Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law

In 2012, the Vermont Legislature unanimously passed the Universal Recycling Law (Act 148), which bans three major categories of materials from Vermonters’ trash bins:

The law has been updated. Click these links to learn more: 

2018 Changes to Universal Recycling Law  

2019 Changes to Vermont Solid Waste Law

Read the 2019 Universal Recycling Status Report

Explore findings from the Universal Recycling Stakeholder Group

Key Documents

Universal Recycling Timeline
Universal Recycling Summary 
Universal Recycling, As Enacted Into Law (Act No. 148, formerly H.485)

Main Features of the Law

Parallel Collection: Waste haulers and drop-off centers that offer trash collection services are required to offer recycling and food scrap collection services in advance of each landfill ban going into effect. For example, waste haulers and facilities must offer food scrap collection by 2017, so that there is time for residents and businesses to find a preferred way to manage their food scraps by 2020.

Unit-Based Pricing or "Pay-As-You-Throw": All Vermont towns were required to pass an ordinance that requires waste haulers to bundle the costs of recycling and trash collection into one fee for residential customers only. This mechanism levels the playing field for residents across the State, so households do not have to make decisions about whether or not to recycle based on their wallets.

Public Space Recycling: Any trash container in a public space needs to be accompanied by a recycling receptacle as of July 2015, making recycling more convenient in more locations. Public spaces include city streets, parks, municipal offices, schools, and more; bathrooms are exempt.

Phased-In Food Scrap Ban: Businesses and institutions that produce large amounts of food waste--such as supermarkets, college campuses, and restaurants--are required to comply with the landfill ban on food scraps earlier than residents, if they are located within 20 road miles of a composting facility that willingly accepts food scraps. This phased-in approach is designed to create demand for food scrap collection, and support investments in new food scrap collection infrastructure. See the Universal Recycling Timeline for details.

Why the Universal Recycling Law Passed Unanimously

Almost half of what Vermonters throw away could be diverted from landfills.

Out of all the waste Vermont generates annually, only about 35% gets sent somewhere other than a landfill to be recycled, composted, or reused. That’s on par with the national average recycling rate of 35% (U.S. EPA), and when the Universal Recycling law was passed, it hadn’t changed for more than 10 years. Why so low? The chart below shows what materials the average Vermonter puts in the trash everyday (by weight). If everyone recycled or composted, Vermont could cut its landfill waste by almost half.

Universal Recycling Guidance for Businesses & Institutions

  1. Universal Recycling Law Requirements for Businesses (English and Mandarin Chinese)
  2. FAQs Handout for Businesses & Institutions
  3. Managing Food Scraps at Businesses & Institutions
  4. Find a Vermont Food Scrap Hauler 
  5. Find a Vermont Composting Facility Near You Using the Materials Management Map
  6. Business Composting Testimonial
  7. Webinar: Universal Recycling at Food Establishments
  8. Universal Recycling - Guidance and Lessons for Schools
  9. Food Scrap Volume Estimator
  10. Hazardous Waste Brochure (ACSWMD)
  11. Food Scrap Collection for Food Service FAQs

Universal Recycling Guidance for Haulers & Facilities

  1. FAQ Sheet for Haulers
  2. Find a Vermont Food Scrap Hauler
  3. Parallel Collection Fact Sheet for Haulers & Facilities
  4. How to Haul Food Scraps 
  5. Variable Rate Pricing Guide
  6. Explaining Recycling Costs to Customers: How-To
  7. Leaf, Yard, and Clean Wood Guide
  8. S.208 As Enacted Into Law With Highlights for 1-ton Exemption Removal (2014)
  9. ANR Letter Explaining Removal of 1-ton Exemption (June 2014)
  10. ANR Letter to Haulers (August 2015)

Universal Recycling Guidance for Municipalities

  1. ANR Letter to Municipalities
  2. Summary & Fact Sheet for Municipalities
  3. Explaining Recycling Costs to Customers: A Quick "How-To"
  4. Variable Rate Pricing Guide & Ordinance
  5. NEWMOA Resources on Variable Rate Pricing
  6. Case Example: Fair Pricing Strategies in the Northeast Kingdom

Residential Composting & Other Organics Resources

  1. Compost with Confidence: An introduction to composting options and methods in VT
  2. A Users Guide to Backyard Composting: An in-depth guide from Addison County Solid Waste Management District
  3. Leaf, Yard and Clean Wood Debris Guide
  4. Should I Put Food Scraps Down The Drain?
  5. Benefits of Redirecting Food Scraps from Landfills
  6. Benefits of Keeping Food Scraps out of the Landfill Infographic
  7. Community Composting Resources


What is Act 148?

Vermont’s Universal Recycling law, Act 148, bans recyclables and organics from the landfill. Click on the links below to learn more.

Additional Resources on Food Scraps:

Let’s scrap food waste campaign – began again on June 1st:  

For food businesses: 

For landlords: 

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