ACT 148

Act 148, Vermont’s Universal Recycling and Composting law recently went into effect in summer 2015. It’s a huge step towards a more sustainable Vermont: mandatory recycling and compost pickup by 2020 means significantly lowering our CO2 emissions, keeping more waste out of our landfills, and recovering millions of dollars worth of material. And it’s going to take a lot of infrastructure updates to get us there.

Check out this timeline for implementation of act 148. 

Universal Recycling Summary Sheet

ACT 148 Facts

-Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law, Act 148, was passed 2013.

-Will require curbside pickup of all recycling and compost by 2020.

-Materials deemed recyclable or compostable will be banned from the landfills by 2020.

This is the most ambitious and comprehensive waste management plan in the United States. These are precedent-setting goals designed to divert reusable material from landfills and to be truly responsible for our waste.

Currently, our landfill diversion rates have stagnated around 36%– that means more waste in dumps and on roadsides- so there’s no better time to ramp up our waste management efforts with Act 148. But, the state is faced with finding resources necessary to implement the program. Infrastructure and equipment changes to handle more and different waste, as well as ways to educate our population, will need funding for the program to succeed.

That’s why VPIRG supports our state keeping unclaimed nickels from the Bottle Bill.

Most folks don’t know that the State of Vermont could actually access over $2 Million of revenue in unclaimed Bottle Bill nickels. That’s money we here at VPIRG think should be spent to bolster recycling efforts to protect Vermont’s environmental legacy.

Unclaimed Bottle Bill Deposits

When someone buys a beverage covered by the Bottle Bill, they pay a nickel tax on each recyclable container. By returning this to a local redemption center the consumer can get that nickel back. But what happens to the unclaimed nickels from bottles never redeemed?

Right now that money is returned to the beverage industry. But in 7 of the 10 other states in the nation with a Bottle Bill, all or the vast majority of that money goes to the state. These funds often are used to offset the cost of recycling programs to citizens.

We think that now’s the time to pass legislation that will allow Vermont to do the same.

Your local Representatives and Senators will be important decision makers in the process. Their support of legislation to keep unclaimed deposits for the state could be a key factor in making that a reality. They need to hear from voters in your area so that he can take your support for this issue into the State House.


7/10 states with Bottle Bills keep all or most of the unclaimed deposits, including:

New York

A state’s right to keep unclaimed deposits has been upheld in several lawsuits including Massachusetts, Michigan, and Maine.

A 1991 Massachusetts ruling, for instance, found that their escheat law:

  1. did not cause unconstitutional taking of the bottlers’ money;
  2. was a proper act of the state legislature;
  3. that refunds belong to the consumer until escheated to the state.

Here in Vermont:

A study commissioned by the Agency of Natural Resources in 2007 estimated unclaimed deposits – being returned to beverage distributors – in Vermont total approximately $2,084,618 annually.

Now’s the time to keep that money in Vermont to fund essential state recycling programs. Together we can make it happen!