In the Daily Digest, the Waste Dive team rounds up insights and moments from around the industry you may have missed.
WM HITS THE AIRWAVES
Waste Management CFO Devina Rankin embarked on a mini media tour yesterday, touting the company's record-high stock price and fielding the usual basic questions about China's effect on recycling.
When asked about financial effects in a Yahoo Finance interview, she described it as "really in the rearview mirror at this point, because we’ve reduced our demand going to China and found alternate outlets in the rest of the world.” Executives presented a slightly more nuanced version of that during the company's second quarter earnings call, saying they didn't expect recycling revenue to improve in any notable way until at least next year. China's more recent tariff announcement threatens to further tighten that market.
Things took a different turn in a radio interview with Bloomberg. The hosts seemed to have read a recent New York Times Q&A with Recycle Across America's Mitch Hedlund in which she made the regular case of vertically integrated companies having an inherent conflict of interest around recycling. They cited a statistic about 1,000 recycling centers closing in California — an inaccurate conflation with the state's multi-year container redemption struggle — and also asked about landfills.
Rankin emphasized the crackdown on contamination, talked about creating new domestic end markets and said that "while we are the leading landfill service provider in the country, recycling is an important part of our business.”
When asked about standardized labeling, Recycle Across America's core mission, Rankin cast some doubt on the concept. She used the analogy of how people shouldn't need a label to know that bowling balls aren't recyclable and said "it comes down to personal responsibility and accountability, and really what we’re finding is that if there are fees for contamination people will become more responsible.”
IN OTHER NEWS
ISRI sends letter to US officials noting trade-war effects on recycling — ISRI
In a letter dated August 14, ISRI President Robin Wiener addressed Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The document expresses ISRI's apprehension at the ongoing tariff exchange between the U.S. and China, saying that the tit-for-tat trade battle is hurting the already struggling recycling industry and could cost billions in lost economic revenue for the country. The letter concludes with Wiener urging the administration to renew negotiations to avoid further economic damage.
New lawsuits over Louisiana landfill odor, liquid industrial waste likely to blame — FOX 8
After an initial suit filed late last month, three additional cases have been brought against the parish and the operators of Jefferson Parish Landfill. An engineering report shows flooded gas wells and broken pumps are partially to blame for the stench that has caused discomfort among nearby residents. Around 80% of gas production is not being collected, according to the parish. Another factor is that for about a year up until July, the landfill had received liquid industrial waste, which is treated with an additive that solidifies the material. The resulting hydrogen sulfide produced by using that additive is likely the biggest culprit behind the smell, and state officials have measured noticeable amounts of the compound coming from the landfill.
Florida worker dies in oil vat — Orlando Sentinel
On Wednesday, John A. Korody reportedly slipped and fell into the vat while emptying oil byproduct from a semi-truck near Walt Disney World. His co-worker attempted a rescue, but both men were overcome by fumes. Korody was an employee of Harvest Power, a company which processes the theme park's food waste via anaerobic digestion.
ILSR: 'Metering residential garbage can pave the way to zero waste' — ILSR
A study by Institute for Local Self-Reliance Co-Founder Neil Seldman, the organization makes the case that pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) schemes "dramatically reduce waste disposal." Citing programs in Massachusetts, it said non-metered areas disposed of 55% more waste per capita than those with a PAYT system. It also said that such programs boost backyard and community composting programs. The report cautions that careful planning is paramount to success when initiating a new PAYT program, saying considerations include "the pricing mechanism per unit of trash (bag or cart fee), the physical conversion to the new system, which includes distribution of bags or carts, and a proactive public education campaign." ILSR also says that the increased incentive for illegal dumping can be mitigated by promoting the programs alongside curbside recycling and yard waste composting.
Santa Monica, California to ban all single-use products for food industry — Southern California Public Radio
The Santa Monica City Council recently passed an ordinance to ban distribution of all single-use plastics — including bioplastic products — by food service providers starting in January. In the guidelines, businesses are instructed to only provide straws and disposable forks if asked by a customer. The ban will affect more than 800 businesses. One exception was made for customers with medical conditions keeping them from being able to use marine degradable straws.
Jogging while picking up trash: Shanghai's new social outlet — CityLab
A group calling itself Shanghai Trash Runners is putting a new spin on social running groups. The runners meet up and run through the city collecting trash — known as "plogging" — as they go. Shanghai has relied on informal recyclers in the past and has had difficulty keeping up with the increase in litter during its economic boom. The group meets one night per week for its regular run and once per month on the weekend for a longer period outside of the city.
SEEN & HEARD
Hamairi is a high school senior who created the art on these boxing gloves that Antonio Reynoso gave me at our #WasteEquity bill signing today in Williamsburg. Thank you Hamairi! pic.twitter.com/mdJe5Lq0lA— Corey Johnson (@CoreyinNYC) August 16, 2018
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