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Need to Know

Stericycle Settles 7-Year Qui Tam Lawsuit; Pays Over $26M

Waste management company Stericycle finally entered into a settlement agreement for a qui tam lawsuit that has been going on since 2008. The lawsuit alleged that the company's management had been systematically overcharging government entities for its services.

The lawsuit has now been settled by all parties involved, and the settlement terms require Stericycle to pay $26,750,000 in aggregate to the Federal Government and all affected states in exchange for resolving all claims.

In 2008, a qui tam complaint was filed against Stericycle by a former employee on behalf of the Federal Government, and later fourteen states and the District of Columbia. A qui tam action is a whistleblower lawsuit filed by a private citizen against an entity believed to have violated a contract with the government. The lawsuit claimed that Stericycle methodically implemented automated price increases without giving notice of the same to government entities.

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Need to Know

Recycled Paper’s Climate Impact 100 Times Lower than Virgin Paper

WM Works with Florida Communities to Recycle Mixed Paper

Recycled papers have less than 1 percent of the impact in terms of global climate change and ocean acidification than virgin paper, according to a new Life Cycle Analysis (LCS) released by New Leaf Paper.

The study, conducted by SCS Global Services (SCS), is the first in the paper industry to use a new LCA standard designed to improve the accuracy, transparency and comparability of LCA analyses.

The study evaluated the impact of 2,500 tons of New Leaf Reincarnation paper (100 percent post-consumer waste recycled coated paper) compared to virgin coated paper and found that recycled papers are better for forests, species, freshwater systems and the climate.

Continue reading at Environmental Leader

Need to Know

Pratt's Newest Recycling Facility in Conyers Officially Online

Pratt Industries, a paper and packaging company, recently celebrated the opening of its newest recycling material recovery facility, or MRF, today at its campus in Conyers.

The plant, which will receive materials from both municipal and commercial recycling programs, is the most advanced MRF in Georgia, according to a press release from the company. It can process both residential and commercial single-stream recyclables, source-separated and baled materials. These include various grades of paper, plastic and metal as well as other materials.

In 2013, the city of Conyers chose Pratt Recycling to be its residential and commercial waste services provider, as well as the recycler to service all households in the city, for single-stream recycling. At that time, Pratt built a municipal solid waste transfer station on the campus, the company’s first.

Continue reading at the Rockdale Citizen

Need to Know

Pahokee Recycling Operation to Create 200 Jobs

Two hundred jobs are expected to be created by Sunshine State Biomass Cooperative in Pahokee, the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County said Thursday.

Sunshine State plans to make a $5 million capital investment in its yard-waste recycling operation.

The new operation is in partnership with BioCarbon Technologies, which operates a Source Organic Processing Facility at 1740 N. State Road in Pahokee. There's already a 20,000-square-foot operation on the 25-acre site, which employs a small number of workers, according to the Business Development Board, which assisted Sunshine State with the permitting process.

The bulk of the hiring will occur in the summer of 2016, said David Disbrow, president of Sunshine State. The jobs pay $18 an hour, which is above Pahokee's average wage, the Business Development Board said.

Continue reading at SunSentinel

Need to Know

Environmental Assessment Letter for Keystone Landfill Expansion Coming Soon

A state regulator’s environmental assessment of Keystone Sanitary Landfill’s controversial expansion plan should be ready within a few weeks.

The Dunmore and Throop operation proposes increasing its permitted disposal area from 335 acres to 435 acres, and piling waste up to 165 feet higher than allowed — a plan that sparked organized opposition from grass-roots group Friends of Lackawanna.

After several months of studying the expansion proposal, the state Department of Environmental Protection’s waste management staff wrote a draft environmental assessment letter, agency spokeswoman Colleen Connolly said this week.

Continue reading at TheTimes-Tribune.com

Covanta Starts Pennsylvania Metal Recycling Unit

Covanta Holding Corp. has begun operations at a new metal recycling operation in Fairless Hills, Pa.

