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Need to Know

New Way Trucks Expands Manufacturing Operations in Mississippi

New Way Trucks Twitter New Way Trucks Expands Manufacturing Operations in Mississippi

New Way Trucks, Inc., an Iowa-based refuse truck manufacturer, announced it will expand operations to a 152,000-square-foot facility located at 1 Wolverine Drive in Booneville, Miss. Initially titled “Project Wolverine,” New Way has worked closely with the Mississippi Development Authority to secure this strategic site.

“We are thrilled to be working with the team from Booneville, Prentiss County and the state of Mississippi who have already made us feel at home,” said New Way CEO Mike McLaughlin in a statement.

New Way plans to start operations within the next three months. Once operational, the company will begin manufacturing its Cobra and Viper rear loaders with other products to follow. New fabrication equipment is being scheduled for delivery and installation at the new site.

“Our products are in high demand, and a new Mississippi facility provides a strategic advantage that will benefit our customers and extensive dealer network,” said New Way Trucks Executive Vice President Johnathon McLaughlin in a statement. “A fourth manufacturing facility will allow New Way to establish a new industry standard in efficient, time-critical solid waste equipment deliveries, meeting the demand of our dealers and end users.”

The site was selected for its ability to meet several needs of the company. The Booneville facility is essentially move-in ready and meets capability requirements with overhead cranes, lighting and sufficient power. Boasting 40 acres of land, there is room for onsite expansion if needed. Workforce availability was another determining factor in the final decision. New Way will begin the hiring process soon, with job listings being posted on the company’s website. The refuse truck manufacturer said it also partnered with the local job networks and Northeast Mississippi Community College to recruit top talent in the area.

"The addition of New Way Trucks to the Booneville business community shows industry leaders around the country that Mississippi is the place where manufacturing companies seeking a top-notch, skilled workforce and supportive business environment can expect to enjoy years of growth and success," said Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant in a statement. "Leaders at the state and local levels are dedicated to strengthening communities through economic growth, as evidenced by New Way's commitment to create 100 jobs in Prentiss County.”

More information about the expansion’s progress will be released at a future date.

Need to Know

EPA Removes Michigan Landfill from Superfund NPL

EPA Removes Michigan Landfill from Superfund NPL

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has removed the Duell & Gardner Superfund site in Dalton Township, Mich., from the National Priorities List (NPL). Cleanup of soil and groundwater at the site is complete, and the state of Michigan now oversees and monitors the site. 

“EPA is making good on its commitment to pick up the pace of Superfund cleanups so the sites can be restored to productive use,” said EPA Regional Administrator Cathy Stepp in a statement. “Promoting redevelopment is part of EPA’s core mission and helps spur the local economy in communities near Superfund sites.”

The landfill was used for the disposal of industrial and municipal waste from the mid-1940s to 1973. Waste in unlined trenches, depressions and on the surface of the site caused soil and groundwater contamination.

EPA proposed the deletion on July 31 and held a 30-day comment period. The NPL is a roster of the nation’s most contaminated sites that threaten human health or the environment. The sites on the list are eligible for cleanup under the Superfund program. EPA removes sites from the list once all the remedies are successfully implemented and no further cleanup is required to protect human health or the environment.

Need to Know

EPA Finalizes Cleanup Plan for New Jersey Superfund Site

Alabama Poor Peoples Campaign ‏Twitter EPA Finalizes Cleanup Plan for New Jersey Superfund Site

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized a cleanup plan for the CPS/Madison Superfund site in Old Bridge, N.J. Previous chemical manufacturing operations at the site contaminated the soil and groundwater with metals and volatile organic compounds, including 1,4-dioxane.

EPA’s Record of Decision includes expanding and enhancing the existing groundwater treatment system that is currently operating at the site in addition to onsite treatment of contaminated soil that is a source of groundwater contamination.

“Several cleanup technologies will be implemented to address the contaminated groundwater and remove contaminated source material at this site to help protect the health of this community,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez in a statement. “All across our region, the Superfund program is working with state and local partners to consult communities, accelerate cleanups and make progress on potential site reuse and redevelopment.”

EPA held a public meeting in May 2019 to explain its cleanup proposal, discuss the other cleanup options that were considered and solicit public comments.

Contaminated soil will be treated using chemical oxidants, such as ozone and peroxide, to destroy the organic contaminants in soil, breaking down the harmful chemicals into water and carbon dioxide. The oxidants would be pumped into the soil as it is mixed with augers. Furthermore, EPA will require excavating and relocating approximately 900 cubic yards of soil contaminated with 1,4-dioxane to the treatment area to be treated by oxidation and mixed in with the other soil. Soil samples will be collected and analyzed after the cleanup to ensure that the technology is effective.

