Act 148 Mandates More Stringent Recycling Requirements

By Charen Fegard

As most of us planned bar-b-q parties and anticipated fireworks for July 4th celebrations, we might not have even noticed that new recycling rules have taken effect. Act 148, Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law, has passed its July 1, 2015 deadline, which means some changes are afoot. As you enjoy the glorious summer days and beautiful green hills, consider the following five changes.

Among other things, public spaces must provide recycling bins next to each trash receptacle. These should be clearly marked to help folks know where to put what. This is especially useful for a town like Woodstock, with so many visitors enjoying the shops and sights about town.
Transfer stations and drop-off facilities must accept leaf and yard debris. Most of us have onsite options for our grass and small branches, but for those who don’t, this is a welcomed alternative.

Haulers must offer residential recycling collection at no separate charge. This should not change the costs of pick up. They have already been taking your debris for some time and most haulers have been proactive in meeting this requirement ahead of the deadline.

Statewide unit based pricing takes effect, requiring residential trash charges to be based on volume or weight. This rule is largely already in effect. Haulers and transfer stations incur costs and/or benefits by accepting waste and recyclables. The charge should be related to the amount of material, even as global markets for recyclables continue to change and their budgets are affected.

Recyclables are now banned from Vermont landfills. This includes: glass jars and bottles, metal cans, foils and pie pans; all kinds of paper from newspaper to unwaxed cardboard; as well as PET and HDPE plastic #1-7 containers, bottles and jugs.

What does this mean to the average person? Well, it isn’t tectonically life-changing but it is worth taking note and making adjustments as needed. Most of us recycle often. Now we have the leadership of law stating clear expectations to help us remember to do it every time. You may have questions about specific items or materials and what you can or should do with them. Sustainable Woodstock has helpful documents at How to Recycle Almost Everything.

Remember, nothing just “goes away” so our actions have a lasting impact. What little things can you do to make it easier to recycle like a pro? One action we can take to increase our own recycling is to keep a small bag in the car so we can hold our recycling and waste until we can access the appropriate disposal. Tell your friends, coworkers, building managers about the Act 148 rules and send them to our helpful pages. Ask where the recycling bin is, if you can’t find one.

It takes time to get used to new habits and protocols, and these are well worth the effort. If you have any questions or ideas to share, please contact me at charen@sustainablewoodstock.org. I look forward to exploring issues and solutions with you.

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