Vermont solid waste district takes rare step of fining business for recycling issues

Dive Brief:

  • The Chittenden Solid Waste District (CSWD) in Vermont recently pursued fines against three business that were repeatedly found to have contaminated recycling, which is a rare step for the district, as reported by the Burlington Free Press.
  • The district banned recyclables from landfills in 1993, but some commercial generators have let their recycling programs lapse or failed to train new employees on proper separation.
  • The fines in each case are relatively small, and at least one business was able to avoid paying theirs after demonstrating compliance. CSWD officials say the purpose is to educate businesses rather than penalize them.

Dive Insight:

CSWD could serve as a model for the rest of Vermont after a mandatory state recycling law took effect last year. So far this has resulted in a 5% reduction in statewide disposal rates and a 2% increase in the state's recycling rate. A statewide ban on yard waste in landfills began this summer and a ban on food scraps will take effect in 2020.

Overall compliance has reportedly been positive since CSWD enacted its ban more than 20 years ago. The district's solid waste manager said no local businesses have been fined for recycling violations since 1995.

Instead, local officials prefer to work with haulers on educating their customers. While some haulers in Vermont have chafed at the prospect of having to police their customers' recycling habits, no major issues have been reported in the year since recycling became mandatory statewide and the program seems to be working well.​

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Filed Under: Recycling Regulation
Top image credit: Wikimedia