Talkin' Trash: Waste Management chair resigns; Hauler apologizes for price fixing
Between politically charged resignations, admitted price collusion and ongoing deliberations over state-level policy, this has been quite the week in waste. There's a lot to catch up on (including some M&A, and lots of news from how China is affecting the U.S.), so let's get to it.
Stories that drove the week
After revelations that he donated to an organization that created anti-Muslim material, Waste Management Chairman Brad Anderson resigned.
- Until a vote can be held to select a new chairman, Thomas Weidemeyer, chair of the nominating and governance committee, will serve as interim chairman. Anderson also resigned from the boards of General Mills, The Mayo Clinic and other organizations.
- Anderson said he was not aware of the anti-Muslim bent of the organization to which he donated $25,000, Secure America Now.
The anti-Muslim material appeared as targeted advertising online during the 2016 election. Anderson said he donated to the organization because he spoke with its president "about Israel." He said he wasn't aware of the anti-Muslim videos until a news story was published April 5.
As legislative sessions around the country wrap up, Slow Down to Get Around bills advanced in a few states.
- In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan is expected to sign a slow down bill, though one of his staffers would not confirm that intention. The bill passed by wide margins in the Maryland Senate and Maryland House of Delegates.
- Slow down legislation is stalled elsewhere. In Kansas, the bill passed in one chamber prior to recess. In Ohio, the bill got caught in committee before the end of regular session.
While bills may be lagging in some states, the forward momentum of safety legislation could be seen as a positive. The National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA) and the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) both told Waste Dive they were pleased with the progress in 2018 and expected more going forward.
A company in New York is asking for forgiveness after settling in a price collusion lawsuit.
- New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman named Taylor Garbage Services and Adams Disposal in a price collusion settlement. The companies engaged in price and bid rigging between "at least" July 2014 and May 2016.
- Taylor has admitted to violating New York's Donnelly Act and agreed to pay $500,000 in civil penalties; co-owner Robert Taylor will pay an additional $50,000. Bert Adams Disposal, and majority owner Elbert Adams, pleaded guilty; The company will pay $850,000 in criminal penalties. Adams will pay $75,000 in criminal penalties.
Taylor Garbage Services is asking customers for "forgiveness" following the settlement. Schneiderman's office tracked the collusion through "hundreds of text messages and calls," which showed the two companies pre-planned price increases, actively inflated service quotes to prevent customers from switching, and agreed to hold off on bidding against each other.
SWANA and the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) will co-host a 'MRF Summit' this year.
- The summit will be held at WASTECON in Nashville, TN this summer, as a separate track for attendees.
- The summit promises to include specialized sessions, keynotes from environmental leaders and networking events. ISRI's president said, "This is expected to host the most spirited debates that have ever occurred in this industry."
The summit will come as market realities from China's import policies continue to develop. Uncertainty has been ubiquitous since China's announcement last year that it would start limiting what kind of scrap it allow for import. This joint event will allow industry and market experts to come together and brainstorm ideas to overcome the challenges presented by China's standards.
The latest in M&A
- Rumpke Waste and Recycling took control of the Crawford County, OH landfill from Santek Waste Services.
- Meridian Waste acquired Environmental Trash Company in Missouri.
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 Colorado, Maine and Wyoming indicate the usual challenges and adaptations.
Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality reported new disposal concurrences and changes continued throughout the state. For some municipalities, this means more limited lists of accepted materials, higher rates, or both. The National Recycling Coalition also hosted its first in a series of market development workshops in Portland, where officials and industry representatives discussed future infrastructure potential throughout the Pacific Northwest. The Portland Tribune provides a thorough rundown.
In Utah, the city of North Ogden will consider scrapping its curbside recycling service. In Idaho, mixed paper remains a key financial issue. Ada County is asking residents to respond to a survey about next steps and whether they'd be willing to pay more. Other local cities are doing the same.
In Connecticut, the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority is experiencing more issues than previously reported from the state. MIRA is currently sitting on about 1,000 bales of mixed paper and ONP, plus "several hundred" of OCC, due to negative pricing. Some low-grade plastics are also going to the authority's waste-to-energy facility with residue, plus glass remains a persistent challenge.
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Other stories from the week...
- Nestle is pledging to have 100% recyclable packaging by 2025.
- Chipotle Mexican Grill wants to have 50% diversion, chain-wide by 2020.
- Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt was reportedly bad at taking out household waste as a tenant in D.C.
- The National Labor Relations Board returns to a Republican majority after Trump pick John Ring was confirmed by the Senate.
- Wheelabrator can extend a controversial waterfront ash monofill in Massachusetts, with a $2.5 million condition.
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