Lawmakers have passed a bill designed to prepare the state for the implementation of its universal recycling overhaul under Act 148. The bill now goes to the governor's desk.
The program is set to phase in this year. Starting July 1, large food waste producers located within 20 miles of a composting facility will be required to compost. Next year, recyclables will be banned from the landfill.
Sen. Bob Hartwell, D-Bennington, chair of the Natural Resources and Energy Committee, is the lead sponsor of S.208.
"The bill kind of puts the message out there that the solid waste districts are going to have to comply with Act 148," he said. "And we'll see how they go about doing that, because we have some evidence that we're not sure they all could do that."
Hartwell had proposed raising money for underserved areas of the state that will need to make capital improvements to comply with the program but the House removed that provision and asked the Agency of Natural Resources to report to lawmakers next year on the current and projected costs of the state's recycling program.
Under the bill, the agency would set up a working group this summer to study the state's solid waste infrastructure needs, costs of the programs and a plan on how to dispose of architectural waste - drywall, metal, asphalt shingles, clean wood, plywood, and oriented strand board, as defined under the Senate's version of the bill.
The total cost of implementing Act 148 is estimated at $45 million, according to a legislative report by the environmental consulting firm DSM Environmental Services.
By 2020, organics and recyclables will be banned from the state's landfill. When the program is fully implemented, it is expected to increase the state's solid waste diversion rate from 30 percent to 50 percent, according to the report.