Smith, Greenstein Bill to Help Remove the Mob from the Recycling Industry Clears Committee

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

“In recent years, the same type of mob figures 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.

“Due to the fact that much of the contaminated material is coming from out of state, the bill stresses bi-state enforcement,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Middlesex/Mercer). “The bill would establish a reciprocal information exchange system with the State of New York and other states in the region to facilitate 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 committee by a vote of 5-0, and next heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration.