In our latest episode of NothingWasted!, we chat with Matt Karmel, environmental attorney at Riker Danzig. Riker Danzig’s Environmental Law Group is among the largest and most diverse practices of its kind, with a client base including both publicly and privately held companies of all sizes, as well as real estate developers, lending institutions and governmental entities.
We spoke with Karmel about his passion for food waste, new legislation in New Jersey, the effect of COVID-19 on food waste and more.
Here’s a sneak peek into the discussion:
Waste360: Can you talk about the food-waste law New Jersey Gov. Murphy recently signed—what it means for waste generators and moving forward?
Karmel: The main component of the law is what I’ll call the commercial-food-waste recycling mandate. What that means is that there are certain large quantity food-waste generators who are going to be forced to source separate and recycle food waste in certain instances. This has now been signed into law, and the industry is trying to get a handle on, “what are the questions we need to ask?” and “what are the gaps in the legislation?”— and then we can all start to figure this out. The mandate doesn’t go into effect until October 2021. In the meantime, everyone is figuring out what they need to do to implement it?
Waste360: Can the food waste recycling infrastructure keep up with the increased food waste that will come once this is rolled out?
Karmel: It depends. There are only four fully permitted commercial scale composting and anaerobic digesting facilities in New Jersey right now—so these alone cannot accommodate all of the food waste. It will be difficult, if not impossible, to expand that infrastructure in 18 months. But there are onsite and other food-waste solutions that are more quickly scalable in the short term.
Waste360: Is there a good program in another state that’s a great example of how to do this?
Karmel: I think it’s a matter of borrowing “what works” from other states. New Jersey is so densely populated, and there are so many factors at play, that it’s hard to pull from one particular program. But, for instance, New York is sending out letters to generators that might be subject to their state mandate. That’s something that would be great for New Jersey to borrow. Otherwise how are people going to know whether they’re subject to the new legislation, when the average business isn’t tracking their food waste? How do they know if they are over the threshold?