EPA’s final plan calls for two alternatives to address contaminated groundwater. Groundwater contaminated with organic chemicals migrating from the CPS property would be treated by pumping an oxidant into the groundwater. A line of wells would create a reactive barrier that will destroy the organic chemicals as they flow through the barrier. Groundwater contaminated with metals that is leaving the Madison property would be captured through continued operation of the existing pumping wells. These wells bring the polluted groundwater to the surface where it can be treated. The groundwater will be monitored for several years after the cleanup goals have been met to demonstrate that the site is no longer a source of contamination.

Natural processes are expected to reduce the levels of contaminants in the portion of the site that lies between the area of groundwater remediation and the municipal drinking water wells located at neighboring Perth Amboy. Monitoring of drinking water will be performed under the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s direction to ensure the safety of Perth Amboy’s municipal water supply.

The final plan requires restrictions on how the site can be used in the future to ensure that activities at the site do not interfere with the cleanup. Groundwater use at the site has been restricted until it meets water quality standards. EPA will conduct a review every five years to ensure the effectiveness of the cleanup.

Women Leaders in Waste: Marnie Brown of MASS Environmental Services

Women Leaders in Waste: What They’re Reading

In 2001, Marnie Brown took a giant leap of faith and left her job as a radiation tech to start a solid waste advisory company with her husband, George. Nearly 19 years later, she hasn't looked back.

The husband and wife duo founded MASS Environmental Services Inc., which is now a leading solid waste advisory company in Canada that provides services to more than 1,000 businesses across the country. MASS, an acronym standing for the first initial in their son’s, daughter’s and two nephews’ names (Mackenzie, Alexandra, Spencer and Sidney), manages services in non-hazardous waste, recycling and organics, hazardous waste, biomedical waste, confidential shredding, grease trap services and used cooking oil services. The company also completes more than 300 waste audits each year.

Brown’s husband previously worked in manufacturing but always wanted to run his own business. When he turned 40, his wife suggested it would be a good time to consider turning that dream into reality.

“George worked in manufacturing management, and one of the areas that he had always been concerned about was the waste expense,” explains Brown. “It was so significant in the plants he managed, and it seemed that no one on the procurement team had the expertise or experience to manage the contract—not only with costs going up, but they really weren’t diverting any material from landfill. So, when we were talking about business opportunities, this was something that he really felt strongly about. We realized there was a huge opportunity for us to solve some issues with cost control and really help companies divert material from landfill.”

MASS Environmental Facebook Image Marnie Brown of MASS Environmental Services

At the time, Brown was working as a radiation tech and says her background eventually helped her when the company began to work closely with senior care facilities. The primary industries MASS works in are senior care, food services, higher education and retail property management. 

“I knew [senior care] was really underserviced and could use assistance,” she says. “There were large volumes of materials going to landfill, and we were able to really help senior care homes put together an action plan to divert material from landfill. They have limited resources when it comes to staffing, so we were able to become their single point of contact for everything.”

Through the years at MASS, Brown’s role has changed. When she and her husband first started out, they did everything. Now that the company has a “great team” in place, Brown, in her role as vice president, is able to focus on new business and ensuring that customer service team members have the necessary tools to help clients divert materials from landfill.

And as the company continues to evolve, Brown has become a mentor for MASS’ growing team.

“It’s really exciting when we hire people with no background in the waste industry. As I work with them, seeing that lightbulb go on of how we can make a difference becomes very exciting,” she says. “We work on making a small difference every day and making sure that people understand if everyone does one small step today, we’ve accomplished so much.”

The Importance of Waste Audits

MASS Environmental conducts waste audits to help clients satisfy specific certifications and varying government regulations throughout Canada. Brown notes that the audit helps establish a critical baseline of data for implementing a waste diversion plan.

“We always say if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. So, the audit allows us to have a hands-on experience with our customers’ waste, organics and recycling to not only see what’s working, but most importantly, to see where opportunities are present,” she says.

Waste audits also help companies understand the major contaminants that can hurt their recycling program. Plus, audits give MASS employees an in-depth look at their clients' unique, hard-to-recycle items that could be repurposed.

Audits also have helped expand the company’s operations in other areas, such as grease trap services, used cooking oil services, medical waste programs and confidential shredding programs.

