The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the High Meadows Fund today announced awards from two grant programs, totaling nearly $100,000, to help residents compost in their backyards and drop off food scraps at town transfer stations. Food scraps make up nearly one-third, by weight, of what Vermonters throw away. Diverting food scraps from trash will reduce the state’s dependence on landfilling and make better use of this nutrient-rich material.
The High Meadows Fund has given over $55,000 to eight solid waste districts and municipalities, which collectively serve 116 towns. These funds will support food scrap collection bins, signage, and outreach at 48 transfer stations around the state. “The whole purpose is to give people different options for their food waste, other than throwing it away,” said Gaye Symington, High Meadows Fund President. “Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions decrease when less organic matter is decomposing in landfills.”
In addition, DEC has granted over $40,000 to twelve solid waste districts and alliances to cut the cost of backyard composting bins for Vermonters. Residents who participate in their district’s training program can purchase a backyard bin at 50% off. “The 50% discount has encouraged more people to find out how simple it can be to backyard compost,” says Kristen Benoit of the Windham Solid Waste District. “If folks don’t want to compost at home, they can also drop off food scraps at participating transfer stations, or in some areas, request pick-up service from haulers.”
In 2020, Vermont’s Universal Recycling law will ban the disposal of food scraps in trash. Larger producers like supermarkets, colleges, and restaurants have already begun separating their food scraps and sending them to composting facilities, anaerobic digesters, or farms.
“Moving food scraps out of the trash will help us achieve our goal of reducing landfill waste by 25% by 2020,” said Emily Boedecker, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. Vermont’s Universal Recycling law benfits the state by:
• Supporting green jobs in recycling, food donation, composting, and renewable energy industries. Studies show that recycling and composting create more jobs than landfill disposal.
• Increasing Food Donation. In 2015—a few years after the rollout of the Universal Recycling law—the Vermont Foodbank reported 6.64 million pounds of food that was rescued or donated, rather than disposed in a landfill. That is nearly a 40% increase in quality food to feed people instead of feeding landfills.
• Reduces Greenhouse Gases: Recycling, food donation, composting, and anaerobic digestion are estimated to reduce emissions from Vermont’s waste sector by 37% by 2022. Recycling and composting help the state fight climate change and extend the life of our landfills.
• Growing Healthy Soils: Composting food scraps creates nutrients and organic matter that be used to grow more food. Compost improves plant growth, can reduce soil erosion, increase water retention, and decrease the need for synthetic fertilizers. Using food scraps to build healthy soils supports Vermont agriculture and can lower impacts from flood events.
To find out about composting options in your area, contact your solid waste district, alliance, or town at www.802recycles.com.