MONTPELIER, Vt. – The Vermont House gave preliminary approval Thursday to legislation that would push the state toward the goal of recycling and composting all solid waste, with as little as possible going to landfills.

“We’re running out of space to put our waste,” said Rep. Tim Jerman, D-Essex.

The bill would call on the state Agency of Natural Resources to study the problem and plan for meeting new goals and enforcing new requirements to be met by businesses, individuals, trash haulers and companies that recycle solid waste.

Banned from landfills would be:

All batteries, except alkaline ones, effective immediately. They would be collected under a household hazardous waste program.

“Mandated recyclable materials,” including plastic and glass containers, cardboard and paper, by July 1, 2015.

Leaves, “yard residuals” like grass clippings, as well as waste wood, by July 1, 2016.

All organic materials by July 1, 2020. 

Vermont, unlike many other parts of the country, has very little municipal trash collection; instead it is collected by private haulers paid by homeowners and businesses, or by individuals bringing trash to transfer stations from which it is taken to landfills. 

Haulers would not be allowed to charge extra for handling recycled materials under the bill, though lawmakers acknowledged that the companies would merely roll their costs for recycling into the basic monthly bill they send to customers. 

Anyone putting out a trash can for public use would have to also put out a receptacle for recyclables. 

Composting would be encouraged, with deadlines set for larger generators like restaurants and food processors to stop shipping to landfills sooner than 2020 – the larger the annual tonnage the sooner the ban kicks in.