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Articles from 2015 In January


EPA Revises Rule on Hazardous Waste Recycling

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has revised a rule regarding the recycling of hazardous waste materials.

The EPA revised the Definition of Solid Waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The final rule overturns or revises several hazardous waste recycling exclusions previously included, according to a news release.

In a key part of the revision, the EPA replaced the existing transfer-based exclusion with a “verified recycler exclusion.” The new provision requires that all recyclers operating under the provision have RCRA permits or obtain variances prior to reclaiming hazardous waste materials.

The rule retains the exclusion for hazardous secondary materials that are legitimately reclaimed under the control of the generator.

Another significant change in the rule is the codification of legitimacy criteria that all hazardous waste recyclers must meet. Those criteria include that the material must provide a useful contribution to the product, and the recycling process must produce a valuable product, among other factors.

The rule takes effect July 13.

New Coal Ash Rules & NWRA

On December 17, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency, established new rules regarding disposal of coal ash. In the future, coal ash will need to be disposed of in Subtitle D facilities. For landfills, coal ash management offers opportunities for management.

The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) is the leading industry voice working to ensure that members receive timely and accurate information on this issue. Association staff has been working extensively on coal ash—or as the industry calls it, coal combustion residues—and has gathered material into our Coal Ash Resources page.

While we plan to closely follow this issue and work with our members as implementation unfolds, current key takeaways from the new rules include:

The association is exploring valuable opportunities for members stemming from this development. We believe this decision opens the door for the waste and recycling industry to be more involved in coal ash disposal—particularly with respect to landfills. Working within the industry as well as with utilities and regulators, the association hopes to make that opportunity a reality for our members. We are in the process of planning our efforts to facilitate the industry’s handling of this issue.

NWRA is planning a webinar on coal ash on March 25. In addition, we are exploring opportunities for holding a joint conference with utilities to discuss the handling of coal ash given the new EPA rules.

In addition, the Environmental Research and Education Foundation is holding an event called Beneficial Reuse of Coal Combustion Residuals on Feb. 24 in Charlotte, N.C. Discussions will include an update on the water repellency of coal ash, a presentation by Pedro Amaya of American Electric Power, and a tour of the UNCC labs researching the topic. The event is free, but registration is required because space is limited.

Sharon Kneiss is president and CEO of the National Waste & Recycling Association.

Virginia’s Prince William County, Freestate to Start Organics Recycling Unit

Virginia’s Prince William County is partnering with agricultural firm Freestate Farms LLC to establish an organics waste operation at the county’s composting facility.

The facility, at the county’s Balls Ford Road operation, will recycle more than 80,000 tons per year of yard waste, food scraps and wood waste with its scheduled opening July 2017. Freestate will build and operate the plant, and also will provide organics waste management services at the site and the county landfill, according to a news release.

The new facility will turn the organic waste into high-value compost, soil products and non-synthetic fertilizers. It also will generate some renewable energy.

Freestate, along with its technology partners, will double the throughput capacity at the facility. It will add new processes and operations, including advanced aerobic composting of yard waste; anaerobic digestion of food waste; combined heat and power production through biogas; and a greenhouse operation to grow fresh local produce.

The new facility will divert waste from the landfill, increase the county’s recycling rate and add 20-25 new jobs.

Freestate will process organic material currently coming into the site using existing processes beginning July 1 of this year. The initial agreement between the county and Freestate is for 20 years.

Composting Council’s Partnership with Senior Hunger Group is a Win-Win

Digging into the complexities surrounding hunger among America’s seniors population enabled one Alexandria, Va.-based organization to unearth what it calls a “monster universe” of opportunity between those charged with feeding the elderly and the world of composting.

Enter the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH). It’s entered into a new partnership with the U.S. Composting Council. The “What a Waste” initiative, announced earlier this month, will allow the two organizations to align their missions to put a fork in food waste and promote composting as an environmental solution that improves soil health and addresses senior hunger.

So how does composting Salisbury steak and mashed potatoes help end senior hunger?

