Vermont’s New Mandatory Composting Law: What You Need to Know

mandatory composting in vermont

Though not located in the Green Mountain State, our farm is located very close to Vermont (just across Lake Champlain, in fact). 

As a result, much of what we do is impacted by life and regulations in Vermont. For example, recent COVID restrictions have really impacted our local economy here, since a large percentage of our businesses’ clientele are Vermonters (or Canadians, who are also restricted from traveling to NY – but that’s another story). 

On a less serious note, we also get Vermont radio stations, television stations, weather updates, you name it! We’re basically Vermonters by default. 

One thing that I’ve always admired about Vermont is that their laws tend to have a bit more of a forward-thinking perspective, at least in regards to the environment. 

I stumbled upon this news article not too long ago and was quite impressed. I think it’s a beacon of hope and an example to live by, particularly in these challenging times where the environment always seems to come last (when it should come first).

In short – Vermont is now requiring all households to put food scraps into compost instead of in the trash. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

composting as law in vermont

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Vermont’s New Mandatory Composting Law

composting as law in vermont
Photo: Unsplash

As of July 1, 2020, the state of Vermont now requires all of its residents to compost. 

The goal of this new law was to encourage consumers to actually eat what they buy (food waste accounts for 30-40% of the food supply!). Hundreds of pounds of food is thrown away each year when it could be feeding America.

In addition, the state has a goal of recycling, reusing, or composting 50% of the waste that it produces. In all the years that this goal has been in place, it’s never been met. 

The Universal Recycling Law was passed in 2012 to take steps toward meeting that goal (eliminating the 20% of all Vermont waste that is food waste). 

The state’s first step in this law was to require all producers of food waste making more than two tons a week (such as large scale processing facilities) to separate out the food waste material. Then, the state began to make moves toward a full food waste ban that was passed in July 2019. 

To meet this goal, the state has set up new composting facilities and haulers to offer composting services to residents. There are also 100 transfer stations around the state that offer food scrap collection services. 

At these transfer stations, you’ll find rolling carts just like you use for trash and recycling where you can toss dairy products, breads, vegetable and fruits craps, meat and bones, everything. 

As a resident, you essentially have three options:

1. Compost your food waste at home 

2. Use a drop off facility 

3. Enroll in curbside service

Why This New Law Rocks

composting as law in vermont
Photo: Unsplash

When food scraps arrive at the landfill, they decompose, rot, and produce methane – which, as you know, is a potent greenhouse gas.

There are so many reasons to get food scraps out of landfills, but many people either aren’t aware of the problems with sending food scraps to the landfills or simply don’t have the time, energ, or bandwidth to deal with composting them. This new law makes it much easier for this to happen. 

The benefits of compost are tenfold. Not only are you keeping these items out of the landfill that don’t actually need to be there, but you can help recycle nutrients and reduce greenhouse gas. For farmers, this is critical. You can use less synthetic fertilizer while also improving your soil quality and improve the ability of the soil to capture water.

In fact, there have even been some studies done showing that, on farms that use compost, there is less of a need to water the plants. Other studies in California have shown that when compost is spread on land used for grazing, it improves the ability of the soil to sequester greenhouse gases. 

You can read more about Vermont’s new law here

Ready to Start Composting?

composting as law in vermont
Photo: Unsplash

Whether you live in Vermont or not, the benefits of composting can’t be overlooked. This is definitely something you should consider trying on your own farm or in your own garden, if you aren’t already.

Even if you don’t plan on growing a garden, compost is a valuable resource that you could sell to your friends and neighbors – there’s a reason why it’s referred to as black gold! Here are a few articles you can check out to learn more about composting:

Composting can be done at absolutely no cost to you – all you need is a place on your lawn where you can position a compost pile. However, if you live in the city or want to keep things more contained (it can smell a bit at first, though once you get things going, you shouldn’t have any problem with odors), you might want to consider some of these less-stinkier alternatives:

Give it a try, even if it’s not the law where you live. I can guarantee you’ll fall in love with composting! 

What are your thoughts on this law? Is this something that has been implemented where you live, too? Let me know in the comments!

Want to learn more? Be sure to take a look at these other articles.

Author: Rebekah PierceI'm a writer and small farm owner, and lover of everything outdoors. I'm hoping to share my passion for farming, gardening, and homesteading with you on my blogging journey.

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