In the Daily Digest, the Waste Dive team rounds up insights and moments you may have missed.
COLLECTION ISSUES IN JACKSONVILLE
The Florida city has issued more than $132,000 in fines to its three service providers after ongoing complaints of missed collections, according to Action News Jax. The total breaks down to $108,335 for Republic Services, $21,000 for Waste Pro and $3,050 for Advanced Disposal Services.
The station reported on this issue in early August and found the city had received more than 42,000 complaints to date, as compared to an estimated 46,500 complaints for the entirety of 2017. Some residents reported no collection occurring for multiple weeks. When contacted by Action News Jax for this most recent story, Republic cited higher than expected collection volumes and an ongoing labor shortage.
As service providers of all sizes struggle with a shortage of drivers and mechanics, it has become commonplace to see such fines levied by cities and counties around the country. This is an issue that extends far beyond the waste industry — also getting wrapped up in complex immigration politics — and shows no sign of an easy fix any time soon.
IN OTHER NEWS
More G7 commitments, skepticism about reaching plastic goals
Environment leaders are meeting in Halifax, Canada this week to plot out next steps on the Ocean Plastics Charter agreed to by five of the seven member countries earlier this spring. The event has already seen multiple big pledges by corporations and governments, and there are now more to report.
Companies such as Coca-Cola and Volvo have signed on to the charter, joining a host of others. The Canadian government has also pledged $65 million to the World Bank for ocean plastics work and will start a $12 million investment fund for domestic material innovations. CTV News reports that the Canadian government has also set a target to "collect, reuse or recycle" at least 75% of plastic waste by 2030 in Ottawa.
Meanwhile, the CBC has an apt new piece about how this charter could potentially lead to an increase in waste-to-energy combustion, what that would mean in Canada, where the technology is less prevalent than many other developed countries, and whether that's an appropriate solution from an environmental standpoint.
Whole Foods fined $1.64 million for haz waste violations — Yolo County DA
Whole Foods Market California Inc. and two related entities have been fined by the Yolo County District Attorney's office for mishandling hazardous wastes and materials at locations throughout the state over a five-year timeframe. This included "batteries, electronic devices, ignitable liquids, aerosol products, cleaning agents, and other flammable, reactive, toxic, and corrosive materials." Per a civil settlement, the company will pay more than $1.2 million in penalties, $202,800 for investigation reimbursements and $237,900 to fund local environmental projects.
As recently outlined by Waste Dive columnist Rich Thompson, California has garnered a reputation for stringent hazardous waste enforcement over the past decade and settled with many large companies for even larger sums. Retailers and service providers alike can take this as a warning to update their practices, if they haven't done so already, to avoid being the next in line for such an expensive outcome.
California company fined for worker fatality — Cal/OSHA & The Mercury News
GreenWaste Recovery Inc. has been fined $46,270 for the March 2 death of an employee in San Jose. The driver, Jose Terriquez, was operating his vehicle from the right-hand side when he made a turn, fell out, and was run over by the truck. Cal/OSHA issued a total of four fines for the incident relating to a broken safety chain, unsafe work practices and other vehicle violations. This is the first employee fatality in the company's 27-year history and GreenWaste is said to be cooperating with authorities on safety improvements.
Yet another collection worker injured on the job — The Eagle
This has been a particularly bad week for collection worker safety, with two fatalities caused by third-party vehicles in Louisiana and Michigan. Now, there is another serious incident to report. A municipal collection driver for the Texas city of College Station was critically injured on the morning of Sept. 20 while working his route. The truck was stopped, with an SUV stopped behind it, when a third car rear-ended the SUV. This caused the SUV to flip over. The car struck both the collection driver and his truck.
Casella headed to court with Massachusetts town over collection promise — Telegram & Gazette
Vermont-based Casella Waste Systems will be shutting down its Southbridge landfill by the end of the year — due to ongoing community opposition and regulatory costs — and is now trying to get out of an offer to provide the town free curbside collection through 2027. The company is attempting to make the distinction between itself and the landfill-operating subsidiary, but a previous public promise from one key employee is complicating the case. The two parties were unable to resolve this issue in mediation and are now scheduled for a trial on Oct. 24.
Washington composter agrees to $785K class-action odor settlement — Everett Herald
Pending final approval from a judge, Cedar Grove Composting will pay more than $785,000 to affected residents and spend an additional $1.45 million on infrastructure improvements to address ongoing odor issues. The company won a previous lawsuit in 2017 and continues to deny any wrongdoing, but said it "felt this was the best way to bring resolution to this matter and have the ability to refocus our efforts 100 percent back to providing this valuable service for the community." The company is also nearing completion of a similar (and more expensive) settlement in Washington's King County.
SEEN & HEARD
Faith communities around the U.S. are mobilizing against #foodwaste by providing sermons and curriculums! Take part in the #FoodWasteWeekend (Sept. 21-22)— FAO in North America (@FAONorthAmerica) September 19, 2018
Do you have events or webinars that should be on our agenda this week? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.