First, consider this: More than one million meals are served daily by senior nutrition programs in the U.S. Then imagine the amount of food waste and scraps that are generated throughout that extensive, government-supported network. Factor in bad weather or that seniors can be a picky lot and heap in some plate waste from those who turn their noses up at broccoli or carrots.

“When we starting looking at the cost of food waste, we were looking at the dollars and cents cost, and there is a dollar cost,” says Matt Levine, chief operating officer at the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger, which is conducting a pilot program at three senior hunger sites in Washington, D.C. “If you can reduce your food waste by 50 percent as a nonprofit feeding site, you become more sustainable. But there are also environmental costs to your food waste and a way to be more green and bring that cost down is to compost.

“That nutrient- rich soil comes back to the senior center ultimately and seniors can grow healthy fruits and vegetables in senior-friendly gardens in soil that came from their food waste. That food can go to those in the community who need it the most. It sort of closes the loop on the project,” he says, adding that the What a Waste pilot progam has introduced waste reduction, composting and growing practices into the daily operations of nonprofit senior nutrition programs.

Dennis Robinson, staff member, Hattie Holmes Senior Wellness Center in Washington D.C.

“The seniors and the people in the senior centers are really receptive because they understand that they are part of something important,” he adds. “The seniors separate their food waste and they make sure it happens every day. They make sure the food doesn’t end up in the trash can.”

Besides being a neat story, the compost itself plays a starring role. That was the hook for the Bethesda, Md.-based Composting Council.

“It just made all the sense in the world to me,” says Al Rattie, interim executive director of U.S. Composting “Let’s look at it from the proverbial 20,000-ft, view: the residuals are generated; the residuals go to composting manufacturers; the composting is produced; the compost is either used or sold and then something grows; people consume the something and we’re back to the beginning of the circle again. The partnership with NFESH helps us complete that circle in a real tangible way.”

The next plan of action is to get a project or two off the ground and “put the theory into practice,” Rattie says.

“That’s step one,” he says. “It sounds very, very simple but you have to overlay that with permitting requirements across the country and find compost manufacturers. It’s a very highly regulated industry and it’s not that simple.”

NFESH’s partnership with the Composting Council is its strongest asset in trying to replicate this program and establish composting manufacturer partners around the country. The organization hopes to expand its What a Waste program to three states in 2015.

“We know from our research which states are doing better with senior hunger rates and which states are doing worse, so we’ll push harder to do this project in states where there is a higher percentage of senior hunger,” Levine said. “This project is working already, we know that. We also know that it is somewhat universal: we know that this will work pretty much anywhere we take it. It works in Washington, D.C., it’ll work in rural Virginia and it’ll work in Appalachia.”

Special Report: Safety

Sixty Seconds with Certified Safe Driver Sais Singh

Meet Sais Singh, operations supervisor with Republic Services in Bellevue, Wash. Sais, who has been in the waste industry for more than two years, recently earned the Certified Safe Driver credential offered by the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA).

The association developed the credential to address the specialized needs of the industry, and the specific driving hazards its employees face daily. Someone who successfully passes the certification exam demonstrates that they have a foundational knowledge of industry best practices in driver safety. Certified drivers show a base level knowledge proficiency in the elements of commercial driving, safety protocol, procedure, regulations, standards, and performance. 

For driving professionals in the waste and recycling industry, certification establishes a means for professionals to validate their knowledge, skills, and ability. It says to employers, peers and the industry that the highest standards of excellence and safety are being met. By becoming credentialed as a Certified Safe Driver, people like Sais serve as leaders and role models. Many of our members asked for a driver certification because they understand it will help them make better hiring and promotion decisions. We think that safe driver certification could lower risk of accidents for our industry and may even help reduce insurance costs. 

Drivers, training managers and other safety professionals who earn the Certified Safe Driver credential know how to:

  • Prevent injury and fatalities
  • Demonstrate their knowledge during vehicle inspections
  • Mitigate against risks that occur daily
  • Mentor new and temporary employees on their route
  • Control their vehicle in the most dangerous and hazardous conditions

The exam consists of 75 multiple choice questions. Candidates are given 90 minutes to complete the exam. A passing score of 70 percent is needed to be recognized as a Certified Safe Driver professional.

