Daily Digest: WM names COO, buys Pennsylvania company; Waco landfill proceeds
In the Daily Digest, the Waste Dive team rounds up insights and moments you may have missed.
WM'S LATEST MOVES
Earlier this year, Waste Management COO Jim Trevathan announced he would be retiring after 39 years with the company. Today, it was announced that John J. Morris, Jr. will be taking his place. Morris, 49, will assume the title of executive vice president and COO at the end of this year.
According to a press release, Morris has been with Waste Management for more than 20 years in multiple positions. He's been serving as senior vice president of operations since 2012, which includes oversight of collection, disposal, recycling and landfills, and reports directly to Trevathan. Previous titles include chief strategy officer, area vice president of the Greater Mid-Atlantic region, and market area general manager.
This marks the latest change in top-level leadership at the company — following Jim Fish's elevation to CEO in 2016 and Devina Rankin's move to CFO in 2017 — and completes what could be viewed as a generational shift.
Separately, Waste Management also announced it has purchased Pennsylvania-based Sustainable Waste Solutions (SWS). WFMZ reports the company operates a fleet of 24 trucks which provide service in central and southeastern Pennsylvania. SWS claims to be "landfill-free," based on a 2015 NSF Sustainability verification. Waste Management noted an interest among customers in "zero-waste initiatives" and said the deal "enhances our abilities and service offerings in this growing segment of our business.”
Waste Management has spent an estimated $269 million on M&A through the first half of 2018 — mainly for tuck-ins such as this — and appears to be taking a more conservative approach toward any larger deals so far.
IN OTHER NEWS
Major new Texas landfill continues to move forward — Waco Tribune-Herald & KWTX
The Waco City Council unanimously approved a $3.2 million deal to purchase 772 acres of land in the Axtell area for a proposed landfill. Combined with a site purchased in August, the city has now spent $5 million to assemble more than 1,200 acres for the project. An estimated 20% of the latest site will be used for disposal, with the rest slated for green space or buffer area. The council also voted to file a permit application with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for the newly purchased land.
Waco's current landfill is projected to reach capacity in as little as five years. After an initial plan to expand it via an adjacent site faced too much opposition, the city switched gears and began looking for new land. This has sparked ongoing protests from area residents and commissioners in multiple local counties.
New Windsor, Maryland pauses PAYT program — The Baltimore Sun
The pilot program, which was scheduled to begin in the fall, has been put on hold after the town decided it wants to wait until recycling market conditions improve. Under the Fair Trash Reduction (FuTuRe) program, residents would have only paid for trash sent to the landfill via special bags, with recycling provided at no additional charge. The town wishes to further negotiate the contract for the program and there are also concerns over resident reactions to the scheme.
Environmental groups ask NH legislature not to override governor's WTE veto — Press Release
Earlier this year, New Hampshire's state legislature passed a bill (SB 365) that would require select electric companies "to purchase the net energy output of eligible biomass and waste-to-energy facilities" within their service areas. This includes six biomass facilities, as well as the Wheelabrator Concord facility. In June, Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed the bill and said it would cost ratepayers an estimated $25 million per year.
Now, the state legislature is set to meet in special session on Sept. 13 and could override that veto. Toxics Action Center, the Energy Justice Network and Working on Waste are calling for them to reconsider. An accompanying report describes Wheelabrator as the "second biggest air polluter" in Merrimack County and details its emissions output based on EPA data.
According to SB 365, all of these facilities "are at-risk due to energy pricing volatility" without intervention. Low energy prices have been a factor in the WTE industry for multiple years now and were cited as a main reason that Wheelabrator will be closing a Florida facility in the coming months.
U.K. researchers discover method for turning plastic into car fuel — The Sun
Scientists at Swansea University have invented a chemical process to transform plastic bottles in hydrogen. When combined with a light-absorbing material and a chemical solution, plastic is then exposed to UV light, yielding the fuel. Researchers say the plastic doesn't need to be cleaned first, making it a potential cheap alternative to standard recycling methods. Like many discoveries of this nature, the method is still years away from being implemented in any sort of marketable way.
SEEN & HEARD
Hate litter? LOVE Texas? Musically inclined? @TxDOT is looking for a new, original tune (English AND Spanish) to be featured in a "Don't Mess with Texas" TV spot with the @RandyRogersBand and Las Fenix! https://t.co/PXZcvdS2Kt— Haley Williams (@HaleyRhiannon) September 4, 2018
ON THE AGENDA
- Day of 2 of the Global Dialogue on Waste: Learning Across the Atlantic. This free series of online interviews - organized by nonprofit be Waste Wise — continues with sessions on circular economy, recycling communication, plastic reduction and product design.
- U.S. EPA Webinar: PFAS in Landfills and Groundwater Webinar. (3-4 p.m. EDT) An informational session on how to analyze and treat emerging PFAS contaminants. The webinar will also include about research grants and include a Q&A session with EPA program experts.
Do you have events or webinars that should be on our agenda this week? Email [email protected]