Vermont legislation banning food waste, single-use plastics takes effect

Vermont legislation banning food waste, single-use plastics takes effect

On July 1, legislation banning the placement of food scraps in the trash took effect in Vermont. This coincided with a single-use plastics ban meant to cut down on waste sent to landfill.

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July 6, 2020

On July 1, legislation banning the placement of food scraps in the trash took effect in Vermont. This legislation is aimed at keeping waste out of landfills and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The guidance, which was enacted as part of Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law, specifically states, “Food scraps include pre- and post-consumer food waste that is derived from processing or discarding of food and that is able to be used through one of the following options: food donation for people in need, animal feed, composting or anaerobic digestion.”

Haulers in the state must offer food scrap collection services to nonresidential customers and for apartments with four units or more unless another hauler is willing to provide that service.

Residents are encouraged to separate their waste into bins and dispose of it at food waste drop-off sites or compost it in their backyards where curbside collection isn’t offered. One caveat to the legislation is that residents who compost in their backyards are permitted to dispose of meat and bones in the trash.

State officials have set aside $970,000 in grants for compost facilities to make equipment purchases, expand services and build anaerobic digestors, Fast Company reports. Residents are encouraged to find drop-off facilities and food scrap haulers at VTrecycles.com or by contacting their local solid waste management entity at 802recycles.com.

Josh Kelly, materials management section chief with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, told Fast Company that the state doesn’t plan to penalize residents who aren’t following the guidelines by doing waste bin checks or fining those in noncompliance, but instead, hopes the legislation helps prompt voluntary compliance.

Along with the organics ban, the state simultaneously initiated its single-use plastics products ban on businesses starting July 1. The law prohibits:

  • Single-use plastic carryout bags at the point of sale: This does not apply to bags used for prescription medicine, dry cleaning, produce bags and other small bags that are not at the point of sale. Single-use paper bags can be offered at the point of sale for a minimum customer charge of 10 cents per bag, which stores keep.
  • Styrofoam food and beverage containers: This includes foam cups, take-out and to-go containers, plates, trays and cartons for eggs or other food. These prohibitions do not apply to meat and fish packaging or food packaged out of state or sold out of state.
  • Plastic straws: Plastic straws are not to be given out except upon customer request. Hospitals, nursing homes, independent and assisted living and residential care facilities are exempt and are allowed to provide plastic straws.
  • Plastic stirrers

Businesses that purchased these single-use products before May 15, 2019 are permitted to use them until July 1, 2021.