February 19, 2016

House Talks Trash: Waste Contractors Testify to Congress

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RepresenAlvarezInCommitteetatives of the waste disposal industry met with law makers today to discuss to Vermont’s mandatory recycling law Act 148. Concerns over the effectiveness of the imposed franchise tax, a surcharge for every ton of waste collected, and the practical infrastructure to carry out the law incited a strong dialogue in the committee.


Vermont’s universal recycling law, passed in 2012 bans the disposal of any and all recyclable material by July 2016. Further, the disposal of organic material, principally food scraps, will be illegal by the middle of the year 2020. The time frame passed by Vermont legislator was to the most part an effort to incrementally phase the act into effect, allowing for the infrastructure changes needed to adequately implement to law.


Karen Flanders, on behalf of Casella Waste Management operating out of Vermont testified to the house committee on Natural Resources and Energy expressing alarm over the timeframe set. The state of Vermont accepts trash from all neighboring states; the franchise tax and its exemptions are established by volume of disposed waste and where it came from. Having no way to determine what waste came from across the border between that locally collected posses a question of equity between contractors. Meaning, to whom does the tax does and does not apply too.


Additional comments were made by Pat Austin of Austin Rubbish and Roll off Services requesting an extension to the time frame previously published by the legislator. Mr. Austin cited the lacking infrastructure to meet the growing demand of recyclables has passed operating costs too consumers and “most people can’t afford the system.” The testimony continued that the failure to prolong the organics portion of the law would hurt residents and businesses stating sarcastically that the legislator would be “raping the residents of your town” economically.


The implementation of ACT 148 has proved to be more strenuous than was anticipated upon its signing. Dilemmas with infrastructure, resource allocation, and economic burdens has staggered the pace of progress but should action be taken and by what means remains open for lively debate in the coming weeks.


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