The new facility has processing capacity for 12,000 tons per month and will clean and sort metal materials recovered from Covanta waste-to-energy (WTE) plants in the Northeast, the Morristown, N.J.-based company said in a news release.

The Fairless Hills facility has access to a deep water port, which provides the opportunity to load bulk cargo ships for domestic and international shipments.

"We are very pleased to get this new facility up and running," said Steve Bossotti, Covanta's senior vice president, Metals Management. "Sorting by material type and otherwise improving the quality of our recycled metal, provides us with a new set of capabilities we did not previously have and gives us a higher-value and more saleable end product in all market conditions."

Covanta since 2012 has invested in recycling more metal from the waste stream. The use of new technology and systems has improved metal recovery by the equivalent of 16 cars per facility per week for ferrous and non-ferrous metal, or the equivalent of 25,000 additional aluminum cans per week. Overall, Covanta recycles about 500,000 tons of metal per year.

In October Covanta subsidiary, Covanta Environmental Solutions acquired Waste Recovery Solutions Inc. (WRS) and Chesapeake Waste Solutions, two privately held environmental services companies located in Pennsylvania. The aim of the acquisitions was to expand its industrial material management network and capabilities in the mid-Atlantic region.

In May Covanta purchased solid and hazardous industrial waste firm Advanced Waste Services of West Allis, Wis. Advanced Waste also operates a ChemWorks treatment facility in Milwaukee, and has waste facilities in Rockford, Ill.; Portage, Ind.; New Castle, Pa.; and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In addition, the company operates cleaning services.

Also that month, Covanta said it planned to upgrade its WTE operation at New York’s Onondaga County with the extension of its agreement to operate and maintain the recycling and WTE facility in Jamesville. The company planned to make investments and upgrades to systems at the facility with the accord with the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency (OCRRA).

California’s Monterey County Plans MRF to Meet State Diversion Goals

Monterey County is building a new material recovery facility (MRF) that will process more than 30 tons per hour (TPH) of single-stream waste, 40 TPH of mixed waste and 40 TPH of construction and demolition (C&D) materials.

The Monterey Regional Waste Management District (MRWMD) will open the multi-line operation in September 2016, according to a news release. Eugene, Ore.-based Bulk Handling Systems (BHS) is designing, manufacturing and installing the new MRF.

“This MRF improvement project will position the district and its member agencies to achieve new levels of success in support of the district’s ‘turning waste into a resource’ mission for the next 20 years,” said District General Manager Tim Flanagan. The project will create new publicly-owned community diversion infrastructure to ensure that district member agencies are compliant with state regulatory requirements, including AB 1826 on organics diversion, AB3 41 on mandatory commercial recycling and CalGreen C&D material diversion. The new MRF will support the 75-percent waste diversion goal by the state in 2020 as well as the district board.

In 2012, it opened the country’s first Smartferm dry anaerobic digestion (AD) facility to convert organics into electricity and compost.

The MRWMD serves an 853 square-mile area and nine member agencies in western coastal Monterey County, including Carmel-by-the-Sea, Del Rey Oaks, Marina, Monterey, Monterey County, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach Community Services District and Sand City.

The system features two in-feeds, one for C&D materials and one for either single stream or mixed waste. It also includes a BHS Bag Breaker, debris roll screens and Nihot Single Drum Separators for flexibility to process both material types in the mixed materials line.

In addition to the MRF, the MRWMD includes a household hazardous waste collection facility and a landfill gas-to-energy program.

California’s aggressive diversion goals continue to prompt recycling infrastructure investment and moves toward that end. In September San Jose began a pilot food waste collection program in conjunction with recycling and waste hauler Garden City Sanitation (GCS). The pilot program will test two types of carts for residential food waste collection. One will be a newly designed split garbage cart, with a 48-gallon section for waste on one side and a 16-gallon section for food scraps on the other. The one-year pilot program is available to 6,500 San Jose households in the GCS service area. Participation is voluntary.

