The money raised by S.208 will go to small haulers in underserved regions of the state that will need equipment and facilities’ upgrades to comply with the phase-in of state’s universal recycling law, which will ban many materials from the state’s landfill over the next few years.
Private sector haulers will need more than $40 million to implement the universal recycling program, which includes compost processing infrastructure and improvements for trucks and carts to collect recyclables and organic waste, according to a 2013 report on Act 148.
Despite the objection of Casella Waste Systems, the state’s largest hauler, the bill raises the solid waste franchise tax placed on trash dumped into the state’s landfill from $6 to $7. That amount has not changed since 1987 and would be $12 if adjusted for inflation, officials said.
The Agency of Natural Resources would decide where the money goes, according to the bill. Funding of the special account would be repealed after the new recycling program is in place.
Mandatory composting for some large food producers begins July 1, and next year all recyclables will be banned from the 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 Act 148 report.
The Senate on Wednesday removed a requirement that towns join solid waste districts if they wish to receive state money. Instead, the Agency of Natural Resources will hear from towns on how to best manage the phase-in of the program. The agency, which supports the change, will submit a report to lawmakers by December.
“This allows the towns to continue doing what they’re doing if they are complying with the requirements of Act 148,” said Sen. Bob Hartwell, D-Bennington, the bill’s lead sponsor.
The Vermont League of Cities and Towns supports the change.
“It allows towns to make decisions about what is going to work best for them,” said Karen Horn, a lobbyist for the organization. “It’s not just about the money, it’s also about the governance – municipalities being able to make decision about what works best for them. … And this will let them do that and show the track record that they have already.”
The bill now awaits House approval.