ENVIRONMENTAL AWARD: TAM recognized for excellence
First commercial organics composting operation in the county
Bennington Banner, 7/2/15- By Chris Mays
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The garbage industry can get a bum rap when it comes to protecting the environment. But that’s not the case with the local TAM, Inc., which just received a 2015 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence.
“In the last five to six years, we’ve put a lot of energy and resources into making sure we’re as environmentally conscious as we can be and really it’s become a passion for us to figure out how to lessen our impact,” said Trevor Mance, owner. “We handle this material and we have the opportunity to do different things with it rather than just throw it away.” TAM was recognized for being the first commercial organics composting operation in Bennington County with “innovative” educational programs for customers and schools, a press release stated. Since 1993, the awards offered a way to recognize efforts and actions of Vermonters to conserve and protect natural resources, prevent pollution and promote environmental sustainability.
Mance and his crew looked hard at how to address organics and compost. And they’ve considered different recycling technologies.
TAM manages the Shaftsbury Transfer Station and owns another facility there. It also has a recycling center in Pownal and a composting facility in Bennington. Matt Proft, who had a farm in Dorset where composting was done, joined TAM. Mance said Proft shares the same passion for the environment. He also incorporates education. “He’s trying to get the next generations trained,” said Mance. “It’s also just a great science lesson to go up to our facility and see how nature breaks this stuff down.”
Local schools and businesses are known to take the tour. Equinox Village employees attended an adult education workshop there while Bennington College, Winhall’s Mountain School and Pownal Elementary School brought students. During the awards presentation, Mance said he learned over 200 applications were submitted and only 13 awards were given out. Schools will be recognized separately Aug. 6 at a Vermont Principals Association summer leadership conference in Killington.
Protecting the environment was a passion that grew out of outdoor activities introduced to Mance early on.
“We felt pretty honored by getting one of these,” he said. “My father is a forester and we grew up hunting and fishing and trapping in the woods of Vermont. That same kind of passion is held by a lot of the employees, too. I couldn’t do it without their hard work and commitment for taking on these projects.”
Mance looks at the recognition as a good victory, for himself and his employees. And the future’s looking good. “Currently we are on track to compost 1,500 tons per year of food waste,” Mance said. “On the construction side of things, we’re very excited to offer recycling for hard-to- recycle items like vinyl siding.” Also, TAM now has compost available for sale.
Other award recipients included Central Vermont Medical Center, General Electric Aviation, IBM, Mountain Meadow Farm, Ottauquechee Natural Resources Conservation District, Lewis Creek Association, University of Vermont Extension, the city of Montpelier, Mount Holly and Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District. Lake Region High School, Thetford Elementary and Burlington School District were among the educational institutes given awards.
“There’s a lot of great projects going on in Vermont,” Mance added. “We’re making great strides in this state.”
Contact Chris Mays at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-447-7567, ext. 111.
TAM Organics offers cubic yards of rich compost for sale, generated at our Bennington commercial composting site. TAM began developing this project in the fall of 2012, and we are very proud to reach our goal! If you need high-quality compost for your garden, landscaping or crops, beat the crowd and give us a call.
Bennington Banner, 4/10/15 – By Keith Whitcomb Jr.
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Trevor Mance, owner of TAM Waste Management in Shaftsbury, shows off one of the split body trucks he says his company will need more of if it wants to meet the state’s recycling goals. TAM worries compliance will be costly, state and county officials say not so much.
SHAFTSBURY» A local waste hauler is worried that new regulations on trash and recycling will be difficult and expensive to follow.
“I don’t want to come off as negative on this law,” said Trevor Mance, owner of TAM Waste Management in Shaftsbury. “There’s positive effects of it — it just means there’s going to be a price increase, it’s going to cost more money.”
Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law was passed unanimously by the legislature in 2012. Not all of it goes into effect at once, with most elements being phased in each year until 2020.
Starting July 1, all towns and solid waste districts must have implemented a “pay-as-youthrow” fee structure requiring residential trash charges to be based on volume or weight. The law also says that by that date:
- Recyclables will be banned from landfills.
- Transfer stations must accept leaf and yard debris.
- Haulers must offer recycling collection at no additional charge.
- Public buildings must place recycling containers alongside trash containers except the ones in restrooms.
- Entities generating more than 52 tons of food scraps per year or one ton per week must divert that material to a certified facility within 20 miles.
Mance said that as a hauler he will be required to report on a quarterly basis how many tons of material came from each town, and state, that he hauls waste from. The state will use these numbers to see how much material is being recycled, with a goal of 50 percent.
It’s these reporting requirements and target numbers he fears will cost his company as much as $3 million over the next five years, even if county and state officials say the requirements are not so onerous.
Mance said that keeping up with the reporting requirements will require him to create at least one part-time position at his company, if not a fulltimer, and to recycle 50 percent of the 24,000 tons of material that comes through the TAM transfer station on a yearly basis will require him to purchased between two and three additional “split body” trucks, each costing approximately $250,000.
Josh Kelly, materials management section chief for the Agency of Natural Resources Solid Waste Program, said the goal of raising Vermont’s recycling rate to 50 percent — from the current 30 to 35 percent — is not a target number nor a requirement, but an overall goal, not something to be enforced.
How towns go about recording solid waste is also largely up to them, he said.
Right now, 13 towns in Bennington County, including Bennington and its direct neighbors, are working on two things that dovetail together regarding solid waste. One is they hope to create a solid waste alliance, which is an entity similar to a solid waste district but with less authority. The alliance, according to Michael Batcher, solid waste program manager for the Bennington County Regional Commission, would formalize some pre-existing relationships the towns have had to manage the flow of solid waste.
The BCRC does not create laws or enforce them. Primarily it supports towns in the county with grant applications and planning documents. It has assisted with past solid waste implementation plans (SWIP) and helped each town draft an solid waste ordinance in line with the statewide SWIP.
Batcher said the towns would use this licensing system to effectively enforce the pay-as-you-throw requirement and to track what material is being hauled from where. This will be made easier if and when the solid waste alliance is created.
“We don’t want to make this burdensome,” said Batcher, saying there is no intent to penalize towns or haulers for bad reporting. The goal is simply to have everyone in the state paying for throwing out trash by volume and to track how much is being recycled.
Mance was not reassured by these statements.
“What happens five years from now?” he wondered, speaking to the Banner earlier this week.
Mance sat on the Solid Waste Infrastructure Committee, the input from which went into making the Universal Recycling Law. It was estimated that the state’s waste haulers, from TAM to the much larger Casella Waste Systems, would pay a total of $45 million to be able to comply with it.
Mance said his company owns two split body trucks capable of collecting and compacting trash and recyclables at the levels the state would like to see. His other vehicles can collect both types of material, but not as much recycling.
The split body trucks also can not maneuver into most residential driveways, meaning TAM will have to supply containers for people to take the material to the curb.
Towns in the Bennington area are already using pay-as-you-throw, he said, but some other areas TAM services such as Winhall, Stratton, and Wardsboro, are not.
“Those towns, at the transfer stations they just embedded the cost of garbage into the taxes, so as a resident you just pull in, there’s no garbage fee,” he said.
According to Mance, the idea behind pay-asyou- throw is to give people a financial incentive to recycle. Recycling is free, tossing out garbage is not, so the more one recycles and the less they send to a landfill, the easier it is on their finances.
“Not everybody recycles,” said Mance. “A lot of people don’t recycle. A lot of apartment buildings basically don’t do any recycling. We deal with so many landlords who don’t provide recycling, they don’t want to provide recycling.”
He said Vermont has typically had a 30 percent recycling rate.
“Vermont is not as green as we like to think we are,” he said. “We’ve got a very stagnant level of recycling rate compared to more progressive states like California and out west.”
Mance said he’s not sure who the “garbage police” will be exactly, or what teeth the Universal Recycling Law has, or ultimately will have, and that’s what concerns him.
“My fear, how I see it, and I can’t show you any statute that says this is how it’s going to go, the easy target is going to be the haulers, because they’re not going to go after Trevor Mance individually for not recycling at my house, they’re going to go after TAM,” he said. “They’re going to come down and look at the transfer station and watch a load get dumped, and say there’s recyclables in this load that shouldn’t have been there. We don’t really care who they came from but you’re getting fined.”
Bennington Town Manager Stuart Hurd said he does not know what penalties are associated with the Universal Recycling Law, but that the town intends to comply with the requirement for placing recycling containers next to trash containers in public places.
The problem for Bennington will be the downtown trash containers. Each costs about $800, so buying another one to put next to them for recycling would get expensive quickly. For now, Hurd said, the plan is to simply double them up, meaning less waste receptacles overall.
Mance said there is currently a bill in the legislature that would create a grant program for haulers who need to upgrade their equipment to comply with the law. It would fund 25 percent of the cost, which allow a company like his to secure a loan.
