The deadline for businesses conducting soil and fill recyclable material services to register with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is fast approaching. Registration, which must be completed by April 20, 2020, is the first compliance step under a new licensing law — known as the “Dirty Dirt Bill” — that expands DEP oversight over companies that engage in, or provide, soil and fill recycling services including the collection, transportation, processing, brokering, storage, purchase, sale or disposition of soil and fill recyclable materials.

“With the passage of this new law as well as the gains made with our Guard Your Backyard campaign, the DEP and our local partners are in a better position to take action to address problematic fill material and companies engaged in these activities,” Commissioner Catherine McCabe said in a press statement. “These new tools will empower the state and local governments to ensure that the soil and fill brought into our communities is clean and safe, while helping us defend against illegal dumping of soil and fill.”

New Requirements for Soil and Fill Recyclers

Under the new law (Senate Bill 1683), soil and fill recyclers will be subject to the same regulations that govern the solid waste industry. The requirements apply to any corporation, association, firm, partnership, sole proprietorship, trust, limited liability company, or other commercial organization providing services for the collection, transportation, processing, brokering, storage, purchase, sale, or disposition of soil and fill recyclable materials.

The law defines “soil and fill recyclable materials" as a non-putrescible aggregate substitute, including, but not limited to, 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. The following items are not considered “Soil and fill recyclable materials” under this new law:

  • Source separated Class A source-separated recyclable material
  • Source separated Class B recyclable material shipped to an NJDEP approved Class B recycling center for the receipt, storage, processing, or transfer
  • Beneficial use material for which the generator has obtained prior approval from the DEP to transport to an approved and designated destination
  • Virgin quarry products including, but not limited to, rock, stone, gravel, sand, clay, and other mined products.

In light of the fact that obtaining an A-901 license can be time-consuming, Senate Bill 1683 established a temporary registration program. Covered entities/individuals must first submit a registration form with the DEP, which will authorize a registrant to provide soil and fill recycling services pending the approval or denial of the registrant’s A-901 application. Registrants must then submit an application for a soil and fill recycling license with the Attorney General. A soil and fill recycling registration issued under the new law will 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.

DEP Compliance Advisory

To implement the new law, DEP has established the Soil and Fill Recycling Registration Form and developed an approval process for businesses to register. The agency recently issued a Compliance Advisory outlining the process.

Most importantly, any business concern that does not hold a valid, permanent A-901 license and is currently engaged in soil and fill recycling services must register with the DEP on or before April 20, 2020; and thereafter submit a full disclosure application for a Soil and Fill Recycling License (A-901 License) on or before October 19, 2020. The required registration form is available here.

Once the DEP receives a completed registration form, it will issue a Soil and Fill Recycling Registration within 90 days. Following registration, all registered businesses must file a Soil and Fill Recycling License application with the Attorney General’s Office on or before October 19, 2020. The full disclosure applications will be reviewed by the Attorney General’s Office, with assistance from the New Jersey State Police, DEP, and other agencies to ensure a business concern has the necessary reliability, integrity, competency, and expertise before granting a Soil and Fill Recycling License.

As set forth in the Compliance Advisory, “DEP recommends registering as a precaution if you are uncertain that the services you provide are subject to this law. Submitting the completed registration form on or before the April 20, 2020 deadline secures your company’s ability to continue soil and fill recycling services past July 20, 2020.” Nonetheless, it is also important to note that a Soil and Fill Recycling Registration will automatically expire if a business fails to file a license application on or before October 19, 2020.

As emphasized by the DEP, any company found to be engaged in soil and fill recycling services without a DEP issued Soil and Fill Recycling Registration will be subject to violations and penalties. Going forward, businesses that fail to timely register with DEP and/or fail to submit the disclosure application or are ultimately denied a Soil and Fill Recycling License will be precluded from providing soil and fill recycling services.

Next Steps

Businesses should be taking steps to determine if they will be subject to the new A901 licensing requirements. We encourage members of the waste/recycling industry to contact experienced counsel for assistance navigating the process.

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.