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New Jersey DEP’s Waste Licensing Requirements May Have Expanded to Contractors and Landscapers

Land Fill, Trash, Dump, Environment

New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) regulates the transportation of waste in New Jersey.  This involves a significant licensing process including an A-901 application (including Personal History Disclosure Statements for all owners, officers and key employees and a Business Disclosure Statement, as well as second-level application documents for parent or related companies).

That regulation is now being extended to companies which transport soil and fill.  This may have a significant impact on contractors and landscapers who were not previously required to obtain licensing with the DEP.  Indeed, Governor Murphy signed bill A-4267 into law on January 21, 2020.  This law expands the NJDEP’s regulatory powers to those companies which provide soil and fill recycling services. Any business which transports, collects, processes, sells, stores, or disposes of soil and/or fill recyclable materials must be licensed with and approved by the NJDEP.

The law defines “soil and fill recyclable materials” as:

non-putrescible aggregate substitute, including, but not limited to, broken or crushed brick, block, concrete, or other similar manufactured materials; soil or soil that may contain aggregate substitute or other debris or material, generated from land clearing, excavation, demolition, or redevelopment activities that would otherwise be managed as solid waste, and that may be returned to the economic mainstream in the form of raw materials for further processing or for use as fill material.

Since this law is new, it first requires those businesses (which don’t yet hold an A-901 license) to submit a short registration form by April 20, 2020.  This allows companies already engaged in the business to continue to operate the business while the full license application is being completed by the applicant, reviewed by the NJDEP – which would include background checks for all key employees and owners – and then, hopefully, approved by the NJDEP.

The DEP will then issue a Registration to the company within 90 days of the submission.  After July 20, 2020, any company transporting, collecting, selling, etc. soil and fill without the Registration will be subject to penalties.  However, once registered, the company has until October 19, 2020 to submit the full license application to the NJDEP.  If the application is not completed by then, the registration will automatically expire and, again the company may be subject to penalties.

One of the primary concerns is what has been termed “dirty dirt,” i.e., dirt that is contaminated with other substances which should not be used as fill or deposited into the ground.   This dirt containing metal, plastic, wire, insulation, trash, etc., needs to be disposed at an approved solid waste disposal facility.  Dirt with hazardous contaminants may need to be deposited at certain landfills or other sites as permitted by the NJDEP.  Indeed, the NJDEP has launched its new “Guard Your Backyard” initiative, to help local municipalities to protect against illegal dumping.

This law will largely affect both residential and commercial contractors and landscapers who may not have previously been required to get A-901 licenses as solid waste haulers. Therefore, these businesses should take immediate action to determine whether they are going to need to register and obtain a license from the DEP to ensure to business interruption or violation notices.

There are still several uncertainties about the new law and its regulatory implications which have yet to be answered.  For instance, are soil and fill recycling license applications any different from A-901 applications? What about companies which have an A-901 license application pending, but not yet approved?  Do soil and fill companies need to complete CPCN (Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity) applications? Do they have to complete annual updates the way that waste haulers do? Our firm will continue to stay on top of the latest developments as the NJDEP determines how it will interpret and enforce this law.

McLaughlin & Nardi, LLC’s attorneys are experienced with New Jersey Solid Waste laws and DEP regulations governing the solid waste industry and can provide consultation and advice for New Jersey solid waste companies seeking to either begin their new business in the waste or soil and fill transportation industry or to improve their operations and ensure legal compliance.  To learn more about what we may be able to do to help, please visit our website, or contact one of our New Jersey lawyers by e-mail or telephone at (973) 890-0004.

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