Bill aims to reduce organic waste in half by 2027 and 75% by 2032

Critics of the bill are concerned the regulations could become onerous and too burdensome

The legislation allows local governments to collect fees to comply with regulations

Fresh produce and meats may be better for you than processed foods, but it's not as beneficial for the environment once it starts to break down in the trash.

New Jersey lawmakers have narrowly advanced a measure that would reduce the amount of organic waste that may remain in the state's landfills.

Under the legislation approved by the Senate Environment Committee, statewide disposal of organic waste would have to be cut in half by 2027, compared to 2016 figures, and the amount would need to be reduced by 75% come the year 2032.

"This overlaps two different big policy areas for our committee," said Sen. Bob Smith, D-Middlesex, chair of the committee. "One is food waste — we really need to get food out of landfills — and secondly is global climate change."

Smith said "it's looking like" organic waste may have "as much or more of an impact" on climate change than carbon dioxide.

Critics of the bill appreciate legislators' efforts, but suggest the proposal is easier said than done.

"We're not sure that we're ready to go to a 75% goal," said Gary Sondermeyer, representing the Association of New Jersey Recyclers. "The real problem is we have woefully inadequate composting infrastructure in this state."

New Jersey Food Council echoed Sondermeyer's concerns.

The legislation requires the Department of Environmental Protection to adopt regulations within 18 months of the bill's enactment.

Ray Cantor, with the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, told lawmakers that his group worries the DEP would come up with regulations that are onerous and too burdensome.

Local governments would be able to collect "reasonable fees" to recover costs related to complying with the regulations.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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