The Vermont Legislature unanimously voted the Universal Recycling Law into action in 2012. This new law requires that all recyclables (metal, glass, plastic and paper) be banned from landfills starting in 2015. Leaf and yard debris as well as clean wood is required to be recycled by 2016 while all food scraps are to be recycled by July of 2020.

The Universal Recycling Law, will help Vermont take a step in the right direction in reducing the amount of materials that go into landfills. This gives Vermonters the chance to keep valuable materials out of the trash while merging more in-depth recycling and composting practices into motion. Residents won't be the only ones complying with these laws, it also brings businesses, institutions, schools and solid waste facilities to participate as well, as these types of organizations produce and dispose of mass quantities of waste. Recycling is constantly listed as the top sustainability initiative in businesses and institutions. Recycling is the least expensive, highest profile way to showcase a corporation's commitment to the environment.

The key goal in the Universal Recycling Act is to make solid waste services accessible, suitable and cost-effective to everyone in the State of Vermont. By doing so, this will bring many benefits to our state as well as the country. Vermont is on the cutting edge of this law, bringing awareness and a call-to-action to this important and mandatory issue.

Vermont isn't the only one leading the charge. States like California, Washington, New York and Massachusetts are improving their waste management by implementing mandatory participation across all sectors. In Massachusetts, more than 90% of their residents have access to curbside and other types of community recycle programs. The state is looking ahead by implementing programs such as public space and single-stream recycling. They are quickly becoming a national environmental leader.

Did you know that by July 2015, all trash containers used for public space waste disposal must have an equal number of recycling containers provided. These bins need to be in close proximity to the other bins and clearly labeled, to make it easy for people to either compost, recycle or dispose of trash. By having these containers universally streamlined, this will make participation easy, all the while contributing to a Zero Waste System.

Zero Waste is a total commitment to zero and being on path to zero. A Zero Waste system contributes to our environment in many ways, including lowering Green House Gas emissions, it creates jobs and stimulates economic growth, conserves existing landfill spaces and reduces the need for more landfills, empowers the consumers and businesses as well as supports our local food system and creates a bond within the community.

Do you know of a Zero Waste business leading the way? Share your story with us.