“As industry has changed, our audit division has grown exponentially and now completes waste audits from coast to coast year-round,” says Brown. “Even if we have clients that aren’t regulated to do waste audits, we have a number of them who do them to drive improvement.”

“I always like to say a waste audit is a modern archaeological dig,” she adds. “It tells us about users, what they do, what they value and then we get to use the data to develop a live-action plan to drive improvement.”

One of the company’s clients owns a series of restaurants, and over the past year, MASS has used data from audits to help the group launch more than 35 organics programs for their locations. What has been most exciting for Brown is that MASS is now in the process of helping this client change many of their locations’ waste compactors to recycling compactors because they are generating so little waste.

Addressing Industry Challenges

One of the major challenges in the waste industry today is contamination of recyclable materials. To address that, MASS has developed a plan that involves obtaining images from the facilities it works with to see how and when recyclables become contaminated.

“Our sustainability manager contacts that location, but more importantly, she contacts the user who is part of that program. Sometimes when we are talking about communication, the person who may have contaminated the recycling never gets the message. But because we work so closely with our organizations and we are the single point of contact, we send them the picture, explain what they did incorrectly and then educate them so they can pass on the information to other team members who need the information,” explains Brown.

“Contamination is everyone’s concern, and we all have to take responsibility for how poorly we have done it in the past,” she adds. “It’s not about finger-pointing; we all have to take ownership of it. But we can also drive improvement.”

Managing food waste and organics also has been a major challenge for the companies MASS works with. MASS has partnered with Rocket Composters to provide a composting and closed loop system for many of its clients struggling to manage food waste. 

“We believe 100 percent in digesting and composting, but the other thing that we are seeing is people are beginning to really look at what they prepared and if there is an alternative to that if it’s something that is not being eaten. It helps their bottom line and it’s diverting material from landfill,” Brown points out.

As more and more major service providers require bagless recycling, MASS implements programs to help clients adjust to their haulers' new policy changes. Brown says it sounds simple, but for many businesses, particularly large office buildings, the bag has been used as a mode of transportation.

To help alleviate this problem, MASS has been tasked with helping many of its senior care clients redesign “the waste room of the future.”

"One of our concerns is the aging population,” notes Brown. “Staff are getting older, but in the waste industry, drivers are getting older and they can’t pull and tug the way they used to. So, we have been able to design a space that’s been approved by operations to have direct truck access if everything is set up in the room. So, we have health and safety for the users and for the service providers. It’s everyone’s responsibility.”

Personal and Professional Motivation

Personally, Brown says she finds motivation in her faith and family.

“I know one day when I sort of look back on what I did and didn’t do in my life, I know I made the right decision to take this huge leap of faith to start this company with my husband," she says. "If someone were to tell me 19 years ago that I would have the privilege to work alongside my husband and now my children and their spouses as well, it’s something we never imagined. It’s a dream come true.”  

MASS Environmental Facebook Image Marnie Brown of MASS Environmental Services

Professionally, through MASS’ methodology and through hard work, Brown and her team are focused on helping their clients make just one small difference every day. And seeing her own staff, plus her clients’ staff succeed, is especially motivating for her.

“I believe that it doesn’t matter what you do; hard work and showing up are always going to be the keys to success. I want everyone to provide a perfect effort with purposeful actions,” explains Brown. “Perfect effort means that you give the best of your ability every day. When we use those abilities together, we’re an amazing team. Purposeful action means that we should always strive to do something that makes a difference. This helps remove ‘busy work’ and the tasks that people feel they have to do but that really don’t drive any greater purpose. It’s about giving the best of your abilities every day, not perfection.”

As we continue this series, we invite our readers to email Waste360 Editorial Director Mallory Szczepanski at [email protected] with suggestions of women to feature in the coming months.

“Garbage Lawyer” Travels the World to Deal with Trash Affairs

“Garbage Lawyer” Travels the World to Deal with Trash Affairs

Constance Hornig has worked exclusively as an attorney in solid waste management for the last 25 years, on behalf of public entities and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Her job has taken her from the former Twin Towers, all the way to the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Zambia, Barbados and El Salvador.

Domestically, among her involvements, she has worked with the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), helping to shape SWANA policy. Abroad, she has worked for the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank and represented overseas nations as they strive to improve their waste management systems.

We recently sat down with the self-proclaimed “garbage lawyer” to discuss her take on industry changes she has seen over the decades and what she envisions is around the bend.

Waste360: What was happening in the industry in your early career years, and what have you seen since? 

