TRENTON, NJ - Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senator Kip Bateman (R-Somerset,Middlesex,Mercer,Hunterdon) that is focused on reducing the harmful effects of food waste through increased recycling has been approved by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee.

The legislation calls for large generators of food waste to separate it from other forms of trash, providing the opportunity to prevent methane released into the atmosphere and fuel electricity production from a renewable form of energy.

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“A single supermarket can generate tens of tons of food waste each year. Discarded food produces large amounts of methane gas when it decomposes in our landfills,” said Bateman. “Encouraging large companies to separate food and trash into different bins will reduce trash disposal costs, limit methane release, and provide an economic boost to cities with approved food waste facilities.”

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, solid waste landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States, accounting for 15.4 percent of emissions in 2015.

Bateman’s legislation requires large food waste generators to separate food waste from trash, allows cities to collect payments for disposal of food waste, and classifies electric energy created from methane gas from a composting or anaerobic or aerobic digestion facility that converts food waste to energy as a “Class I renewable energy.”

The measure classifies as a large generator of food waste a commercial food wholesaler, supermarket, resort, or other industry that produce at least 52 tons per year of food.

“It’s important to reduce, reuse, and recycle, however, it’s hard to avoid throwing out food waste, which ultimately becomes methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases,” said Bateman. “Food waste recycling allows waste-to-energy facilities to convert harmful methane gas into a natural energy resource that can produce enough energy to power our homes.”

Ocean County’s landfill in Manchester is the state’s largest facility for capturing methane gas from waste, according to the EPA. With the conversion of methane gas into a reusable energy, food waste facilities can provide surrounding communities with cost-competitive energy.

The legislation now heads to the Senate for a full vote.