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Episode 90: Unpacking NJ’s Landmark Environmental Justice Law (Transcript)

TAGS: Legal
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[00:00:00] Liz Bothwell: Hi everyone, welcome to Waste360's NothingWasted! Podcast. On every episode, we invite the most interesting people in waste recycling and organics to sit down with us and chat candidly about their thoughts, their work, this unique industry and so much more. Thanks for listening and enjoy this episode.

[music]

[00:00:26] Liz: Hi everyone. This is Liz Bothwell from Waste360 with Matt Karmel. He's an attorney with Riker Danzig Environmental Law. Welcome back, Matt, and thanks for being on the show again.

[00:00:37] Matt Karmel: Thank you. I'm very pleased to be back.

[00:00:39] Liz: I know you and I have spoken before on this podcast, but for those who don't know you, could you please remind us a bit about your background, and what ignited your interest in sustainability?

[00:00:51] Matt: Absolutely. As you mentioned, I'm an environmental attorney, which means that I handle all different types of matters that relate to the environment, whether that's site remediation, cleanup of contaminated brownfields, or, as I've been doing a lot more recently, focusing on solid waste, recycling, and matters relating to sustainability.

My interest in that has been peaked for a long time and has significantly included organics recycling. New Jersey, for many years, has been expanding its focus on food waste recycling, and organics recycling. That really opened a door that I saw to expand my practice, expand what I'm focusing on, helped to build that industry in New Jersey. I took that opportunity, have been working with industry groups and others to try to get that off the ground.

At the same time, keeping my eye on all other matters relating to sustainability in New Jersey, including renewable energy, and also the recent environmental justice law that I know we're going to talk a lot about today.

[00:02:04] Liz: Absolutely. Thank you for that. Yes, I'd like to dive right into that. Like you said, you're a Jersey guy and this is landmark environmental justice law. I'd love to dig into that. Can you just tell us more about it and break down what it means?

[00:02:20] Matt: Absolutely. I'm sure many people have heard about it. It's being lauded as the toughest in the nation from an environmental justice perspective. What does that mean? First, let's talk about environmental justice.

The concept of environmental justice, according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the US Environmental Protection Agency is, "Ensuring the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies".

In other words, there tends to be around urban communities, lots of large facilities that have environmental impacts. There's often the feeling that they get cited in those communities and that those communities face a disproportionate impact, that they have more environmental burdens and fewer environmental benefits than those in other communities. In order to address this, many states have taken different approaches.

New Jersey's approach, in this new law, which has just been passed and the process of gearing up for implementation is going on. This new law aims to address that by incorporating environmental justice considerations into the permitting process so that when a facility is going to expand or it's sited in a specific area, we'll need certain permits. As part of that process, we'll have to take a look at what are the environmental burdens on that community from that project. Is there a disproportionate impact on that community as a result of the facility, when you compare it to another community within the state? That's a whole lot. We can certainly take a little bit of time to unpack that.

[00:04:27] Liz: That would be great.

[00:04:29] Matt: The touchstone with the law is the preparation and submission of an environmental justice impact. This is a report that evaluates the impact from a facility, and then determines whether there's a disproportionate impact from that facility on its host community as compared against a third community, another community. For instance, Camden, New Jersey has some communities that are considered overburdened communities, and we'll get into what's the definition of overburdened community is in a minute.

If a facility that requires a covered permit is going to be sited in Camden, New Jersey, in one of these communities, the report would have to look at the impact from the facility, the impact within the community itself, and then it would have to sum those impacts and compare it to another community outside of Camden and say, "Okay, is there a disproportionate impact? Is this community within Camden bearing more environmental harms than other communities outside of that area?"

That's a complicated thing, but something that we'll have to figure out how to do. When I say, "We need to figure out how to do it", the law creates a really strong framework. It tells us what do we have to do and it tells us what the DEP's authority is in reviewing the Environmental Justice Impact Statement, but it doesn't fill in all the details.

