Daily Digest: NYC waste reform, mega Virginia landfill proceeds
Each day, the Waste Dive team rounds up in our Daily Digest news, insights and moments from around the industry you may have missed.
ENDLESS SUMMER FOR NYC WASTE
Today, the New York Daily News reported the city's Business Integrity Commission has barred former Sanitation Salvage driver Sean Spence from working in the industry. Normally the fate of one driver wouldn't generate so much attention, but Spence's involvement in the deaths of two people since last fall — and the fact that he lied to police about the circumstances involving the first one — have heightened interest.
This comes as many look to BIC for a stronger hand when it comes to regulating industry safety, but the agency maintains it needs more authority to get involved with specific drivers. BIC did take the unique step of intervening after Spence's second fatal incident in April to get him off the road and is continuing an investigation of the company.
The topic has garnered rare attention from sitting or nominated politicians at various levels this year, due at least in part to a series of ProPublica articles. Elected officials say that helped build momentum for an unrelated bill to reduce private transfer station capacity, passed last month. The National Waste & Recycling Association's local chapter has essentially promised a lawsuit over the policy and local group New Yorkers for Responsible Waste Management remains similarly opposed.
While City & State recently framed this transfer station outcome as a sign of potential victory for the city's zone collection ambitions, that plan still has multiple years of tough negotiations ahead. Some of the market's larger companies could stand to benefit from such a move, but many smaller operators are staunchly opposed. The Department of Sanitation now expects to release its official plan next month.
IN OTHER NEWS
US plastic exports down, while paper exports increase — Resource Recycling
U.S. Census Bureau data shows the U.S. sent around 25% less plastic — a total of 213 million pounds — abroad in June versus May due to import policy changes in multiple Southeast Asian countries. The figure represents a total decrease of 32% over the same period last year. However, paper exports are on the rise, increasing by around 42,000 tons from May to June. Though Chinese imports dropped by more than 100,000 tons from April to May, in June there was an increase of 77,000 tons over May. Overall, U.S. paper exports were up 2.7% YoY.
GreenWaste Recovery opens automated MRF with 90-ton-per-hour capacity — Bulk Handling Systems
The facility, located in San Jose, California, first went online in 2008 but recently underwent a significant overhaul to boost its capacity. It now uses four Bulk Handling Systems Max-AI Autonomous Quality Control robotic sorters and two NRT optical sorters to separate recyclables in the waste stream, resulting in an expected 75% recovery rate. As evidenced by plans for another project in Oakland from Waste Management, mixed waste systems are seen as one way to meet the state's ambitious recycling rate targets. BHS is also involved in plans to supply equipment for a $12 million revamp of a mixed waste facility in Montgomery, Alabama.
Virginia residents lose out in latest effort to stop new landfill — WTVR
A county judge ruled against a request to put a major new landfill decision up for a vote on the November ballot. County Waste of Virginia has proposed building an approximately 1,200-acre Green Ridge Recycling and Disposal Facility in Cumberland that could accept up to 5,000 tons per day. Cumberland County supervisors approved rezoning and conditional use permit applications in June after a close vote, according to Virginia Mercury, and final approval from the state's Department of Environmental Quality is still required. If approved, this would be Virginia's largest new landfill in more than 20 years.
Fort Wayne councilman looks to declare Red River in breach of contract — The Journal Gazette
The company took over from longtime provider Republic Services in January, but has had a bumpy transition since and incurred $65,000 worth of fines in June for missed pick-ups. While company representatives have come to testify at council meetings, and say they're working on the issue, at least one councilman seems unconvinced. By introducing a non-binding resolution finding the company in breach of its $5 million contract, Russ Jehl hopes to empower the mayor to do "anything and everything to restore the reliable and affordable service of garbage collection."
Missouri voters go against "right-to-work" law — NPR
In one of the most closely watched votes in primary or special election nights around the country, Missouri's Proposition A "right-to-work" law was voted down by nearly 68%. If passed, this would have allowed a 2017 law signed by former Gov. Eric Greitens to take effect banning mandatory fees for private sector unions. The AFL-CIO and others spent millions on the campaign, and view it as a potential bellwether for what could be possible in the 27 other states and one territory that already have similar laws in place. Following the Supreme Court's significant June ruling against mandatory fees in public sector unions this area can be expected to become an even bigger focus for unions.
Dozens of scrap containers sent back to U.K. in Polish mafia crackdown — IAR
China isn't the only one that can reject containers, as the country's Xinhua news agency picked up on in a story originally from Poland's IAR. Polish environmental officials have rejected 45 containers of "rubbish" marked as recyclable material on their way to two processing facilities. Originally sent by six U.K. companies, the containers should have received regulatory approval before being shipped. The containers were caught as part of the country's ongoing efforts to crack down on mafia operations that are burning waste for profit.
SEEN & HEARD
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