Talkin' Trash: California and others could sue EPA, China hits back at US criticism
Waste Dive isn't publishing tomorrow, so this week's Talkin' Trash is hitting you earlier than normal. It was another busy week, so let's not waste any time and dive on in.
Stories that drove the week
The U.S. and the EU hit China, and then China hit back.
- At a World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting, a representative from the U.S. asked China to "halt" and "revise" its plans for scrap import limitations.
- Within days, China's foreign ministry was on record saying the concerns and complaints were "unjustifiable" and "illegitimate."
As global trade disputes begin to heat up, the scrap trade appears to be no exception. A Chinese government official said the country hopes that the U.S. will focus on "reducing, disposing and treating the hazardous wastes and other wastes it generated," instead of worrying about trade with China, in order to "fulfill its due responsibilities and obligations to the world."
The Closed Loop Fund announced a $5 million partnership with Connecticut, its first with a state.
- Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is going to help Closed Loop Fund (CLF) facilitate getting the money to recycling infrastructure projects. The goal is to speed up what can sometimes be a low process of working with local governments individually.
- The money will be distributed as a zero-interest loan for municipalities and below-market loans for private companies.
CLF has been all over the place lately, from working with Starbucks to develop compostable and recyclable cups, to expanding operations in Southeast Asia to prevent the flow of plastic debris into the ocean. One big goal for CLF is expanding domestic end markets for recycled commodities.
At MassRecycle's annual conference, the general consensus was that municipalities should prepare for recycling to get more expensive.
- Brooke Nash, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) branch chief for waste reduction, had a frank outlook for recycling in her state, saying it "may cost as much as trash disposal for the foreseeable future."
- Solid Waste Association of North America CEO David Biderman called the scrap trade's position, as a piece in a larger game of international trade, "problematic" because, "we don't control our own destiny in this area."
Not everything from the conference was doom and gloom, however. The state DEP is offering municipal grants to help tackle curbside contamination and Biderman mentioned plans to coordinate an updated version of the Environmental Protection Agency's "Top 10 in the Bin" list.
California and six other states are threatening to sue the EPA over landfill emissions rules.
- California, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Pennsylvania co-signed a letter giving the EPA a 60-day noticed of intent to sue over the agency not enforcing a 2016 landfill emissions rule.
- Those rules required states to submit compliance plans by May 30, 2017. California submitted a plan in May, but said it has not received a "substantial response" from the agency.
The EPA told Waste Dive in October that states which hadn't submitted plans wouldn't be subject to sanctions or fines and that it wasn't planning to review plans that states had submitted. Supporters of the rules see them as crucial for reducing methane emissions. It is unclear if EPA will take any rulemaking action before 2020, when its Risk and Technology Review is due for reconsideration.
The latest in M&A
- Valet Living acquired V.I.P. Waste Services, an Ohio-based company that offers residential and multifamily collection.
- H.I.G. Capital, a Miami-based private equity firm, completed acquisition of Wastequip from Centerbridge Partners.
- Waste Connections appears to be negotiating the purchase of Heart of Florida Environmental, according to the Citrus County Chronicle.
- Advanced Enviro Services announced the acquisition of New Jersey-based TrashPro.
Did we miss a merger or an acquisition? Let us know by emailing [email protected]
How are Chinese import policies playing out across the U.S.?
Market effects from China's import policies continued this week around the country. Reports from Arizona, California, Idaho, Massachusetts, New York and North Dakota indicate the usual challenges and adaptations.
The board of New Mexico's South Central Solid Waste Authority voted for a rate increase on March 26, according to the Las Cruces Sun News. This increase is expected to generate an additional $40,000 per month, and help offset the rising costs for Friedman Recycling. The only catch is that this increase will be dependent on El Paso renegotiating its own contract terms with Friedman, which has yet to happen.
In Washington, College Place became the latest small municipality to suspend recycling service as effects worsened around the state. The Department of Ecology hosted its first statewide recycling market call on March 28 and participants had a range of ideas for where to go from here. None were simple, or inexpensive. While recyclers reported they were still keeping material moving it appears mixed paper is the big issue. Bellevue will allow Republic Services to landfill the material through April 20. Multiple municipalities in King County have also granted similar approval, while Seattle denied it. The Seattle Times has additional details in a recently published article.
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Other stories from the week...
- A professor in California developed a way to recycle lithium-ion batteries.
- Montgomery, AL is down to Pratt Industries or RePower in its choice for a new contract to reopen the Infinitus Renewable Energy Park mixed waste processing facility.
- The U.K. is considering a bottle deposit system to combat plastic waste.
- The mayor of Providence, RI vetoed a recently passed plastic bag ban, but has said he could sign a new version that addresses potential effects on low-income communities.
- An argument between two commercial haulers turned violent at a Maryland landfill; one man stabbed another.
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