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Is New Jersey Poised to Expand Oversight of its Solid Waste Industry?


July 30, 2019
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A Bill Was Recently Approved That Would Expand the Requirement for Background Checks to a Broader Range of Persons Involved in the Solid Waste Industry

Owing to its checkered past, New Jersey imposes strict requirements on businesses operating in the solid waste industry. Under a bill recently approved by the New Jersey Senate, the requirements extend to businesses engaging in soil and debris recycling services.

Is New Jersey Poised to Expand Oversight of its Solid Waste Industry

Senate Bill No. 1683 amends existing law to expand the requirement for background checks to a broader range of persons involved in the solid waste industry, such as salespersons, consultants, and brokers. The bill also subjects persons or business concerns engaged in soil and fill recycling services to the same regulation and oversight that applies to the solid waste industry.

A-901 Licensing

Under New Jersey law (N.J.S.A. 13:1E-126), any business that collects, transports or disposes of solid or hazardous waste in the state must hold an A-901 license, which requires detailed disclosures by the business and key employees during the application process. Owners, managers, officers and other “key employees” must submit to a fingerprint check, and undergo a background investigation. The primary goal of the A-901 licensing program is to keep organized crime and other criminal elements out of the state’s solid waste industry.

Senate Bill 1683 amends the existing law to expand the requirement for background checks to a broader range of persons involved in the solid waste industry. As amended, the definition of “key employee” would include “any family member of an officer, director, partner, or key employee, employed by the applicant or permittee; or any broker, consultant or salesperson employed by, or who do business with, the applicant, permittee, or licensee, with respect to the solid waste, hazardous waste, or recycling operations of the business concern.”

The bill also limits access to the industry by certain individuals. More specifically, Senate Bill 1683 prohibits the issuance of an A-901 approval to persons debarred from operating in other states. It also prohibits individuals otherwise deemed unsuitable for the solid waste or recycling industries, convicted felons, and others of questionable character from holding an indirect, non-licensed stake in a solid waste or recycling industry, i.e., those involved in vehicle leasing arrangements or property rental agreements with legitimate licensees.

To facilitate information sharing, the bill requires the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Department of the Treasury, and the Attorney General to enter into a memorandum of agreement to provide for a reciprocal information exchange method to provide each agency with more effective and efficient access to information on the solid waste and soil and fill recycling industries, as well as their current and prospective license and permit holders. In addition,  the measure mandates that the Attorney General establish a reciprocal information exchange system with the State of New York and other states in the region to facilitate information sharing on the solid waste and recycling industries.

Finally, the bill would require the Department of Treasury to establish a centralized list in of individuals and corporate entities who have been debarred by various State agencies from participation in a number of regulated industries apart from solid waste and recycling, such as construction, the casino gaming industry, and transportation. As noted in the statement accompanying the bill, this requirement will “ensure that the status of persons and businesses deemed unfit to work under one agency’s purview is made known to all other appropriate agencies.”

New Requirements for Soil and Fill Recycling Industries

Senate Bill 1683 also expands A-901 licensing requirements to individuals and businesses engaged in soil and fill recycling services, which includes the collection, transportation, processing, brokering, storage, purchase, sale, or disposition of soil and fill recyclable material.  “Soil and fill recyclable material” is defined under the legislation as “non-putrescible aggregate substitute, including broken or crushed brick, block, concrete, or other similar manufactured materials; soil or soil that may contain aggregate substitute or other debris or material, generated from land clearing, excavation, demolition, or redevelopment activities that would otherwise be managed as solid waste, and that may be returned to the economic mainstream in the form of raw materials for further processing or for use as fill material.”

Given that obtaining an A-901 license can be time-consuming, the bill establishes a temporary registration program. Covered entities/individuals would be required to register with the DEP no later than 90 days after the date of enactment of the bill. The soil and fill recycling registration would authorize a registrant to provide soil and fill recycling services pending the approval or denial of the registrant’s A-901 application.

No more than 270 days after the effective date of the bill, a registrant would be required to submit an application for a soil and fill recycling license with the Attorney General.  A soil and fill recycling registration issued under the bill would expire upon a failure by the registrant to submit an application for a soil and fill recycling license or upon a final determination by the DEP regarding the registrant’s application.

Under Senate floor amendments to the bill, any person who collects, transports, treats, stores, brokers, transfers, or disposes of solid waste or hazardous waste, or who engages in soil and fill recycling services, would be required to furnish the appropriate license or registration upon the request of any law enforcement officer or any agent of the DEP, a local board of health, or a county health department. As amended, Senate Bill 1683 would also permit the DEP, a local board of health, and a county health department to enter, inspect, and take samples at or from any facility or premises used in connection with the provision of soil and fill recycling services in order to determine compliance with the provisions of the bill, and any other applicable law, rule, or regulation.

What’s Next?

The New Jersey Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 1683 on June 20, 2019. It is now pending before the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee. We encourage members of the waste/recycling industry to stay tuned for updates regarding the bill, and to contact experienced counsel to determine how the new requirements may impact your business.

If you have questions, please contact us

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact me, Peter Yarem, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work, at 201-806-3364.