Mandatory Food Scrap Recycling Starts July 1
Congratulations to Vernon, VT’s 2200 residents for exceeding the state’s recycling goal of 50% for 2020! This ambitious goal was set forth in 2014 and 2019 in the Vermont Materials Management Plan which can be found here.
Of the almost 500 tons per year of waste generated by Vernon and collected by Triple T Trucking each year, about half, 250 tons, are recyclable materials and compostable food scraps. Statewide, recycling rates hovered around 30% for many years, until food scrap composting in Vernon and some other parts of Vermont boosted rates to more than 50%. Vernon started collecting food scraps at the elementary school over 10 years ago, then expanded the program townwide by placing bins at the town garage where residents can drop off a broad range of compostable organic materials (not waste!), including food scraps, pizza boxes, soiled paper, and kitty litter, as well as many other items that won’t break down in a backyard compost pile. Composting those food scraps that Triple T Trucking hauls to Martin’s Farm in Greenfield, MA costs less than dumping them in a landfill, saving the town money. In contrast, recycling costs have been increasing, and now exceed landfill disposal fees for trash.
Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law, Act 148, mandates recycling, as well as variable rate trash disposal, i.e. Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT), which Vernon implemented a year before the 2015 mandate. In that time, Vernon has had a number of volunteer recycling and solid waste committees which worked with Triple T to implement PAYT and food scrap composting. Act 148 now also mandates diversion of food scraps from landfill disposal, which Vernon had already begun on a voluntary basis many years prior to the law, and which will now apply to all residents starting July 1, 2020. So for over 10 years, Vernon has had dumpsters for food scraps and soiled paper/cardboard at the Town highway garage, and again has been ahead of the state’s recycling curve.
To comply with the new mandate for food scrap recycling, residents can also utilize backyard composting bins, which can be purchased at a discount from Windham Solid Waste Management District (WSWMD) at 327 Old Ferry Road, Brattleboro, or constructed out of pallets and chicken wire. The WSWMD transfer station also accepts food scraps at no charge. WSWMD operates Vermont’s 2nd largest food scrap composting facility, and distributes its product, “Brattlegrow Compost,” through a number of retail locations.
Solid Waste Committee
Following Town Meeting approval of residential curbside trash and recycling services, the Selectboard authorized creation of a revitalized solid waste committee, which had its organizational meeting in April 2020. As discussed below, the committee has tackled a number of trash and recycling tasks. Members appointed by the Selectboard include: Carol Campbell, Tom Guerino, Munson Hicks (Vice Chair), Don Rosinski, Sandra Rulewich (Chair), Bob Spencer (Clerk),June Taylor, Deb Tyson, and Bob Uccello. The public is invited to attend the meetings, which are announced by Town Clerk.
A recommendation from the solid waste committee which the Selectboard supported provides funding to print and mail an educational flyer to residents, and it should be arriving in mailboxes the 2nd week of June. It will be suitable to post on the refrigerator, and include information on what items are recyclable, and which can be composted along with the food scraps.
PAYT Small Bag Price Reduced
Effective May 19, the Selectboard accepted the Solid Waste Committee’s recommendation to maintain the price of the large PAYT bags at $21/roll ($4.20/ bag), but reduce the price of the small bags to $12.50/roll (($2.50/bag). The reasons for the decrease in the price of small bags include boosting the sale of small bags to reduce the inventory, and to bring the volume cost of the small bags more in line with large bags. It is also hoped that by selling more small bags the current $2,000 deficit in the PAYT fund will be reduced.
Other recommendations adopted by the Selectboard are to have more locations that sell the bags to make it more convenient for residents to purchase bags, and that all commercial vendors receive a sales commission of $12.50 per case of bags sold. Bags are currently sold at Guilford Country Store, Cold Brook Store, and J Spec Automotive. Bags are also sold at the Town Clerk and Treasurer offices, the library, and the recreation center when it is open. Since town offices are only open 4 weekdays, the commercial vendors provide availability on more days and more hours for residents’ convenience. WSWMD is providing sandwich boards advertising PAYT bags at the various sales locations.
Triple T Trucking Contract
A major task of the solid waste committee was to review and finalize a contract with Triple T Trucking, the Town’s trash and recycling hauler for more than 30 years. The relationship with Triple T and the town was a handshake agreement. Although the Town believed it had a good financial deal with Triple T, the Selectboard thought it was overdue to lock in rates through a contract. Therefore, the Town conducted a competitive bid in November 2019 with assistance from Windham Solid Waste Management District.
The new contract with Triple T Trucking, estimated at an annual cost of $148,000 will take effect July 1, and runs for 3 years, with options to renew for two more years. The contract locks in costs for collection and disposal from residences, as well as town buildings.
Vernon, Brattleboro, and Westminster, are the only towns in Windham County with residential trash collection. Some neighboring towns do not provide any trash or recycling services, while others have transfer stations where residents can self-haul their trash and recyclables. Residents in the 18 towns that comprise WSWMD can purchase annual access stickers at WSWMD’s Brattleboro transfer station on Old Ferry Road, and pay for trash by the bag, or ton, and recycle at no additional charge. Triple T Trucking also operates a transfer station on Vernon Road which is available to residents and businesses for a fee.
Therefore, Vernon residents have several options to dispose of almost all solid waste and recyclable materials.
Please forward any questions or suggestions to: Sandra Rulewich, Chair Vernon Solid Waste Committee firstname.lastname@example.org.