As 2020 comes in, Vermont has made progress, and will make further progress, on two issues of importance to the environment. Act 148, the state’s “Universal Recycling & Composting Law,” was passed by the Legislature in 2012, and imposed a graduated waste-management regime, not just on our institutions and business but on citizens as well, which will reach its fruition on July 1. Vermonters will be required to take responsibility not only for our cardboard, cans, bottles and plastic, as we’ve been doing, but for our food scraps, too.
The goal is to keep them out of the Coventry landfill (owned and operated by Rutland-based Casella Waste Systems Inc.). It’s the only landfill in the state accepting new deposits, but it can’t be called Vermont’s only “active” landfill, because most of the shuttered ones are “active” in the sense that decomposition continues for decades below the surface, generating methane, the potent greenhouse gas.
Also, July 1 will mark the introduction of S.113, signed into law by Gov. Phil Scott last June. It has been hailed as the most comprehensive set of restrictions on food-related single-use plastic products (primarily supermarket bags, plastic drinking straws and polystyrene containers) in the U.S. Truthfully, that’s a sad distinction because there is so much plastic and micro-plastic in our environment, with enormous amounts added each day, that more severe steps must be taken. For now, though, we’ll celebrate the approach of S.113.
Act 148 was created to drastically reduce the amount of organic waste that’s sent up to Coventry. As Michele Morris, of the Chittenden Solid Waste District (CSWD), reports in Green Energy Times, we sent more than 80,000 tons of food and food scraps to the landfill in 2018; such materials account annually for 25 percent to 30 percent, by weight, of all the refuse taken in.