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TRENTON NJ (Gloucestercitynews.net)(June 2019)--On June 20th, Senator Smith proposed floor amendments to bill S1206(Smith)/A3726
Guest opinion 4(Gusciora)
that would require large food waste generators to separate and recycle food waste but also allow food waste to go to incinerators.

“Late at night, the legislature made a last-minute amendment to S1206(Smith)/A3726 (Gusciora). The bill went from a being a good bill to a bad one that would help bail out the polluters and hurt the environment.  We do not support the bill with the new amendment that would allow large food waste generators to bring their waste to incinerators. Garbage incinerators are not zero carbon and are large emitters of air pollutants that would undermine the purpose of the bill,” Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “New Jersey needs to be reducing its waste stream instead of feeding our incinerators.”


Some studies showing that incinerators emit several pollutants at a rate exceeding that of fossil fuel power plants. Stack emissions include a variety of pollutants such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx), dioxins, nanoparticles, lead and mercury.

“These incinerators are some of the dirtiest facilities in the state of New Jersey when it comes to emitting particulates and air toxins. EJ communities serve as dumping grounds for these major polluters and are choking on these garbage facilities. Newark and Camden garbage incinerators emit the greatest amount of lead in the country. They are poisoning families and children who live near these facilities. On top of that, particular matter, toxic ash, cyanide, and more are coming out of the incinerator, said Tittel. “Just recently, Newark’s incinerator released iodine. Exposure to iodine vapors can cause sore throats, headaches, chest tightness and buildup of fluid in glands.”

The Covanta Camden Energy Recovery Center in New Jersey has received 5 violations for and paid 4 fines in the amount of $7,050, Essex County Incinerator has 3 violations and paid 6 fines in the amount of $90,960. The facility in Rahway has 3 or 4 major fines. All were for exceeding levels for Particulate Matter, Sulfur Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide.

“These incinerators are not zero carbon. Of the waste they burn, around 1/3 comes from plastic, which comes from fossil fuels. These facilities need to burn natural gas and plastic to make the fire hot enough to burn wet garbage and food waste. Which means adding more food waste will put more carbon and more particulates in our air. What’s even worse is that half of the waste they are hauling is coming from out of state to keep the facility afloat financially,” said Tittel. “For all of this pollution, however, they generate very little electricity. The Camden facility only generates around 21MW, Newark at 65MW, and Westville at 14MW. We are putting all of these communities at risk and getting dismal output.”

The Senate floor amendments of the bill,S1206(Smith)/A3726 (Gusciora) clarify the definition of "food waste;" clarify the definition of “alternative authorized recycling method” to provide that the gas recovered by anaerobic digesters includes renewable natural gas;  clarify that the bill's provisions apply when the large food waste generator generates at least 52 tons per year within 25 road miles of an authorized food waste recycling facility; provide that the requirements of the bill apply beginning on January 1, 2020 when a large food waste generator generates at least 52 tons per year; add language that a large food waste generator would be deemed in compliance with the requirements in the bill if it sends its food waste to a sanitary landfill facility that delivers landfill gas to a gas-to-energy facility only if the gas-to-energy facility.

 “This bill will also allow for food waste to go to landfills. When we dump waste in a landfill, they try to cover it and collect the methane gas and burn it. Burning methane will contribute to global warming and C02. What’s even worse is that half of that methane leaks out of the landfill. In order to reduce and utilize our food waste, New Jersey cannot burn it. We ask legislators to vote no on the newly amended bill, S1206(Smith)/A3726 (Gusciora). This legislation will not curb New Jersey’s food waste problem. Instead we need to go back to the original bill which used composting and anaerobic digestion to reduce and reuse food waste in a sustainable way. Converting food to energy could help produce a tremendous amount of energy while reducing methane emissions,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.