The governor vetoed a bill aimed at boosting food waste recycling, over last-minute amendments which he said “severely weakened” the legislation by allowing the disposal of food in landfills or incinerators to count as recycling.
Gov. Phil Murphy, in a late-Friday veto statement, said he was sending the measure back to lawmakers so that they can remove the loopholes.
“I am concerned that these two exemptions will disproportionately impact environmental justice communities that are already overburdened by waste facilities, especially incinerators which emit significant amounts of greenhouse gases contributing to global warming,” Murphy said in his veto statement.
“My recommended changes will ensure that more food waste is properly recycled and will also protect disadvantaged communities, which are disproportionately located near landfills and incinerators, from the harmful environmental effects of food waste that is improperly disposed of,” the governor added.
Assembly Bill 3726 would require businesses producing more than 52 tons of food waste a year – typically hospitals, supermarkets, prisons and government facilities – to separate it from other trash and recycle it.
Additionally, starting in 2020 businesses within 25 miles of a “food waste facility,” such as those that specialize in anaerobic digestion, or composting – which produces methane – would have to send the food there.
Environmental groups widely condemned the amendments, worried they would heavily dilute the effectiveness of the bill.
Bill sponsor Sen. Bob Smith, D-17th District, allowed for the loopholes to go into the legislation in order to push it through the Assembly and Senate, but admitted he was unhappy about the addition.
“The bill is far from perfect,” Smith, who chairs the Senate Environment Committee, told NJBIZ. But, he added, it “moves the ball forward.”
The Environmental Protection Agency lists landfills and incineration as the dirtiest and least two preferred methods of food waste disposal.