Constance Hornig: Let me start by going back a few years before my entrance into solid waste management law. In the 1960s, I rescued a vintage ice cream parlor chair with bent wire legs from the dump by my family’s home near Embarrass, Wis. I was able to simply walk onto the dump and take that chair.

Since the [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA)] Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) in 1976, a cyclone fence enclosed a roll-off box located on that old dump site. That roll-off box system meant no more leachate to sicken the crappies, blue gills and perch in the lake.

Improvements like this, beginning with RCRA and continuing with Subtitle D, were the beginning of a new era, and it was near the time that I began my legal career.

But with Subtitle D came the expense of engineering and regulating sanitary landfills. This moved us to larger facilities with greater economies of scale. A possibly unanticipated consequence of the increased costs of solid waste management is the greater role of financing, transactional and regulatory law. 

Waste360: Why do you only represent public entities and NGOs? And what do you see as your most important roles in your service to them? 

Constance Hornig: I only represent public entities or NGOs to avoid even the appearance of impropriety or conflict.  

Much of my work for public entities is procuring waste management services from curbside collection to final deposition. The monetary value of an integrated solid waste management contract over 10 years can aggregate in tens of millions of dollars. It may be one of the largest contracts that a local government enters. Because the service is often paid for by waste generators through fees, it is not reflected in a general fund budget. So, the large expense is not as visible as, for example, a capital project such as a fire department or school. As a transactions or contracts counsel to public entities, I see my role as twofold. 

Value: Because millions of residents’ and businesses’ dollars are at stake, I strive to obtain the best bang for the buck; excellent services for a fair price. “Fair” includes providing financial returns and economic incentives for the service provider to excel.

Dispute avoidance: I draft contracts like a prenuptial agreement between the local government and service provider, detailing the parties’ respective rights and obligations unambiguously and fully.

Why such nitpicking? To avoid “post-marital discord,” costly legal disputes, arbitration and litigation. When speaking on solid waste matters, sometimes I say, “I feel about litigators the way y’all probably feel about lawyers generally”—a waste of time and money and a surfeit of political and emotional turmoil. Yes, I am always anticipating worst cases, but it is to prevent, pre-empt and resolve disputes without resorting to legal brouhaha.

Waste360: Where have you traveled? And what were you doing? 

Constance Hornig: Internationally, I’ve worked in Eurasia, the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean and Central America. My work for NGOs such as the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank generally involves evaluating existing solid waste laws and administration. I also represent individual nations, such as the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, reviewing solid waste contracts for efficacy and implementation. 

I work largely for solid waste professionals in national departments or agencies responsible for solid waste management (procuring, administering and enforcing service contracts) and/or regulation (permitting, monitoring, enforcement).

Waste360: What problems have you addressed overseas?  

Constance Hornig: My international projects largely cluster under two rubrics: closing dumps and developing sanitary landfills and conducting gap analyses on existing solid waste law (identifying solid waste-related law, scrutinizing it for redundancy and conflict and analyzing what is missing—the “gap”).

Waste360: What has been the outcome of some of your overseas work? 

Constance Hornig: There’ve been a few happy outcomes. I’ll tell you of a couple.

Azerbaijan is now implementing the short-, mid- and long-term national plan our team prepared, including stabilizing myriad rural dump sites (think milk cows grazing amidst the garbage) and developing a transfer station network to transport waste to regional landfills.   

Zambia has enacted comprehensive, integrated solid waste management legislation as part of its new national plan, including closing the polluting dump in the capital and constructing a sanitary landfill. 

Waste360: Can you speak of your policy work in the U.S.?

Constance Hornig: In the United States, I’ve worked in communities from Kodiak, Alaska, in the northern-most Pacific to the East Coast (including offices in the late World Trade Center). In between, I’ve stopped in communities such as Lewiston, Idaho, and Waukesha, Wis.

I represent local governments from huge, urban Los Angeles County (population more than 10 million) to tiny, agrarian McFarland (population less than 15,000) in California’s Central Valley. Much of my initial work is as contract procurement counsel, including drafting regulatory framework to authorize and regulate solid waste operations. Thereafter, I work as legal advisor on contract and regulatory compliance issues.

Waste360: Tell us about how you supported SWANA in its policy work.

Constance Hornig: I was the elected representative of the solid waste legal sector to the SWANA International Board. For almost 20 years, I served as the private sector’s legal representative on the executive committee. That committee engages directly with SWANA staff, guides SWANA administration and shapes SWANA policy.

