The New Jersey Sierra Club sent a letter to Gov. Murphy asking that he veto or conditionally veto legislation that would increase pollution from incinerators and landfills. The original purpose of bill S1206(Smith)/A3726 (Gusciora) was to reduce food waste sustainably through composting and anaerobic digestion. Last-minute amendments to the bill would allow more food waste to be burned at incinerators and taken to landfills.
“Gov. Murphy needs to stop the amended food waste bill from moving forward. Last-minute amendments turned a good bill into a bad one that bails out polluters and hurts the environment. The changes allow for large food waste generators to bring their waste to incinerators and landfills. Garbage incinerators are not zero carbon and are large emitters of air pollutants that would undermine the purpose of the bill. Landfills produce methane gas that is burned and contributes to global warming and CO2. Renewable energy can’t be something you burn. That’s another Trumpian-like interpretation of Clean Energy,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “New Jersey needs to be reducing its waste stream, not feeding our incinerators and landfills.”
Studies have shown that incinerators can 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.
“Incinerators are some of the dirtiest facilities in the state when it comes to emitting particulates and air toxins. Environmental Justice communities serve as dumping grounds for these major polluters and are choking on these garbage facilities. If the governor does not stop the amended version of S1206(Smith)/A3726 (Gusciora), the incinerators will generate even more pollution. Newark and Camden incinerators already 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. “For all of this pollution, incinerators 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 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.
“The food waste that would be allowed to go to landfills under the bill will also create more pollution. When we dump waste in a landfill, they try to cover it to collect the methane gas and burn it, which generates more CO2 emissions. 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,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “The original bill deserved support for reducing food waste sustainably through composting and anaerobic digestion. Gov. Murphy needs to veto or conditionally veto the bill to restore the original version and prevent amendments from adding to our pollution.”