Lauren Layn

Lauren Layn at Green Mountain Compost in Williston.

Lauren Layn, the community outreach coordinator for the Chittenden Solid Waste District (CSWD), will speak about Vermont Act 148, the Universal Recycling and Compost Law, and what it means to residents and business owners Tuesday, Feb. 11, 10 a.m. at the Pierson Library in Shelburne. The free talk is sponsored by the Shelburne-Charlotte Garden Club and all are welcome.

In 2012, the Vermont Legislature unanimously passed Act 148. Elements of the Universal Recycling Law first were implemented in 2014. This year, as of July 1, the last phase begins wherein all state residents will be asked to no longer put food scraps in the trash.

“The goal is to reduce the amount of material going to the state’s one remaining landfill – specifically materials that have value as they can be used again: blue bin recycling, leaf and yard debris and natural wood and food scraps,” said Layn.

Residents can comply with the new regulations by composting food scraps at home, by using the CSWD drop off centers, at no charge, or by utilizing curbside pick-up services available through trash haulers.

While some other cities, like San Francisco, have implemented a ban on food scraps going to the landfill, no other state has such a law.

Layn said, “The entire state is banning food waste from the landfill. Vermont is the first state in the country to do this – we are leading the way.”

Why the ban?

Food scraps and other organics (leaves, paper etc.) break down extremely slowly in a landfill. The landfill is an anaerobic environment and oxygen is necessary for material to decompose. Landfills are meant for containment, not decomposition. So, as these food scraps break down anaerobically, they produce methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas which contributes to climate change.

“Composting is a natural process, and we’ve gotten away from it, so in a sense this law strives to get back to that natural process that benefits our environment in so many ways,” said Layn.

CSWD sells backyard composers called SoilSavers, home digesters called Green Cones and kitchen counter-top pails at Green Mountain Compost in Williston.

For folks dropping off their compost at one of the six drop off centers, CSWD provides four gallon buckets with lids at no charge. Compostable bags for compost pails or buckets are available at local grocery and gardening stores. Visit cswd.net for a list of drop-off composting locations.

Haulers who pick up food scraps may provide bins or buckets for customers, but they differ. For curbside collection, Layn recommends checking with your regular trash hauler for options.

“You can feed scraps to animals like chickens and pigs as well. But the even better thing to do is to waste less food,” Layn advised. “Food waste is a huge contributor to climate change and nearly 40 percent of all food in the U.S. is wasted.”

The Act 148 talk will take place in the library’s Merrill Community Room. For more information about the garden club and its programs, contact Ann Mead at 985-2657.

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