expo

Key Takeaways from Day Three at WasteExpo 2017

Some key highlights and observations from the third day of WasteExpo 2017.

As WasteExpo 2017 heads into its final day, insights and highlights continue to pour in.

Day three of WasteExpo 2017 included more sessions discussing key issues within the industry. Among the discussions were thoughts from the next generation of leaders in the industry, a debate on flow control legislation, recycling trends, “smart cities” and industry efforts on safety.

Here are some key takeaways from the third day of WasteExpo:

  • During the “Bold Insights from Rising Stars” session, Stephan Banchero of Cedar Grove and 2016 Waste360 40 Under 40 award recipient, Beth Burns of Pinellas County (Fla.) Solid Waste and 2016 Waste360 40 Under 40 award recipient, Gena McKinley of the City of Austin and 2016 Waste360 40 Under 40 award recipient, David Hostetter of SCS Engineers and 2016 Waste360 40 Under 40 award recipient and Richard Schofield of Enerkem and 2017 Waste360 40 Under 40 award recipient discussed where they think the waste, recycling and organic industry is headed.
  • One topic of discussion was diversity. McKinley made the point that the industry needs to add more women and people of color to make it like the world we operate in. Burns chimed in by saying that a large number of Pinellas County’s customers are Spanish speaking and the county’s compliance staff doesn’t speak Spanish, which is a huge issue.
  • Moving on to the topic of the future of the industry and millennials, Burns said the waste and recycling industry is a lot like nursing; it’s never going to go away. Hostetter stated that millennials look for things that challenge them and drive them, and that can be the waste and recycling industry. He also said that in the next 10 years we will see more organic diversion, which will help reduce the amount of gas at landfills. Schofield said that Enerkem is hiring more millennials because they can quickly adapt to change and are willing to learn new things. Lastly, Banchero said there will be a stronger focus on source separation and making recycling easier for the consumer five years from now.
  • In a lively session discussing the pros and cons of flow control, Kevin Kraushaar, from the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA), moderated a discussion between Barry Shanoff of the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) and Elizabeth Rothenberg, an attorney with McGuireWoods LLP. One of the more recent cases involving flow control came in Indiana in 2015. There, NWRA and Warrick County reached an agreement.
  • Flow control rules are legal provisions that allow state and local government to forces haulers to transport trash to specific, designated sites. In typical scenarios, municipalities have contracted to have new landfills or transfer stations or other facilities constructed and promised minimum waste volumes. Governments are then often on the hook to make up any shortfall. As a result, municipalities have passed rules mandating all haulers in the area to bring waste to the designated facility. In some cases, the facility will have a higher contracted tipping fee than other alternatives.
  • Rothenberg largely argued against flow control legislation and recapped several landmark decisions from the Supreme Court in the past 20 years that had come down on both sides of the issue. Among other arguments, Rothenberg said that flow control, “essentially allows designated facility to have a monopoly.”
  • One primary hurdle to flow control is the Commerce Clause, which "precludes states from discrimination between transactions on the basis of some interstate event." Another hurdle is the Contract Cause of the constitution that says, "no state shall ... pass any ... law impairing the obligation of contracts."
  • Rothenberg also argued that flow control creates a "hidden tax" by making trash disposal more expensive than it otherwise would be. She also contended that it increases costs for trash disposal for local business and residents and interferes with the development and operation of modern landfills; that it provides no additional health or environmental benefits and restricts a town’s ability to attract new businesses and jobs because of elevated disposal costs.
  • Shanoff argued against most of those positions. His starting point was that while private haulers are driven by a profit motive, the full picture for a municipality is taking into account everything it takes to implement a solid waste management strategy. “It's more than just picking up the trash,” Shanoff said. Private haulers, “want to maximize the bottom line and do what's necessary to earn a profit. But there's more to local solid waste management than picking up the trash. There are other elements: recycling, composting, household hazardous waste and other areas that are not necessarily profit making elements. I'm waiting to see the first private hauler that comes in and says that I'm going to pick up trash, but I'm going to run (recycling, composting) that doesn't make any money.”
  • SWANA's policy is that flow control is a good idea. “Not in every place and not in every circumstance,” Shanoff said. “But it can be an effective mechanism. … It includes consideration of economics, personalities and effects on business. It provides an opportunity for local business, merchants and the public to participate in legislative meetings and discussions to determine that policy.”
  • Shanoff also contended that in many cases lawsuits against flow control come from companies that had bid on the contracts and lost. “You show me a lawsuit on flow control or any issue against local government and I'll show you a sore loser,” Shanoff said.
  • In terms of other costs Rothenberg pointed to, Shanoff dismissed the idea that flow control amounted to a hidden tax and also contended that most waste companies would ultimately jump at the opportunity to run a monopoly in a market. “Nothing would please these companies more than local governments or residents having no choice whatsoever,” Shanoff said. SWANA’s David Biderman added that flow control has been integral in development of modern landfills and said studies showing no environmental effects from flow control were 20 years old and in need of an update. At the “Smart Cities with a Solid Waste Plan” session, Susan Fife-Ferris of Seattle Public Utilities, Phil Bresee of the Arlington County, Va., Solid Waste Bureau and Jim McKay of the City of Toronto and a 2017 Waste360 40 Under 40 award recipient spoke about innovative and smart waste solutions in Seattle, Toronto and Arlington County, Va.
