At a Tuesday meeting in the Statehouse, Vermont lawmakers and other members of the single use products working group debated options, including the expansion of the bottle bill and a requirement that manufacturers make products with post-consumer recycled content.
An endocrinologist testified, however, that plastics recycling does little to nothing to address the health concerns of plastic pollution. The state of Vermont’s goal is to divert 50% of waste from landfills, Cathy Jamieson, solid waste program manager for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, told meeting attendees.
“We have not yet achieved that, unfortunately,” she said, adding that Vermonters currently divert their waste at a rate of 36%. While Vermonters recycle 72% of so-called “blue bin” recyclables, many products cannot be recycled.
Jamieson had three main recommendations for the committee. One was creating an extended producer responsibility program for paper and plastic that puts more of the onus on manufacturers to recycle those products, similar to what’s in place in Oregon and Washington. She also recommended a state ban on single use products that are not recyclable or biodegradable and to require manufacturers to use a certain amount of post-consumer recycled content in their products.
Martin Wolf, sustainability director for the green household products manufacturer Seventh Generation, said packaging for its products is now 97% recyclable and the company uses 86% recycled content in its products. Seventh Generation would like to see PET, or #1 and #2, plastics kept separate from blue bin recycling to reduce contamination.