Vermonters are starting feel the effects of the global recycling market, from the state’s recycling laws to the bills received from trash haulers. Not only have operators of recycling sorting facilities increased the tipping fees they charge trash collectors to make up for the declining revenue from the sale of recyclables and slumping markets of some recycled materials, especially mixed paper, but the China’s National Sword ruling forced some changes in Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law, which in 2012 banned from landfills all materials that could be recycled, including mixed paper, cardboard, cans, glass bottles and plastic containers.
The bill S.285, which was approved by the Vermont Legislature in its last session and became law in May, includes a measure that will allow solid waste facilities, such as transfer stations and municipal drop-off centers, to start charging a fee for recycling. Recycled materials previously had been accepted free of charge.
The Chittenden Solid Waste District, owner of one of Vermont’s two main material recovery facilities (MRFs), announced in May that on Sept. 4 this year it will charge a tipping fee of $55 per ton of recyclables. “The current fee (increase) is a direct result of what we are having to pay to ensure that our mixed paper is being recycled,” said Michele Morris, spokesperson for Chittenden Solid Waste District.
China’s ban on other recyclables has not had as great an impact on Chittenden County facilities, because there is a healthy domestic market for the materials, said Ethan Hausman, business outreach manager for the district. Aluminum and other metals are recycled at facilities in New England, while cardboard and plastics are recycled elsewhere in North America, he said.
Vermont may yet feel the impact of constricting markets for those other materials. “If the West Coast ends up pushing their materials this way, we could feel a domino effect,” Hausman said.