New Jersey Food Waste Recycling Law

Our attorneys counsel and represent people and businesses in the New Jersey solid waste and recycling industry.  In April 2020, the New Jersey Legislature passed and Governor Phil Murphy signed a law that would greatly effect the New Jersey solid waste and recycling industry by increasing recycling requirements for food waste.  The law, P.L.2020 c.24,  passed as Assembly Bill A2371, requires large generators of food waste to separate and recycle it, becoming the seventh state to do so.  The law is to become effective in October 2021.

It is estimated that nationally almost forty percent of food is never eaten, that that this generates thirty eight million tons of waste annually.  In New Jersey, approximately twenty two percent of solid waste being disposed of in landfills and incinerators is food waste.  The goal of the law is to keep this product out of landfills and incinerators where it would take up scarce space and produce methane gas.  In the process, a new industry will be created.  It thus has the advantage of helping the environment and creating an entirely new source of jobs.

The law requires that large generators of food waste (defined as those producing more than fifty two tons of food waste per year – or more specifically, “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 fifty two tons per year of food waste”) to separate their food waste from their regular solid waste for recycling (this is referred to as “source separated”).  This material must then be sent to the closest authorized recycling facility within twenty five miles. 

Under the New Jersey solid waste recycling law, if a facility is not located within 25 miles the food waste generator is exempt.  The initial four food waste facilities identified by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) are Trenton Renewable Power in Trenton, Republic Services of New Jersey in Middlesex, Waste Management of New Jersey in Elizabeth and Gloucester City Organic Recycling in Gloucester City.  This list is likely to grow.  Alternatively, large generators can compost their food refuse on-site.  The recycling facilities can receive a “class I renewable energy certificate,” which can be sold on the market or sold to energy suppliers so they can meet renewable energy requirements.  This provides another financial incentive for additional facilities to open.

A generator can apply for a waiver if the new transportation requirements increase cost by more than ten percent over its prior expenses for shipping the waste to a landfill.  However, the local recycling facility must be provided with notice and the opportunity to participate in the waiver process.

Fines are $250 for the first violation, $500 for the second, and $1000 for subsequent offenses.  Each day constitutes a separate offense.  The NJDEP has been tasked to create rules to implement the law.

While this law has the potential to open up a whole new industry, New Jersey has long exempted bakery byproduct used as animal feed from the State’s solid waste laws.  This is another step in that laudable direction.


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Our New Jersey business attorneys are experienced at counselling and representing businesses engaged in the New Jersey solid waste and recycling industry, including compliance with NJDEP regulations.    We help New Jersey solid waste transportation companies enter the solid waste industry through the A-901 process, and starting up their businesses.  Our New Jersey business attorneys represent solid waste and recycling businesses in litigation and negotiations.  We help New Jersey solid waste companies and New Jersey recyclers in all areas of their business.  Call us at (973) 890-0004 or fill out the contact form on this page to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.  We can help.


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