UPDATE: MSW Revenues Hit $37 Billion In '96

CLEVELAND - The results are in: Solid waste industry revenues have swelled from $20 billion in 1985 to more than $37 billion in 1996, according to a study released by Cleveland-based Market Strategy Group Inc.

So what's the secret? Consolidation, consolidation, consolidation. For more than a decade, the solid waste industry has continually 'slimmed' and 'trimmed' itself, resulting in greater efficiency. With this consolidated selling and administrative expenses, operating income has grown as well: 8.2 percent annually since 1985.

Although revenue is up, costs are up too, the report says. Since 1985, collection costs per ton rose 5.3 percent annually, growing from $58 per ton in 1985 to $76 per ton in 1996. Simultaneously, total industry costs for collection rose to $16.7 billion. Municipal solid waste (MSW) disposal and processing cost - $8.7 billion in 1996 - were approximately one-third total industry costs of $25.5 billion.

Disposal cost rose nearly 7 percent annually since 1985, as costlier disposal methods gained market share over the lower-cost landfill method. In fact, landfill as a disposal option decreased in tonnage from 136.3 million tons in 1985 to 130.4 million tons in 1996. Higher tipping fees coupled with recycling and source reduction legislation and initiatives are responsible for this decline.

Since 1985, MSW combustion has grown from 7 percent of all waste generated to almost 15 percent in 1996. The use of combustion to manage MSW will grow slightly during the next five years, the report says, but modestly. New plants coming on line will support the use of combustion as a viable waste management method throughout the next five years. By 2002, more than 40 million tons of MSW will be put to the flame.

Post-consumer recycling has grown 10.8 percent annually since 1985. During the same period, the percentage of recycled waste has grown from 13.8 percent to 22.5 percent. Overall, recycling will continue to grow during the next five years, but more slowly than during the historical period.

Plastic recycling will outpace all recyclables, and recycled paper and paperboard will remain the largest component of recyclable materials. By 2002, nearly 30 percent of all waste generated will be recycled, totaling more than 74 million tons.

Until the late 1980s, composting of MSW, mostly yard trimmings, was negligible. And, only recently, has composting of food waste become discernible. The total amount of composted MSW grew from 2.1 percent of the total waste generated in 1990 to 3.4 percent in 1996.

MSW composting will continue to increase - 4.9 percent annually -and food composting will grow 21.9 percent annually for the next five years. Meanwhile, composting of other organic wastes will remain negligible, according to the report. All together, MSW composting will total 9.7 million tons by 2002.

For more information or to order a copy of Municipal Solid Waste Opportunities, contact: Gretchen Richmond, Market Strategy Group Inc., 2126 Lee Rd., Ste. 4, Cleveland, Ohio 44118. (216) 371-4307. Fax: (216) 371-1272.

Acquisition American Disposal Services Inc., Burr Ridge, Ill., has acquired 10 waste management companies located in New England, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania, bringing to 51 the company's total acquisitions since January 1993. The acquisitions were purchased using a combination of cash and stock.

Awards The American Forest & Paper Association, Washington, D.C., has awarded its eight annual Best Paper Recycling Program Awards. Winners include: Manitowac County (Wis.) Materials Recovery Facility; Charleston County (S.C.) Department of Solid Waste; Granger Recycling Center, Lansing, Mich.; and Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corp.

The California Integrated Waste Management Board, Sacramento, Calif., has presented the Walt Disney Co. with a "Waste Reduction Award Program of the Year" plaque. In 1996, the company recycled 80,000 tons of waste, saving $528,000 in disposal costs.

Contract Global Recycling Technologies Inc., Stoughton, Mass., has been awarded a contract by the Massachusetts Division of Operational Services for the recycling of spent mercury-bearing fluorescent lamps. The contract is available to all Massachusetts agencies, authorities and municipalities for one year with up to four option years.

Loans The California Integrated Waste Management Board, Sacramento, Calif., has approved $2,221,134 in loans to Evergreen Glass, Stockton; MBA Polymers, Richmond; and Vision Recycling, Almeada County.

New Facility Allison Transmission announces the opening of its new customer training facility in Indianapolis, Ind. The 13,000-square-foot facility offers courses on basic maintenance to more in-depth classes that cover hydraulic and electronic controls of the World Transmissions.

Re-Opening Med/Waste Inc., Opa Loca, Fla., has announced that its South Carolina waste incineration facility which suffered fire damage has been granted permission to reopen and resume normal operations by the S.C. Dept. of Health and Environmental Control.