By the numbers: Vermonters catch on to composting

Vermont’s new mandatory composting law is having tangible effects.

Some Vermonters have been composting for decades. But ever since the state banned food scraps from landfills on July 1, more people have been sending more food scraps to the massive operation at Green Mountain Compost in Williston.

The facility has dumpsters where people can drop off their household food scraps for free.

“We’re having lines backing up at GMC when we first open in the morning,” said Alise Certa, marketing communications manager at Chittenden Solid Waste District, which runs the Green Mountain Compost program.

Green Mountain Compost is also the final resting place for hundreds of tons of food scraps that are collected by curbside haulers or disposed for a fee at CSWD transfer stations throughout the county. 

The facility collected about 576 tons of food scraps in August, about 100 tons more than in August 2019.

What can’t be composted

Not all of those buckets contain pure, lush organic material. Things that can’t be composted are also showing up more: plastic bags, food still in its original packaging, metal utensils and produce stickers.

“I saw a hat the other day,” Certa said. Removing those contaminants from the heaps is a tricky process, especially for items as small as produce stickers.

The Green Mountain Compost facility in Williston accepts household food scraps. Photographed Aug. 31, 2020.

CSWD expected that new composters would have a learning curve, Certa said, and plans to station employees at the Green Mountain Compost dumpsters to help raise awareness of the rules.

And there’s still some confusion about what can be composted: Unlike backyard compost bins, Green Mountain Compost can handle meat, bones, fats and dairy.

Overall, Certa is encouraged that more Vermonters are becoming aware that their food scraps have a higher purpose than becoming mummified in a landfill and emitting methane, which contributes to climate change.

See also:Vermont’s food scrap ban leads to more troublesome bears, says VT Fish & Wildlife

Contact April McCullum at 802-660-1863 or amccullum@freepressmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at @April_McCullum

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