Vermont Enacts Statewide Recycling Law

Vermont Governor, Peter Shumlin, signed a very comprehensive – and what I consider BOLD – recycling legislation this week.

The statewide law further defines mandated recyclables (all the usual suspects, but only PET and HDPE plastics) and outright bans these recyclables from going to landfill.  While there is still some element of deferring execution of the law on a local level (and thus a potential for variation in laws from town to town) I love this legislation. 

There is a timeline for removal of materials from the solid waste stream.  2014 – mandated recyclables. 2015 – yard waste.  2017 – food waste.  There is even an entire food residual hierarchy that includes reduction, diversion and appropriate disposal methods and targets generators of large volumes of food waste. 

I’m not sure if my favorite part of the law is the requirement of recycling bins where any public trash receptacle exists:

…when a container or containers in a public building or on public land are provided to the public for use for solid waste destined for disposal, an equal number of containers shall be provided for the collection of mandated recyclables. The containers shall be labeled to clearly show the containers are for recyclables and shall be placed as close to each other as possible in order to provide equally convenient access to users.

Or if I like the bit where they talk producer packaging the best (introducing a process to review the toxicity of the solid waste stream):

In this process, the secretary shall consult with manufacturers of commercial products and of packaging used with commercial products, retail sales enterprises, health and environmental advocates, waste management specialists, the general public, and state agencies. The goal of the process is to ensure that packaging used and products sold in the state are not an undue burden to the state’s ability to manage its waste.

This legislation requires public education campaigns AND discusses cost elements for removal and transport of separated recyclables.  It also has an element of tracking and monitoring progress towards these goals.   

I applaud Vermont for being specific in this law and setting aggressive timelines to manage their solid waste stream on a statewide level.  


About Amy Marpman

Director of Recycling Services at Great Forest, Inc. in NYC. Continually finding the balance of idealism with the practical realities that make or break recycling programs.
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2 Responses to Vermont Enacts Statewide Recycling Law

  1. Sarah says:

    It makes me so happy to see a government being proactive about waste! Can I get a copy of the whole legislation so I can try to get some action on waste in Australia?
    Kind regards

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