New Jersey looks to join other states in reducing food waste

On March 5th, the New Jersey Senate approved food waste bill A2371 that will require large generators of food waste to recycle the material rather than landfilling. The bill specifies that any large generator of food waste that is within a 25-mile radius of a food waste recycling facility and generates 52 or more tons per year of food waste will have to separate the organic material from other waste. In the bill, large food waste generators include grocery stores, restaurants, hospitals, etc.
The bill also amends the definition of “Class I renewable energy” to include biogas, in hopes to increase energy production. Historically, Class I renewables, from energy sources such as solar or wind, i.e., sources of energy that do not produce greenhouse gases, have not included biogas. According to the EPA, biogas is produced after organic material is broken down by bacteria in an oxygen-free environment, which is often referred to as anerobic digestion. Biogas mostly consists of methane and carbon dioxide. The New Jersey bill included biogas to provide an alternative for food waste to incinerators and landfills.

Governor Phil Murphy vetoed a similar bill in June 2019, which allowed for incineration and landfilling to be considered part of the recycling program. Those exemptions were removed in the current bill which now goes for the Governor’s signature.

Organics recycling regulations are currently in place in other states such as California and Vermont. See more information on these and related regulations in the Retail Compliance Center's Mandatory Organics Recycling Regulations fact sheet.
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