Concerns aside, Mance said the law does some good things and at least in TAM’s case has led to job creation.
“We’re going to be staffing our Pownal facility with people to help recycling,” he said. “We’ve got our compost facility that has a couple people working at it. These were jobs that weren’t there, and because of this law they will be there, so what is the total impact? I still think it’s positive. I don’t want to come off as bashing the state or saying they’re a bunch of fools, it’s a good idea, it’s just going to be expensive.”
TAM opened a compost facility in Bennington a few years ago, after unsuccessfully trying to build it in Shaftsbury, and hopes to open a recycling center soon in Pownal. Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at 802-447-7567, Ext. 115.
BENNINGTON BANNER, 02/24/2015, by Derek Carson
Photo: Athena Lee Bradley, of Northeast Recycling Council, at Monument Elementary
Monument Elementary School kicked off a new composting program on Tuesday, with help from the Northeast Recycling Council and TAM Waste Management. Athena Lee Bradley, projects manager at the Brattleboro-based Northeast Recycling Council, has worked with four Bennington area schools to implement composting programs, after her organization received a grant from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. Those schools, Arlington Memorial High/Middle School, Fisher Elementary in Arlington, Flood Brook School in Londonderry, and Monument, will have a leg up on other schools, who will have to comply with the ban on food scraps from Vermont landfills as put forth in Act 148, Vermont’s Universal Recycling Act.
For those unfamiliar with the timeline of Act 148’s implementation, food scrap generators who generate more than 52 tons a year have to divert that scrap to a local certified facility by this July. By July 2016, generators of 26 tons a year or more will have to have taken these steps, followed by generators of 18 tons a year or more in July 2017, and all food scraps by July 2020. The nearest certified facility to Bennington is TAM.
Bradley, along with Matthew Proft of TAM, explained to the students how the new composting program will work. “We’re going to take those food scraps you don’t eat,” said Bradley, “and we send them over to Matt’s place, and we’ll turn them into soil, for nice things like gardens.”Bradley walked students through a lunch tray full of waste, asking whether each item would be compost or trash. While kids were hesitant to answer at first, when they things they had always thought of as trash, suchas orange and banana peels, were actually compostable, but they picked up on the system quickly, and were answering confidently by the end of the tray.
“In the old days,” Proft told the students, “we’d take it all up to a landfill, and dump it in the earth, and cover it with other trash. Now, we’ll have a big tote outside, where we’ll collect all your food scraps from lunch.” Then, he said, once per week, a truck from TAM will empty the tote and take it back to their facilities, where it will be mixed with other organic waste, such as leaves. Soil created through this process is then used in growing more food, he said, creating a continuous cycle.
Bradley later clarified that even meat products are able to composted by TAM, “It’s not like a backyard operation, it gets up over 150 degrees for weeks.”
Monument also recently implemented a recycling program in their classrooms, and will now have student compost monitors at lunches who will, along with school custodian Gary Kinney, help their fellow students until they get the hang of what is compostable and what isn’t. Bradley said that between 50-60 percent of the waste produced by schools is in the form of food waste, and Act 148 will go a long way towards limiting the need for landfills in the state. “I know people aren’t in favor of mandates,” she said, “but there are reasons behind it. It’s good for the environment, and no one wants to live next to a landfill.”
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122 or dcarson@ benningtonbanner.com or @DerekCarsonBB on Twitter.
As we head into winter at the end of our first season at TAM Organics, 425 TONS of food scraps are busily turning into rich compost soil for Spring 2015. See you then!
TAM appreciates your business! Every time a new customer mentions your name when they sign up for service, we will give you $20 credit on your next bill* as well as $20 credit to your friend on their first month of service! Make sure they mention your name when they call to set up pick-up service.
This is just another way that choosing TAM pays!
* Call our office for details.
This furry Pownal resident was caught on candid camera the other night, test-driving a TAM bin. Oops, it’s upside down! How do you get to the tasty stuff, anyway?
Alayna Maguire, the beautiful baby who graced our home page for several years, is proud to show off her new shirt and the reason she’s wearing it- her brand new baby brother! Along with Alayna, parents Joseph and Meghan Maguire welcomed Imman Robert Maguire into the world on July 7, 2014.
On July 6, 2014, proud parents Dave and Michelle Weber welcomed twin babies, David Charles and Lillie Jo into the world. Here they are at one month, already becoming two armsful!