During that time, I also sat on the policy committee and contributed my legal drafting expertise, taking the lead in developing some of SWANA’s technical policies. 

I have served on SWANA’s California Legislative Task Force for more than 20 years, reviewing pending legislation and regulation and lobbying for responsible but fiscally realistic solid waste management policy.

Waste360: What noteworthy changes have you seen in the industry over the years? 

Constance Hornig: I have seen politicization of solid waste policy and the public moving away from concern about waste-related pollution. The public is not necessarily interested in the lifecycle costs of waste management. They only seem to want to keep waste out of landfill, no matter the impacts of the alternate management method (for example, transport energy and emissions).

But there’s also a trend to handle waste as a resource. If alternative impacts are analyzed, managing waste as a resource is a positive and pragmatic advance, especially to me, as I grew up in Wisconsin, of German farm heritage. My grandmother saved aluminum foil, hurled the dinner food scraps over the wagon-wheel fence into the Holstein’s compost pile and pieced quilts out of fabric scraps. 

Waste360: Tell us about something you saw when you were overseas that especially impacted you.

Constance Hornig: On one of my early international projects, I flew via several flights for many hours to reach the client’s nation. Early my first morning, I spruced up from my grinding travel and presented myself at the office of the client’s project manager, as pre-arranged. She was too busy to see me. 

Returning to my hotel, I left her a voicemail, empathizing that I realized how many responsibilities she carried and how busy she must be, but adding that I brought her California pistachios and a bottle of Napa Valley chardonnay and would like to deliver them. (I studied waste-to-energy financing in Japan where business people routinely exchange such small tokens of gratitude.)

She did meet with me. But only after visiting the guys at the construction and demolition (C&D) dump did I understand her initial possible reluctance to see me. The two men were casually inspecting trucks to ensure that they delivered only C&D debris, not garbage, to the dump. We sat on stools in the shaded but stifling, corrugated metal shed and shelled and munched peanuts together.

“You’re not like the others …,” they said, “the international experts who arrive in suits and tell you what to do. You’re real.”

We consultants can wax arrogant, and I wonder if that’s what the project manager was expecting of me. What have I learned? I have learned better respect for local knowledge and efforts and to be humbler about giving my advice.

As a side note, here is a caustic industry joke: the local NGO rep in desert-dry Africa wires back to headquarters in the U.S., “Water pumps don’t work. Too hot.” 

The head office advises, “Put pumps in the shade under trees.”

The rep tersely shoots back, “Send trees.”

A little humility goes a long way.

Waste360: You said solid industry folks with sanitary landfills can have great impact by helping establish such sites in countries that still depend on dumps. What are examples? 

Constance Hornig: International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) has initiated a Close The Dump Campaign. And the ISWA Scholarship program awards scholarships to move kids from working in dumps to studying in school.

This program gives children social mobility and the prospect of becoming professional workers, not dump scavengers. Both this program and Close the Dump, as well as similar efforts, will eventually mean no dumps at all.

Waste360: What advances in solid waste management do you anticipate moving forward?

Constance Hornig: I look forward to more analytic scrutiny of the true cost of recycling and its lifecycle impacts on water, energy and waste and its consequential discharges of pollutants.

Domestically, I hold out great hope for closer attention to a methodology of measuring recycling metrics, such as the EPA's Direct and Indirect Production of Recycling and Waste Input-Output Analysis. I also see potential for improvement as a result of many others, such as the Resource Conservation Branch in the Office of Land Use and Emergency Management and policy work of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

We should be asking questions such as is a proposed waste-to-energy facility replacing dirtier coal generation or replacing cleaner nuclear power? How much fuel is consumed, and how much pollution is released to transport glass for processing? What plastics are made from byproducts of oil refining and gas processing, rather than from virgin petroleum?

Saving the Oceans with Dune Ives of Lonely Whale

In the latest episode of our NothingWasted! Podcast, we chat with Dune Ives, executive director for Lonely Whale. Lonely Whale is an award-winning incubator for driving meaningful change on behalf of the ocean and raising awareness about ocean health.

 

We spoke with Ives about measuring market shift, the importance of corporations in impacting the environment, sustainable solutions and more!

Here’s a sneak peek into the discussion:

Waste360: Do you think there will ever be a time when recycled plastic makes more economic sense than virgin plastic?

Dune Ives: Virgin plastic is so inexpensive today that it just doesn’t pencil out for companies to buy recycled plastic. As part of the UN General Assembly and Climate Week, we saw an announcement from Australian entrepreneur Andrew Forest. He and his wife committed $300 million of their own money to addressing this pricing disconnect.

