New waste law

Effective July, 1 2020, the last phase of Vermont’s Universal Law will take effect, and require that all food waste is transported to composting facilities. Vermont’s Department of Environmental Conservation’s website states that, “If everyone recycled or composted, Vermont could cut its landfill waste by almost half.”

These changes will affect all residents and business including colleges, which means big changes for Castleton University.

“Composting has been an ongoing interest by the Green Campus Working Group at Castleton since 2005,” said Andy Vermilyea, associate professor and environmental science program coordinator at Castleton University, when asked about how the new law would affect the college. Currently, Castleton does not have a composting program, but he said that’s been because of, “a number of road blocks from local composting facilities to difficulties in finding haulers.”

Currently only facilities that produce a third of a ton (666.6 pounds) of food waste a week must divert their waste to composting facilities located within 20 miles. But beginning in July, “All haulers will be required to offer curbside organic collection to their non-residential customers and apartments with four or more units,” said Kim Crosby, an environmental compliance manager with Casella Waste Management.

This won’t be an issue for Casella, though, as they have, “been collecting for waste in some areas of the State long before the Universal Recycling Law was passed,” Crosby said.

Castleton University will face more challenges though.

All food waste will need to be collected in order for it to be transported, “so we will need to collect pre-consumer waste from the three dining areas, and post-consumer waste from the dining halls, residence halls events, and our academic buildings,” said Vermilyea. “Everyone on campus will need to not just think trash or recycling, but will need to consider trash, recycling, or compost,” Vermilyea continued.  One student seems optimistic, although hesitant about one aspect of it.

“I think that it is a good idea, I’m just curious about how they plan on applying/enforcing this law,” said Ryan Tirabachi.

Moving forward, it won’t just be Castleton University students or staff that will need to be able to make these distinctions, but all Vermonters.

“As far as we know, there is not an intention to fine entities, especially if we are making headway to compost.  With that said, we cannot be 100% sure since it is a law,” said Vermilyea.

Collecting compostables for those that don’t live in residential areas could prove difficult. Vermont, being a rural state, doesn’t have convenient access to compost facilities every 20 miles, which could result in extra cost for haulers.

“Separate trucks are required to collect food waste and additional travel miles will be required in order to deliver food scraps to a certified facility,” Crosby said.

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