Urgent Development - NJ Legislation on Food Waste Recycling, Please Voice Your Concern!

Dear SJC Members:

We need your help.  As many of you know, we have been working to educate the Jersey City community about the many health, environmental, and economic benefits of food waste recycling. Moreover, the New Jersey Composting Council, one of our partner organizations, has been working diligently to support state-wide legislation that would benefit the food waste recycling industries in New Jersey. However, the New Jersey legislature is about to pass severely flawed legislation – Bill S1206 – that considers landfilling and incineration of food waste to be “recycling.” 

Please contact your Senator immediately and voice your concerns about this shortsighted bill ahead of a congressional vote scheduled to take place this Thursday, June 27th. You can find your elected representatives contact information here. For your convenience, below is a brief but informative commentary on the bill by our friends at the New Jersey Composting Council.


New Jersey’s Food Waste “Recycling” Bill S1206

New Jersey Composting Council

Currently working its way through our state legislature is Bill S2106, which claims to require the “recycling” of food waste by large food waste generators. In theory, this bill is based on similar legislation passed in Massachusetts, Connecticut and most recently by our neighbors across the Hudson in New York. These bills, generally speaking, have been very successful, with Massachusetts having generated $175 Million in economic activity in its first two years of implementation. Given these economic and environmental successes in an age of economic and environmental insecurity, it makes sense for New Jersey to pass similar legislation.

The New Jersey Composing Council has been actively advocating for such environmentally progressive legislation in New Jersey this past year. Unfortunately, the most recent version of Bill S1206 smuggles environmental benefits out the back door by treating landfills and incinerators as appropriate food waste “recycling” facilities – this notwithstanding the fact that incinerators and landfills alike pollute the atmosphere with noxious methane and carbon emissions and eliminate or contaminate scarce nutrients that should be returned to our soils in support of local, sustainable agricultural systems. 

Whatever the merit of landfills and incinerators, they do not “recycle” food waste. Moreover, our food waste has already been going to landfills and incinerators for years. Raising the question, what's the point of the bills as currently drafted?

If drafted properly, food waste recycling bills have the potential to support the development of organics recycling infrastructure, a critically important aspect of the sustained agricultural and economic health of our state. To address the massive food and organic waste challenges facing New Jersey, we must reduce overall food waste by donating our leftovers and recycling whatever is left back into our regenerative agricultural systems. The problem is, we don't currently have the infrastructure in place to recycle food waste at scale. Properly drafted food waste recycling bills should incentivize the movement of organics waste volume into true recycling facilities, not landfills and incinerators.

Organics recycling is a challenge, but also a tremendous opportunity. Both aerobically and anaerobically produced compost has numerous benefits, including the potential to sequester carbon from the atmosphere, rehabilitate soil against erosion and nutrient loss, protect against flooding, and generate meaningful jobs. As such, food waste recycling legislation is a positive step for any state – but only when used to implement true recycling systems, not just enshrine the status quo for the benefit of a few vested interests.

 New Jersey Composting Council

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