This initiative will do two things:

  1. Fix that price imbalance between virgin and recycled plastic so we see more end-of-life remediation.
  2. Create more technology innovation to be able to help companies figure out how to utilize this recycled material.

Until we solve that price imbalance, we are never going to get ahead of this.

Waste360: Can you tell us about your recent “Question How You Hydrate” campaign?

Dune Ives: When we wrapped up the “Straw-less in Seattle” campaign, we were asked, “Could you do for the plastic water bottle what you did for the straw?” And that began about a 15-month quest and research effort on our part. What we discovered is that, globally, we use 500 billion single-use plastic bottles annually; about 30 percent get recycled. And the growth needs of the plastic water bottle industry are significant. People use a lot of single-use plastic water bottles, but they also use reusables. So, we were curious about this disconnect between knowing what’s the right thing to do and what’s holding people back from making the right decisions. The “Question How You Hydrate” campaign is intended to get people to question how many single-use plastic bottles they are using—and to challenge themselves; for corporations to challenge themselves; to hydrate like they give a damn, like the ocean matters and like future generations depend on it.

Listen to the full interview with Ives below and more episodes here. Read transcript here.

NYC Councilman Introduces Single-use Eating Utensils Legislation

NYC Councilman Introduces Single-use Eating Utensils Legislation

New York City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer introduced legislation that would require foodservice establishments to only provide non-reusable eating utensils upon request for all dine-in, takeout or delivery services. Customers would need to affirmatively opt-in to receiving non-reusable eating utensils with their food orders. This would apply to plates, bowls, forks, spoons and napkins but specifically excludes straws and stirrers.

Non-reusable eating utensils, predominantly made of plastic, have proven detrimental to the environment. Plastic utensils are not reusable or recyclable, so they are thrown away after a single use and end up in landfills. However, because they are easily disposable, plastic utensils often end up littered on the ground or in bodies of water. It is estimated that 40 billion plastic utensils are used in the United States alone each year.

“We must reckon with the harmful effects that everyday plastic utensils have on our environment and do everything we can to prevent irreparable harm to our oceans and our planet,” said Van Bramer in a statement. “The status quo of including plastic utensils in all food orders by default is unnecessary and unsustainable. We must put an end to this wasteful habit and have restaurants only provide plastic utensils to customers who request them. Adding a simple opt-in feature will go a long way to prevent the pollution of our ecosystems, protect wildlife and combat climate change.”

"Plastic pollution is a growing problem with roughly 9 million metric tons of plastic entering the ocean every year and massive amounts of plastic littering neighborhoods throughout New York City. This common-sense bill will help reduce plastic pollution and save businesses money, and I urge the members of the New York City Council to promptly pass it into law," said Judith Enck, former EPA Region 2 regional administrator and founder of Beyond Plastics, in a statement.

Under this legislation, the default option for all takeout and delivery food orders would be that non-reusable eating utensils are not provided. Foodservice establishments would not be allowed to provide non-reusable eating utensils or condiment packets, unless such utensils are actively requested by the customer. This would also apply to all meal delivery service providers, which would be required to provide customers with an option on all their ordering platforms to specifically request non-reusable utensils be included in their order.

As for dining in, no foodservice establishment in the city with the capacity for dishwashing, as determined by the Department of Consumer Affairs, would be allowed to provide non-reusable eating utensils, excluding napkins, for their customers.

The Department of Consumer Affairs would be required to conduct outreach and create educational materials and signs for businesses and customers to inform them of the affirmative obligation to request non-reusable eating utensils. The department would also be tasked with issuing violations.

“Single-use plastics are a scourge on our environment. They contribute to a disposable society, are rarely recycled and pollute our land and waterways. Requiring that customers opt-in to receiving single-use items from restaurants will drastically reduce unnecessary plastic waste, which benefits the environment, gives New Yorkers the opportunity to make a positive impact on the climate and can potentially save the restaurant money. We thank Council Member Van Bramer for introducing this legislation to help combat our waste crisis and look forward to working together on this policy,” said Julie Tighe, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters, in a statement.

Need to Know

Aries Breaks Ground on New Jersey Biosolids Gasification Facility

Aries Breaks Ground on New Jersey Biosolids Gasification Facility

Aries Clean Energy was recently joined by local officials and dignitaries to break ground on New Jersey’s first biosolids-only gasification facility. The Aries Linden Biosolids Gasification Facility will bring environmental and sustainable benefits to the area by processing 430 tons of biosolids daily into clean renewable energy.

