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Public Post is a community reporting initiative using digital tools to report on cities and towns across Vermont.Public Post is the only resource that lets you browse and search documents across dozens of Vermont municipal websites in one place.Follow reporter Amy Kolb Noyes and #PublicPost on Twitter and read news from the Post below.

Clear Trash Bag Ordinance Has Central Vermonters Up In Arms

Tim Newcomb
Tim Newcomb's editorial cartoon takes a jab at the proposed requirement of clear plastic garbage bags in Central Vermont. The Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District says they've received more comments on this proposal than at any other hearing.

Today is the last day public comments are being accepted for a proposed recycling ordinance that has provoked the ire of many Central Vermonters. The bulk of the proposed ordinance outlines variable rate pricing for trash, recyclables and compostable materials. But what has Central Vermonters up in arms is the requirement to use clear plastic garbage bags.

The "variable rate" portion of the proposed Variable Rate Pricing and Clear Plastic Bag Ordinance is mandated to be in place by July 1, in accordance with Vermont's universal recycling law. That 2012 law is being phased in over several years. However the state law does not dictate what types of garbage bags must be used. That provision was proposed by the Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District, and the district has since seen a wave of backlash.

The proposed ordinance states the district would prefer recyclables and compostable materials remain unbagged, but when a trash bag is used for any solid waste is must be clear. The document goes on to state trash handlers can refuse to take bags of garbage that contain recyclable or compostable items.

A Service Provider may refuse to collect materials bagged in opaque bags or bags of waste that have mandated recyclables or mandated organic materials clearly mixed with waste materials. Small opaque bags may be used for privacy purposes and placed within clear-bagged trash.

In addition, the proposed ordinance lays out a fine schedule for repeat offenders, with fines of up to $500.

In an op-ed in the Times Argus, Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District Zero Waste Outreach Coordinator Cassandra Hemenway stated, "CVSWMD has received more comments about our proposed Variable Rate Pricing and Clear Bag ordinance than at any other hearing we’ve held. Ever."

She goes on to state the district's board of directors is scheduled to consider the proposed ordinance, and related public comments, April 1. She said the board would "likely revise the ordinance based on what they’ve heard."

Any ordinance passed by the board of directors would affect residents of the Central Vermont Solid Waste management District's 18 member municipalities. They include:

  • Barre City
  • Barre Town
  • Berlin
  • Bradford
  • Calais
  • Chelsea
  • East Montpelier
  • Fairlee
  • Hardwick
  • Middlesex
  • Montpelier
  • Orange
  • Plainfield
  • Tunbridge
  • Walden
  • Washington
  • Williamstown
  • Woodbury

Written comments on the proposed ordinance, including by email,  will be accepted through 4 p.m. March 31.

Amy is an award winning journalist who has worked in print and radio in Vermont since 1991. Her first job in professional radio was at WVMX in Stowe, where she worked as News Director and co-host of The Morning Show. She was a VPR contributor from 2006 to 2020.
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