There are extensive regulations in New Jersey governing businesses involved in the solid waste and recycling industries. Many people do not realize that it is a long and complicated process to become a fully-licensed solid waste transporter, facility or broker. And some do not realize that they cannot conduct a solid waste business in the State of New Jersey until the process is completed.
One of the most time-consuming aspects of solid waste licensing is obtaining A-901 approval, which is a requirement that currently does not apply to those involved in recycling. The A-901 program was adopted many years ago in response to the infiltration of organized crime into the solid waste business to ensure those conducting the business of solid waste in New Jersey have the requisite integrity, reliability, expertise and competence. There are some limited exceptions to A-901 licensing requirements for self-generators of solid waste and Licensed Site Remediation Professionals who manage solid and hazardous waste in connection with remediation projects (on the latter topic see our blog post NJDEP Issues Policy Statement on A-901 Licensing for Site Remediation Professionals, May 2016).
The New Jersey Legislature is currently considering a bill (S1683/A4267), which would expand the scope of A-901 requirements to a broader range of persons involved in the solid waste industry, including sales persons and consultants. The bill also would subject persons or companies engaged in soil and fill recycling services to the same regulation as those engaged in the business of solid waste. This proposed legislation passed the Senate unanimously on June 20, 2019, and is now pending before the Assembly.
While the process to apply for an A-901 license is long (on average 12 months or longer), our experience has provided several practical considerations that can make the process smoother:
- The applicant is not the only entity responsible for completing the corporate history disclosure forms; each parent company and potentially even remote investors must completely fill out these forms.
- While seemingly intrusive, every key employee, owner, officer, director, member and partner in the business must submit a personal history disclosure form, which includes information about family members, employment history and these individuals must also submit to fingerprint checks. It is imperative that these persons be complete in their responses.
- During the background check by the New Jersey State Police, be prepared to respond to questions and/or inquiries about situations that may have occurred years ago. For example, an applicant recently was asked about a bench warrant for a long unpaid parking ticket; an affidavit from the applicant explaining that he lived in Europe at the time and that he did not own the car in question kept the background check on track.
- Make sure the business is in good standing, including with the Division of Taxation.
Finally, if the application passes muster, NJDEP will issue the A-901 license, but may as a condition require the recipient to attend an NJDEP seminar and/or obtain a letter from an attorney stating that the company has been advised of the applicable laws and regulations and is aware of its compliance obligations. Having an attorney that has been involved in the A-901 application and that will be available to complete this step will also help to efficiently navigate the process.