Read the full article by Elizabeth Gribkoff (Waste Dive)

… “Not everyone shares Hanselman’s enthusiasm for depackagers, though. A new depackager in Vermont drew the ire of a coalition of farming, environmental, and composting groups, who raised concerns that it would contaminate fertilizer — and therefore, farms — with microplastics and even PFAS, which stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

A third of the state’s food waste is packaged, according to the University of Vermont, and state residents and businesses alike are now banned from tossing food scraps into the trash.

Casella Waste Systems built a depackager last year near Burlington, Vermont, aimed at helping area food manufacturers like Ben and Jerry’s keep spoiled products out of the landfill. The food slurry from the Casella depackager goes to anaerobic digesters, and the leftover digestate is made into fertilizer. 

There’s a growing body of evidence showing that microplastics and PFAS are widespread on farm soils, and that vegetables can take up both contaminants. PFAS, in particular, have gained notoriety lately after farms in Maine and elsewhere have shut down upon finding that sewage sludge spreading had contaminated their land and livestock with the compounds. Maine recently enacted a law banning sewage sludge from being spread on farm fields in an effort to stem PFAS contamination.” …