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[GreenYes] Go Vermont !!!

Article published Apr 20, 2007
Vermont group issues 'zero-waste' call

MONTPELIER - As Vermont looks for ways to reduce its growing waste stream,
one regional nonprofit is challenging the state to eliminate trash

An environmental report released Thursday says the 600,000 tons of solid
waste generated annually in Vermont threatens to pollute air and water and
compromise public health. Harnessing the utility of that refuse through
either composting, reuse or recycling, according to the report, will infuse
Vermont's economy with jobs and save the environment from impending

"Seventy percent of what we throw away is burned or buried, polluting the
air and water . and truly wasting valuable resources," Jessica Edgerly said
during a press conference at the Statehouse Thursday.

Edgerly is a community organizer with Toxics Action Center, a privately
funded regional nonprofit that helps communities in New England prevent and
clean up toxic pollution. She co-authored "Moving Toward Zero: From Waste
Management to Resource Recovery" and said Thursday that skeptics of a
zero-waste concept underestimate the value of material most people consider

More than 50 percent of the trash deposited into Vermont's four landfills
could be recycled or composted, she said. Imposing legislative mandates and
altering consumers' behavior could, in short order, help Vermont
dramatically reduce the amount of trash is produces.

"Removing these items from the waste stream not only protects the
environment and human health, but produces on average 10 times as many jobs
as traditional waste facilities," Edgerly said.

If fact, central Vermont has already joined the vanguard in the zero-waste
movement. The Central Vermont Solid Waste District, which comprises 22 towns
and cities, is the largest group of municipalities in the country to have
adopted a "zero-waste" goal. The plan was drafted in 2002 and approved by
the state in January, according to Dana Barlow-Casey, executive director of
the district. She said a composting initiative started by the district less
than three years ago has already diverted thousands of tons of organic waste
from landfills.

"(Zero waste) is a foundational principal in creating a sustainable
society," Barlow-Casey said Thursday. The state's recycling efforts have
seemingly leveled off, stagnating at a rate of about 30 percent for more
than five years. "Wastefulness is no longer a luxury that can be endured."

The state's Department of Environmental Conservation has named waste
prevention as its top priority in coming years. As officials there craft the
latest iteration of Vermont's solid-waste management program, Edgerly and
Barlow-Casey will advocate for a zero-waste model statewide.

Barlow-Casey calls the Central Vermont Solid Waste District's composting
initiative an obvious example of where to start. By picking up food waste at
cafeterias in businesses and schools and delivering the materials to a local
composter, she said, the district has diverted 3,000 tons of waste from

"Twenty to 40 percent of our waste stream is organics, so we went there
first," Barlow-Casey said. The district is considering a ban on the disposal
of organic waste.

Edgerly said the state could jumpstart similar initiatives in other
communities by imposing a zero-waste plan statewide. Setting limits on waste
disposal, banning disposal of organics, cardboard and newspaper, and
shifting responsibility of disposal to the producers and manufacturers, she
said, will combine to reduce Vermont's waste stream.

"Traditional solid waste management . places the burden on the consumer,"
Barlow-Casey said, suggesting companies not only cut back on packaging
materials but also take responsibility for disposing of the products they
make. "Zero waste forces responsibility up, to manufacturers, and spreads it
across the spectrum."

Barlow-Casey said skeptics may balk at the seemingly unachievable goal of
zero-waste. Striving toward that goal, she said, will reap benefits even if
the state ultimately falls short.

"If you're not for zero waste," Barlow-Casey asked, "than how much waste are
you for?"


Eric Lombardi

Executive Director

Eco-Cycle Inc

5030 Pearl St.

Boulder, CO. 80301


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