Settlement Pending in Flow Control Suit

The Washington, D.C.-based National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) has reached a $3.9 million settlement with the Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA), Dover. If approved, the settlement will compensate eligible haulers for tipping fees they paid at DSWA facilities between May 21, 1995, and April 30, 1999.

NSWMA and DSWA jointly submitted the agreement to the federal court in Wilmington, Del., in early November, and the court is expected to hold a settlement conference in January 2000. The agreement would provide a process to advise haulers and others that are eligible for compensation.

In October 1998, NSWMA and several haulers filed a class action lawsuit against the DSWA, charging that its flow control regulations violated the U.S. Constitution. Flow control refers to government laws that mandate where waste must be processed or disposed. The U.S. Supreme Court declared flow control illegal in 1994.

Until recently, Delaware required its haulers to dispose of solid waste at designated DSWA facilities for a $58.50-per-ton tipping fee. In the lawsuit, NSWMA argued that Delaware's law prohibited disposal of solid waste generated in Delaware at other states' disposal facilities, where prices were $10 to $25 per ton cheaper.

DSWA implemented a "differential disposal fee" as of May 1, according to DSWA's attorney, F. Michael Parkowski. Haulers can contract with DSWA for three years, and at the end of the contract, the hauler receives a $10 per ton rebate, he says. Approximately 90 percent of all waste collected by private haulers in Delaware goes to a DSWA facility, Parkowski says.

DSWA settled with no admission of liability and does not concede that the change in fee structure is a result of the lawsuit, Parkowski says. He declined to comment further on the settlement since a review is pending.

The $3.9 million settlement represents a recovery of approximately $8 per ton based on the estimated number of tons disposed of by Delaware waste haulers during the lawsuit period, according to the NSWMA.

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - The plastics recycling industry is ready to set sail, at least in the case of the 179-foot-long H.M.S. Rose sailing school vessel.

Built in 1970 as a replica of a mid-18th century Royal Navy ship, the Rose's 13,000 square feet of sail is made from recycled plastic soda bottles and plastic car fenders.

The Rose sailed into Annapolis, Md., on October 28 to launch the state's activities for America Recycles Day, which took place across the country on November 15. After a press conference with Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening, D, guests boarded the ship and viewed exhibits of products made from recycled materials.

The ship also was part of America Recycles Day festivities in Florida last year, says Jan Williams, director of the H.M.S. Rose Foundation, Bridgeport, Conn., where the ship is docked.

"We spent two months going from port to port to show [the ship] off," she says.

That's when John Brunner, president of the Maryland Recyclers Coalition, Annapolis, heard about The Rose and thought it would be an exciting way to promote recycling.

"It is obviously a big attention-getter," he says of the ship. "You can have press conferences one after the other, but if you don't have a good backdrop, it's more difficult to get the message out."

Judith Dunbar of The American Plastics Council, Rosslyn, Va., a sponsor of America Recycles Day, agrees that the ship showcases the various uses of recycled material.

"It's an interesting thing for people to see, and [the sails] are such a visible part of [the ship]," she says. "It teaches everyone the range of what can be made with recycled plastic - everything from fleece or plastic lumber to something in the sailing industry."

Constructed by DuPont, Wilmington, Del., in 1992, the sails were created by processing the plastic bottles and car bumpers into pellets, then into fiber or yarn, which was woven into sailcloth.

"Folks [from DuPont] were on the ship a year beforehand to see how [the sails] worked and to take measurements," Williams says. "It was quite a project."