The Wide World of Waste: Local issues connect industry
This new feature will be a place for Waste Dive to uncover trends, tackle the latest updates and dig out the weirdest news from around the industry.
In an industry that involves multi-million dollar companies and international trade routes it's easy to lose sight of the fact that waste issues are often very local. Seemingly minor regulatory changes can affect an entire region. New carts or collection schedules can throw off an entire neighborhood's routine. Local governments or smaller companies in different states may be facing the same challenges and never know about it.
Here at Waste Dive we pride ourselves on maintaining a good capture rate for the latest industry news, and keeping you up to speed on what we're reading, but we can't always get to some of the more local stories that are just as important in the markets where they're happening. This new feature will be a place to highlight some of the lesser known stories from the wide world of waste.
That feels especially important for our inaugural edition amid a busy week. The first round of quarterly earnings reports offer a look into what 2017 will hold. Hundreds of industry professionals mingled at the ISRI Convention, NAWTEC, SustPack and other regional events. Retrospectives of President Trump's first 100 days in office are dominating the news cycle. Yet the cycle of generating waste and figuring out what to do with it also never stops and plenty has happened in between the headlines.
- Waste Management locked down a five-year lease agreement to operate a transfer station in Bay City, MI and a disposal contract to export the material coming into it. This deal gives Bay City rights to acquire the station for $1 once the contract is up. More from MLive.
- Recology is hoping that a potential legal challenge to the city of Windsor, CA's current contracting process could buy them time to win business in nearby Santa Rosa. The company was recently dismayed to learn it may be out of contention for a new contract despite plans to acquire The Ratto Group, which currently holds the Santa Rosa contract. "I think this is a precursor of what Santa Rosa is going to have to deal with," Eric Potashner, Recology's director of strategic affairs, told The Press Democrat.
- The village of Montgomery, IL indicated it will select local hauler DC Trash over Republic Services for a new seven-year contract to collect refuse and recyclables. Residents have been told this could lead to a slight decrease in costs once Republic's current five-year contract expires at the end of July. More from Kendall County Now.
- In another sign that the big three can occasionally be beaten, a new company will soon take over a Louisiana route from Waste Connections. Residents of St. Charles Parish will now be serviced by Pelican Waste and Debris. More from The Times-Picayune.
- Business remains good for the manufacturers of recycling receptacles and municipalities are hoping these new bins will improve their financial situations as well. Chicopee, MA has finished distributing bins for a new pay-as-you-throw system, Yonkers, NY started giving out 1,500 new bins this week, and Fargo, ND is rolling out bins for a new single-stream program set to start this summer.
- Across the border in Minnesota, a new report shows the amount of plastic collected for recycling was down by 13% in 2015. This comes amid a transitional year for the state's data management system. More from Plastics Recycling Update.
- BuzzFeed News reported on the low amount of recycled content going into new plastic bottles and challenged the assumption that enough of the material is beneficially reused by highlighting the rate of textile waste. "You think if you recycle a bottle you've absolved yourself of responsibility, but it's simply not true," said Gail Baugh, a "fashion industry veteran" and professor at San Francisco State University.
LATEST FROM THE LANDFILLS
- As of publication, a fire continues to burn at Waste Management's Earthmovers Landfill in Elkhart, IN. While the site doesn't accept hazardous waste and no toxic fumes have been reported residents were temporarily asked to shelter in place. The cause remains unknown and the Environmental Protection Agency is currently on site with local fire crews, who dropped more than 800 gallons of water from planes yesterday. More from WSBT.
- North Carolina state legislators are hashing out a new bill that would allow lined landfills to spray leachate into the air over their sites through a process called aerosolization. Proponents say contaminants are too heavy to travel and would fall back into the landfill. The state's Department of Environmental Quality is skeptical, but the House of Representatives passed the bill earlier this week. More from WRAL.
- A Pennsylvania county judge ruled against an appeal from advocacy group Friends of Lackawanna over a zoning board decision that allowed for vertical expansion at the Keystone Sanitary Landfill. Regulation of the site has been contentious and it became an issue during last year's Senate campaign. More from The Times-Tribune.
April 28 is Stop Food Waste Day and the excitement around organics diversion is high this week. In addition to the creation of a new Zero Food Waste Task Force in Los Angeles, all kinds of work is happening to bring people together around the issue.
- Last weekend, Feeding America launched a new platform called MealConnect to facilitate the donation of extra food from businesses to organizations that can help get it to hungry people. Talk of a similar platform that has been described as "Craigslist for food" was also revived in New York this week as a recently introduced bill got its first committee hearing. More from Civil Eats.
- Celebrity chefs and food policy experts convened in Washington, D.C. for a Farm Bill Summit hosted by the Plate of the Union campaign. Leading organizations in the field such as the Harvard Food Law & Policy Clinic were on hand and ReFED's new tools for tracking innovations and regulations were featured.
- April 29 will mark the first-ever World Disco Soup Day. Organized by the Slow Food Youth Network, the day will be celebrated at more than 100 official locations with dancing and meals cooked from recovered food. More from the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
WEIRDEST ITEMS FOUND IN THE TRASH
It's no surprise that people will throw away just about anything, and those stories can range from uplifting tales of wedding rings being recovered to more heartbreaking stories about cruelty to humans or animals. This week's featured items comes from NJ.com's report of what volunteers have found during Clean Ocean Action's biannual beach sweeps.
"From the mundane to the crazy, you can just about find it all as litter on New Jersey’s beaches ... Here's a quick look at some of the oddest things found on the beach: iPod, DirecTV satellite cap, 24-inch hair extensions, full upper dentures, fake mustache, plastic slide to swing set, 2 decorated fake Christmas trees, 3 mouse traps, 2 hula hoops, bar of soap."
And all I found during an Earth Day cleanup in Massachusetts last weekend were Dunkin' Donuts cups...
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
From a surprise TED Talk given by Pope Francis:
"Only by educating people to a true solidarity will we be able to overcome the 'culture of waste,' which doesn't concern only food and goods but, first and foremost, the people who are cast aside by our techno-economic systems which, without even realizing it, are now putting products at their core, instead of people."
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