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Food Council Seeking Shared Responsibility, Costs Of Recycling

Headshot of Linda Doherty of the New Jersey Food Council
Linda Doherty

The New Jersey Food Council is watching three proposed legislative changes. According to Linda Doherty, president and CEO, these include extended producer responsibility, liquor licensing reform and unemployment insurance.

The EPR bill would require producers of packaging products sold in the state to implement stewardship plans.

“Manufacturers are already working toward sustainable packaging and investing in solutions that address the underlying problems in the recycling markets,” Doherty said. “We believe that there are a number of principles that producer responsibility plans should include to better achieve this goal to increase recycling rates.”

Earlier this year, New Jersey made history when it implemented a ban on single-use plastic bags and polystyrene foam foodservice products. Grocers can no longer use them. 

Doherty said the organization wants the EPR law expanded to share responsibility and costs of the recycling predicament. Among the additions sought: feasible timeframes; consistency with the post-consumer recycled content law, stakeholder coordination and engagement incentivizing recycling instead of waste disposal; and development of a comprehensive recycling needs assessment.

The council is supporting the two other proposals. The first aims to modernize the state’s liquor licensing process. 

“Currently, a business in New Jersey can only hold a maximum of two retail liquor licenses at one time,” Doherty explained. “This two-license limit is an antiquated restriction that stifles economic growth and tax revenues. We are advocating for legislation that would gradually increase this cap over a period of 10 years.”

In addition to the opportunity to gradually acquire additional licenses, the measure would allow retailers to grow sales and compete on a “more level playing field” with chain package goods stores. “The legislation would foster increased customer convenience and enhanced choices,” Doherty added.

The council also is supporting the proposed Garden State Grocery Liquor Licensing Act. This would allow food retailers to sell certain alcohol beverages manufactured by state wineries, breweries and distilleries. 

The unemployment insurance proposal would allow the state to pay off federal unemployment insurance and avoid additional assessments on interest payments from these loans. The legislation would provide advanced notice of rate changes and credits for small businesses, according to Doherty.

While the state’s bag ban has been received well so far, the use of plastic bags for orders that occur online for pickup or delivery are creating a “growing number of reusable bags for consumers. 

“NJFC is working with state legislators, policy makers and stakeholders to develop innovative and practical approaches to meet the new opportunities of the law without backtracking on the intent of it,” Doherty said. “NJFC is also encouraging the donation of the bags to local food banks and the creation of new bag exchange solutions.”

As with retail organizations in many other states, a workforce shortage is hampering NJFC’s membership. 

“[We are] helping our members combat this problem by working with legislators to create solutions that will make it easier to extend the strong workforce,” Doherty said.

In June, the council supported the New Jersey Minor Employees Bill. It would allow teen workers to work more hours, especially during the summer and would revise the minor employee approval process to make it “easier and more accessible for teenagers to get a job and enter the workforce.”

The council is readying for its Good Government Breakfast, a celebration of the political and policy process. This year, it will be held Oct. 6 at the Forsgate Country Club in Monroe. 

“This event is the opportunity for food industry executives to break bread with state legislators, policy makers and business leaders,” Doherty said.

NJFC will also be presenting its 2022 Good Government, Outstanding Legislator of the Year awards and unveiling its Good Government Partner Award list. 

In addition to the breakfast, the group’s Mid Atlantic Loss Prevention Conference & Exhibition, held in partnership with the Delaware Food Industry Association and the NJ Retail Merchants Association, is set for Nov. 2 at the same location. 

“This year’s event will focus on ‘Hometown Security’ and will feature speakers from the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office to discuss serious topics surrounding threat landscape and assessment, concealed carry and preparedness,” Doherty said. 

Lastly, the group’s Holiday Reception is scheduled for Dec. 7 at the Park Chateau Estate and Gardens in East Brunswick. The event is a fundraiser for the NJFC Educational Scholarship program.

 In 2022, the organization awarded seven scholarships totaling $25,500 while its membership provided a scholarship fund of $92,500.

For more information, visit njfoodcouncil.com.

To read more packaging news from The Shelby Report, click here.

About the author

Jack R. Jordan

Content Creator

Jordan joined The Shelby Report in May 2022 after over a year in the newspaper industry. A native of Marietta, Georgia, he studied writing and communications at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. He spends too much time in the grocery store trying to find recipe ingredients, so he looks forward to covering the industry.

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