In addition to the new cart technology, GCS also is operating a new processing facility to add to the environmental benefit of the program. GCS President Louie Pellegrini designed and engineered the processing facility and food scrap collection method, called the Sustainable Alternative Feed Enterprises, or SAFE.

Meanwhile, the California legislature passed a bill creating a sales tax exemption on equipment used for recycling and composting. The proposed legislation would provide a sales-and-use tax exemption on recycling and composting equipment, as well as equipment that uses recycled content in the manufacturing of new products.

How the Electronics Industry Can Profit By Exploring Deeper Shade of Global Green

Each year, the computer and electronic manufacturing industry rings up close to $3 trillion in revenue. But at what cost to the environment?

The Portland, Ore.-based Green Electronics Council (GEC) engaged its stakeholders in a conversation centered on that weighty question in late September during the non-profit’s initial Emerging Green Conference.

Part of the three-day event featured the rollout of a report linking Earth-friendly stewardship with return on investment in the electronics industry. The research was conducted by Trucost, a London-based company that specializes in quantifying and valuing the environmental impacts of operations, supply chains, products and financial assets.

It’s encouraging that individual enterprises take eco-steps such as incorporating recycled content into their products, Jonas Allen, GEC director of marketing, tells Waste360 in an interview. But the council wants the electronics sector to grasp the force and financial benefits of circular-economy principles applied on a global scale.

“Years ago, there was lots of concern about greenwashing,” Allen says. “Our organization exists to make sure everybody is on the same page. We’re working toward a world where electronics are part of a more sustainable society.”

The council manages the EPEAT registry, short for the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool. The voluntary standard had its beginnings 14 years ago when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded a grant for developing a tool for an electronics environmental assessment via stakeholder consensus. Representatives from manufacturing, public and private purchasing, environmental advocacy, academia, government and the recycling sector collaborated on the project, which launched in 2005.

Companies meeting EPEAT standards can significantly reduce the amount of e-waste generated because their designs minimize hazardous substances and encourage recycling and reuse.

A few days after the conference wrapped up, Allen answered questions from Waste360 about the opportunities and benefits for greener electronics.

Waste360: This is your first conference. Why organize it now?

Jonas Allen: Our stakeholders are the electronics industry, recyclers, environmental advocacy groups and institutional purchasers in fields such as higher education, and federal, state and local governments. Seldom do all of these people focused on green electronics get together at the same time. The idea was to start a conversation about where to go next. The report isn’t a road map but it can be a barometer of where the successes are so far and where electronics can be made even greener. Our goal was for everybody to have a similar snapshot of areas where we could all improve.

We always knew we weren’t going to have thousands and thousands of attendees. We had 211. The idea was to attract a broad spectrum of folks primed to take action on the lessons we offered.

Waste360: This report bandies about the term natural capital cost. What does it mean?

Jonas Allen: It’s a fancy way of saying environmental impact. Usually, when you talk about manufacturing, the focus is on financial capital and human capital. This is a relatively new term to draw attention to the fact that resources that have to do with nature are at play. We have to think about mining, energy generation, water use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Waste360: Globally, natural capital costs in the computer and electronics sector are $39 million for every $1 billion in revenue. That measuring stick puts it behind two industries—telecommunications and financial; close to equal footing with apparel manufacturing; and quite far ahead of food manufacturing, utilities, mining, forestry and logging, oil and gas extraction, and chemical manufacturing. Can the sector keep that edge?

Jonas Allen: For all of that revenue generated, the industry is pretty darn efficient in its use of natural resources. What’s important is to make sure it keeps that efficiency. For decades, many devices have been getting smaller and smaller and smaller. We now have wearable computers. That miniaturization means less raw material is used and that’s a good news story because the environmental impact is lower.

But the flip side is that we’re buying so many more electronics that the total impact could be higher if we’re not careful. You look at people with three smart phones and ask, how much do we really need? These are consumerism issues. We have to be mindful that even if the per-device environmental impact is much lower, if you’re selling four or five instead of one, your total impact is higher.

