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Waste Prevention

Food & Organics

Organic material (such as food scraps, leaf and brush, and other materials that used to be alive) make up an average of 28% of the residential and 18% of the industrial, commercial, and institutional waste stream in Vermont. Organics are the single largest type of material that makes up Vermont residential waste (2013 Waste Composition Study).

When organic material decomposes in landfills, it emits methane gas.  Methane is a greenhouse gas that is more than 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.  Preventing organic materials from entering the landfill not only saves limited landfill space, it also reduces the emissions of methane and enables us to utilize the nutrient value of the material. 


Vermont's new solid waste law, Universal Recycling (Act 148), calls for the diversion of all food scraps, leaf and yard debris, and clean wood debris from the landfill and instead towards sustainable management strategies, notably composting. These materials must be diverted on a graduated time line based on quantity produced and type of material; these details and more are available on the Universal Recycling web page.


Find more information on:

Waste Prevention Resources

Waste Prevention Concepts

Universal Recycling


Vermont's standardized food scraps symbols



Food Recovery

Food recovery looks at all the steps that can be taken to prevent and reduce food waste. Vermont has officially recognized this in law by including a Food Recovery Hierarchy in the new Universal Recycling law.  The Food Recovery Hierarchy is a tool to bring awareness to the preferred strategies to prevent and reduce food waste.


Vermont's Food Recovery Hierarchy includes the following prioritized strategies:

Source Reduction

Reduce the amount of food residuals being generated at at the source (in your kitchen), by strategically planning meals, shopping with a list, storing food properly, preparing and serving only what will be consumed, preserving leftovers appropriately, and other strategies.

>> Start a gleaning program in your community with the USDA Gleaning Guide

Food for People

Direct extra food of high quality to feed people by donating to food shelves and food banks.

Food for Animals

Use lower quality food residuals for agricultural purposes, such as food for animals. See the Agency of Agriculture's Swine Feeding Policy before feeding scraps to pigs.

Composting  & Anaerobic Digestion

Direct food residuals and organics to home compost piles, commercial compost facilities, or for land application (farmers must adhere to their farm's AAFM's nutrient management plan).  Find out more about home composting or find a Compost Company in Vermont. No anaerobic digesters in Vermont accept food scraps at this time.

Energy Recovery

Processing food residuals and organics for energy recovery.  This is the least preferred use of food residuals and may include collection of landfill gas for energy.








Please note the new contact information:

New phone numbers: click here

For more information, contact:

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

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