Composting rules key to trash district budget increase

MIDDLEBURY — Addison County Solid Waste Management District (ACSWMD) officials have approved a 2017 budget of $2,989,316, a plan calling for a 6-percent increase in spending.
The increase reflects — among other things — the launch next July 1 of a new state law calling on waste haulers and transfer stations to offer food scrap collection.
While the budget is pegged to rise, the tipping fee at the ACSWMD’s Middlebury transfer station won’t. That’s largely due to the district’s healthy savings accounts for recycling and organics programs, which will be tapped to keep the tipping fee stable at $123 per ton for mixed solid waste and construction/demolition debris. And ACSWMD operations also received an extra surge in business this year after the town of Bristol closed its landfill and began sending its trash to the district transfer station.
“Part of the increase in expenses is that more tonnage is coming through, in part due to the town of Bristol joining the district,” ACSWMD Manager Teresa Kuczynski said.
Salisbury is likely to follow suit with Bristol in the near future. The local selectboard is preparing to close the community’s unlined landfill in the aftermath of a non-binding referendum last March that saw local residents vote 229 to 98 to shut down the facility. Salisbury already has in hand the estimated $600,000 it will take to close the landfill, and an additional $200,000 for post-closure monitoring. Another town vote will be required for Salisbury to proceed with closing the landfill and joining the ACSWMD.
“When they are ready to close their landfill, we’ll be ready to entertain their membership,” a Kuczynski said.
It should be noted that while the ACSWMD transfer station tipping fee will remain the same, the district board OK’d some rates increases in individual categories of waste and recyclables that county residents and haulers can leave at the Route 7 South facility. The increases for 2017 include:
•  A new rate of $10 for loads of leaf and yard debris in excess of three cubic yards. The current rate is $1 per load.
•  $2.25 for each passenger tire, up from $2. And it will cost residents $8 for each truck tire they leave at the transfer station (up from the current $6); $50 for each off-road tire (up from the current $20); and 8 cents per pound for “extra-large” tires, up from the current rate of 6 cents per pound.
•  Motor oil disposal will still be free for residents, but there will be a charge of 30 cents per gallon for business customers.
•  It will cost businesses $60 per 55-gallon drum of used oil filters they are seeking to unload, up from the current $45 per 55-gallon drum.
•  Fluorescent light (HID lamps only) will cost $1 per bulb to leave at the transfer station. That service is currently provided for free.
•  Beginning next year, businesses subject to the 2017 provisions of Act 148 will pay $1.25 per container (up to 5 gallons) of food waste, and $15 per 48-gallon “toter” container.
These increases, Kuczynski explained, reflect changes in the waste/recyclables markets and the more realistic handling costs at the transfer station.
The 2017 budget will also put the ACSWMD in a better position to help residents and businesses prepare for looming, big changes in the state’s waste disposal rules.
According to Vermont’s universal recycling law (Act 148), July 1, 2017, is the date on which:
•  Transfer stations and haulers must accept food scraps.
•  Haulers must offer food scrap collection.
•  Food scrap generators of 18 tons per year (or one-third of a ton per week) must segregate the food scraps from other waste and divert it to any certified facility within 20 miles. Groups affected by the new rules can also create on-site compositing for their food scraps, district officials said.
Act 146 does not call upon residents to start separating out their food waste until July 1, 2020, when such material will be banned from the landfill, Kuczynski noted. But it’s clear a lot of area households are already off to a good recycling start in advance of 2020. Two-thirds of the more than 1,500 people who responded to an ACSWMD survey last June confirmed they already divert at least some of their food scraps.
Meanwhile, district officials are reaching out to area businesses and institutions — such as schools and various health care organizations — that will be affected by the impending food scrap disposal changes, according to Kuczynski.
Middlebury College has a plan and facilities to deal with its food waste on-site.
Vermont Natural Ag Products of Middlebury will become a major ally in the district’s food waste composting efforts, Kuczynski noted.
“We have a public outreach coordinator … who is assessing the amount of food scraps businesses are generating, because businesses don’t always know how much they are generating,” Kuczynski said. “One of the services we’ll offer is to do free waste audits and help establish food waste collection at these businesses, and help provide the food scrap collection buckets at no charge to businesses.”
The district recently welcomed an AmeriCorps worker — Carly Wright — to specifically educate schools about how they can comply with the upcoming food waste management deadlines.
The district’s new public outreach coordinator, Jaclyn Hochreiter, is specifically helping businesses in their transition.
“We are going to offer compost demonstrations for homeowners and reaching out to community gardens to assist them,” Kuczynski said. “The big challenge will be how to prepare for receiving big increases in small business and residential food scraps.”
The ACSWMD board held a public hearing on the proposed 2017 budget on Nov. 17 and then unanimously approved the spending plan with no changes.
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com

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