That is really where the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is going to be focusing in the next couple of months. They've already started to do so by engaging stakeholders and having stakeholder meetings to explore the key concepts of the legislation.

[00:06:37] Liz: You mentioned defining overburdened communities. It sounds like New Jersey might be the first one to actually compare existing communities to others. Now, when you say that, like for example when you mentioned Camden, would it be other communities within New Jersey or we'll look at other States as well?

[00:06:59] Matt: Overburdened community is defined in the legislation. In order for the legislation to apply, in order for the requirement to prepare an Environmental Justice Impact Statement to apply, the facility is going to need to be located in an overburdened community. It's going to need to be a covered facility, and it needs to be applying for a specified permit, so taking overburdened community first.

Overburdened community is not actually defined in the legislation based on the impact on the community. It's instead, defined based on certain socio-economic indicators, socio-economic demographics within those communities. For instance, what's the percentage of English speaking people? What's the percentage of certain minorities? What's the percentage of low-income households? If any of those socioeconomic indicators is triggered above the threshold for it, then that's considered an overburdened community.

It is more helpful a little bit, sometimes, to think about it as a potentially overburdened community or an environmental justice community, and an area where the demographics suggest that we may have an environmental justice issue. According to reports, the definition of overburdened communities could apply to more than 300 municipalities and four million residents in New Jersey. It's a significant portion of the state. There are some preliminary maps out that have been prepared, which show some of the locations of these overburdened communities within the state.

[00:08:46] Liz: That is a huge number. Now, are they using census data or the reports you're referring to? How are they determining the? [crosstalk]

[00:08:53] Matt: They're using census data. Exactly. They're using census data and the communities are actually defined by census track. The communities are circumscribed by the sets.

[00:09:07] Liz: Okay. Got it.

[00:09:09] Matt: The facilities that are included, the covered facilities, are several different types of waste management and recycling operations, as well as facilities with what's called a Title V Permit, which applies to facilities with significant air emissions. Then, the permits that are covered are a wide range. There's some specificity to be worked out at what types of permits, but it's really anything and everything.

It's very broad, but it is individual permits. Meaning permits that are tailored to the facility, or at least it appears this way based on the legislation and not general permits, which are permits that can be more taken off the shelf. That's a normal distinction in permits where individual permits that have more application requirements, are more closely tailored, and general permits are more procedurally, administratively streamlined. That's how it will apply to a very wide range of individual permits.

[00:10:13] Liz: Got it. I'm in Connecticut, so I heard that Connecticut's law in this respect is procedural where new Jersey's takes it a step further. Can you talk about the difference between that?

[00:10:28] Matt: Absolutely. As you mentioned, New Jersey takes it a step further. There is a substantive component because at the conclusion of the Environmental Justice Impact Statement, depending on what the context is, the DEP has certain authority.

For a permit for a new facility, if the facility would cause or contribute to an adverse cumulative environmental or public health stressors in the overburdened community, in other words, if it would cause or contribute to a cumulative negative impact on that community that is higher than the impact born by other communities within the state, the DEP shall deny the permit. That's the first part.

There is a compelling interest exception, which we can talk about separately, which has some specific nuances, but to restate the general rule for new permits for new facilities, if there is a negative cumulative impact or a disproportionate impact from the facility, the DEP is to deny the permit. Period. Then, we get into whether there's a compelling public interest. Now, there are, I would say, at least three nuances in what I just said.

The first is, how do you determine what the impact of a facility is? That's the first nuance that really needs to be fleshed out. That's the key of the Environmental Justice Impact Statement, the report that I was talking about earlier. What gets included in the first instance? Certainly, air emissions get ined and that's included in the definition of environmental or public health stressor, which is the touchdown of the other traditional sources of discreet pollution like water pollution, or things like that. The thing that comes out of a pipe or a stack that you'd expect.

