By Bob Spencer, WSWMD Executive Director, Vernon resident, and member of the Vernon Solid Waste Committee

Starting July 6, Vernon’s single-stream recyclables will be collected curbside every week by Triple T Trucking, along with weekly trash collection. The recyclables are taken to Brattleboro Salvage transfer station on Vernon Street (Route 142) in Brattleboro, and loaded into large trailers, which hauls them to a single-stream MRF in Rutland, VT. In addition, the Windham Solid Waste Management District (WSWMD) is discontinuing collection of recyclable materials at all of its member town transfer stations, and the 24/7 sites such as Vernon highway garage.

After more than 20 years of providing bins for residents to recycle, (remember the igloo shaped containers?), WSWMD is discontinuing operation of the materials recovery facility, or MRF, as of July 2017. This decision by the 20-member towns was arrived at following several years of declining market prices for baled paper, cardboard, tin, aluminum, and plastic materials.

In addition to the significant revenue loss, the 23-year old MRF on Old Ferry Road in Brattleboro, was facing some significant capital improvements, as well as replacement of both of the District’s roll-off trucks which collected recyclables from member towns.

Another factor which contributed to the closure was the increasing popularity of single-stream recycling, such as Vernon’s curbside program, where paper and cardboard can be mixed in the same recycling container. WSWMD investigated technology to add on to the MRF to handle single-stream material, but concluded there was not sufficient tons per year of recyclables in Windham County to justify the approximately $2 million investment. As Vernon, Westminster, Hinsdale, and most recently Brattleboro, switched to single-stream curbside collection, WSWMD lost about 25% of the 5,000 tons per year it was processing several years ago, further reducing revenue.

The advantage of single-stream recycling is that haulers can provide the service at a lower cost since they can use the same packer truck that is used to collect trash to collect single-stream recyclables, and therefore does not require a split body recycling truck, or two additional trips to the same household to collect paper and cardboard, and then commingled containers.

Vernon has a new Solid Waste Committee that meets the third Thursday of the month to review the Town’s trash and recycling programs, which includes:

  • sale of Pay-As-You-Throw bags,
  • curbside trash and recycling collection
  • drop-off of food scraps and soiled paper/cardboard at the two bins at the highway garage where it is then taken weekly to Martins Farm in Greenfield for composting
  • drop-off of 5-cent returnable bottles to benefit the fire department
  • clothing recycling

Vernon has fully implemented, ahead of the deadlines, the mandates of Vermont’s Act 148, Universal Recycling Law, which requires PAYT and residential food scrap recycling by 2020.

WSWMD will continue to provide Vernon with mandatory recycling education, household hazardous waste collection, and compliance with the WSWMD Solid Waste Implementation Plan. WSWMD also conducts recycling education programs for schools and businesses, including special recycling containers to be used at public and private events. For more information call 257-0272, or go to www.windhamsolidwaste.org.

Residents can buy additional green curbside recycling bins for $14 at the Town Clerk’s office, as well as kitchen counter top containers to hold a few days worth of food scraps prior to putting in backyard compost bins, or the bins at the highway garage.

Vernon is still well-served when it comes to trash and recycling, with the Brattleboro Salvage transfer station on Vernon Road, and WSWMD’s transfer station on Old Ferry Road. At WSWMD residents can purchase a one-year access sticker for $35, or a one-day pass for $15, and for additional charges dispose of large bulky items and construction and demolition debris. Residents with an access sticker will also be able to use these other recycling services offered by WSWMD, including electronics, paint, tires, and food scraps.

Tim Franklin (802-257-4915) is Vernon’s representative to the WSWMD Board of Supervisors, and Emily Vergobbe is the alternate representative (emily.vergobbe@gmail.com — 802-258-3031).