Recycling

Unilever, the British-Dutch conglomerate that owns Ben & Jerry's, Vaseline, Dove and more, announced plans Monday to halve its non-recycled plastic packaging by 2025. According to Unilever's statement, the company currently uses about 700,000 tons of plastic packaging every year.

A woman uses a pitchfork to move compost in a backyard garden.
Chris Price / iStock

Brave Little State just told us all about where Vermont's recyclables go, and how many of the plastic, metal and paper items get re-used once recycled. But what about the 60,000 tons of compostable organics that make up roughly 24 percent of Vermont's trash?

The unrecyclables, as seen at the Williston MRF.
Elodie Reed / VPR

Julie Ste. Marie of Troy wants to know whether people are following Vermont's new recycling law, and where, exactly, all those recyclables end up. Her question kicks off the latest episode of Brave Little State.

Bales of plastic containers.
Elodie Reed / VPR

Are people following Vermont’s new recycling laws, and where does our recycling end up? That’s the question Julie Ste. Marie of Troy put to Brave Little State.

State of Vermont, Courtesy

Regulators say Vermont's largest solid waste district needed approval for disposing of crushed glass that was supposed to be recycled.

A dump truck dumping trash
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Back in the day communities all over Vermont had their own town dump, basically holes in the ground where people could just get rid of whatever garbage they were able to haul over.

But the politics and the economics of solid waste have changed — and Vermont's last unlined landfill, in Salisbury, closed on Sept. 1.

When curbside recycling caught on in the 1970s, it was mostly about cans, glass, cardboard and paper. That's how Donald Sanderson remembers it.

Sanderson is 90 years old, an earnest man with a ready smile. Every Thursday in Woodbury, N.J., where he lives, he hauls a big blue recycling bin out to the curb. Recycling is close to his heart. "I guess you could say I'm the father of recycling," he says. "I don't know if that's good or bad."

A man sits at a table surrounded by people.
John Dillon / VPR

The city of Newport and a Northeast Kingdom trash hauler have raised concerns that the glass they paid to recycle was dumped instead.

An image of bales of processed paper recycleables and an image of food being added to a compost pile.
Bas Emmen / Unsplash

Vermonters recycle about a third of their waste and composting efforts last year collected more food scraps than ever before. But a review of the state's recycling efforts found an 11% spike in how much Vermonters threw away. Recycling costs have also increased dramatically as the U.S. can no longer send many recyclables to China. We're talking about the realities — and economics — of recycling and composting.

Plastic bags hang on a wall at Sam's Outdoor Outfitters in Brattleboro in 2017. Since then, the town has banned single-use plastic bags.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR File

State lawmakers have passed a ban on single-use plastic bags and polystyrene food and drink containers. Now the final version of that bill is on its way to Gov. Phil Scott's desk. We're taking a look at what's in the current bill and how the legislature is looking ahead to possible next steps in fighting the growing problem of plastic pollution.

Sen. Christopher Bray holds a jar of crushed glass.
John Dillon / VPR

The state is investigating the Chittenden Solid Waste District for allegedly dumping glass it collects from northern Vermont instead of recycling the material as required.

John Dillon / VPR

Town meeting debate in several towns next week may turn to trash talk. Trash, that is, in the form of single-use plastic bags. Communities from Manchester to Burlington are considering measures that could lead to local bag bans.

Recyclables from Chittenden County are sorted at this facility in Williston.
John Dillon / VPR

Upheavals in global markets will soon be felt in Vermonters’ pocketbooks. The international market for some recyclable material has crashed, and that has forced some municipalities and solid waste companies to start charging for recycling.

piles of cardboard box recycling
danielvfung / iStock

Recyclable materials are one of the US's major exports. And a lot of our "stuff" goes to China. Recent policy changes coming out of Beijing are aimed at restricting what material comes from the United States. That's having a major effect on the US waste system.

Sarah Reeves, general manager at the Chittenden Solid Waste District, tells Vermont Edition how these Chinese policy changes are going to be felt in Vermont and why it's important to be vigilant about following recycling guidelines.

This label is showing up more frequently alongside bins for recycling and trash.
Toby Talbot / AP

Vermont is now three years into its plan to get the whole state on board with universal recycling and composting.  But when you look at the number inside the triangle with arrows, do you know immediately what kind of plastic it is and how to recycle it? And are you occasionally still scrapping food scraps into the garbage?

Melody Bodette / VPR

As Vermont’s universal recycling law reaches a new phase, more households will have the option to have their food scraps taken away along with their trash and recycling. People in St. Albans are already trying out a new food scrap collection service.

DNY59 / iStock

Returning from the holiday weekend, we'll be again sharing two memorable Vermont Edition pieces from this spring – one dealing with coincidences and the other about recycling containers.

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR file

Officials implementing Vermont's universal recycling law say they've seen a 5 percent decrease in trash statewide. Act 148 has banned recyclable materials from landfills for over a year now, and the state is now implementing the next phase of requirements in the law, dealing with yard and leaf debris.

Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr

Starting next month, the state of Vermont officially bans the disposal of leaves and yard debris in the trash. We're digging into this next phase of the rollout of the Universal Recycling Law. Several pieces of that legislation are already in effect, so we'll also look at what impact the law has had so far.

Last week VPR reported on a recent downturn in commodity prices that has some waste district managers scrambling to make ends meet to comply with Vermont's universal recycling law. Our story drew a response from officials with the Chittenden Solid Waste District, because they say planning for exactly this kind of circumstance has left them in a much better position.

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