In lieu of the traditional shovels, the crowd picked up sledge hammers and began the demolition at the building that will house the plant. More than 100 people gathered to usher in the facility that will be located within the Linden Roselle Sewerage Authority (LRSA) complex, 20 miles from Manhattan, N.Y. Sixty new construction jobs will be seen during the construction phase of this project and 16 long-term, skilled jobs will be created to operate the plant.

“This day culminates the years of research and hard work from the Aries Team. It signals further validation of our patented gasification technology,” said Gregory Bafalis, CEO of Aries Clean Energy, in a statement. “This Aries system eliminates the need for environmentally harmful landfilling or incineration of biosolids, while producing beneficial renewable energy and biochar. We believe this truly is a beneficial and disruptive technology that will revolutionize the wastewater treatment industry and establish itself as the best available control technology for biosolids disposal and serve as a model for others.”

Aries will deploy its patented fluidized bed gasification system that was designed specifically for processing biosolids. The system will reduce the volume of biosolids from 430 tons per day to 22 tons of beneficial biochar. The biochar will be beneficially used as a substitute for fly ash in concrete. The renewable energy that is generated from the system is then recovered and used within the system, so no fossil fuels are used during normal operations. It will also reduce greenhouse gases due to the reduction in trucking miles associated with conventional disposal methods as well as the elimination of methane generated from land application of biosolids.

“I welcome the technology that exists today that we can take biosolids and convert them into a clean and renewable energy source. I welcome the new relationship between private companies like Aries Clean Energy and the Linden Roselle Sewerage Authority,” said Linden, N.J., Mayor Derek Armstead in a statement. “What a great day it is to make history for Linden and for New Jersey as we are taking a step together toward a healthier New Jersey, a healthier Earth.”

Other dignitaries in attendance included State Sen. Joseph P. Cryan (20th District), who also serves as Middlesex County Utilities Authority executive director; Freeholder Angela Garretson of Hillside, N.J.; and State Sen. Dawn Addiego (8th District).

“This marks the beginning of a collaboration that will set new standards of clean and green efforts in the wastewater industry,” said David Brown, executive director of LRSA, in a statement. “I want to ensure everyone that we are confident that this collaboration between the city, authority and Aries will meet expectations for a long term, be more cost effective and a beneficial reuse solution for sludge treatment and disposal. The opening of this gasification plant here will provide additional revenue, reductions in operation and maintenance costs and give our ratepayers an economic benefit that will allow the authority and the city to stabilize our budgets.”

LRSA, created in 1948, services the city of Linden and the borough of Roselle. It was established to contract and operate wastewater treatment and interceptor facilities to collect, treat and dispose of sewage generated by the municipalities.

Need to Know

EPA Proposes to Authorize Changes for California’s Hazardous Waste Program

EPA Proposes to Authorize Changes for California’s Hazardous Waste Program

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to authorize changes California has made to its hazardous waste program under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), as amended.

According to the Federal Register, EPA reviewed California's application for authorization of these changes and determined that the changes satisfy all requirements. EPA seeks public comment prior to taking final action. Comments must be received by November 18.

On July 10, California submitted a program revision application to EPA seeking authorization of changes to its hazardous waste management program that correspond to certain federal rules related to the universal waste rule initially promulgated by EPA on May 11, 1995. EPA concludes that California's application to revise its authorized program meets all statutory and regulatory requirements established by RCRA. Therefore, EPA proposes to grant California final authorization to operate its hazardous waste program with the changes described in the authorization application dated July 10.

California has responsibility for permitting treatment, storage and disposal facilities within its borders and for carrying out the aspects of the RCRA program described in its revised program application.

If California is authorized for the changes described in the state's authorization application, these changes would become part of the authorized state hazardous waste program and would therefore be federally enforceable. California will continue to have primary enforcement authority and responsibility for its hazardous waste program. EPA would retain its authorities under RCRA, including its authority to:

  • Conduct inspections and require monitoring, tests, analyses or reports.
  • Enforce RCRA requirements, including authorized California program requirements and suspend or revoke permits.
  • Take enforcement actions regardless of whether the state has taken its own actions.

