Organic Materials

What Are "Organics"?Benefits of Keeping Food Waste Out of the Landfill Infographic. 1. Feeds People 2. Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions 3. Supports green jobs 4. Compost Restores Soil 5. Reduces Need for landfills

Organics, or organic materials, were once part of something alive, like a plant or animal, and decompose into soil. Examples include food scraps, leaves, yard debris and paper products like coffee filters or paper towels.

Why Separate Organics from the Trash?

Keeping organics out of the trash conserves landfill space, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and supports green jobs. Food scraps and yard debris make up nearly 1/3 of a typical Vermont family’s waste, and at restaurants and cafeterias, food scraps can be over half the waste. Keeping these organics out of the landfill has a big impact.

Also, organics have value. Finished compost restores soil, and some organics can be used as garden mulch and animal bedding.  

Leaves and yard debris are banned from the landfill. Starting July 1, 2020, food scraps will be banned.  

What can I do with my food scraps & leaf/yard debris?

A. Compost

Compost in your backyard at home, work, or school to make a restorative soil amendment for your garden.

Compost inside a bin that sits on top of wire-mesh hardware cloth, so animals can't get into your pile. Cover every bucket of food scraps with three buckets of dried yard debris (“browns”), like leaves, dry grass, or chipped wood. Covering food scraps with browns reduces odors and creates a good carbon to nitrogen ratio for soil bacteria, the decomposers, to break the pile down. See the composting resources at the bottom of this page, sign up for the Vermont Master Composter Course, or find a local home composting workshop to get started with on-site composting.

B. Feed Animals

Some pre-consumer food scraps, such as spent brewery grain and whey, can be fed to animals.

Agency of Agriculture regulations prohibit feeding food scraps that have touched meat or fish, including their organs, bones, and juices, to pigs. These regulations do not apply to feeding personal food scraps to pigs that are for personal consumption. To learn more, consult the Feeding Food Scraps to Pigs handout and the Department of Agriculture's Guidance on Feeding Food Scraps to Pigs.

C. Send it to "The Pros"

  1. Drop-off Composting: You can drop off food scraps and yard debris at any transfer stations or bag-drop in Vermont. Many compost facilities also have drop-offs. To learn about services in your area, look at our Materials Management Map or contact your local Waste Management District or town
  2. Curbside pick-up: Ask your hauler if they offer leaf and yard debris or food scrap pick-up services. Click here for a statewide list of food scrap haulersVermont Certified Organics Facilities Map

Remember! Ask your drop-off facility or hauler what materials they accept. 

What Happens to the Organic Materials I've Separated? 

Most of Vermont’s organics are composted at composting facilities and some is fed to animals or processed at anaerobic digesters.  Click on the map to view facilities around the state.

Agency of Natural Resources
Department of Environmental Conservation
Waste Management and Prevention Division

Davis Building - 1st Floor
One National Life Drive
Montpelier, VT 05620-3704