Diverting Food Scraps & Organics

Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law (Act 148) bans two types of organics: food scraps, and clean wood/leaf & yard debris.

To reduce the amount of organic material disposed in landfills, Vermont adopted a Food Recovery Hierarchy to draw attention to our use of uneaten food and help guide consumers into making the highest and best use of their food. The most preferred method being source reduction followed by food for people, then animals, then composting. When we reduce our consumption of food and thereby reduce the amount of food scraps generated in the first place by shopping smarter, strategically planning meals with the foods we have on hand, less of our food goes to waste.

Haulers are required to provide for the collection of food scraps for commercial, industrial, and institutional (e.g., schools) customers. They are also required to provide those services to apartments of four units or greater. Others, such as condominiums, may still contract with their haulers to pick up food scraps. These materials are then taken to commercial composting facilities where the materials are converted to compost which can be used to enhance nutrient and moisture retention in soils. They may also be taken to anaerobic digestion facilities where they can be converted to methane for energy. It is important to follow the instructions of your haulers regarding what you can and can’t give to them for disposal. Alternatively, residents can compost at home, divert materials to farms for them to compost or feed to farm animals, or donate to food banks and others to provide for people.

Leaf, yard debris and clean wood that are banned from the trash in Vermont

Examples of leaf and yard debris:

  • Grass clippings
  • Leaves
  • Weeds
  • Brush less than 1 inch in diameter
  • Other compostable, untreated vegetative (plant) matter

Examples of clean wood:

  • Natural wood like logs and branches greater than 1 inch in diameter
  • Stumps and roots
  • Lumber (including pallets) that has never been painted, stained, or treated

Weeds and crops treated with pesticides, or other organic material that is diseased or invasive may be landfilled, as a last result, if not suitable for composting.

Transfer stations accept yard waste and some also accept clean wood. Check with your local transfer station.