The Wide World of Waste: New focuses on fuel and a corporate duel
This recurring 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.
The week has been yet another busy one in the waste world with progress on many familiar fronts. The "big three" posted strong revenues amid uncertain recycling markets for the first quarter of the year. Scores of new CNG trucks recently hit the road and two more "Slow Down to Get Around" laws were passed to help keep industry workers safe. Local governments in California continued to push the envelope with new policies and initiatives to improve recycling. Another manufacturer responded to packaging pressure with promises to do better on recycling.
Amid the all the headlines we've reported and stories we've been reading, there is still plenty of news that we didn't get to yet. Just like people never stop generating waste, the steady stream of local disputes, regulatory updates, international intrigue and weird news never seems to stop piling up.
- Republic Services took its ongoing beef with brokers and technology providers to The Nevada Independent's op-ed page. In response to an April editorial from Rubicon Global supporting a state bill written to prohibit franchise agreements, Republic fired back with numbers on its economic investment in the state and strong words about Rubicon's business model. "They don’t own or operate a single truck. They haven’t hired a single driver. They haven’t built a recycling center. They haven’t emptied a container of trash," wrote market vice president Tim Oudman. "Quite frankly, Rubicon’s model will create more problems than it could ever hope to solve."
- It was a good week for municipal contract renewals. J.P. Mascaro & Sons' contract with Emmaus, PA was extended through the end of 2018; Red River Waste Solutions won a three-year contract extension in Hardin County, KY; and Advanced Disposal's contract with St. Augustine Beach, FL was extended through May 2022.
- In small town news, residents of Cleveland, TX can now expect weekly pick-up and access to one free 96-gallon cart per household if they don't already have one through new service from Waste Management. Additionally, Absolute Waste took over service for residents in Aransas Pass, TX from Republic Services as of May 1.
- Pratt Industries announced the opening of two new recycling facilities in emailed statements. One facility was built to expand the company's existing presence in Columbia, SC and the other was built to handle material from a new single-stream contract in Atlanta, GA.
- Rumpke Recycling announced plans to start offering free curbside recycling to residents of Green Township, OH. The current service costs $3 per collection bill and less than 40% of households participate. More from Cincinnati.com.
- Diversion rates in two Omaha, NE neighborhoods have tripled since the city began a pilot program in late 2015. Residents have separate bins for refuse, recyclables and yard waste (plus special Hefty Energy bags for hard-to-recycle plastics) in a pay-as-you-throw system. City officials are considering expansion as they look for ways to reduce disposal costs. More from the Omaha World-Herald.
- Two Chicago suburbs, Highwood and Lake Bluff, received attention for leading the way in Illinois by making food scrap recycling part of their collection contracts. Highwood's organics will be collected for composting by Lakeshore Recycling Systems. Lake Bluff composts its own material, collected by Waste Connections subsidiary Groot Industries. More from the Chicago Tribune.
- Residents of Odessa, FL were less enthusiastic about organics at a recent meeting to discuss an expansion permit for a compost facility run by Pro Inc. Odor issues were among their top complaints. More from WFTS.
- A new report from the U.K. Parliament's Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee estimated that England wasted 7.3 million metric tons of food in 2015. This costs the U.K. an estimated £10 billion ($12.87 billion USD) per year, or £200 ($257 USD) per person. More from BBC News.
LATEST FROM THE LANDFILLS
- A $110 million recycling facility project at the Tajiguas Landfill in Santa Barbara, CA may have been derailed by the discovery that a state Coastal Zone Boundary is 173 yards farther inland than originally thought. This changes regulatory requirements, prevents the county from applying for financing and stalls plans for at least 45 days. More from the Santa Barbara Independent.
- Decatur County, TN, home to the "world's largest raccoon hunt," is involved in a legal fight with Waste Industries over a local landfill. County officials say the company tried to walk away from the site after a recent inspection found high levels of arsenic and other heavy metals. More from The Tennessean.
- The town board of Seneca Falls, NY still can't decide whether to repeal a 2016 law that requires Waste Connections to close the Seneca Meadows Landfill by 2025. The next opportunity for a vote is their May 5 meeting. More from the Finger Lakes Times.
REGULATION AND LITIGATION
- Residents stood up for perceived violations of their rights over regulations in two states. Kenshaw County, SC decided against a new ordinance preventing residents from keeping piles of debris or junk in their front yards after cries of regulatory overreach. In Laconia, NH, one man is at odds with local officials after they stopped honoring a "gentlemen's agreement" to pick up waste from his private road.
- A new report from two environmental associations found that England is losing an estimated £604 million ($777 million USD) per year due to waste crimes such as illegal dumping. More from Waste Management World.
- Chuck Rizzo Jr., former CEO of the former Rizzo Environmental Services, could be at risk of losing his $2.5 million Michigan home. While Rizzo has not been charged in the ongoing federal investigation that has snagged five local officials so far, federal prosecutors have filed a notice saying his house could be subject to forfeiture. More from the Detroit Free Press.
THE FUTURE IS HERE
- Swedish retail giant IKEA recently installed its sixth biogas-powered fuel cell system at a U.S. store, which brings its count to five in California and one in Connecticut. Each store with a fuel cell also has solar panels, which together account for about 60% of electricity needs. More from BioCycle.
- SEC paperwork was recently filed for a new California recycling company called Redwood Materials which shares many links to Tesla. So far its purpose and official connection to the company remain mysterious. More from CB Insights.
- Two Canadian cities are getting creative with their recycling and litter prevention efforts. Kensington is piloting new public baskets with a small metal shelf on the side where residents can put recyclables so bottle pickers don't have to dig through the trash. Meanwhile, Corner Brook announced a one-month "Cash for Cups" campaign that will pay 5 cents for each beverage container collected and scattered four stamped cups — each worth $100 — to drive participation.
WEIRDEST ITEMS FOUND IN THE TRASH
As the spring community cleanup season continues, volunteers around the country have been finding all kinds of surprises. Bathtubs and a "giant Styrofoam head" were among the highlights during a recent event that collected more than 100 tons of waste from the Los Angeles River. Volunteers at the Sutton Wilderness Trail Park in Oklahoma found an old painting and part of a toilet.
I'm looking forward to trying all the beignets and banana pudding in New Orleans this weekend, but the real fun starts on Monday when WasteExpo 2017 kicks off. Get in touch if you'd like to schedule a meeting with the Waste Dive team, or just come find us. I'll be the tall guy with a beard taking lots of notes and asking lots of questions.
Follow Cole Rosengren on Twitter