In the Daily Digest, the Waste Dive team rounds up insights and moments you may have missed.
SALVATION FOR SANITATION SALVAGE?
Late last week, New York's Business Integrity Commission (BIC) lifted the suspension of Sanitation Salvage's license. The Bronx-based company was previously known as one of the largest haulers in the five boroughs, servicing an estimated 6,000 accounts, but has lost stature after ongoing scrutiny this year.
The company was involved in 58 collisions over the past three years, two of which resulted in fatalities and 11 in injuries. BIC took the rare step of suspending Sanitation Salvage's license in August, which set off weeks of legal wrangling, delighted many labor and environmental groups, and instilled a new level of fear in other companies. Now, BIC appears to have struck a compromise.
"Under the suspension agreement, the company may resume collection with an independent monitor in place to ensure safe operations. BIC has agreed to a strict oversight structure under the monitorship and Sanitation Salvage is allowed to operate with certain conditions, including strict reporting of drivers and close supervision by the monitor and surveillance teams. In the meantime, we are continuing our investigation of this company," wrote BIC Commissioner Dan Brownell in an emailed statement.
Members of the Transform Don't Trash coalition were quick to express their displeasure, with some believing the suspension shouldn't have been lifted until a decision was made about potentially revoking the company's license. Those on the hauling side have publicly been quiet, though sources indicate that many are reading the city's suspension order carefully to insulate their own operations.
BIC said the Department of Sanitation (DSNY), which has temporarily taken on responsibility for the majority of Sanitation Salvage's accounts, would be continuing service through today as needed. Sanitation Salvage is gradually bringing back routes per approval from the monitor, Exiger. The status of its nearly 90 employees is currently unknown and some are believed to have quickly found employment with competitors in this tight labor market.
Given that DSNY doesn't have a mechanism for charging these businesses — and also employs well-paid union workers — this stop-gap has likely been an expensive one and something the city doesn't want to make a habit of moving forward. Though the pressure for BIC to do more will likely remain now that local media and key elected officials are paying closer attention.
This will make for an interesting dynamic at the agency's fifth "safety symposium" on Oct. 18 and Waste Dive will be there to capture it.
IN OTHER NEWS
Two Waste Management workers dead in Nebraska crash — Omaha World-Herald
A Waste Management collection vehicle rolled over and collided with a dump truck on the afternoon of Sept. 28. Both passengers were pronounced dead at the scene. The Waste Management driver entered the opposite lane to pass two vehicles making a right-hand turn when he encountered the dump truck, moved quickly back into the original lane, and lost control. This is the latest in a spate of fatal incidents for industry workers during September.
SDTGA takes effect in Maryland today — NBC Washington
An expanded version of Maryland's 2010 "Move Over" law, commonly referred to as "Slow Down to Get Around" within the industry, officially took effect on Oct. 1. The new law requires motorists to switch lanes when passing collection vehicles in operation, or to slow down to a "reasonable" and "prudent" speed to pass when there is only one lane. Violation of the law is a misdemeanor and comes with multiple levels of fines. Local action on this law was inspired in part by the 2017 death of a collection worker from the city of Laurel. More than 20 states now have similar laws.
Combative Nevada company files for bankruptcy — Las Vegas Review-Journal
Simple Environmental Services Group, a small Clark County waste and recycling company, reportedly filed for bankruptcy over the summer. According to filings, the company last had more than $2.8 million in reported liabilities. While Simple ESG did utilize Republic Services to service its clients — per the city's franchise agreement — it has often been a sharp critic of the national giant.
Last year, Simple ESG unsuccessfully appealed the Las Vegas City Council's award of a 10-year contract extension to Republic. Earlier this year, Simple ESG filed a lawsuit against Republic, alleging the company was attempting to put it out of business via various competitive practices. Based on confusion among current customers, and a lack of public response from the company so far, it appears that Simple ESG may have now ceded more ground to Republic in this already highly consolidated market.
Meridian enters Florida market with new deal — Press Release
Georgia-based Meridian Waste has acquired Partner Disposal in Jacksonville, Florida. This will bring an estimated 300 commercial and 3,500 residential customers into the company's operations. All employees, including Partner Disposal's founder and owner, will be joining Meridian's staff. Meridian itself was acquired by a Jacksonville-based private equity firm earlier this year and has since expanded operations to include four states. WCA Waste Corporation announced its own Jacksonville acquisition last month.
SEEN & HEARD
Building Local Power: The Case for Decentralized Recycling — Institute for Local Self-Reliance Podcast
Neil Seldman, co-founder of ILSR and director of the Waste to Wealth Initiative, talks about his latest research around recycling systems and what comes next following China's recent scrap import policies. Building on a recent article written with Bob Gedert, Seldman criticizes single-stream systems and analyzes the economic structure of the industry's national approach. Seldman has long been engaged with the topic and has multiple pieces of writing on the way this year.
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