  • Fife-Ferris gave a rundown of the City of Seattle and its service offerings, which include curbside garbage, recycling and organics collection. She also said that Seattle’s sources for data include contractors, private MRFs, private recyclers, private composters, private transfer stations and public transfer stations, and sources for research and studies include planning, waste composition studies, surveys and focus groups.
  • Seattle’s diversion rates by sector include:
    • Single-family residents: 74 percent in 2015; goal of 83 percent by 2022
    • Multifamily residential: 37 percent in 2015; goal of 54 percent by 2022
    • Commercial: 62 percent in 2015; goal of 73 percent in 2022
    • Self-haul : 10 percent in 2015; 46 percent in 2022
  • Currently, the City of Seattle is working on updating its comprehensive solid waste management plan and its strategic business plan, which consists of a rate path that combines waste and recycling services with drinking water and drainage and wastewater lines of business.
  • Bresee revealed that Arlington County just reported a 47 percent recycling rate and that the county’s service offerings include weekly residential curbside recycling, yard waste and trash collection. He also shared that the county’s most common deficiencies include having an adequate number of recycling bins and employee education and outreach. Serving as a smart county, Arlington produces monthly reviews of performance measures and customer surveys and utilizes RFID on residential carts, an online work-order system for customer service and onboard truck scales for government facilities and schools’ recycling and trash programs. Looking ahead, the county is going to revise its solid waste code, begin its zero waste plan and add food waste to residential collection.
  • McKay explained that Toronto has recycling, organics, yard waste and garbage collection and that textiles is one of the next targets on the city’s list. He also shared that the city is currently running at approximately 26 percent contamination in recycling. To reduce that number, the city is promoting, educating and advertising, enforcing city bylaws, performing field staff investigations and bin rejections and going building by building across the entire city.
  • McKay also highlighted the challenges that the city is currently facing:
    • Internal system influences and pressures include the City of Toronto policy, growing population, changing demographics, changing urban form and density and enforcement.
    • External system influences and pressures include federal and provincial legislation, extended producer responsibility, markets and market access, programs and infrastructure funding, climate change, changing waste composition and economic conditions.
    • Urban density challenges include building design and access requirements, bicycle lanes and accessing the curb, traffic congestion, car-free designs, increasing densities and narrowing roadways, source separation program space requirements, health and safety.
  • Going forward, the City of Toronto is starting to think about alternatives to source separation, citywide legislation to require waste diversion, a provincial ban on organics to disposal, automated collection vehicles, alternative sources of revenue, climate change impacts and cap and trade, the role of a municipality in the sharing economy, data-based and decision-making frameworks, waste system performance measures and going beyond the core business.
  • Mike Hart of Sierra Energy, Jonathan Menard of Machinex and Pieter Van Dijk of VAN DYK Recycling Solutions highlighted the latest technologies used in recycling during their session.
  • Menard explained the differences between Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) and Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF). RDF has lower calorific value than SRF, higher chlorine content, no specific particle size requirement, no moisture restriction and RDF specs are not currently regulated. SRF has higher calorific value, low chlorine content, a particle size of <30mm, regulation , moisture content of less than 20 percent and high-quality alternative to goal for the cement kiln industry. He also shared that MPT converts poor waste material into a valuable commodity, increases landfill diversions, allows the possibility to capture high-quality recyclables and homogenizes the RDF/SRF.
  • Hart pointed out that methane amounts to 16 percent of all greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere from landfills and that the biggest difference between gasification and incineration is air. He also shared that the limitations of conventional gasification include downdraft, plasma and fluidized bed.
  • Van Dijk explained that the densimetric table results in simple compost refining, up to 18 tph capacity per unit and more than 99.5 percent removal of heavy contamination.
  • Waste360 had an opportunity to sit down with NWRA National Safety Director Anthony Hargis. Hargis has spent time at WasteExpo in meetings and sessions tied to NWRA’s strategic priorities on safety. “One of them, of course, is getting the refuse and recycling collection occupation off the most dangerous occupation list,” Hargis said. Other initiatives include data gathering and collaborating with other associations and industries on safety.
  • Some of Hargis’ meetings have been with vendors and NWRA member companies to understand their product offerings and building recommendations for the industry on the right solutions for tackling specific problems.
  • On the data front Hargis said a lot of data looks at lagging indicators. But what’s potentially more valuable is finding data that can be predictive.
  • Hargis also said that company cultures matter in promoting safety. “An employee may be making an assumption on belief leaders. They may think they should serve at all costs, regardless of safety,” Hargis said. It requires a focus on safety at every level of a company. And that often can start at the top. “Ron Mittelstaedt is one leader that does an awesome job of explaining his values cascading through his organization. There's no gap. He expects that same value to safety.”
  • At WasteExpo Hargis said that NWRA held a joint meeting with ISRI and SWANA to work on a vision statement of what safety should be for the industry.
Hide comments

Comments

  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Publish