The definition of environmental or public health stressor also includes conditions that may cause potential public health impacts, such as asthma, cancer, elevated blood levels. What this is going to include, that is, I would say, a flexible definition that is going to allow the state to broadly define what is an environmental or public health stressor. This is important because these are the things that are going to be considered when we're deciding what the impact of a facility is.

We're talking about, as I said, the traditional sources of pollution that come out of a stack or a pipe, and then we're also talking about other things. For instance, in stakeholder meetings, the state has questions. Age of housing, if we have old housing in the area, if we have a lead in waterlines in the area, if there's lack of access to healthy food, if there's lack of access to green space, if there's traffic impacts, those things are likely, I would say, to be considered in environmental or public health stressors.

You both have these more attenuated negative effect, and the absence of positive effects. If you were to build a power plant in an area, and therefore, disrupt the green spaces, if the construction of the power plant would to remove a portion of the park or something like that, that would be considered because we're losing some green space. Now, this is going to be a difficult thing, I think, for the state to define because they're going to have to ground it in science of, "Okay. How exactly does this impact, even if it's lack of green space, contribute to a public health impact like asthma cancer, elevated blood lead levels? How do we tie that together?" I'm expecting them to do it broadly.

This is the first nuance of this, is, how do we define that? Then, we're attempting to come up with a holistic evaluation, how do we compare different impacts? How do we compare air impacts to noise impacts? How do we compare air impacts to green space? How do we compare this to come up with the holistic determination that this law is looking for? I'll pause there because we're just into the first two nuances of that. There are other significant nuances to discuss.

[00:15:18] Liz: That's a big challenge.

[00:15:20] Matt: Yes. It's going to be difficult, the state knows that it's going to be difficult. It was an incredible victory to get this law passed, it's for the champions of environmental justice. It has been pending in some form before New Jersey's legislature for more than a decade. To get it now is a tremendous victory, but we've crested the first tail, and the higher hill is in the distance. We have to cross that hill, get something that is defensible, and works is a balance for the environmental groups and the industry in New Jersey because we need industry, but we need to make sure that it is developed sustainably, and that it fits within the communities where it's located.

That is also what this balance is showing, we have a lot of different stakeholders that are going to be at the table during these discussions. It's going to be difficult process; one the state is going to manage carefully.

[00:16:28] Liz: Yes. They definitely will need to manage this carefully, and all of the stakeholders need to be there. Like we talked about, it's landmark, it's unprecedented, without all of them at the table, this will not be successful. It's quite a hurdle, but worthy of, obviously, trying and doing so. I'm going to be so curious to watch this. Now, Matt, you mentioned two other nuances, can you get into those?

[00:16:54] Matt: Yes. The others, I think, are a little narrower, that first one was quite meaty. One is, I was mentioning that there's a disproportionate impact that we're focusing on disproportionate impact. We need to compare the environmental justice community, the overburden community, and the impact on it by the facility that we're focusing on against another community within the state, but the legislation doesn't tell us what the comparison should be.

It says that we compare to another community within the state, county, or other geographic units of analysis. We could compare a tiny community to a larger community, or a large community to a tiny community. That's where we're getting in. This is going to be something that is interesting as to whether the state circumscribes it, or leaves it flexible as to when they do what. It may be driven by what is the primary impact.

For instance, if air is the primary impact from the facility, air emissions impact a larger area than noise impact. It would make sense to have a larger area of comparison. That nuance is defining, what is the comparison community, and how big is it. The other one that I was mentioning is the compelling interest exception. As I noted, the DEP has to deny a new permit if there is a disproportionate impact, unless there's a compelling public interest.

Now, compelling public interest language is not unusual, but what is specific about this is that the compelling public interest must be in the hosted community, the overburdened community. Again, let's take the Camden example. If we're going to be building a facility in Camden, and we are going to be using the compelling public interest exception, the interest for that facility needs to be in Camden. If it's a power plant that is serving Philadelphia, Philadelphia may have an interest in this power plant, but unless the community of Camden does as well, it’s not going to satisfy the compelling public interest exception.