Waste360: Despite that progress, the report revealed that trashed computers, monitors, mobile devices, televisions, keyboards and mice in the United States alone equate to $197 million in natural capital costs per year. (See accompanying chart.) What’s the takeaway?

Jonas Allen: It’s disappointing that even with all the progress we’ve have made with recycling and take-back programs and resource recovery, there is more trashed than recycled in each of these categories. That’s discouraging. I guess what might be encouraging is that as much as we in the inner circles of recycling have beaten this topic to death, there are lots of people who haven’t taken advantage of it. Clearly, the community has more work to do.

Waste360: Where does recycling of precious metals stand?

Jonas Allen: Recycling 15 percent of gold and silver and 5 percent of platinum from electronic products provides $2 billion in financial and natural capital benefits. Those benefits jump to $12 billion if the recycling rate reaches 100 percent. Those numbers show there’s a lot to be gained financially and environmentally by closing the loop. Being pro-environment doesn’t mean being anti-business. Manufacturers making their infrastructure capable of meeting this demand can carve out a major niche for themselves. This is a business case for making that investment.

Waste360: The report estimates that the industry could save $2.5 billion if all electronics met the EPEAT gold standard. Is that shocking?

Jonas Allen: EPEAT is a voluntary program with rigorous requirements not a mandatory regulation. And the GEC, with 13 employees, can’t be policing the world. We don’t want to lower the bar on our requirements so our challenge is figuring out how to make our system more accommodating and bring more manufacturers on board. It’s not a lack of care on the manufacturers’ part because they are making great strides. There’s just a lot of legwork involved to register their products. As EPEAT expands into ratings for different devices, there will always be a big potential for improvement as the system reaches into new markets.

Waste360: How do you keep momentum now that the report is out and the conference has ended?

Jonas Allen: We’re still digesting it all, but we’re in the midst of formulating our key takeaway messages. We don’t want attendees to feel as if they’re drinking from a fire hose, so we’re trying to boil down all the ideas we gathered and present them in a pragmatic and practical fashion. We do know that our first conference was such a success that we’re already planning for another one.

Waste360: At your day job, you’re all about greening electronics. Does that mean you are plugged in 24/7?

Jonas Allen: For the better part of a decade, I ran a video game and electronics review Web site, so yes, even in my spare time I was all about electronic gadgets. But now I that I have two children in elementary school, I’ve started to step away a bit from recreational electronics. I didn’t want my children thinking that the whole world revolves around a screen so I’ve introduced them to camping, hiking, kayaking and exploring nature.

I wanted my kids to understand that electronics are important and can be very, very fun, but that’s not all there is out there. If they don’t understand what so great about the outdoors, how do I expect them to understand why Daddy cares about making electronics better for the environment?

Tomra Expands Reverse Vending Recycling on Campus

Tomra Systems ASA has expanded its Greenbean bottle and can recycling incentive program for U.S. colleges and universities.

The provider of reverse vending machines (RVMs), based in Asker, Norway, added Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to its program, which previously included seven institutions in the Northeast and Midwest, according to a news release.

Tomra also launched a new upgraded website for Greenbean where students can track and manage their recycling points and rewards.

As part of the Greenbean expansion, each university also will receive a new UNO Promo model RVM, which features a 10-inch touch display screen, internet connectivity and an upgraded user interface and experience.

On campuses, the recycling machines are generally placed in student centers or other high-traffic areas, often with four-color wraps featuring the college logo or mascot. Consumer product companies, the school bookstore or other organizations can sponsor a machine, with contests and prizes to promote their products or services.

With the Tomra RVMs, when a student inserts a bottle or can into a Greenbean machine, he or she can enter an e-mail address to link to an internet rewards account. Students can earn points for rewards such as reusable grocery bags, gift cards and other prizes. Students also can donate their points to local charities.

