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New Jersey’s New Mandate for Food Waste Recycling

On April 14, 2020, New Jersey Governor Murphy signed a food waste recycling bill (A2371)  aimed at requiring large producers of food waste in New Jersey to recycle their unused food.  This mandate is schedule to go into effect ondump-truck-1396587__340-300x215 approximately October 14, 2021.

The law applies to “large food waste generators” which are defined as “any commercial food wholesaler, distributor, industrial food processor, supermarket, resort, conference center, banquet hall, restaurant, educational or religious institution, military installation, prison, hospital, medical facility, or casino that produces at least 52 tons per year of food waste.”   Any large food waste generator that is located within 25 miles of a food recycling facility will be required to separate out food waste from other solid waste and send the food waste to the food recycling facility.  Alternatively, these generators can compost their food waste (or other authorized anaerobic or aerobic digestion) on-site, or use other recycling alternatives.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (known as the “DEP”) lists food waste recycling facilities to include Trenton Renewable Power, LLC (Trenton, NJ), and Waste Management Core (Elizabeth, NJ).  Therefore, a significant amount of generators in New Jersey will likely be considered to be within the 25 miles. Those outside the 25 miles range or with waste which is not accepted by the food recycling facility within their range may dispose of the waste as they normally would with other solid waste.

A generator may seek an exemption or “waiver” of this requirement if the cost is at least 10 percent more than the normal costs incurred for solid waste transportation and disposal. The local recycling facility must be given notice of any such exemption request and have an opportunity to participate in the DEP’s proceeding regarding the waiver.  The fines are $250 for a first offense, $500 for a second offense, and $1,000 for the third and each subsequent offense.  If the violation is continuing, each day constitutes a separate offense.

For waste transporters, it is important to be aware of this new law coming into effect.  New Jersey solid waste transporters – particularly those which service restaurants and other large generators – may need to consider diversifying their operations and providing source-separated services with separate deliveries to both solid waste and food waste recycling facilities. Otherwise, they may miss out on customers and businesses who need to look elsewhere in order to comply with the new mandates.  It is also reasonable to expect that transporters will have at least some responsibility in ensuring that food waste is being appropriately source separated from regular solid waste.

Food waste generators are going to have to consider their options in obtaining food waste recycling services or seeking out a waiver.

The New Jersey DEP will be creating and adopting rules and regulations to put this law into practical effect.  These regulations will include record keeping and reporting requirements for large food waste generators and recycling facilities, guidelines to determine applicability, a list of types of food waste that must be recycled, standards for on-site composting, and procedures for seeking the waiver. The DEP is expected to provide this guidance sometime in 2021, with a deadline also in October of 2021, but hopefully before the law takes full effect.

Our New Jersey solid waste attorneys are experienced with New Jersey solid waste and recycling laws and DEP regulations governing the solid waste industry and can provide consultation and advice for New Jersey solid waste transportation companies seeking to either begin their new business in the waste transportation industry or to improve their operations and ensure legal compliance.  Our business attorneys help New Jersey solid waste companies and New Jersey recyclers in all areas of their business.  To learn more about what our attorneys may be able to do to help, please visit our website,  or contact one of our New Jersey lawyers by telephone at (973) 890-0004 or filling out the contact form on this page.

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