Chittenden Solid Waste District asking voters for upgraded recycling facility

Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 5:05 PM EDT
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WILLISTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Chittenden Solid Waste District wants to build a brand new recycling facility to replace its current aging one, so they’re asking voters for an upgrade.

CSWD says replacing the nearly 30-year-old facility will help Vermonters keep even more waste out of the landfill.

The current facility was built in 1993. The Materials Recovery Facility, or MRF, sorts and groups 53% of Vermont’s blue bin recyclables like paper, cardboard, plastic and glass which are then sold on the market.

The MRF was built to take in 25,000 tons of recycling per year, but now it’s processing nearly 47,000 tons thanks to customer changes in behavior.

“The Amazon effect is real, so with a lot of people shopping online, which was not a thing 30 years ago, that has dramatically increased the amount of cardboard, in particular, that we see in our facility,” said Sarah Reeves, the executive director of CSWD.

The waste facility wants to build a new location just a few miles down the road in Williston on CSWD-owned property. Part of the new facility would allow for the recycling of more types of materials such as black plastic which the current machinery cannot do.

“Modern facilities use equipment that scans for example the type of resin it can detect, what kind of plastic is going under the belt and then it can sort it automatically so the people just need to quality control the machines versus having to sort each container individually,” Reeves explained.

The price for a new facility is between $20 million and $25 million. However, because CSWD is its own municipality, the price for the bond will not show up on your tax bill; instead, the bond will be paid off by operating revenue, the sale of recyclables and could be passed down to haulers who recycle at the facility which could raise rates from haulers.

“We want to make sure that we provide Vermonters with the ability to have flexibility in the future to recycle as much as possible, as much as they can and to keep our state green,” Reeves said.

The aim of a new facility will be to sort 50,000-70,000 tons annually.

While Vermont Public Interest Research Group Executive Director Paul Burns understands the need for an updated facility, he says people should be focusing on reducing their creation of waste.

“I think it’s important to keep in mind that the real solution to cut waste problems is to generate less waste rather than looking for ways to recycle or even compost it. That’s fine for if you can’t do something else to eliminate the materials to begin with, but really that should be the first focus for us is the elimination of waste as much as possible,” Burns said.

If you want to weigh in on whether the CSWD gets a new facility, you’re not going to see it on your November election ballot, you need to request a separate ballot from the CSWD website. Click here for more information.

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