by John Herrick vtdigger.org Lawmakers have passed a bill designed to prepare the state for the implementation of its universal recycling overhaul under Act 148. The bill now goes to the governor’s desk. The program is set to phase in this year. Starting July 1, large food waste producers located within 20 miles of a composting facility will be required to compost. Next year, recyclables will be banned from the landfill.
Sen. Bob Hartwell, D-Bennington, is chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy. Photo by Roger Crowley/for VTDigger
Sen. Bob Hartwell, D-Bennington, chair of the Natural Resources and Energy Committee, is the lead sponsor of S.208.
“The bill kind of puts the message out there that the solid waste districts are going to have to comply with Act 148,” he said. “And we’ll see how they go about doing that, because we have some evidence that we’re not sure they all could do that.”
That’s why Hartwell had proposed raising money for underserved areas of the state that will need to make capital improvements necessary to comply with the program – such as retrofitting trucks to haul recyclables and building out facilities to compost organic waste.
The House removed that provision and asked the Agency of Natural Resources to report to lawmakers next year on the current and projected costs of the state’s recycling program.
Under the bill, the agency would set up a working group this summer to study the state’s solid waste infrastructure needs, costs of the programs and a plan on how to dispose of architectural waste – drywall, metal, asphalt shingles, clean wood, plywood, and oriented strand board, as defined under the Senate’s version of the bill.
The total cost of implementing Act 148 is estimated at $45 million, according to alegislative report by the environmental consulting firm DSM Environmental Services.
The Senate had proposed increasing the state’s franchise fee placed each ton of trash brought to a transfer station from $6 to $7. The fee has not changed since the 1980s. The House removed the fee until the cost of the current program is better understood.
The Agency of Natural Resources had proposed doubling the fee from $6 to $12 per ton.
By 2020, organics and recyclables will be banned from the state’s landfill. The hope is that streamlined recycling and composting services will be offered statewide.
When the program is fully implemented, it is expected to increase the state’s solid waste diversion rate from 30 percent to 50 percent, according to the report.
The Senate on Tuesday removed a House amendment to allow residents to send money to Green Up Vermont, a nonprofit that coordinates the litter cleanup Green Up Day, on their income tax returns. Hartwell said this section was removed from the bill because it is included in the tax bill.