Susan Alexander

Susan Alexander

Speaker | Lamoille Regional Solid Waste Management District (LRSWMD)

Session Code: 1E

Track: Advocacy/Policy

Session Name: Permitting-Experiences Around the States

Session Time: Wednesday, February 7, 8:15 – 9:45 AM

Presentation Title: Lamoille Soil: The Perfect Trifecta of Regulation, Infrastructure, and Money

Presentation Description: Vermont’s legislature unanimously voted to ban food scraps from its only landfill. This may seem unusual for a rural state with a reputation for homesteading however, climate change and diminishing landfill space inspired lawmakers to pass the first-in-the-country statewide ban on food scraps. Beginning with the largest generators (Cabot cheese, Alchemist beer, Ben and Jerry’s) the law required separation based on quantity and proximity to a processing facility. The ban was phased in over time eventually covering every waste basket and trash bin in the state. No mercy!

LRSWMD has 5 facilities that accept two dozen materials such as books, computers, lightbulbs, and textiles, yet food scraps were not in our portfolio. The law required we also accept food scraps at our facilities and the challenge was what to do with those putrescibles once on site. So, the search ensued including neighboring compost facilities, an out-of-state depackaging and AD facility, and building a compost facility from scratch. We settled on a 4th option: renovating a long abandoned biosolids composting facility.

With a regulatory timeline looming, and a nearby (albeit decrepit) location selected, paying for this enterprise was our next hurdle. As with so many laws this was an unfunded mandate and frugal Vermonters were not willing to throw money at something they could throw to their chickens. Serendipity struck in the form of a federal grant opportunity and we were able to successfully demonstrate that (re)building a local composting facility would satisfy the economic development criteria attached to those federal funds.

Today Lamoille Soil is fully operational, produces stellar compost, and has attained our financial goal of being self-supporting. This can happen in your community too and we are ready to share our story!