New Jersey Recycling Permits vs Recycling Exemptions

Written By: Doug Ruhlin | Jul 19, 2016

Time to Read 6 Minutes

Learn how to recycle in New Jersey with a recycling approval or exemption.

New Jersey is jam packed full of people. Aside from congested roads, we also have a huge amount of refuse we need to deal with. Unfortunately, the NJDEP has made starting a recycling business in New Jersey somewhat of a headache. One would hope that New Jersey recycling approvals would be easy to get, but that's not the case.

We hear from a lot of prospective recyclers that they either don't have the time, energy, or money to obtain a full blown New Jersey recycling permit. The problem is, many folks don't know how to get a recycling license, permit, or approval in New Jersey because it's a complicated process. Many people aren't simply aware that getting a recycling approval in New Jersey takes time, money, and often causes quite a headache.

It's a fairly common issue, especially for organizations that are either new to the state of New Jersey or for companies that have never looked into solid waste regulations or getting a recycling permit in New Jersey. Notice how I said solid waste there? That's because, in New Jersey, recycling is considered a solid waste activity, and not a recycling activity, further complicating things.

Fortunately, for many organizations that adhere to some fairly specific requirements, there are alternatives to New Jersey recycling permits. If you are running an operation that adheres to some very specific requirements, you're in luck. In New Jersey, recycling exemptions may be just what you're looking for to get your recycling business up and running as quickly and cheaply as possible.

New Jersey Recycling Exemptions vs Recycling Permits

We joke a lot here in the office that we've probably helped open more recycling facilities in New York and Pennsylvania than anyone else. Why? Because when someone calls and says I want a New Jersey recycling permit we give them the cold, ugly truth.

We let them know how much New Jersey recycling permits & approvals cost. Here's a hint, they're expensive, and I'm not talking about our consulting fees. In order just to have a business covered under a recycling permit in New Jersey, you have to pay the NJDEP a hefty sum of money every year just to stay in business.

We let them know how long it takes to get a New Jersey recycling permit. Here's another hint, it could take anywhere from 10 to 24 months from start to finish. No joke. The fastest I've gotten a client a recycling approval in New Jersey was just under 10 months, and everything (and I do mean everything) went completely smooth. The longest took over 2 years because of red tape and politics.

We fill them in on some other information like regulatory hassles, NJPDES stormwater permits, and details on getting inspections from regulators, but at the end of the day what we tell prospective New Jersey recyclers often times sends them packing across the Delaware or into New York. The truth hurts, but it's called the truth for a reason.

This is where New Jersey recycling exemptions come in.

NJ Recycling Exemptions vs Recycling Approvals

Recycling Exemptions in New Jersey Explained

For certain facilities that meet very specific guidelines, there are "exemptions" from the need for a full-blown New Jersey recycling permit.

In short, you don't need to go through the long and expensive process of getting a New Jersey recycling approval from the NJDEP. Instead, you fill out some paperwork which doesn't cost a dime, submit some paperwork, and that's pretty much it. The whole process of getting a recycling exemption in New Jersey is quick, easy, and most importantly, extremely cheap.

These recycling exemptions in New Jersey aren't so much an exemption from regulations, they're an exemption from the New Jersey recycling approval process. You're still going to be abiding by the solid waste regulations rules that cover New Jersey's recycling exemptions, you're just not covered by the big, complicated, and expensive recycling permit regulations I outlined above.

So you're probably thinking then why ever bother with a New Jersey recycling approval or permit when it sounds like an exemption is a walk in the park? Simple.

Recycling exemptions in New Jersey are usually for smaller-scale facilities and activities. They are limited in what you can recycle, the material you can have on-site or process, and other very restrictive limitations.

So while they sound like a quick and cheap way to get into recycling, they're not usually the great deal you might think they are. There are 24 recycling exemptions in New Jersey in total, but like I said, they're very restrictive and somewhat limited.

Here's a full explanation of all 24 of them broken down into 3 articles, as well as a review of the most common recycling exemptions in New Jersey.

Just bear in mind, they don't cover every type of recycling. The NJDEP isn't dumb, they've considered what most people want to do, and those standard, typical recycling activities require an approval, not an exemption. In short, they want you to go through the process of getting a recycling approval in New Jersey because they have a closer eye on what you're doing, plus it brings in more money for them.

But, if you want (or need) to get up and running quickly, an exemption might just get you going. And, it might be enough to get you into the business while you're working on your recycling approval. They're not for everyone, but maybe they'll help you.

And just remember, you cannot have a recycling exemption and a recycling permit or approval at your facility at the same time. It's one or the other.

Additionally, we've found that a lot of folks end up happy with their recycling exemption. You might just want to stay the way you are, even if it's limited in scope or time frame. Maybe it suits your needs, and you don't need a full recycling approval from the NJDEP. And like I keep saying, it's cheaper, easier, and simpler to use, especially if you're a small facility.

New Jersey Recycling Exemptions vs Recycling Approvals

New Jersey Recycling - Permits or Exemptions

If you're running a complex facility, or a bigger operation, a full-blown New Jersey recycling approval is probably going to be your best bet.

If you can squeeze by with a New Jersey recycling exemption, go for it. It's cheaper, easier to live with, and faster to get.

Conversely, if you just want to get your operation up and running, even in a simple manner, you might just want to take a look at initially operating under an exemption if you can. It might be just the thing to carry you over, provide much-needed cash flow, and be exactly what you need before you get your full approval.

Of course, before you decide on a recycling exemption or a recycling approval in New Jersey, talk to an expert. Figure out what you need, and make sure you don't waste any time or money getting the right coverage for your operation.

To learn more about recycling in New Jersey, click here to contact us or give us a call at 609-693-8301 to learn more about recycling permits & exemptions in New Jersey.

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