Nearly 40% of Vermonters would not use a curbside food waste pickup program, a recent study from the University of Vermont’s department of Nutrition and Food Sciences found in the lead up to the upcoming food scraps law. Conducted through UVM’s Center for Rural Studies and spearheaded by UVM food sciences professor Meredith T. Niles, the survey polled over 500 Vermonters across the state to gauge their current composting practices and how they might change. By July 1, 2020, Act 148, which bans the last sector of food scraps from landfills, will take effect.
Among the study’s findings was that the majority of Vermonters (72%) have already begun composting ahead of the food waste ban and more will anticipate doing so in the future (75%). Most Vermonters, however, are unwilling to pay additional for a curbside pickup service that would most likely be used in urban areas of the state as opposed to rural regions.
Among rural respondents, backyard composting or feeding food scraps to pets and livestock was found to be a more popular method of food waste management. The rural-urban divide was most felt on the matter of curbside pickups. One of the proposed pushes of Act 148 was to promote more curbside pickup programs across the state for residents looking to dispose of their food waste.
Renters and residents in urban counties tended to be more interested in curbside programs than respondents in rural regions. Overall, the majority of respondents were unwilling to pay anything additional for a curbside compost pickup. In ensuring that more rural residents can participating in composting, the report suggested “greater investment in education and infrastructure for backyard composting” as a solution for rural food waste management.
Much of the current popularity and focus on reducing food waste seems to be occurring in more densely populated, urban areas of the country, according to the study, leading to less research on food waste management in rural regions. “Rural regions present unique challenges and opportunities to waste management,” the study reports.