Managing Regulations and Regulators
Efforts are underway in New Jersey to change the legal landscape affecting food waste and composting.
The first “frontier” is legislation signed into law in July 2017 that is aimed at cutting New Jersey’s food waste in half by 2030. This legislation requires the New Jersey Departments of Environmental Protection and Agriculture to develop and commence implementation of a plan to accomplish this goal. The Agencies have been slow to initiate the planning process, and, in fact, have indicated that their plan will only address pre-consumer reduction of food waste, but the Agencies are gearing up to start a dialogue with stakeholders and the general public that may lead to significant changes, including, perhaps, changes to the burdensome permitting requirements that currently apply to composting facilities in New Jersey.
The second frontier is proposed legislation that would require large quantity food waste generators to recycle their waste. While the legislation remains pending, one of the most interesting aspects involves a public debate between the New Jersey Association of Counties and Covanta, a waste-to energy company, over whether disposal at a landfill with a biogas collection system constitutes “recycling” or whether there is too much methane released into the environment prior to closure of the landfill for this process to qualify as recycling. As noted, the legislation remains pending.
The third frontier is a grassroots movement to suggest revisions to New Jersey’s composting regulations regarding activities at a community garden. New Jersey law currently prohibits members of a community garden from composting food waste generated within the community (i.e., outside the boundaries of the community garden) at the community garden without a permit, and the permitting requirements are too burdensome for a community garden to navigate. The suggested revisions are designed to allow small scale composting at a community garden without a permit.
This presentation will review the above changes and their potential impact on food waste and composting in New Jersey.