[00:19:18] Liz: Got you, makes sense.

[00:19:19] Matt: It's very important because it's collocating the costs and benefits of a facility.

[00:19:26] Liz: Now, is there a worry that there could be some greenwashing involved? Will that be monitored? For example, I know a lot of brands and companies get a lot of slack for, "Hey, buy this and we'll plant some trees." Is there anything, any boundaries or expectations around what they need to do to have a positive impact within the community? Is that defined anywhere yet?

[00:19:52] Matt: It's not yet. I think that this is actually an open issue as to whether you can offset impact. Let's say it's a facility with significant area impacts, but the developers of the facility say, "Okay, I am going to go, by this other piece of property that is abandoned, and create a park with trees, and that's going to offset my impacts." That may fit within what you were describing, I think we just don't know yet whether that's going to be permissible. That has been an issue that's been discussed in the existing stakeholder meetings though. It's an open issue.

[00:20:30] Liz: Got you.

[00:20:31] Matt: More generally, the state is going to be reviewing the Environmental Justice Impact Statements. The applicant, the facilities will have some flexibility to draft the impact statements to view their project in the best light. Frankly, they should try to take advantage of that to do a full, deeply examine and contextualize their impact on their benefits, but the state will be the ultimate arbiter of what is the impact of the facility.  

[00:21:07] Liz: That sounds like good advice to the sector and to facilities. Is there anything else you would say to the waste sector to help them prepare for this implementation?

[00:21:18] Matt: Absolutely. The first is we already have an idea of where the overburden communities are. Facilities need to look at that list. See whether they're in the pre-planning phases, or match up where they are in the planning phase and look at where they're locating their facility just to know whether they're going to be subject to this.

If they are likely to be subject, and regardless of whether they're going to be subject to this, they should start making some public outreach plan because this law isn't in effect yet, it doesn't actually go into effect with its substantive portions and the regulations are adopted that tell us how to do all these things we've been talking about, but organizations should start looking at what their community outreach plan is to start building those grassroots connections and those grassroots relationships at the local level to get community buy-in to the extent that that's possible.

Also, should really take a look at the design of their facilities and what their impacts are, and see what narratives and context they can provide for their facility. Because at these early planning stages is when it's really important to have that approach because you don't want to get very far down the line and realize that you need to change something significantly, or realize that you don't have local support. It's really to really plan ahead and look at where you are from both, the statutory perspective, also the relationship perspective, and then actually the environmental impact perspective.

[00:23:00] Liz: That's good advice. Now, Matt, would this impact existing facilities are all? Or this is just new facilities moving forward?

[00:23:08] Matt: This was a very controversial portion of the legislation; it impacts existing facilities in two ways. The first is expansions of facilities are subject generally. If you're a covered facility and you're expanding, then you're a subject if you're applying for one of the covered permits.

The other way that existing facilities will be subject is existing facilities with major source permits. Those air permits that I was referencing earlier, Title V permits, facilities are subject upon the renewal of that permit. Whether they expand or not, those facilities are subject. The important thing to note for that existing facilities is that the DEP cannot, it is not permitted, the state is not permitted to outright deny the permit, but they are permitted to apply conditions to the permit in the event that there's a disproportionate impact.

It goes to the same analysis we talked about before, what is the impact on the community? How do we compare it to another community to determine the disproportionate impact? What we get to at the end is, what conditions should be applied if any? There's no ability for the state to deny a permit just based on that renewal.

[00:24:37] Liz: That makes sense. This is a lot to digest. Are other states watching and waiting and seeing how this all goes?

[00:24:46] Matt: Absolutely. This is being considered the national model by a lot of people, or potential national model. I think the country is watching as we try to answer these questions and create the balance between industry and environmental justice that will allow us to have a thriving state. I think maybe states like Connecticut would like to convert their from a procedural to a substantive at some point, but I think it's also something that is being considered at the national level and something that the EPA has been considering. I think that it's definitely something that's being watched at that.

