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Smith, Greenstein Bill to Help Remove Organized Crime from the Recycling Industry Clears Senate

Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senate Environment and Energy Committee Chair Senator Bob Smith and Senate Environment and Energy Vice-Chair Senator Linda Greenstein, which would extend the same safeguards to the expanding recycling sector that succeeded in removing organized crime from the garbage industry in the 1980s, cleared the Senate today.

“In recent years, the same type of figures in organized crime who once infiltrated the garbage industry are now exploiting the ever-expanding recycling industry,” said Senator Smith (D-Middlesex/Somerset). “The illicit disposal of contaminated materials under the facade of recycled materials creates a real threat to public safety and the health of the environment. It’s an environmental threat that requires a law enforcement response.”

The bill, S-1683, is a response to a 2017 report by the State Commission of Investigation (SCI) documenting corrupt activity in the recycling industry, including the illicit disposal of contaminated soil and construction debris. The SCI’s report shows mob involvement in the recycling business because those businesses were left out of the original licensing and regulatory framework. This has resulted in the illegal dumping and storage of environmentally-toxic materials.

“The bill stresses bi-state enforcement to prevent contaminated material from coming into New Jersey,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Middlesex/Mercer). “This bill would establish a reciprocal information exchange system with the State of New York and other surrounding states to facilitate the sharing of information. This will ensure that the status of persons and businesses deemed unfit to work under one agency’s purview is made known to all other appropriate agencies.”

The bill would subject persons or business concerns engaging in soil and debris recycling services to the same regulation and oversight under the law as that which applies to the solid waste industry. In order to tighten the existing law, it would also expand background checks to a broader range of persons involved in the solid waste industry.

The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 37-0.