Vt. taking steps to ban food waste in landfills by 2020

(WCAX)
Published: Sep. 26, 2018 at 7:45 AM EDT
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The state of Vermont has been given just under $1 million to help facilities and the public get on board with the no food waste law going into effect in 2020.

State leaders say they are hoping it becomes easier for everyday Vermonters to compost food waste. They want to be able to give Vermonters options like curbside pickups and drop-offs at transfer stations.

With the funding, state officials hope to cut food waste by at least 33 percent from the estimated 60,000 tons of food waste each year.

"As we keep looking at trash and what's in the trash, food waste makes up a huge portion of that," said Josh Kelly of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. "The state is in a really good position but I would like Vermont to do better."

He says the state has struggled to get past the 30 to 36 percent recycling and composting rates.

However, when it comes to distributing the just under $1 million grant between almost 12 different composting facilities, local composters say the money will really help the smaller and newer facilities.

"It's an exciting opportunity for a lot of the smaller municipalities, alliances, and towns to jump-start a composting or food management program they might not have had before," said Jonny Finity of the Chittenden Solid Waste District.

The CSWD has a composting machine called a screener. Its job is to make sure things like plastic bags, sticks and other noncompostable materials don't go into the compost.

Officials say its more than just composting at facilities, it's about what you can do to keep food waste out of landfills.

"From a climate change and greenhouse gas perspective, this is huge. In addition, it puts our waste to work. It puts it into a job-creating system where you are creating a product that is being processed and made into something and it's not disposed of," Kelly said.

Beyond the grant, officials say many customers are paying fees to follow the law.

"So if you operate a restaurant in the Church Street Marketplace, some of those restaurants have a food scrap collection service right now they pay a bill to their hauler," Kelly said.

When it comes to compliance, officials say they are going to target the biggest suppliers of food waste-- restaurants and supermarkets. They also say they haven’t had any problems with compliance with the other recycling laws so they don’t expect any with this one.