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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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Recycling Enforcement

An effective enforcement program is one of the keys to a successful recycling program. When enforcement efforts are combined with educational and promotional initiatives, recycling programs flourish. Unfortunately, many local enforcement programs have suffered in recent years due to a lack of funding for recycling. As such, a renewed focus on enforcement for recycling is needed. This must involve enforcement at all levels of government and at all stages in the recycling process.

Enforcement at the Municipal Level

  • Municipalities are required by state law to have a recycling ordinance in place (a local law) that specifies those recyclable materials that must be recycled from the residential, commercial and institutional (schools, hospitals, etc.) sectors. These mandatory designated recyclable materials must be consistent with those materials designated for recycling in the applicable county recycling plan. Municipal ordinances may require the recycling of more materials than that listed in the county recycling plan.
  • Municipal recycling ordinances can be enforced by local or county health department officials as per the County Environmental Health Act or by other municipal staff empowered by the municipality for this purpose. Of course, police officers can also enforce recycling ordinances although they typically are not involved in this municipal function.

Enforcement at the County Level

  • Counties are required by state law to have a county recycling plan in place that specifies, among other things, those recyclable materials that must be recycled from the residential, commercial and institutional (schools, hospitals, etc.) sectors throughout the county.
  • County recycling plan requirements can be enforced by county health department officials as per the County Environmental Health Act or by other county staff empowered for this purpose.
  • In addition to conducting recycling inspections of residential, commercial and institutional sources of waste at the point of generation, county enforcement staff may also conduct inspections of incoming loads of waste at county disposal sites for the presence of recyclable materials.

Enforcement at the State Level

  • The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Solid Waste Enforcement Program has historically focused on the regulation of solid waste disposal and recycling facilities, as well as transporters of solid waste. While these areas will remain the major focus of state enforcement efforts, the NJDEP’s Solid Waste Enforcement Program has begun to conduct inspections of commercial entities to determine their compliance with local recycling requirements. Notable among such inspections are the “enforcement sweeps” that were undertaken in 2005.
  • In conjunction with local agencies, the Department conducted “Compliance and Enforcement Sweeps of Recyclable Material Generators” in Hudson County and Atlantic County in 2005. The purpose of the sweeps was to assess compliance with the state’s mandatory recycling requirements, particularly in the commercial sector and at schools. As part of this effort, those targeted for inspection were provided notification of the upcoming enforcement sweep. Despite such notification, the Department found that many entities were still not recycling.

    Hudson County Recycling Sweep - June, 2005

    Atlantic County Recycling Sweep - November, 2005

  • The NJDEP’s Solid Waste Enforcement Program is increasing its vigilance at transfer and disposal facilities by ensuring that processes are and remain in place to detect recyclables in incoming loads and undertaking additional investigations of hauling practices involving recyclable bottles, cans and paper.
  • The Department has implemented a pilot use of a "Recycling Checklist" during compliance and enforcement inspections performed by programs outside of the Solid Waste Enforcement program, including County Environmental Health Act agencies. This checklist reviews a commercial entity's compliance with the Statewide Mandatory Source Separation and Recycling Act. Entities found in non-compliance will be referred to appropriate county and municipal recycling coordinators for follow-up and possible enforcement.

Contact: Rai Belonzi, NJDEP, Compliance & Enforcement – Rai.Belonzi@dep.state.nj.us or 609-584-4180.

 

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Last Updated: February 11, 2015