ARLINGTON >> The Bennington County Solid Waste Alliance is in the first year of implementing the Solid Waste Implementation Plan for their service area. The "SWIP" programs include education and outreach to businesses, institutions, and schools to foster recycling, reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfills and advocating reuse of materials wherever possible.
In 2012, the Vermont legislature passed Act 148, now known as the Universal Recycling Law, to increase recycling and reduce the types and amounts of materials being sent to landfills. In June of 2014, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (VT ANR) adopted a Materials Management Plan that established requirements for VT ANR, solid waste management districts, alliances, towns and other management entities responsible for managing solid waste to implement the law, including preparation of their own solid waste implementation plans or "SWIPs."
During the planning process, the towns of Arlington, Bennington, Dorset, Glastenbury, Manchester, Pownal, Rupert, Sandgate, Searsburg, Shaftsbury, Stamford, Sunderland, and Woodford formed a study committee to determine whether or not to form a solid waste district or alliance to develop and implement the SWIP. Over the course of several public meetings in late 2014 and early 2015 the committee decided to form an alliance, and the towns entered into an interlocal contract forming the Bennington County Solid Waste Alliance in 2015. Each town appointed representatives to the Alliance Board. The mission of the Bennington County Solid Waste Alliance is to reduce the amount of waste disposed in landfills, by incineration or similar means by reducing the amount of waste generated, conserving resources and promoting recycling and reuse.
In the spring and summer of 2015, the Alliance Board held a series of public planning meetings including public hearings on the draft SWIP on June 25, 2015 at the Arlington Town Hall and on July 21, 2015 at the Sunderland Town Hall. The plan was also sent to local haulers, made available at town halls and posted on the Bennington County Regional Commission's website and several of the towns' websites. As part of the planning process, the towns adopted pay-as-you-throw ordinances, which require haulers to charge for municipal solid waste based on volume or weight. The Alliance adopted the plan on November 17, 2015. VT ANR approved that plan on December 14, 2015. The SWIP is in effect from 2015 through 2020.
The SWIP identifies existing facilities, including waste management companies that manage solid waste within the 13 towns. It also identifies where electronic wastes may be taken for recycling, locations accepting paint through the PaintCare program, locations accepting fluorescent bulbs and CFLS, the current programs for household hazardous waste collections, sites where textiles may be taken for donation or recycling, locations of food pantries for possible food donations.
The SWIP also describes a series of actions, primarily involving outreach and education to businesses, institutions and schools within the Alliance area. The Alliance contracted with the Bennington County Regional Commission to help implement the plan. So far, the Alliance programs have resulted in a new website, www.bcswavt.org, and outreach by the Northeast Resource Recover Association to several of the area schools and businesses. The Alliance will continue to hold household hazardous waste events with one on May 14, 2016 at the Bennington Transfer Station and a second on October 1, 2016 at the Dorset School. The Alliance will be providing information on how residents, business and institutions on recycling, reuse of materials and reduction in waste generation through workshops, a periodic newsletter, public service announcements and other means as well as direct outreach to schools and businesses.