Picture five and a half rhinoceroses weighing one ton each: those rhinoceroses represent the size and scope of the food waste that got composted, instead of landfilled, during the Tunbridge World’s Fair in September.
Thanks to a grant from the USDA, the Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District (CVSWMD) was able to help fair organizers with reducing waste this year, from composting food scraps, to providing clearly labeled recycling bins, to purchasing cigarette “butlers” so even cigarette waste could be recycled!
The 148 year old agricultural fair sees as many as 50,000 people over the four-day event, so a lot of trash gets generated, at last count, nearly a half pound per person. This year, CVSWMD helped cut the trash in half.
Grow Compost of Moretown, Vermont hauled 5.6 tons of food scraps from the fair; Black Bear Biodiesel of Plainfield, Vermont, picked up 250 gallons of waste fryolator oil. CVSWMD funded twenty recycling bins that diverted some (not all) bottles and cans out of the trash, allowing the fair to begin complying with Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law (Act 148) which bans recyclables from the landfill.
Act 148 also bans compostable food scraps, leaf and yard waste, and other materials from the landfill over a phased in six year time frame. The full law goes into effect by July 1, 2020, so the Tunbridge World Fair’s efforts with food scrap diversion set it up for success when the landfill ban on organics goes into effect.
In all, the fair reduced its landfilled waste by 12 percent this year. The statewide average for compost and recycling rate is 35%, so there’s plenty of work to do improving the systems for the upcoming year, including offering more and better recycling options and improving the waste oil collection.
Here’s a closer look at the numbers:
- 1,854 bags of trash were generated, or 92,700 gallons of stuff going to the landfill!
- 54 bags of recyclables were collected or 2,700 gallons.
- 56.25 totes of food scraps were collected, which is 2,700 gallons or 11,250 pounds (or 5.5 rhinoceroses!).
- 60 yards of recycled cardboard was kept out of the landfill as well.
- 250 gallons of fryolator oil were collected, unfortunately much of it was contaminated with soapy water and so difficult to recycle into biodiesel.
- CVSWMD recruited 30 volunteers and 8 paid staff members to help sort materials at two Zero Waste sorting stations.
Both CVSWMD and fair organizers recognize improvements that should happen to increase recycling and composting and continue to decrease materials sent to the landfill. Nobody wants their fun at the fair to end up sitting in a landfill for a thousand years! But we also count this year as a success. For the first time in its history, the fair has offered significant recycling and composting options to fairgoers, and by doing so has reduced a significant portion of its trash. Plans are already underway for doing even more to increase recycling and food scrap diversion and cut down landfilled materials even more in 2019, thanks to the hard work of dozens of people, special one-time grant funding, and a lot of commitment to making this classic Vermont fair an example of how to waste less and use more of our resources for good.
CVSWMD offers an array of programing that supports its Zero Waste implementation plan. Programs include a robust School Zero Waste Program, the Additional Recyclables Collection Center, technical support and at-cost equipment for back yard composting, reuse grants, and workshops about composting, recycling, zero-waste tips and more. CVSWMD member towns include: Barre City, Barre Town, Berlin, Bradford, Calais, Chelsea, Duxbury, East Montpelier, Fairlee, Hardwick, Middlesex, Montpelier, Orange, Plainfield, Tunbridge, Walden, Washington, Williamstown and Woodbury.