[00:25:35] Liz: [unintelligible 00:25:35]. Moving forward, I know you said we have to wait until a lot of this is already in place. How long do you think this is going to take short-term and long-term? What's ahead?

[00:25:48] Matt: It's very hard to estimate how long a regulatory process is going to take usually. This is a specific case, given all of the issues that we've outlined and we've probably only covered half of them [laughs] to be slightly facetious. I would expect that, although this is a significant priority for the state. It is being fast-tracked, but that still means that we'd be extremely lucky to see proposed regulations in six months, I would say.

We're probably looking at a year before we see proposed regulations, maybe we can do it faster if you don't take longer. It'll really depend on how the stakeholder meetings go, which the second stakeholder meeting is scheduled for later this month. We'll cover specific issue that we are getting into the nitty-gritty in the stakeholder meetings and really focusing on trying to resolve specific issues.

The wild card question is how will industry and environmental groups view the regulations when they're proposed. Because we're going to reach a compromise of summits, and you have so many diverse stakeholders at the table.

The old adage in compromises is the best compromise that's when nobody's happy, but how unhappy are people going to be. When we finally do get regulations, are we going to see challenges to those regulations on certain grounds? That is going to be an interesting question because that could significantly extend the period in which we're waiting for this thing to be fully actual.

[00:27:41] Liz: Now, are those groups in these stakeholder meetings at?

[00:27:45] Matt: I would say likely yes. The stakeholder meetings are open to anyone who is interested in participating, and the membership has been quite broad and has included industry and environmental groups. I would also expect the state to ensure that everyone's at the table that it's considering all of those perspectives. They have said as much in the stakeholder meetings, that's their goal. They were very inclusive stakeholder meetings, but that it still doesn't guarantee that at the end of the day, everyone will be happy.

[00:28:18] Liz: Absolutely. To your point, most probably would not [chuckles]. This is going to be very interesting to watch. Do you think Biden administration-- I guess that's a double question, right? How it will impact this exact legislation, and then, do you think it will help with other environmental legislation down the road?

[00:28:40] Matt: I think that the Biden administration provides some support from this. It certainly shows that the nation is interested in these kinds of things, the way that the election has resulted. This is a trend. I think that the Biden administration boats for an expansion of this policy outside of New Jersey. I certainly think this is something that several pundits are expecting the Biden administration to pick up at some level or another. It will be very interesting to see how that plays out, whether it's made a significant touchstone of his administration or even his first hundred days. I haven't heard definitively yet, but I also wouldn't be surprised.

[00:29:24] Liz: Sure. Again, something to watch. The next year will be very telling it.

[00:29:30] Matt: It really will. Just to circle back to some of the things, this is going to be a landscape change for New Jersey because of the number of permits and applications that it's going to impact. We're going to have, even after it's implemented, a little bit of a ramp-up period of time where we're figuring out how to do it. 

Also, amassing data because having to do all the comparisons that I talked about initially, I don't know that we have good enough data yet on what the impact. I'd be very surprised if we did on all of the impacts on certain communities, so we're going to be learning a lot more about the distribution of environmental impacts within the state. This question of what is the impact in one community versus another is going to be asked over and over and over again, so we will learn new things as this keeps going as well about that process and about how we site and develop facilities.

[00:30:36] Liz: That's so true. Then Matt, I wanted to ask you about food waste as well, but is there anything else you want to share about this particular topic before we move on? Because I know it's pretty meaty.

[00:30:49] Matt: No. I'll give this segue, which is I did mention at the outset that a lot of waste management and recycling facilities are going to be subject to this law potentially, but it's worth noting given our transition that recycling facilities are specifically called out as having a higher threshold. Meaning it's only going to apply to larger recycling facilities, and that, at the cutoff, is a hundred tons of recycled material a day.

