Waste haulers starting next year will be required to pick up mandated recyclables under the state’s universal recycling overhaul, but lawmakers are now offering them a waiver.
The House Natural Resources and Energy Committee last week unanimously passed a bill waiving the requirement that haulers pick up recyclables in addition to trash if their solid waste districts meet state per capita recycling rate standards.
“We put in some language there that would allow them to keep doing what they’re doing but they have to show that they are working toward achieving the recycling rate goal that we have,” said Rep. Tony Klein, D-East Montpelier, who chairs the Natural Resources and Energy Committee.
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 Department of Environmental Conservation said mandating parallel collection was the “heart and soul” of the state’s new recycling program. But after hearing from towns and solid waste districts concerned with the mandate, the department said it supports providing some leeway.
“We may come back and recommend changes to this if it’s not working,” said Trey Martin, an attorney for the Department of Environmental Conservation. “National research on this is all about parallel (collection).”
The Senate last month passed the bill with a $1 increase in the franchise tax on trash dumped into landfills (from $6 to $7). The committee stripped that provision and asked the Agency of Natural Resources to report back to lawmakers on how current money is spent and where additional resources are needed.
The bill also removed an exemption for small haulers, which would now need to comply with the recycling program requirements. It also removed a pilot program requiring construction and demolition debris to be recycled.
The bill must go to the Appropriations and Ways and Means committees before it can go to the House floor.
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