BENNINGTON -- With the state solid waste management plan completed and in effect, it's time for local governments to come up with how to follow it.
The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources announced last week that the Materials Management Plan, which has been three years in the making, requires each "solid waste management entities," be they towns, alliances, or solid waste districts, to come up with a plan one year from now to follow the state's, which aims to reduce waste disposal rates by 25 percent over the next five years.
Michael Batcher, regional planner for the Bennington County Regional Commission, said for at least a year now he has been going around to towns in Bennington County informing select boards about the Materials Management Plan and Act 148, the Universal Recycling Law passed by the state legislature in 2012. The law will ban all recyclable materials from going into landfills by 2015 and will mandate all food waste be composted by 2020.
Batcher said the BCRC received an $18,000 municipal planning grant which will go toward the efforts of 12 Bennington County towns that have chosen to work together on a plan. He said heavy work on the local plan was postponed while the state finalized its own plan. At least two drafts were released by the state and changes were made based on what was heard from towns and solid waste districts.
He said the state plan has many elements to consider, for instance one that requires major producers of food scraps to send it to a composting facility.
Batcher said some counties have solid waste districts, others have alliances, while Bennington County has groups of towns that have agreed to follow the same plans. He feels there is enough time given what work has been done to meet the state's deadline.
A large piece of what needs to be done is educating the public on where and how they can go about recycling. Batcher said many of the state's waste problems would be solved if everyone knew where they could dispose of waste items like batteries or paint.
"I'm proud of the agency's solid waste staff who worked hard to develop this excellent plan," said ANR Secretary Deb Markowitz, in a release. "Vermont is the first state in the country to begin implementing such an ambitious waste-reduction plan. In implementing this plan, we'll decrease greenhouse gas emissions, improve local waste-reduction infrastructure, and increase the amount of valuable materials that are reused or recycled."
The plan can be viewed online at www.recycle.vermont.gov.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.