Vermont Business Magazine Trash disposal decreased 5 percent and recycling increased 2 percent between 2014 and 2015. Total waste also appears to have plateaued in Vermont to about 600,000, after closing in on 650,000 tons a year in 2007, just before the Great Recession hit. Vermont’s Universal Recycling law (Act 148) was unanimously passed by the Legislature in 2012 in response to the state’s stagnant recycling rates that had hovered around 30-36 percent for nearly two decades. As much as 50 percent of Vermonts trash includes recyclable or compostable materials like food scraps and leaf and yard debris.

With concern over wasting natural resources and the impact of this waste on global climate change, the state reasoned that the stage was set to boost recycling and launch statewide composting. On the heels of America Recycles Day—a national celebration of recycling held each November 15th—the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released it’s first “Universal Recycling Status Report.” The 16-page report summarizes the status of recycling, composting, and food donation across the state.

Act 148 requires recycling of “blue bin” recyclables (paper, cardboard, steel and aluminum cans and tins, glass bottles and jars, and plastic bottles and containers #1 and #2) and not disposing of leaf and yard debris, clean wood and food scraps over a six-year timeframe. Universal Recycling also makes it easier and more convenient for Vermonters to recycle and compost by ensuring that services are available for the collection of recyclables, leaf and yard debris, and food scraps at transfer stations around the state.

As of July 2016:

  • Trash disposal decreased 5% statewide from 2014 to 2015;
  • Recycling and composting increased by 11,793 tons from 2014 to 2015 (2%);
  • Food donation grew by nearly 40%, according to the Vermont Foodbank; and
  • More Vermonters have access to recycling collection than ever before.

“Vermont’s waste haulers and managers deserve a great deal of credit for these recycling achievements. They are out there every day, helping people recycle and teaching them how to compost,” said DEC Commissioner Alyssa Schuren.

“Act 148 is another step in the strong history and already robust ethic of recycling in Vermont. It is certainly a crucial element in the progression of the value of resource renewal and conservation across Vermont’s economic and environmental landscape,” said John Casella, CEO of Casella Resource Solutions.

“Since state recycling kicked-in, we have seen a huge jump in recyclables from both residential and commercial customers. Most people already did this, but now there is a little extra motivation,” said Jeff Myers, President, Myers Container Service.

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