In the Daily Digest, the Waste Dive team rounds up insights and moments you may have missed.
NYC REGULATOR LEANS INTO SAFETY AUTHORITY
New York's Business Integrity Commission has upheld its decision to suspend the license of Sanitation Salvage. The major local company is prohibited from operating until it “demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Commission that it no longer poses an imminent danger to life or property..." This will be determined by an independent auditor selected by BIC and paid for by the company.
A lawsuit against the city is still pending, but it appears Sanitation Salvage's trucks will remain parked for the near future. In a statement to the New York Daily News, the company said this "fails to fully correct the city's improper and unprecedented action which was a misguided response to political pressure," but also said it was glad to have a chance to work with BIC on addressing issues.
BIC's final determination outlines multiple safety incidents beyond the two widely publicized fatalities that occurred within the past year. A compliance audit by the New York State Department of Transportation, which showed numerous violations around driving hours and maintenance requirements, was also cited as evidence.
While the agency has long said it didn't have the authority to act on safety issues, and required new legislation do so, some council members and advocates have questioned that interpretation. Waste Dive took a closer look at this in a July feature, which included interviews with four former commissioners and found plenty of gray area.
Sanitation Salvage's lawyer resurfaced the debate by arguing BIC doesn't have the authority to suspend a license over safety. BIC responded that "although the Commission's historical focus was on eradicating organized crime from the trade waste industry, its powers transcend organized crime."
The agency is still expected to pursue new safety legislation this fall, and would prefer to see its authority codified in that area, but this response begs the question of what changed the initial hesitation to use existing authority to make a case. Was the political and public pressure indeed effective? If so, could similar pressure now be applied to inspire actions against other companies? Or was the Sanitation Salvage case truly so egregious that BIC felt it had no choice but to act?
As New York's commercial waste industry continues to operate under what many consider to be a level of scrutiny not seen in nearly 20 years, the role of this unique regulator in the reform conversation will be a key thread to watch.
IN OTHER NEWS
Wheelabrator closing Ridge facility in Florida — Bay News 9
Wheelabrator expects to close its Ridge facility, located in Auburndale, Florida, by the end of the year. This stems from the pending termination of a 27-year power-purchase agreement with Duke Energy. The facility has capacity to generate up to 46 MW of electricity, employs about 30 people and was a popular destination for scrap tires in particular. While the WTE industry is quick to point out power-purchase agreements are only one source of revenue, their declining reliability given low energy prices has certainly become a factor in economics for smaller plants. The Commerce Refuse-to-Energy Facility in California recently closed for a similar reason.
Kankakee, Illinois reverses decision to end curbside recycling — Daily Journal
After the city's hauler, Republic Services, said it would end the program due to high contamination rates, officials determined that ending service would violate the company's contract. Curbside collection will continue unchanged until at least the end of 2020 when Republic's contact expires. The company said that up to 85% of the city's recycling had been rejected by recycling centers for containing too much contamination.
Charleston, South Carolina cyclist killed in collision with pickup, garbage truck — The State
On Saturday morning, a cyclist was hit by a pickup truck, knocking him into oncoming traffic. He was then struck by a truck operated by Republic Services heading in the opposite direction. An investigation is ongoing, but so far neither driver has been charged and officials say the cyclist was riding on the road illegally. The identity of the drivers and the cyclist have not been revealed.
Davidson County, North Carolina garbage and recycling center damaged by major fire — Winston-Salem Journal
The owners of the North Davidson Garbage Service and Recycling Center say the fire that began Friday evening caused around $6 million in damage. Firefighters were still on the scene through Saturday afternoon making sure all traces were extinguished at the 54,000-square-foot facility. Fires at waste facilities have been on the rise. According to a recent California Products Stewardship Council survey, 83% of waste and recycling facilities reported a fire of some kind in the past two years.
Oregon to begin statewide refillable glass bottle scheme — Oregon Public Broadcasting
For the new program, the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative has designed a standard refillable bottle that will be used by certain breweries instead of the typical beer bottles seen throughout the U.S. The organization is the same one responsible for the state's bottle deposit program and already has a bottle collection system in place, allowing for an easier transition into the new program. The bottles are thicker and have a barcode that identifies them as refillable to make sure they get separated from standard glass bottles instead of being recycled. Only 20% of the bottles will be allowed out of the state to avoid too many not being returned.
A solution to the conference waste conundrum? — Eunomia
Eunomia Research & Consulting, a U.K. firm, is running a unique coffee cup deposit return system at the upcoming Resource and Waste Management Conference in Birmingham. Working in partnership with the National Exhibition Centre's caterer, Amadeus, the program will give participants a discount for signing on. Anyone that does so will submit a £1 deposit they can receive back whenever finished with the cup. The cups will be provided by Bockatech in partnership with Borealis. For an event of this size (the U.K. industry's largest) it's rare to see any type of reusable cup available and the disposable variety often pile up. Increasing attention on coffee cup waste in the U.K. could help spur a new approach.
SEEN & HEARD
The Discard Studies Blog is back! Our first post "The what and the why of Discard Studies" explains some of the key characteristics, arguments, and stakes of the blog https://t.co/rl7ZXkLEAe— DiscardStudies (@DiscardStudies) September 1, 2018
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