In December 2019, a bill to amend New Jersey’s A-901 licensing program cleared two hurdles in the Assembly on its way to a full floor vote and possible presentment to the Governor. New Jersey Senate Bill 2306 (Assembly Bill 4267), which unanimously cleared the Senate in June, seeks to amend existing law to require background checks for “a broader range of persons” participating in the State’s solid waste industry.

In response to a heavy infiltration of organized crime into the solid-waste transportation industry, the Legislature put into place in 1984 a legal and regulatory framework under which businesses seeking to enter the solid-waste industry as a transporter, facility, or broker must clear several hurdles in order to operate. Among those hurdles is the time-consuming A-901 approval process, which generally requires would-be market participants to submit to criminal background checks, fingerprinting, and annual disclosure statements in order to obtain and maintain a license to operate in the solid-waste industry in New Jersey. Unsurprisingly, there are exceptions to that general rule, most notable of which is that the A-901 approval process does not currently apply to businesses engaged in recycling operations. There are also other limited exceptions to the A-901 approval process, such as for self-generators of solid waste.

The Legislature currently is considering a measure to, among other things, expand the scope of people required to undergo the A-901 process. For example, the current version of the bill, which recently cleared the Assembly Appropriations Committee, would require that consultants, sales persons, and brokers – as those people are defined in the bill – submit to background checks as part of the A-901 process. Those categories of people would also be considered “Key Employees” of businesses in the solid-waste industry, as would certain family members of directors, officers, partners, or key employees employed by or “otherwise engaged by the applicant or employee.” In addition, the bill would close – at least partially – the recycling loophole that exempts recycling activities from the A-901 process. Under the current iteration of the bill, people or businesses engaged in “soil and fill recycling services” will be subject to the same regulation and oversight as participants in the solid-waste industry. “Soil and fill recycling services” is defined as “collection, transportation, processing, brokering, storage, purchase, sale or disposition, or any combination thereof, of soil and fill recyclable materials.” In turn, “soil and fill recyclable materials” includes “non-putrescible aggregate substitute, including broken or crushed brick, block, concrete, or other similar manufactured materials; soil or soil that may contain aggregate substitute or other debris or material, generated from land clearing, excavation, demolition, or redevelopment activities that would otherwise be managed as solid waste, and that may be returned to the economic mainstream in the form of raw materials for further processing or for use as fill material.” That said, the bill expressly excludes Class A recyclable materials, such as glass and paper, and Class B recyclable materials, such as construction debris, that are transported to a Class B recycling center.

With only two weeks left to the current legislative session, it is unclear whether the Assembly will pass Assembly Bill 4267 in time to present it for Governor Murphy’s signature. Should the clock run out on the term prior to the bill’s passage, the bill will expire. We will be carefully monitoring the bill’s status over the coming weeks.