From: Michael S. Batcher
Subject: July 21, 2015 SWIP Planning Meeting Minutes
Date: July 22, 2015 Revised: July 24, 2015
Town Representatives: Keith Squires (Arlington), Stu Hurd (Bennington), John O’Keefe (Manchester), Megan Randall (Pownal), Sandy Gaszek (Searsburg), Mitch Race (Shaftsbury), Nancy Bushika (Stamford), Steve Bendix (Sunderland), Betty Charette and Mike Charette (Woodford)
Not in Attendance: Rob Gaiotti (Dorset, Ricky Harrington (Glastenbury), Mark Lourie (Rupert), Suzie dePeyster (Sandgate),
BCRC Staff: Michael S. Batcher
Town of Pownal: Tom Shuey
VT ANR: Cathy Jamieson, Solid Waste Program Manager Josh Kelly, Materials Management Section Chief
Public: John Cullen, interested citizen
Location and Time: Sunderland Town Hall – 4:00 to 6:00 PM
Introductions: The Alliance members introduced themselves and asked those in the audience, including Cathy Jamieson, Josh Kelly and Tom Shuey, to identify themselves. We also had a sign-in sheet for the public hearing.
Pre-hearing discussion: Michael explained that he had sent out a proposed contract with BCRC, two requests for qualifications and other materials for the board to review. He suggested that we use the pre hearing time to talk with Cathy and Josh. He had prepared a list of questions for them to guide us along.
Josh and Cathy introduced themselves and what they do at VT ANR. They complimented the members on forming an Alliance and said the SWIP was nearly ready for approval.
Betty asked for information on haulers. Cathy responded that haulers need to offer recycling services this year and leaf and yard waste in upcoming years. Implementation of Pay as you throw (PAYT) is a local responsibility.
Nancy asked if ANR would be requiring hauler reporting. Cathy responded that any local requirements would have to be implemented by towns. The SWIP does identify information the Alliance will need to collect and report. ANR has sent letters to haulers on Universal Recycling Law (URL) requirements.
John asked why PAYT was being implemented by towns and not by ANR. Cathy explained that municipalities have the responsibility to manage and to oversee how solid waste is managed. PAYT is an incentive system to encourage people to reduce their municipal solid waste or what is disposed in a landfill and increase recycled materials. Therefore, it made sense to have this enforced at the local level.
John went on to add that the Manchester Select Board was unhappy with the ordinance as they felt it should be done by ANR. However, it is not a major change for Manchester as haulers already use PAYT.
Public Hearing: Keith opened the public hearing at 4:15 PM on the proposed Solid Waste Implementation Plan. There were no members of the public present. After a brief discussion, Keith asked for a motion to close the hearing. Stu Hurd moved and Mitch Race seconded a motion to close the hearing and the resolution was adopted unanimously. The hearing was closed at 4:20 PM.
We then continued with the question and answer session. Steve began to read from the list of questions starting with, our solid waste system is almost totally run by the private sector so what is the role of the Alliance?
Cathy said there were many aspects of solid waste management including household hazardous waste, textiles and others that are a local responsibility. Cathy and Josh both emphasized that the URL promotes education and outreach, and the Alliance should make sure that member towns have the information they need to make informed choices as well as to encourage recycling. Josh stated that Act 78 was passed in the late 1980’s requiring towns and districts to complete solid waste implementation plans or SWIPS every five years. The state materials management plan (MMP) emphasizes education and outreach to the public.
The next question was that schools and businesses already recycle so what does the Alliance need to do? Josh relayed that Athena Bradley of NERC had had some difficulty getting in the school doors in some cases but was able to help several. Cathy relayed that many schools are good at recycling paper, but not other materials such as drinking cups. The MMP and SWIPs have performance standards on the number of schools and businesses to be contacted annually.
The next question asked if there was funding available. Annual SWIP funds generally are used for HHW events but could be used for other programs. There are no other sources of funding at this time as 1) the $6/ton surcharge that generates funds has not been increased in 25 years and 2) the legislature has not passed any other funding bills for solid waste.