Alternative Bidding and Manipulation in Waste Contracts

When Handling Sewage Sludge Leads to Dueling Lawsuits

Public contracts, private contracts. A long-standing and widely used device in both realms is alternative bidding. By listing tasks or other work elements in various combinations and by seeing the related bids, a contract administrator can fashion a favorable scope of work. At the same time, alternative bidding is readily susceptible to manipulation—the owner effectively steers the work to a preferred bidder. When, in particular, a public procurement is challenged in court, judges can be both vigilant and tolerant.

Located about 15 miles north of Newark, N.J., the borough of Lodi is a small, tight-knit community dating back to 1894 and named for an Italian city. In accord with a bid notice and accompanying specifications, the borough awarded a one-year solid waste collection contract with the option to extend it for a second or third year to the lowest responsible bidder, Joseph Smentkowski, Inc. (JSI). Previously, Sterling Carting, Inc., the only other bidder, had been the contract hauler. 

Sterling, together with an ostensibly objective taxpayer, Barbara Ann Miller, filed suit in Bergen County Superior Court. (The plaintiffs did not disclose that Miller is married to a Sterling employee, but that failure and her relationship did not affect the case.) The complaint challenged the award of the contract based on the theory that Sterling was the actual lowest responsible bidder for the one-year contract the borough awarded. The plaintiffs also argued the borough misinterpreted an addendum requiring bidders to bid a separate amount for additional waste collection at eight schools by adding the amounts it bid to its bid price instead of treating them as an "apportionment." Miller also challenged the specifications themselves, claiming the ambiguities and inconsistencies Sterling identified required that both bids be rejected and the contract re-bid.

The trial judge temporarily halted the contract award to provide an opportunity to fully review the bid challenge. After both sides submitted legal arguments, the court denied plaintiffs' request for a permanent injunction and dismissed the complaint in its entirety. Plaintiffs' applications for special consideration were successively denied all the way to the state Supreme Court. Thereafter, a three-judge appellate panel agreed to hear the case on an expedited basis.    

The bid specifications were clear and unambiguous. The bidders had to bid on nine different service options, divided into categories, for one-year service periods over three years and for all service periods in all categories.

For its part, the borough could award the contract based upon the lowest responsible bid for whatever option it selected: (a) where the aggregate bid price for a one-year contract is the lowest responsible bid; (b) where the aggregate bid price for a two-year contract in the categories selected by the borough for such service period is the lowest responsible bid; or (c) where the aggregate bid price for a three-year contract in the categories selected by the borough for such service periods is the lowest responsible bid.

Although Sterling's bid for the first-year service period for the service options the borough chose was lower than JSI’s, its second- and third-year prices were higher, and its overall total bid price exceeded JSI’s.* As Sterling saw it, the award of a one-year contract (with only options to award the second- and third-year periods) should have been based strictly on the first-year dollar amounts. Thus, the borough should have awarded the contract to Sterling because its first-year bid price was lower. The appeals court was unpersuaded.

“Besides being a thinly-veiled challenge to the specifications [which court decisions prohibit] Sterling's theory ignores that [JSI] is firmly bound to hold its second and third year bid prices in accordance with the specifications,” said the appellate panel. “That the Borough left itself free not to exercise those options does not change that Sterling and [JSI] submitted bids for a three-year contract as required by the specifications, and the Borough chose to award the contract to the bidder whose aggregate bid price for a three-year contract constituted the lowest responsible bid, [JSI].”

After acknowledging that the borough could indeed sway the procurement by awarding the contract based on the three-year aggregate price and then not exercise the second- or third-year options, the panel added: “A contracting entity could likewise manipulate the process by awarding a three-year contract and cancelling for convenience after the first year.  * * * No one contests that a contracting entity can favor a bidder through its choice of bid alternatives . . . however, whatever manipulation may be possible is inherent in the nature of specifying alternates in the first place, a practice which is nevertheless accepted as a customary aspect of bidding. *  *  *  [T]he . . .  type of potential manipulation Sterling envisions by the inclusion of bid alternatives [does not] outweigh what we perceive to be the other objectives of public bidding."

Finally, the panel deemed frivolous Sterling's other argument—that the borough should have understood that its separate bid for the additional work described in Attachment 5, which the borough required by bid modification notice, was actually part of its Option Three Total.

* The parties' relevant bids on the options selected by the borough were as follows:

Alternative Bidding and Manipulation in Waste Contracts

Sterling Carting, Inc., et al. v. Borough of Lodi and Joseph Smentkowski, Inc., No. A-4306-17T4, N.J. Super., App. Div., July 31, 2019

Barry Shanoff is a Bethesda, Md., attorney and general counsel of the Solid Waste Association of North America.