DEP Environmental Stewardship Program Grows to More than 500 Participants

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has set up a voluntary program for individuals and businesses to tackle sustainability issues in the state. It rewards those who make the extra effort to reduce their carbon footprint and lead by example. The Environmental Stewardship Program now boasts more than 500 participants, including Ortho Clinical Diagnostics in Raritan, which has erected solar panels to provide green energy.

The driving force behind the idea of environmental stewardship is that businesses and other organizations will go beyond what’s required of them by laws and regulations to protect the environment – if given a chance to think innovatively and proactively. And that’s exactly what a program spearheaded by the Department of Environmental Protection is doing.

The DEP’s Environmental Stewardship Program, now entering its fourth year, has grown to more than 500 participants – manufacturers, chemical companies, pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, utilities authorities, medical facilities, schools, and others that are voluntarily incorporating multifaceted environmental protection efforts into the way they operate.

“These facility operators are showing they care about their communities and the environment by not just meeting the requirements of their permits, but by going the extra mile to protect the environment and their communities,” Commissioner Bob Martin said. “The stewardship program is working and growing because of a very simple premise – most people want to do what’s right for the environment. Sometimes all they need is a guiding hand.”

The DEP’s Compliance and Enforcement Program has been sending inspectors to facilities armed with a checklist of questions about programs they are implementing that reduce the amount of waste or pollution they generate.

“The Environmental Stewardship Program is an integral part of the DEP’s compliance efforts,” said Wolf Skacel, Assistant Commissioner for Compliance and Enforcement. “This program gives credit where it is due – to those who know that environmental protection is not just good business, it’s the right thing to do. But make no mistake: The DEP is out there on the environmental beat every day, making sure everyone complies with New Jersey’s laws and regulations.”

The stewardship program has 21 categories, covering a wide range of activities that go far beyond what facilities are required to do under permits. These activities include developing comprehensive environmental plans, water and energy conservation programs, material-use reduction programs, green building standards, environmentally friendly purchasing practices, community outreach programs, and programs to encourage employees to carpool and use mass transit.

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Article by David A. Gabel, appearing courtesy Environmental News Network.

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