Northeast Kingdom Waste Management District workers collect food scraps from about 20 spots around the region, hauling them in 48-gallon bins. The district in June collected 96 bins, commonly called toters, said director Paul Tomasi. That number ballooned to 187 in July — the month Vermont began a ban on throwing out food scraps as part of the final phase of Act 148, the state’s 2012 recycling and composting law. “We’ve seen a dramatic increase in the amount of food scraps being diverted,” said Tomasi, whose district serves 49 towns across Caledonia, Essex, Orange, Orleans and Washington Counties.
Haulers and composters in the Northeast Kingdom describe an apparent uptick in the number of people and businesses looking to compost their food waste since July 1, when the ban went into effect. And as in southern Vermont, some worry whether there’s enough infrastructure to meet the rising demand — especially with so many people eating at home during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Eliza Perreault runs Cloud’s Path Farm in Sheffield with her partner, Samuel Carter. The two have been hauling food scraps for about 10 years, mostly from businesses. They compost the scraps they haul for use on their farmland. Perreault said her operation has seen an increase in food waste from customers, particularly transfer stations. “It hasn’t quite doubled, but it has gone up by at least a third of the volume we were receiving before,” she said. After seeing a gradual increase in volume over the last two months, she believes the trend is starting to level, though upcoming holidays could lead to another bump.