Daily Digest: Safe + Sound Week, Republic strike ends in Atlanta
Each day, the Waste Dive team rounds up in our Daily Digest news, insights and moments from around the industry you may have missed.
HAPPY SAFE + SOUND WEEK
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) nationwide event is an annual reminder for all industries to reevaluate their practices, and the topic is acutely relevant for waste and recycling employers of all sizes. NWRA, SWANA and ISRI are all official partners in this year's campaign.
While associations, companies and governments remain engaged in finding ways to make the industry safer — and get collection workers off the top five list of most dangerous occupations — the struggle is ongoing. Workers are still injured or killed far too often, and 2018 has been no exception.
This morning in Kentucky, some residents are likely seeing earlier pick-ups so Rumpke Waste and Recycling employees can attend a co-worker's funeral in the afternoon. The Solid Waste Association of North America's informal count indicates that more than 30 workers have died in the U.S. so far this year.
You can expect more from Waste Dive on this topic later in the week, but in the meantime we're obliged to highlight the fact that the industry's role in preventing harm to the public also remains unfinished. In some instances these situations may be unavoidable, though in others they are clear signs of inattentive driving or maintenance practices.
Below, we have details on the latest deadly incident out of New York that shows how urgent this topic remains on a daily basis.
IN OTHER NEWS
23-year-old tourist killed on bike, C&D truck driver intoxicated — New York Daily News
Madison Jane Lyden, visiting from Australia, died shortly after an Upper West Side bike ride Friday afternoon. Initial reports indicate Lyden swerved to avoid an Uber car parked in the bike lane and was struck by a Mellifont Construction Corp. truck.
The driver remained on site and was subsequently arraigned for operating while intoxicated after two empty beer cans were found in the cab. The incident renewed conversation about private sanitation fleet safety in the city — including a forthcoming zoned collection proposal — and broader questions around driver accountability. C&D trucks would not be regulated by a zone system, but could potentially be affected by legislation being considered by the Business Integrity Commission.
This comes after another bicyclist was killed in a collision with a Lakeshore Recycling Systems truck earlier this month.
Republic Services employees end strike in Atlanta — The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A sanitation worker strike that officially began at midnight on Friday ultimately ended that same afternoon. Republic issued a statement saying that an unconditional offer by the labor union had been accepted. However, strike organizer Ben Speight said there was no deal made between the two parties. He said the intention had always been to have a one-day strike to inflict an economic penalty on the company. Contract negotiations are set to resume on Thursday.
Omaha, Nebraska fines Waste Management additional $78,000 over yard waste — Omaha World-Herald
The company will pay new penalties for not collecting yard waste separately from other trash. In total, Waste Management has paid $180,000 in fines this year. Last month, it received a $72,000 fine from the city for the same infraction. Although the company is pushing to hire and train more employees to alleviate the problem, it still has fewer workers than it did at this time in 2017. According to its municipal contract, the company must provide separate yard waste collection from April through November.
Deerfield Beach, Florida will begin recycling again after brief hiatus — Sun Sentinel
The city will hold a special commission meeting on Thursday and is expected to approve a new contract with Waste Management. The contract allows the city to drop certain customers if they exceed a specific contamination threshold. Commercial and multi-family customers could be dropped if they don't meet the requirements. Waste Management will keep its contamination fees low for the first six months of the contract while the city evaluates which customers are the worst offenders. Contamination rates have averaged around 40% over the past year in Deerfield Beach, according to Waste Management. As some municipal recycling programs are in crisis or are being canceled altogether, the news is an example of how cities may be able to adjust to the new normal.
Michigan landfill groundwater contamination spreads — The Detroit News
A plume of contaminated groundwater originating from KL Landfill in Oshtemo Township has apparently spread west to Alemena Township. Contaminants were detected during recent testing of residential wells in the area. According to MLive, an official said the plume isn't expected to move much farther. The landfill, opened in 1955 before liners became mandatory, closed in 1979 and became a federal Superfund site in 1982.
France moves to penalize non-recycled plastic — France 24
The new scheme will increase the price of virgin-sourced plastic by 10% while reducing costs for recycled-content plastic by 10% in an effort to improve France's recycling rate. The government also plans to reduce taxes on recycling operations and levy additional taxes for landfill disposal. It has already banned non-compostable, single-use plastics. Currently, the country's recycling rate stands at around 25%.
New Zealand will ban plastic bags — The Guardian
New Zealand's government announced it will gradually phase out single-use plastic bags over the coming year. Under the plan, retailers will have six months to stop providing plastic bags for customers or face fines of up to NZ$100,000 ($66,000). The initiative has the backing of some key retailers: Both of the country's major supermarkets and various other companies have already agreed to stopping using bags by the end of this year.
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