Some recognition in the law of the environmental benefits of recycling is already baked in and this has been something that has been important to smaller-scale food waste recycling operators who are trying to get off the ground in New Jersey and as a result of all of the work that's been done surrounding the Commercial Organics Recycling Mandate, which is the law that was passed last April, which requires large food waste generators in New Jersey to recycle their food waste and becomes effective in October of 2021.

[00:32:00] Liz: I knew it was coming. Interesting. [unintelligible 00:32:02] what type of headway is being made with this around the battle of food waste because I know there were a lot of issues with infrastructure changes having to be made and just a lot of plans that needed to be laid out in order for this to do well.

[00:32:20] Matt: Yes. We're seeing the beginnings of headway, but we definitely need to see more. I mentioned that October 2021 is the effective date for the organics recycling [unintelligible 00:32:32], before that happens, again, we need regulations to be drafted and proposed and adopted that tell businesses and operators how this law is going to implement it.

We haven't started the stakeholder process on those regulations, which gives me a little bit of concern that the mandate may be pushed a little bit or something like that, but I'm hopeful that it won't. We have started seeing other movement and we know that the state is focused on this. They have had some hearings lately about changing some of the regulations to accommodate small scale food waste operators, and perhaps that is a precursor to the larger food waste recycling regulations that I was just speaking of, but I'm hoping that later this year, maybe quite soon, we'll see major stakeholder meetings focused on the commercial organics recycling.

[00:33:33] Liz: That would be great. You would hate for that to get lost in the shuffle of this bigger law.

[00:33:41] Matt: Yes. It is one of the drawbacks of having so much going on in New Jersey from a renewable energy perspective with all of the offshore wind focus, and also New Jersey is having a very expansive look about climate change and how climate change impacts its regulations, and how the regulation should be adopted to protect against climate threats and environmental justice.

We're doing a lot at once, and that requires a lot of resources sometimes. The state has limited resources, as do we all. It's nice that we're trying to do all these different things. As you said, it is sad when things get a little bit lost in the shuffle, but I have some hopes that all of the things we'll keep moving forward. Especially because I think the industry is responding to the Commercial Organics Recycling Mandate at different levels, and industry is coming to New Jersey in different ways to site infrastructure.

We're seeing this infrastructure expand. It takes a while for infrastructure to expand. There's a long lead time, but we're seeing some of the indicators of early infrastructure expansion, and that's a great thing for this because the Commercial Organics Recycling Mandate in part is intended as an incentive or the industry intended to let the industry know, one, New Jersey cares about organics recycling and is going to make it a priority, and two, that if you build a facility in a certain space, the generators in your area, the large food waste generators will have a requirement to send their waste to you. As long as you're financially competitive with traditional disposal.

[00:35:32] Liz: Absolutely. Well, that's good. I'm glad to see that that's happening on the industry side. Matt, not that we haven't discussed enough, but is there anything else on the horizon for New Jersey around environmental issues that you see?

[00:35:46] Matt: We discussed a lot of interesting things. I brought up a minute ago the climate change initiative, the offshore wind initiatives, all of those different things. The only thing I think that I haven't mentioned at least is the last major thing that New Jersey is trying to do in 2021, which is adult-use of marijuana. That will have an impact on the solid waste and recycling industry in New Jersey, as it's expected to have an impact on lots of industry.

How are cannabis operations going to deal with their solid waste? Are they going to process it in an environmentally responsible way using recycling infrastructure, using composting infrastructure? What are the rules and regulations they're going to grow up around that? That's something that we're also tracking through 2021. Specifically, in the cannabis industry, we've represented applicants for cannabis licenses in New Jersey and supported them in defining the environmental impact and the waste management practices within their application because it's such a competitive scoring.

That's another reason that it's going to be so interesting to see how these pieces work out, because the licenses that are granted are going to be limited and organizations are going to be incentivized, therefore, to put their best environmental foot forward when it comes to resource use and waste management perspective.

