Trash to Riches

My garbage man has to buy a new truck.

Vermont has very little municipal trash collection, even in our small municipalities. Many Vermonters contract private haulers to collect and dump our trash; others, like my daughter, load up their dogs and plastic bags for the Saturday morning outing to the transfer station.

Freelance Editorial Art by Roy Doty: Tom Ripley owns my garbage route. I like Tom. He’s friendly, always on time, and comes right up on the porch to pick up the trash cans. He even (usually) latches the storm door when he puts the cans back. He owns a couple of used garbage trucks that he bought at the state auction and usually has a couple-three pickups that he runs around his route every Sunday before church. Sadly, he’s leaving the business because Vermont says he has to buy a new truck.

Gov. Peter Shumlin (D-VT) moved us “towards universal recycling [to] advance Vermont into the next generation of solid waste management and keep more waste out of our landfills” with a new law he signed this year.

The mandate requires waste haulers to collect everything from yard waste to commercial food waste, and prohibits dumping any recyclable or compostable materials in landfills.

Did you know there is a U.S. Composting Council? Its executive director says that “Enacting the law over time will ensure its success on a number of levels.”

The timeline begins in 2014 when all mandated recyclables must be removed from the solid waste stream. In 2015 yard waste goes. Two years after that, in 2017 food waste must be gone.

The prohibition mandates that every hauler have compartmented trucks. And everyone is soooooo very pleased about how the law will be phased in to give haulers enough time to build the infrastructure.

Tom has to buy a new truck.

Of course by law, Tom won’t be allowed to charge extra for handling the recycled materials.

But wait! There’s more!

If a facility collects mandated recyclables from a commercial hauler, the facility may charge a fee for the collection of those mandated recyclables.” — Act 148

Tom has to buy a new truck.

But wait! There’s more!

Food residuals can’t go in the waste stream any more. In fact, “uncontaminated material that is derived from processing or discarding of food and that is recyclable, in a manner consistent with section 6605k of this title” (i.e. preconsumer and postconsumer food scraps) must be source separated. — Act 148

I have to pick out the wilted lettuce. Tom has to buy a new truck.

“Mr. Ripley could use his old truck and just drive the route twice,” one regulator told me. Or four times if our regulatory friend could count.

That makes perfect Green sense.

It used to be that when government usurped private property by annexing your land or legislated you out of business, it was called a taking. Times change. I guess the Far Green figures that a mandated purchase like Tom’s new truck is just another tax.

Follow the money. Somebody’s getting rich on this but it sure ain’t Tom Ripley.

For the record, Act 148 does allow new “taxes on all nonrecyclable, nonbiodegradable products or packaging.”

3 thoughts on “Trash to Riches

  1. Rufus figures a lot of this is simple “interference for the sake of f**king with us.”

    Some years ago Pennsylvania mandated that all private state-approved vehicle inspection stations install about $50,000 worth of dynamometers and test gear to sniff for emissions. There was a huge outcry. “All we need is a reader for the in-car computer,” the trade association said.

    The law passed. Service stations spent the money. Dynamometer salesmen rejoiced.

    Two years later, Pennsylvania mandated that all private state-approved vehicle inspection stations stop using the dynos and buy readers for the in-car computers.


    Meanwhile, back here in Vermont, the Town of Franklin VFD built a little pond to have water for firefighting. A few years passed and the Town drilled a well so they didn’t need the pond anymore. They couldn’t fill in the pond, though.

    See, some cattails had grown around the pond.

    “That’s a wetland,” Uncle Sam said. “You can’t fill a wetland!”


  2. A friend read this and opined that garbage men — enmasse should stop picking up garbage and tell the populace to go skrew itself. This is called workstoppage, or in Union terms, “a strike”.

    But then, another venerable member of the citizenry responded that there are doubtless several, evil, out-of-state *unionized* garbage entities, standing in line and awaiting such a move by local contractors; and they will be quick to step up with state-of-the-art truckery and break the picket line — so to speak — and take over Tom’s route without firing a shot.

    Tom will be *shot* out of luck — if you’ll allow a sterile rendering of the all too familiar redneck platitude: sh*t out of luck. Dam I’m funny.

    As Herr Blogmeister says, “follow the money” trail. Tom is toast — a victim of small business destructivitis. So, give him a nice bottle of expensive whiskey this Christmas — as I do Jose and Juan, the two illegal mexicans who pick up my cans twice a week — and tell him to either suck it up or fake an injury and apply for SS disability.

    He can always sell his truck for parts. The seats bring the highest premium.

    — George

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