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Universal Recycling for Residents

With the adoption of the Universal Recycling law (Act 148), Vermont has taken an ambitious step to reduce the amount of material that goes to the landfill. Universal recycling gives all Vermonters the opportunity to keep valuable materials out of the trash through convenient and consistent services for recycling and composting throughout the state.

Act 148, a landmark universal recycling law, was passed by the Vermont Legislature in June of 2012. Among other things the law bans mandated recyclables from the landfill and requires the phased-in ban on leaf and yard debris, food scraps and clean wood from the landfill.  The goal of this law is to increase diversion of valuable materials from the waste stream and provide convenient and consistent recycling and disposal options to Vermont residents and businesses. 





Resources for Residents

Find out more about this recent legislation.


Summary & Timeline of Universal Recycling features for Residents

Frequently Asked Questions about Universal Recycling for Residents

Summary & FAQs handout (PDF)

Additional Resources

Local Ordinances - Solid waste management entity contact list

The features and requirements of Universal Recycling are in addition to any mandates or ordinances enacted by your solid waste management entity (municipality). Please check with your solid waste management entity to learn about the specifics in your area.  Use the link above to identify your solid waste management entity and to find contact information. 


FTGTW_logoFood Too Good To Waste is a U.S. EPA initiative to reduce food waste in nieghborhoods and households, with a focus on changing individual behavior. The program provides toolkits with guidance on how to reduce unused foods in family households, and save money at the same time.

The first pilot programs began in 2012, and continue to be implemented around the country. To find out more about the Food Too Good To Waste concept, click on the link above. Visit EPA Reducing Food Waste for more tips and ideas on reducing food waste in your home.

Summary of Universal Recycling

The new Universal Recycling law calls for trash to be charged on a per unit basis, often referred to as unit based pricing (charge per bag or by weight) and it phases in landfill disposal bans on listed recyclables, leaf and yard debris, clean wood debris, and food scraps. Universal Recycling will also provide more opportunities for residents to separate recyclables and food scraps, leaf and yard debris by requiring solid waste haulers, transfer stations and drop-off facilities to offer residential collection services for these materials. The bans are phased in based on the type of material (recyclables, leaf and yard debris, clean wood debris, or food scraps), and the type and size of the generator (businesses, municipalities, solid waste facilities and haulers, or residents). The phased timeline also allows for the gradual development of services and infrastructure needed to recycle and compost all of these valuable materials. The law takes full effect in 2020.

Timeline for Residents

Items that will be banned from trash disposal*:

  • July 1, 2015:  Listed recyclables including:
    • Aluminum and steel cans
    • Aluminum foil and aluminum pie pans
    • Glass bottles and jars from foods and beverages
    • PET and HDPE plastic bottles and jugs
    • Corrugated cardboard
    • White and mixed paper
    • Newspaper, magazines, catalogues, paper mail, and envelopes
    • Box board


  • July 1, 2016: Leaf, yard, and clean wood debris
  • July 1, 2020: Food scraps

*Other materials are already banned from landfill disposal in Vermont; this list is not a comprehensive list of the statewide landfill ban. Additionally, many solid waste management entities already require recycling of these and other materials. Review the additional items banned from landfill disposal in the State of Vermont.

Unit Based Pricing must be implemented by all municipalities by July 1, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is the law needed?

Vermonters recycle or compost only half of the materials they could. These materials are valuable and throwing them out is a waste of money, energy, and shared resources.

2.  What are the benefits of the law?

There are several benefits. To name a few:

  • Lowers Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions (estimated 38% improvement)
  • Increases recycling (estimated increase from current rate of 33% to goal of 60%) and reduces the need for landfills
  • More recycling conserves resources and reduces energy consumption
  • Stimulates economic growth
  • Supports the local food system
  • Fosters stronger community connections

3. What if I don’t have collection or drop-off options for recycling, leaf and yard debris, or food scraps in my area?

All solid waste haulers and facilities are required to collect and accept listed recyclables, leaf and yard debris, and food scraps from residents by specific dates (see question 5). If you are not receiving these services call the Agency of Natural Resources at 802-522-5897.

Facilities and haulers cannot charge residents a separate fee for collecting listed recyclables, but may charge fees for collecting leaf and yard debris and food scraps. Composting food scraps, leaf and yard debris at home is encouraged and will save money.

4.  Is anyone going to enforce the landfill bans?

Yes. The Agency of Natural Resources has enforcement authority and solid waste districts and towns also have enforcement authority under local laws. However, education and outreach will be the initial method of implementing Universal Recycling.

5. What are the full specifications of the law for these materials?

Listed Recyclables:

  • Facilities must collect starting July 1, 2014
  • Haulers must offer curbside collection on July 1, 2015
  • Must be collected in public spaces (alongside trash containers) starting July 1, 2015
  • Banned from the landfill starting July 1, 2015

Leaf & Yard Debris:

  • Facilities must collect starting July 1, 2015
  • Haulers must offer curbside collection on July 1, 2016
  • Banned from the landfill starting July 1, 2016

Food Scraps:

  • Facilities must collect starting July 1, 2017
  • Haulers must offer curbside collection on July 1, 2017
  • Banned from the landfill starting July 1, 2020


Ready to turn your food scraps into compost instead of trash?  Learn more about backyard composting

Learn more about waste reduction and prevention by exploring our Waste Prevention web pages

Reduce waste during your DIY Construction projects, learn more on our Construction Waste pages

Learn more about reducing and proper handling of Household Hazardous Waste

Universal Recycling resources

Please note the new contact information:

New phone numbers: click here

For more information, contact:

Josh Kelly, Enviromental Analyst IV



Waste Management & Prevention Division, Solid Waste Program
1 National Life Drive - Davis 1, Montpelier, VT  05620-3704


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

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