Legislature Delays Curbside Food Scraps Pick-Up Until 2020

May 15, 2018

Lawmakers have decided to put off a requirement to have solid waste haulers pick up food scraps from in front of residential homes in 2018.

Vermont passed a universal recycling law in 2012, and as the law is rolled out in phases haulers, solid waste districts and consumers have had to meet deadlines to divert different kinds of solid waste from landfills.

Trash haulers were supposed to offer curbside pickup of food scraps in 2018, but S.285, which passed at the end of the legislative session, put that requirement off for at least two years.

The law instead directs the Department of Environmental Conservation to put together a study to see if changes are needed in the universal recycling law.

Essex-Orleans Senator John Rodgers sponsored the original bill and he wanted to drop the requirement entirely because he says business owners should not be forced to take on new responsibilities, especially if they don’t bring in enough money to cover expenses.

“It only ended up giving the haulers a two-year extension on the food waste, organics pick-up, so I was disappointed in that,” Rodgers said. “But it’s better than not having anything in place.”

"The Agency understood the hauler's position as far as residential collection of food scraps could be challenging especially in the less densely populated areas." — Cathy Jamieson, Solid Waste Management Program Manager

Solid Waste Management Program Manager Cathy Jamieson says the department will do a population study to see if it makes more sense to only require haulers in densely populated areas to pick up food scraps from residential homes.

Jamieson says the new bill will give the state a chance to look at the universal recycling law to see it does make sense to ask haulers to pick up food waste.

“The Agency understood the hauler’s position as far as residential collection of food scraps could be challenging especially in the less densely populated areas,” said Jamieson. “And what the bill did do is direct the Agency to have discussions regarding whether, and how, haulers should be providing the collection service for food scraps.”

Jamieson says a lot of people in rural areas compost their own food scraps, and most of the solid waste districts have compost drop off areas for people who can cart off their own waste.

She says food waste will be entirely banned from landfills in 2020, and if haulers in rural areas don’t pick up food scraps the state will have to come up with a plan.

The Agency’s report to the Legislature is due before Jan. 15, 2019.