Further, in bottle deposit states where used beverage containers are worth money, students can have deposit cash transferred to a PayPal account.

In addition to Carnegie Mellon University, participating colleges include Harvard University, Brandeis University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, Merrimack College, Bentley University and University of Southern Indiana.

The Pennsylvania Resources Council (PRC) provided funding for the Carnegie Mellon Greenbean program. The PRC is working closely with Alcoa to provide grants to colleges in non-deposit states, helping them develop on-campus recycling programs for used beverage containers.

“Greenbean is an innovative loyalty program that rewards students for recycling. It offers personalized incentives to drive engagement, and can even facilitate on-campus contests to generate excitement about recycling and other sustainability topics,” said Ryan Drake-Lee, director of strategy and commercial software at Tomra.

Tomra bought Greenbean Recycle Inc. in September 2014. It said then that the technology of the Somerville, Mass.-based Greenbean would be integrated in Tomra’s ReAct technology platform. ReAct is a consumer engagement system designed to provide rewards and incentives for the consumers using RVMs to recycle their bottles and cans.

Meanwhile, New York-based Recyclebank, a major recycling incentives and rewards company in the United States, most recently has been educating people about recycling contamination, offering up an array of contamination content to its users–municipal residents located in 350 communities throughout the nation.

Post-Consumer Recycling Materials Markets Still Fluctuating

In the latest readings, national average prices fell on post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate beverage bottles, remained flat on post-consumer natural high-density polyethylene and rose for post-consumer old corrugated cardboard.

Post-Consumer PET Prices Continue to Drop

In May 2015, the national average price of post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate (PET) beverage bottles and jars was reported at 13.9 cents per pound. One month later, the price had risen 4 percent to 14.5 cents per pound.

During the past three months, the national average price had dropped 25 percent to 11.6 cents per pound at the end of September.

Effective October 5, the market experienced another 6-percent drop, sitting at 10.9 cents per pound (see graph).

Currently, several materials recycling facilities managers are reporting low offers paid to them in the 5-6 cents per pound range, nearing the industry lows of 4.13 cents per pound, reported in April 2008.

These prices are as reported on the Secondary Materials Pricing (SMP) Index. This pricing represents what is being paid for post-consumer recyclable plastic materials in a sorted, baled format, picked up at most major recycling centers.

Source: www.secondarymaterialspricing.com

Post-Consumer Natural HDPE Prices Move Up Slightly

During the last six months, the national average price of post-consumer natural high-density polyethylene (HDPE) from curbside collection programs experienced a rise of 10 percent, from 31.1 cents per pound in May 2015 to 34.3 cents per pound in July 2015. 

Moreover, in August 2015, the national average price took a dramatic 30-percent drop of 10.4 cents per pound. During the past month the national average price moved upward slightly by 4 percent, to the current level of 24.9 cents per pound (see graph). Historically, the national average price for this grade was 52.7 cents per pound in September 2014.

These prices are as reported on the Secondary Materials Pricing (SMP) Index. This pricing represents what is being paid for post-consumer recyclable plastic materials in a sorted, baled format, picked up at most major recycling centers.

Source: www.secondarymaterialspricing.com

Corrugated Prices

During the 18-month period running May 2013 to April 2015, the national average price of post-consumer old corrugated cardboard (PS-11) dropped gradually by 36 percent, from $126 per ton to $81 per ton (see graph).

During the past six months, the national average price has risen $10 per ton to the current national average level of $91 per ton.

By comparison, the national average price for clean new double-lined corrugated (PS-13) is $102 per ton.

These published prices are for post-consumer mill-size bales, FOB (freight on board) dealers’ plants, as reported on the Secondary Materials Pricing (SMP) Index.

Source: www.secondaryfiberpricing.com

Robert Boulanger is currently president of Recycling Markets Limited, and director of the Commodity Pricing division. He has extensive experience in the operation and management of recycling plants, and is a long-time publisher in the recycling sector.