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Food Waste Bill Released from New Jersey Committee

Food Waste Bill Released from New Jersey Committee

The bill requires large food waste generators to separate and recycle food waste and amends the definition of “Class I renewable energy.”

The New Jersey Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee just released A2371 (Kennedy/Pinkin), a bill requiring large food waste generators to separate and recycle food waste. The bill also amends the definition of “Class I renewable energy.”

The measure is similar to bill S1206/A3726, which failed to pass through the Assembly in January and has been considered by state lawmakers in different versions over the past six years. That bill was conditionally vetoed by Gov. Phil Murphy last summer at the urging of various industry and environmental groups. Murphy returned the bill to the legislature with recommendations to remove the exemptions that allow food waste to be sent for final disposal to incinerators and sanitary landfills.

Under the current bill, large generators of food waste would have to separate the material from other trash and send it to either composting facilities or food waste-to-energy facilities, including anaerobic digesters, NJ Spotlight reports.

However, opponents maintain it would be too costly for supermarkets to comply with the law. Moreover, there are too few composting and other facilities that could recycle the food waste, the report notes.

The committee released the current bill without the exemption, but it could be added as the measure moves through the legislature, according to NJ Spotlight.

Environmentalists say this legislation will help curb New Jersey’s food waste problem and are glad that the legislation does not include sending food to incinerators. The New Jersey Sierra Club, however, has expressed its concern that biogas would be defined as a Class I renewable energy. 

“This bill will help get food waste out of landfills and reduce methane emissions. However, defining biogas as a Class I renewable energy is not accurate. Biogas releases greenhouse gases because it requires burning, and it is not renewable because it is generated from waste," said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, in a statement. "Class I renewables should be forms of energy that are actually renewable, like solar, wind, waves and geothermal. We believe that biogas should be defined as a different form of energy, perhaps Class II or something else. Class I renewable energy should continue to define forms of clean, renewable energy that do not produce greenhouse gases. We also need education programs to help reduce the amount of food waste that goes into our landfills each year … If they allow landfills to be included in this bill, specifically burning landfill gas as a Class I renewable, we would have to oppose this legislation. There is no way landfill gas should be considered anywhere near a Class I renewable.”

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