Daily Digest: EPA's GHG mystery, Phoenix drops Recyclebank
Each day, the Waste Dive team rounds up news, insights and moments from around the industry you may have missed in our Daily Digest.
SORTING THROUGH EPA'S GHG CONFUSION
Last week, the EPA released its 2015 Facts & Figures report and, at surface level, there were few surprises. Though one thing did stand out to Waste Dive and multiple sources we've spoken to in the week since. The report included no mention of recycling's greenhouse gas emissions reduction benefits.
The Trump administration's skeptical stance on climate change is no secret, but those politics hadn't seemed to publicly affect the agency's Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery yet. The agency has stood behind its goal of seeing food waste reduced 50% by 2030 and still cites methane reduction as a related benefit.
While the shift to a sustainable materials management framework did occur under the Obama administration, a quick check of the report archives shows GHG reduction has been regularly cited as a benefit of recycling since 2006. Its earliest mention appears to go back as far as 1995. In recent years, this has become a key metric for many of the industry's larger companies, as well as state and local governments, to justify their own policy aims.
When asked why GHG information was omitted from the latest report, spokesperson Enesta Jones essentially ignored the question, aside from saying the agency chose to emphasize more economic indicators around tax revenue and job creation, "given the recent disruptions to recycling markets in the United States." Jones went on to include background on the report's new website and note that the EPA is "looking for stakeholder feedback" on the change.
The current national recycling conversation is all about why the service may be getting more expensive, but is still environmentally worthwhile. If the EPA's political appointees have deliberately chosen to stop recognizing GHG reduction as a benefit of recycling that puts the agency further out of step than some feel it already is on the post-China realities of commodity markets.
On Aug. 13, the EPA sent the following statement attributed to a "spokesperson."
“It is inaccurate to say we are advocating any area more than another. Our goal was to emphasize the broad range of environmental benefits and not single out any one. For the 2018 Report, which includes 2015 data, we highlighted some information that is available in the current and previous reports. Based on inquiries, we are in the process of adding the GHG information to the website version of the data. We encourage all stakeholders to look across the lifecycle of materials to identify opportunities to reduce environmental impacts.”
IN OTHER NEWS
Atlanta sanitation workers strike — FOX 5 Atlanta
More than 100 Republic Services employees are on strike, saying they may quit their jobs if demands for increased wages and better health benefits aren't met. The workers are represented by Teamsters Local 728 union, which voted on Sunday to begin the strike after contract negotiations fell through. According to a union representative, the employees are currently without a contract.
Phoenix drops Recyclebank — AZ Central
Phoenix's Public Works Department has canceled a 2016 deal with Recyclebank — after spending $3.3 million on it so far — that was intended to help engage more residents as part of the city's "zero waste" goal. CEO Paul Winn has since come out with a statement defending the program and said that awareness of the "Reimagine Phoenix" initiative increased significantly. While Philadelphia doubled down with Recyclebank last year, the company has also lost some ground to Recycling Perks this year.
Sonoco commits to new standards on sustainable packaging — Markets Insider
Today the packaging and recycling company announced new goals as part of its 2017-18 Corporate Responsibility Report. That includes increasing the amount it recycles from 75% to 85%, increasing post-consumer resins in packaging from 19% to 25% and ensuring at least 75% of rigid plastic packaging qualifies for the on-package recyclable claim.
Gold Medal Group acquires Envirowaste and Commonwealth Commons — PR Newswire
Both of the purchased companies collectively own and operate a solid waste management and resource recovery facility in Philadelphia that specializes in construction material recycling. Gold Medal Group already collects around 150,000 tons per year of waste, meaning the acquisition will integrate well with the group's current operations. The group is also discussing possible co-development of a HEBioT renewable waste facility at the site with BioHiTech Global.
Port Authority looking into contract with NJ company after deadly incident — New York Post
The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey is questioning whether it will continue doing business with Century Waste Services after a wheel flew off one of the company's trucks and killed a NYPD employee on Aug. 1. The company has previously received contracts worth nearly $460,000 from the authority. Century's safety and maintenance record has come under scrutiny in the week since this happened as the local commercial waste reform debate surges onward.
Ocean Cleanup back in the spotlight — USA Today
As The Ocean Cleanup prepares to launch its inaugural marine plastic collection system — dubbed Wilson in a "Castaway" reference — the start-up has gained increasing coverage about whether it will actually work. As described by USA Today, "On Sept. 8, an ungainly, 2,000-foot-long contraption will steam under the Golden Gate Bridge in what’s either a brilliant quest or a fool's errand." All eyes will be on this project from 23-year-old Boyan Slat in the months ahead.
SEEN & HEARD
Notice a difference? Tanglers- like clothes, plastic bags, hoses & cords- placed in your curbside recycling cart can wrap around our recycling equipment, shutting down the process. Toss these tanglers in the trash or recycle elsewhere! #TampaBayRecycles ???? https://t.co/JmuiFvieQz pic.twitter.com/ya7JsHZOpJ— City of Tampa (@CityofTampa) August 7, 2018
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