WMD home
dec home > wm&pd home > composting home > onsite composting
    Backyard Composting
    On-Site Composting
    Compost Resources
Construction & Demolition
Hazardous Waste   Management
Household Hazardous   Waste
Product Stewardship & Take-Back Programs
Salvage Yard Program
Sites Management
Solid Waste
Underground Storage   Tanks
Universal Recycling
Waste Prevention

On Site Composting

Composting is one of the most effective ways to turn waste into a valuable resource. Farms, businesses, institutions, and schools may decide to compost their own food scraps and organic materials (any material that used to be alive, such as leaves, grass clippings, manure, wood chips, paper, etc) on site, rather than having it hauled away.  Not only does this option avoid hauling costs, it also ensures that the institution will have the valuable commodity of compost to use on site. However, on site compost does require significant planning, work, and ongoing maintenance.


Find more resources on our Composting Resources page.

Find more composting basics on our Home Composting page.

Universal Recycling

Vermont's new solid waste law, Universal Recycling, creates a time line by which listed recyclables, leaf and yard debris, and food scraps must be diverted from the landfill.  The deadline to begin diverting food scraps from the landfill depends on the average quantity produced by a generator (food service establishment, institution, school, resident, any generator of food scraps). All food scraps, regardless of the quantity, must be diverted away from the landfill by July 1, 2020.  Review our Universal Recycling web pages for more information on this exciting new materials management approach:

Universal Recycling main page

Universal Recycling Resources

Please check with your local solid waste management entity for local ordinances and local resources for waste reduction and prevention.


Benefits of Compost

Compost is a soil amendment with many benefits. Compost:

  • increases the nutrient content of soil
  • improves soil structure and water holding capacity
  • regenerates poor soil and remediates contaminated soil
  • reduces storm water runoff and erosion
  • improves soil's carbon retention
  • suppresses plant disease and pests
  • promotes higher crop yields
  • improves plant growth
  • reduces the need for fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides
  • prevents methane emissions from organics decomposing in landfills (methane is a greenhouse gas more than 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide)

Compost operations can be small-scale (personal, home composting) or large-scale (municipal or industrial).  Compost operations can be a stand-alone business or part of a farming operation. Production and use of compost also sustains local and regional green jobs.


On Site Composting

Food Scrap Separation at Food Establishments (PDF)

Vermont Department of Health and Department of Environmental Conservation document that addresses frequently asked questions about food scrap separation at businesses and institutions.

Vermont Food Scrap Hauler Directory (PDF)

Find a hauler for your food scraps by reviewing our state-wide directory. ANR does not assume any liability for the accuracy or completeness of the information provided in this list, and listing does not constitute an endorsement. If you are a food scraps hauler who is not listed and would like to be added, contact Josh Kelly at josh.kelly@state.vt.us.

Swine Feeding Policy (PDF)

Want to divert your food scraps to feed pigs? Do so safely by first familiarizing yourself with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets' policy on swine feeding.




ANR's Solid Waste Program regulates solid waste activities in the state, including compost operations. Facilities that compost less than 100 cubic yards of total feedstocks per year are exempt from the Solid Waste Management Rules. Small scale composting, such as as on site composting of less than 2,000 cubic yards of food scraps per year and less than 5,000 cubic yards of total organic materials per year requires only a registration with the Solid Waste Program and continuing monitoring and reporting with compliance staff.

Use the links below for more information on registrations and permits. For more information about registering, contact Ben Gauthier at 802-522-5080 or benjamin.gauthier@state.vt.us.

Compost Permits - quick reference (PDF)

This document gives an overview of Compost Certification requirements.  Quickly identify if you need to obtain a permit.

Facilities & Permitting

Find information about permitting on our Facilities & Permitting page.



Managing and Separating Food Scraps

Successful diversion of food scraps (for composting, animal feed, or anaerobic digestion) largely depends on keeping trash and recyclables out of the food scraps.  One of the main reasons composting and separation efforts fail is due to trash contamination into food scrap containers. 

Clear Message

Separating your wastes at the source (aka source separation) requires education of staff, customers, students, and anyone else who will be actively separating food scrap materials.  Clear signage using the state’s standardized statewide solid waste symbols will distinguish what materials belong in each container. Customized signs may be required to meet your particular needs.

Recruit Staff

Before initiating a solid waste separation program, it is advisable to meet with specific staff members who will be primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of food scrap material to prevent nuisance conditions.  This Material Management Committee should be composed of staff from multiple departments and meet regularly enough to address and resolve issues as they arise.

Waste Audit & Logistics

One of the first tasks of the committee may be to initiate a waste audit so that you know what volume of food scraps and other organic materials your facility produces. A waste audit is simply achieved by collecting all food scrap and organic material from one day, week, or month to determine what volume of material will be separated and managed. The Materials Management Committee should determine where material collection points will be offered, who will manage them, where they will be composted, and who will manage the compost process. The compost site should be located close enough to the facility to be convenient for employees to transport the materials, and positioned so as not to create a nuisance.

Universal Recycling Symbols

These standardized symbols were developed to be used by business, schools, solid waste management entities, haulers and others to facilitate separation of food scraps and recyclables from trash.  They can be used on containers, outreach and education materials, totes, trucks, and more.

Solid waste management entity contacts

Your local solid waste management entity can assist you and your business, institution, or school with establishing a food scrap separation program.

Close the Loop Compost Programs

Highfields Center for Compost helps businesses and communities design and implement sustainable composting programs.

ANR Solid Waste Program Technical Assistance

You may also contact the Solid Waste Program for assistance with establishing your food scrap separation program.

Josh Kelly, josh.kelly@state.vt.us, or 802-522-5897



School Resources

Make a school policy

A school policy to practice waste prevention and waste reduction techniques, including diverting food scraps from the landfill, will unify the school in spirit and logistics. 

Educational Tool

On site composting at schools can be a great opportunity for hands-on education.  Students can craft class projects or science experiments around the program.  Topics can include strategies to increase participation, how fast organic materials compost under different conditions, the effect of finished compost on plants, and many other interesting subjects.

Local Resources

Contact your local solid waste management entity for locally available educational resources.

We will post more resources for schools as they become available.

sort station
Source separation of recyclables, food scraps, and trash in Main Street Middle School's cafeteria in Montpelier, VT.

Farm Resources

Swine Feeding Policy (PDF)

Want to divert your food scraps to feed pigs? Do so safely by first familiarizing yourself with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets' policy on swine feeding.

Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets

AAFM has many resources, and requirements, for farmers regarding nutrient and materials management.



Commercial Composters

Commercial composters can find more useful information by exploring the following links:

Facilities & Permitting

Solid Waste Rules

Universal Recycling for Haulers

Composting Resources









Department of Environmental Conservation

Waste Management & Prevention Division, Solid Waste Program

1 National Life Drive, Davis 1, Montpelier, VT 05620-3704

(802) 828-1138




Last updated:
VT DEC Waste Management & Prevention Division 1 National Life Drive - Davis 1  Montpelier, VT  05620-3704  Tele: 802-828-1138  Fax: 802-828-1011

State of Vermont Agencies & Depts.     Access Government 24/7     About Vermont.Gov     Privacy Policy  

A Vermont Government Website Copyright 2003 State of Vermont - All rights reserved