We asked Sais a few questions regarding his recent accomplishment:

NWRA: Why is driver safety important to you?

Singh: Driver safety prevents unnecessary claims, increases morale and productivity, and gives credit to our company’s good name.

NWRA: How does it feel to be able to use the Certified Safe Driver—CSD—credentials after your name?

Singh: It’s a sign of preparation, experience and pride in this industry. Trucks move everything in our nation. To be part of that group is an honor for me.

We are excited to welcome Sais into our family of Certified Safe Drivers.

To learn more about the Certified Safe Driver certification, and how your drivers can earn this industry-specific credential, visit the certification page of our website, or email us at [email protected].

Tiffany Jones is the certification director for the National Waste & Recycling Association. Contact her at [email protected]

Need to Know

Mars North America’s Plants Now Landfill Free

Mars Chocolate North America has reached one of its major environmental goals.

The chocolate maker has announced that all 10 of its manufacturing facilities are now certified landfill-free, achieving its 2015 zero-waste-to-landfill goal. The company’s Henderson, Nev. site was the final facility to achieve the certification.

“At Mars we are constantly focused on bettering the local communities in which we operate,” says Mike Wittman, v.p., supply chain, Mars Chocolate North America.

Continue reading at Candy Industry

Need to Know

Kent County, Mich., WTE Operator Wins Safety Award

The company that operates Kent County’s Energy-from-Waste plant at 950 Market Avenue SW has been named a “Michigan Star Worksite,” the state's most prestigious workplace safety and health award.

It’s the third time Covanta Kent Inc. has won the award from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA).

The facility employs 38 workers and generates steam by incinerating 625 tons-per-day of municipal solid waste, generating up to 18 megawatts of electricity. The plant processes trash from Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Wyoming, Walker, East Grand Rapids and Grandville.

Continue reading at MLive.com

Need to Know

E-Waste Management Market to Jump 23% by 2020

The global e-waste management market is expected to reach $49.4 billion by 2020, a CAGR of 23.5% from 2014, according to a new report from Allied Market Research. Much of the reason for expansion in the market is the ever-growing need for the newest technology, the report states.

The Asia Pacific region contributes to the largest revenue share in the global e-waste management market, followed by European countries.

Continue reading at Environmental Leader

Need to Know

Pennsylvania DEP Changes Rules for Oil and Gas Sludge at Landfills

Ins and Outs of Managing Special Wastes

A change in the rules for landfills accepting fracking fluid sludges could mean higher prices for disposal, and more oil and gas waste going out of state.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, concerned that concentrated frack fluid waste wasn’t being adequately diluted at state landfills over the past several years, instituted a new policy starting Jan. 1.

Annual limits for accepting radioactive waste from oil and gas operations were changed to monthly caps to ensure that such waste was properly mixed with non-radioactive waste at a ratio of 1:50.

The DEP told landfills that, after reviewing disposal patterns, it found spikes during certain times of year, which undermined its dilution strategy for such waste.

Continue reading at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Need to Know

Costs, Benefits of Autonomous Vehicles Analyzed

Will the costs of autonomous commercial vehicle (ACV) technology in the trucking industry overshadow the benefits? Or will it prove to be the other way around, with fuel savings, driver lifestyle enhancement, and safety improvements outweighing the price tag of ACVs?

Global consulting firm Frost & Sullivan delved into those questions in a new study entitledThe Strategic Outlook of Autonomous Heavy-Duty Trucks and found that some “price-sensitive” markets may be slow to adopt such technology, whereas in others – notably the long-haul trucking sector – may experience at minimum a return on investment (ROI) period of three years.

Wallace Lau, an industry analyst with the automotive & transportation practice at Frist & Sullivan told Fleet Owner that a variety of ACV-related systems are already in use today within the trucking industry, such as electronic stability control (ESC), collision avoidance technology, rear- and forward-view camera systems, plus related electronic sensor arrays needed for transmitting data between such systems and a truck’s engine, transmission, and brakes.

Continue reading at Fleet Owner