Students at Middlebury Union High School are airing out their trash for the world to see. The school is weighing its waste output while it considers adding a composting program.
Students spent their science class picking though their trash and pulling out the compostable materials. It was a dirty job, but for the most part they are on board with this idea.
"Of course there are other ways to do it, but this is the easiest way possible," said Trevor Clark, a freshman.
Waste management experts were on hand to walk the kids through the process.
"Whether they are looking at food waste diversion or looking at their recycling rates we will come in and do educational programs along those lines, this is just one example of what we do," said Don Maglienti of the Addison County Solid Waste District.
And these programs are becoming more popular with Vermonters with upcoming changes to trash laws. Starting next summer, separating your recyclables from the trash won't just make you a good Samaritan; it will actually be the law. And then in 2020, composting will be mandated, as well.
Waste management teams say seven years is a doable deadline, but the focus needs to be on how to handle this influx of organic waste.
Right now, there are 19 digesters across the state, mostly on farms. The Agency of Natural Resources is looking to build more. ANR says it's the next step in the farm-to-table movement.
"Bringing that material back to the farm and looking at the nutrient cycle-- these are valuable materials, which is why we want to collect it from the waste stream," said Bryn Oakleaf of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.
According to a recent statewide study, Vermonters sent 400,000 tons of trash to landfills last year. One quarter of it could have been composted, but only 10 percent was.
But, of course, these changes will not come cost-free.
"Haulers can have an added cost to the compost because it is difficult to manage, but there are options to do backyard compost or take it to a drop center," Oakleaf said.
How ever you chose to play by the rules, they are only a few years away.
Currently there is only one operating landfill in Vermont after the state shut down the Moretown facility this summer.
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