New Jersey: New Recycled Content Requirements Take Effect in January 2024

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Legislation signed into law in January 2022 established post-consumer recycled content requirements for rigid plastic containers, glass containers, paper and plastic carryout bags, and plastic trash bags sold or offered for sale in the state by a manufacturer. Defined standards for all regulated containers and packaging products become effective on Jan. 18, 2024.

Brewers would likely qualify as manufacturers under the second, and possibly third, section of the following definition if packaging in glass bottles. Notably, aluminum containers are not specified as subject to the provisions of the law.

Manufacturers that must comply with these new requirements for post-consumer recycled content are defined as:

  1. A person that produces or generates a rigid plastic container, paper carryout bag, plastic carryout bag, or plastic trash bag that does not contain a product and that is sold or offered for sale in the state;
  2. A person who is the brand owner of a product that is sold or offered for sale in the state and that is packaged in a rigid plastic container, plastic beverage container, or glass container unless the brand owner identifies a licensee who agrees to accept responsibility under this act and the licensee informs the department in writing of the agreement; or
  3. In the absence of a person meeting the criteria in (1) or (2) of this definition over whom the state may exercise jurisdiction, a person who imports or distributes a product into or within the state that is sold or offered for sale in the state and that is packaged in a rigid plastic container, plastic beverage container, or glass container.

Significantly, the definition of “manufacturer” expressly excludes a person who, at a single physical location, produces, packages, and sells a product directly to a consumer at retail. This may include a grocery store, restaurant, bar, cafeteria, café, food truck, food cart, or similar establishment. Brewers with a retail-focused business model should consider seeking counsel or guidance from the state on whether the exclusion would apply to their specific business.

Manufacturers covered by the new law must register with the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and pay an annual registration fee of $1,000. A manufacturer who demonstrates to the DEP that their gross revenue is below $5,000,000 would be exempt from paying this fee.

Finally, the law provides a process for requesting a waiver from the post-consumer recycled content requirements under four specific conditions (enumerated in the fact sheet linked below).

For more information on the requirements of the new law and on who must comply, please see the New Jersey DEP’s fact sheet.

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