There were questions and discussion on how the surcharge worked, how districts charged for services, and how those charges impact taxpayers and customers.
Stu said that we have no facilities as Casella runs the Bennington station. He has been registering and notifying haulers, but out of state haulers have ignored him. John added that he has not had success in gaining support from the judiciary in fines for violating ordinances. Will ANR step in at some point? Cathy said she would need to look into that, but wanted to know if there were violations, if there were unregistered haulers or other problems.
The next question was what support can ANR provide? Cathy and Josh went through a list of materials available through the ANR web site including signage, symbols, outreach materials like the school guide and others. There were questions about making sure there was a consistent message, and Cathy explained they had developed written messages, public service announcements and others that the Alliance could use. ANR will provide a sign for each transfer station explaining the landfill ban. Brochures and other materials can be downloaded. The Alliance will need to print and convey those materials and messages.
The next question dealt with the survey. Cathy stated the survey has been simplified. John felt the survey should be done by ANR and statewide and that it would be impossible for us to afford a statistically valid survey. There was discussion of a web survey, surveying at transfer stations and at HHW events. There was a lot of concern about biased data and whether we would actually look worse in the second survey after residents had more knowledge. Josh explained that a major point of the survey was to increase awareness as much as soliciting useful information.
The next question was how many SWIPs have been approved. There are 30 solid waste management entities including districts, alliances and towns. All but four have submitted plans and three have been approved. The process has been streamlined and we are at a point where approval should not take very long.
Does there need to be a recycling container next to each trash can? These have to be provided at government buildings and where containers have been placed on streets as well as parks. John explained that there were multiple issues along with cost that would make providing a recycling container with each trash container on town streets difficult to achieve.
The next question was that we had done little in the past and ANR had not enforced previous SWIPs, so why should we bother now? Cathy explained that the legislature had given ANR enforcement “teeth” and, while they wanted to work and cajole solid waste managers to implement their programs, they would enforce against violations if necessary.
The next question had to do with reporting requirements. Josh explained that the reporting form would track the template used for the SWIP.
John Cullen arrived and said that a 4:15 PM hearing was a difficult time and that the hearing had not been noticed in the News Guide as he had requested, but it was in the Manchester Journal. He said that education and signage were critical to getting transfer station users to recycle properly.
Cathy explained that there were good markets for 1 and 2 plastics and metals but other materials were not very valuable at present, primarily due to the low cost of oil. The Chittenden and Rutland Material Recovery Facilities (MRF0 had low contamination rates. Glass had very little market as it was easier to melt sand then to recycle glass. ANR was working with AOT to try to use glass in road materials. Vermont does not have the scale to create a market for recycling plastics.
Stu asked about expanding the deposit system for containers. Cathy said it would increase the recycling participation rate. It would also add to the cost of the materials being recycled. Stu asked about tires, and Cathy explained that a series of stakeholder meetings were being held to move to some form of producer responsibility. No state had such a requirement and manufacturers were opposed. Connecticut was moving forward. Vermont had a bill last year but it died in committee. There was also discussion on using tires and other materials in playground and other surfaces.
The question and answer session concluded at approximately 5:50 PM. Michael said the Alliance would need to decide how to address a request that Somerset join our SWIP as joining the Windham Solid Waste District would be expensive. The initial reaction was not positive. Michael asked for guidance on how to assist Glastenbury which had not followed proper procedures in adopting an ordinance. Ricky Harrington had been largely unresponsive to calls and emails. Michael was told to state that Glastenbury had to pay for his time and any advertisements.
The group discussed the requests for proposals and Stu advocated for regional consultants. Sandy Gaszek moved to send out the RFQs and Steve Bendix seconded.
The next meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, August 5, 2015 at the Arlington Town Hall from 4:00 to 6:00 PM to discuss the draft contract with BCRC.