At this time last year, recyclables were banned from the landfill as one phase in a six-year implementation of Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law, Act 148.

The law also provides that haulers and facilities may not charge an extra fee for collecting recyclable materials. Lately the Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District has heard from district haulers that, because of that provision, many of their customers think recycling is free. It’s not.

In other words, while a customer may not have to hand over a few dollars to cover the cost of that bag of recyclables, it still has a cost associated with it.

We at CVSWMD support the basic idea behind the Universal Recycling Law, which bans recyclables, food scraps, leaf and yard waste and several other materials from the landfill. The law is designed to divert materials from the landfill by incentivizing recycling, composting and waste reduction.

However, the provision that haulers cannot charge extra for collecting recyclables hurts small businesses run by families in our communities. It creates a misperception that recycling has no cost associated with it. Not so. Recycling does cost money to handle, even as it is preferred over landfilling.

Haulers have expenses that don’t change, regardless of whether an item goes into the landfill or gets recycled. Staffing costs money, as does hauling, truck maintenance, and tipping fees to drop recyclables at the transfer station or materials recovery facility, where they get sorted and shipped to market.

While recycling costs less than landfilling and is better for the environment, it still costs money. So unless or until the legislature removes the provision that haulers and facilities cannot charge an extra fee for recycling, we encourage residents to understand that if your hauler hasn’t already done so, he or she may need to increase your trash prices. You likely will not be paying any more than you did before the law kicked in, but your fees may be structured differently.

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