I'm environment nerd, and just to nerd about it, it's great to have that as part of the program because each change that we make in society has such a significant environmental impact and took to expand this industry as much as it will, we'll change extra usage, water usage, all of these things. The habit part of the application process, to have entities required to focus on what their footprint is, is just a really exciting thing for someone who believes in sustainability in the way I do.

[00:37:53] Liz: Of course, my goodness. They just see how this is all going to transpire.

[00:37:59] Matt: Yes, it'll be an exciting year for New Jersey. We'll see how much of it we can actually get done in 2021, but I'm excited to be along for the ride.

[00:38:09] Liz: Good. Well, it's worth watching and listening to. It's exciting too because, well, I told you I grew up in New Jersey, so it has a fond place in my heart. It's exciting to see an East Coast state be so progressive on some of these issues.

[00:38:27] Matt: Yes, I mean, on the food waste we were probably eighth [unintelligible 00:38:30]. I forget what the exact number was, but I'm quite excited to reestablish our preeminence in the environmental field by establishing such a tough and such an aggressive environmental justice.

[00:38:45] Liz: Absolutely. Interesting. Yes, my goodness. How about your work with the New Jersey Composting Council? How's that going?

[00:38:55] Matt: It's going really well. The Composting Council's a couple of years old now. We have a diverse group of industry within it that are working to provide input on policy and input on education throughout the state, so it's a really great group of people that I cannot say enough good things about. We're really trying to carry the burden in New Jersey a slightly fledgling industry with just a handful -more than handful- but just a small number of people really pushing this forward. It's a tremendous opportunity, but also something that we owe a great debt of gratitude to the pioneer.

[00:39:41] Liz: Absolutely. The composters that I've met, they've been some of the most passionate people in the environmental space, so kudos to them.

[00:39:50] Matt: Yes. One of the great things is we are seeing expanded municipal interest in composting and food waste recycling operation. Middlesex County has expressed interest, and then you also have very large entities, municipalities in North Jersey that have food waste collection programs and are talking about extending those programs. We're seeing it across the board, and I credit a lot of that through the Composting Council.

[00:40:19] Liz: That's great. Awesome work.

[00:40:21] Matt: It's fun work. This is something I'm incredibly passionate about. I'm honored to be an environmental attorney and to be able to support businesses and individuals that are engaged in this to chart a future that is sustainable. It's something that I'm very pleased to be a part.

[00:40:45] Liz: That's awesome. Before I let you go, I'd really love to know what your idea of balance would be in terms of all of this environmental justice legislation. What would that look like around industry communities, people?

[00:41:00] Matt: First, I think the important thing is, as the underlying concept is, it requires that everyone have a seat at the table. We have to ensure that all voices are heard, that's a prerequisite to any balance. I think almost it's up to the people at the table to determine what balance looks like for a specific community. Some communities may prioritize economic factors over environmental factors, and some may prioritize environmental over economic factors.

Some may say that that's not really a comparison, that we don't want to compare apples to oranges. We want to have good economy and good environment. I think, for me to chart it from here is not something that I can do, but to say that it has to be based on the voices in that community is something that I think is certainly a truism.

[00:41:58] Liz: That sounds great. Well, I want to thank you for being on again. This has been so enlightening and I really look forward to watching this. You have to come back on as this begins to be implemented. What it looks like and the reality of it.

[00:42:13] Matt: I would love to.

[00:42:15] Liz: Well, awesome. Well, thank you for your time today. Like I said, it's super enlightening and I can't wait to watch and see what else happens. Well, thanks again, Matt, I'll be in touch.

[00:42:25] Matt: This has been great. I so appreciate your opportunity, tremendously appreciate the opportunity. It's always so nice to talk with you.

[00:42:32] Liz: You too. Happy new year, I can't wait to connect with you again soon.

[00:42:37] Matt: Yes, that will be great. Happy new year. We'll talk again soon.

[00:42:40] Liz: Okay. Thanks Matt. Bye.

[music]

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