Vermont’s new Act 148 – Universal Recycling Law:

  • The creation of green jobs
  • Support for the local food system
  • Stronger community connections
  • Lowering Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated and whopping 38%!!!
  • Reduced need for landfill space
  • Conservation of resources and reduction in energy consumption

Wow, that’s some great stuff!  How do I start?  Well, the law is going to be phased in over the next seven years, but now is the time to just START recycling everything.  That way you’ll be in the habit by 2020, and you won’t even notice a change in your routine.  It’s SO EASY to recycle everything – especially with Casella’s new zero-sort system.  All you need are a few containers – one for recyclables and one for returnables.  The tricky one is composting… but it’s not THAT tricky.  It just involves a little planning.  The bonus is that you create nutritious plant food in the process.  You can compost outdoors with something as simple as a pile, and you can compost indoors with a handy dandy worm composter for your kitchen veggie scraps.  You do eat veggies, right?  I thought so.

In the future, someone might come along and collect your saved food scraps for use as compost or animal feed – making it even more of a valuable resource.

Right now, you probably have to take your recycles to a designated place.  So, just save them up and take them twice a month.  You know you’ve got a reason to drive by there at least twice a month, and you would be helping out Vermont in such a huge way.  Over the next seven years, the State will increase collection services across the state to make this more convenient for you.

Here is the timeline for the law:

  • July 1, 2015 – Mandated recyclables are banned from landfills
  • July 1, 2016 – Leaf and yard debris and clean wood are banned from landfills
  • July 1, 2020 – Food scraps are banned from landfills
  • Large generators of these materials will be banned from sending these materials to the landfill beginning in 2014

Please educate yourself about Vermont’s new recycling law and about the benefits of recycling in general.  Make this a family affair.  Show your kids what to recycle and make it their job to make sure all recyclables come out of the trash.  You should also wash recyclables of any food before tossing them in the recycling bin.

Together we can make Vermont a model for the country!

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