Vermonters can no longer simply toss their food into trash cans. Under a new law that went into effect at the start of the month, residents are now required to compost any unfinished food—including inedible scraps like peels, egg shells, and pits—in their yard or through a professional compost facility. While other states have taken steps to curb food waste, particularly at the business level, Vermont is the first to implement a statewide ban on food waste that also affects individuals.
It’s an ambitious policy, but one that Vermont lawmakers believe the state must take to achieve its goal of diverting 50% of all waste from landfills to facilities where it can be composted, recycled, or reused.
Officials won’t be digging through curbside cans to bust composting delinquents, though. “People say, ‘What does this mean with a food waste ban? [Are] people going to be out there looking in my garbage for my apple cores?’” Kelly says. “That’s not the intent of this.” The state doesn’t have the resources or desire, he explains, to enforce the ban at the residential level. Instead, officials are asking for voluntary compliance—and they expect to get it, based on how seriously Vermonters take their environmentalism.