Daily Digest: Multiple curbside recycling programs end, big Covanta deal in Florida
Each day, the Waste Dive team rounds up in our Daily Digest news, insights and moments from around the industry you may have missed.
CURBSIDE CHANGES AROUND THE COUNTRY
This week on Waste Dive's state tracker page, we have 13 recycling updates. In the grand scheme of things many updates may seem small, and industry veterans still say this disruption will be weathered like others before it, but to the affected residents, these implications are often much bigger.
To be sure, the majority of curbside recycling programs are still operating as normal — if you consider rising rates, tighter contamination standards and increasing hints of more MRF residue getting landfilled to be normal. Though curbside service is going away in a small but growing number of municipalities, and some wonder if it's a sign of more to come.
Enterprise, Alabama, Kankakee, Illinois and DeBary, Florida (all with populations of 30,000 or less) have now joined that list along with residents in multiple Indiana communities that will see a de facto cancellation because their provider is no longer offering the service. Contrasted against the recent round of second quarter earnings calls in which executives discussed ways to raise rates for an equitable return — a move that many feel is overdue — it's hard to see where some of these municipal officials can turn.
Truly recalcitrant ones may have made their own bed, but there are also plenty that are trying to cooperate with providers and still can't make the math work in their tight local budgets. What's next for them, especially if state agencies aren't always equipped to help and the EPA seems to be ceding any leadership role on the topic lately? Should they hope that corporate funding trickles down in the form of new investment in market development or a Pepsi grant?
As always, we welcome your thoughts at [email protected]
IN OTHER NEWS
Covanta announces big $45M deal in Florida — Press Release
New Jersey-based Covanta has agreed to purchase a subsidiary of Babcock & Wilcox Enterprises, which includes lucrative operating contracts for two Florida WTE facilities — one of which is the newest in the U.S. The two operations, owned by the Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County, have a combined capacity of 1.7 millions tons per year and generate approximately $60 million in annual revenues. The current contracts run through 2029 and 2035, with options for renewal. While the company continues to report solid growth through new revenue streams in the U.S., much of its expansion attention has been focused overseas so this is a notable step.
Recyclers scramble ahead of Chinese tariffs — Reuters
Shipments scheduled before the new round of retaliatory Chinese tariffs on U.S. scrap imports are being diverted or resold as scrap importers rush to cut their losses, according to Reuters. Copper recyclers are particularly concerned as they were still accepting around 2,200 shipments per month in Q1. They must now find other buyers for the residual copper — one told Reuters that he was looking for buyers in Japan, South Korea, India and Europe — and will likely need to offer a steep discount to offload the unwanted scrap. Another source speculated Chinese buyers may even need to resort to sending shipments through an intermediary country before finally receiving scrap imports in China as a strategy to avoid tariffs.
Western Kentucky coal plant operator won't be fined for pollution — WFPL
In 2016, state inspectors found that coal ash had been leaching from the D.B. Wilson Power Plant landfill in Kentucky, possibly since 2010 or earlier. Arsenic levels in the water were found to be almost 1,000 times over federal limits. The state's Energy and Environment Cabinet has negotiated a deal for installation of a collection and wastewater treatment system by 2020 with operator Big Rivers Electric Corporation, but activists say a fine is in order. The company is under no obligation to pay unless it violates the agreement.
Atlanta sanitation workers begin walk off — MarketWatch
At midnight last night, 120 Republic employees began their strike to protest alleged violations of federal labor laws. The workers say the company illegally hired subcontractors in place of full-time mechanics. Waste Dive previously reported that the strike had already begun, but Teamsters Local 728 only authorized the strike on Sunday.
Japanese recycler employs wearable robotics tech — Waste Management World
A food waste recycling facility operated by Hamada Kagaku is set to use an exoskeleton-style robot to reduce back injuries and improve productivity. Panasonic subsidiary ATOUN Inc. will supply 12 units for use at the facility. The technology is especially useful for this application because the irregular nature of food waste means automation is difficult to achieve. Earlier this year, Rubicon announced a partnership with Georgia Tech to develop its own exoskeleton to be used by waste collectors.
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