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Articles from 1997 In December
Buying Time, Selling Air
When county officials christened the 169-acre Iredell County Balefill in Statesville, N.C., they never anticipated a mixed blessing of increased waste streams and a delayed permitting process. The result has been a monetary boon to county coffers and sleepless nights for Solid Waste Director Ron Weatherman.
Since the implementation of Sub-title D regulations in the early 1990s, the 14-year veteran of the solid waste industry admits he's encountered more regulatory challenges in the last four years than in his entire career.
"It seems like it all came at one time, too," Weatherman says. "From white goods and tires to new cap designs, it's been a struggle to keep on top of everything. We've just been run crazy with records on top of records. That's not to say [records] aren't good, but it hit us all at once, and we've got a lot on our plate."
The county's $9.3 million balefill has seen waste streams steadily climb from 450 tons per day (tpd) when it opened for business in 1992 to a current 600 tpd average.
Supported by a community of diverse industries, more than 60 percent of the county's waste stream is commercial and industrial. Tucked to the north of Charlotte and to the west of Winston-Salem, Iredell County appears to be an isolated island with a tight hold on its waste streams. But, Weatherman is ever mindful of the threat private landfills would pose to the county's lucrative market.
"Right now, we're not bothered with outside interests trying to take waste out of this county, but I don't see it staying that way forever," Weatherman says. "Private waste haulers are after this commodity called 'waste.' Everybody wants it because there's money involved and, in the absence of flow control, I know my situation could change tomorrow."
Weatherman believes if the county lost a fourth of its waste stream, the balefill could remain an economically viable disposal option for the area. "But, we must stay competitive with private operators," he notes. "Coupled with a state-mandated 40-percent waste reduction goal by 2010, it'll take innovation and delegation to stay competitive."
With a delay in his permitting process and increasing waste streams, Weatherman and his staff have been forced to get creative to extend the life of his existing cell. By reconfiguring the slopes and strategically placing loose waste in the cell instead of baled waste, Weatherman has bought more time for his county. But, the tension is building.
"We've worked well with the regulators and continue to get great inspections. But, we're waiting on a permit that's been into the state five months and here we are headed into winter," he says. "Our permitting process is too long. I'm not pointing fingers; I'm simply stating a fact."
Wondering aloud about the next five years, Weatherman says he anticipates regulatory hurdles with the design of closure caps. "In our state, it's still up in the air as to what caps to use. I'm not convinced that what we know now won't be the same in five years. I foresee it as a big hurdle - and a very expensive one."
Gold Coast Competition In the early 1990s, waste streams at the Columbia Ridge Landfill in Arlington, Ore., were averaging approximately 4,000 tpd. Today, daily tonnages at the Waste Management Inc. (Oak Brook, Ill.) facility have grown to some 6,000 tpd. And, while the lucrative Gold Coast continues to reap a garbage harvest for Division President Norm Wietting and his landfill staff, competition is fast, furious and fickle.
"Probably the biggest issue we've been faced with is the renegotiation of two of our primary contracts with Portland Metro and the city of Seattle," Wietting recalls. "We actually bid them in 1989 and 1990, and both cities wanted to renegotiate them about a year and a half ago even though they were long-term contracts."
The catalyst for compromise was the advent and establishment of competing landfills owned by Rabanco, Bellevue, Wash., Tidewater, and USA Waste, Dallas, in the Portland-Seattle metropolitan area. Although 40 to 45 percent of Columbia Ridge's waste is delivered by rail from the Pacific Northwest, Northern Idaho and Vancouver, Portland Metro and the city of Seattle are the landfill's biggest customers.
"Back when we originally bid the contracts, everyone was scrambling for landfill space. Since then, there's been a fair amount developed which means there's more competition," Wietting says. "Four years ago, everyone was at the end of developing their sites and systems. Now, everyone's pretty much comfortable."
The result has been more disposal options for municipalities, prompting local officials to reevaluate their existing agreements and to demand that landfill owners fine-tune their prices.
Capping Competition and Slopes Since the formation of the Great River Regional Waste Authority in Ft. Madison, Iowa, in the late 1980s, two members have seceded from the union, more than half of its waste stream was lost to private haulers, and the authority's landfill management contractor has been fired.
A series of mistakes and misgivings have forced authority officials to streamline operations, secure guaranteed markets and creatively cap an over-designed and developed cell.
Originally intended to serve four counties with a projected waste stream of 70,000 tons per year (tpy), the authority was financially dependent on flow control ordinances to repay its $8.9 million investment which included two transfer stations, a material recovery facility and its Subtitle D Lee County Landfill. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled flow control unconstitutional in its 1995 Carbone decision, the authority's fully-integrated system began to unravel. Based on the court's decision, two of the authority members were free to choose cheaper disposal options, causing waste streams to plummet and financial woes to spiral.
Director Randy Hartmann inherited the authority three years ago when it was at the height of its problems. "We were spending in excess of $600,000 for recycling and our Bond Anticipation Note was coming due every year or two with the principal not being paid," he recalls. "We had this stranded investment being the first in the region to develop a Subtitle D landfill with a tipping fee that wasn't market competitive."
The landfill was at the crux of the problem since its tipping fee was funding all other services offered by the authority, and operational issues were crippling the facility's efficiency. Hartmann and his staff immediately went to work to revamp the program.
"We had to reduce the tipping fee and look for another way to pay for integrated services as well as look for a way to cut expenditures," he says. "We went on a hunt to streamline operations, beginning with the termination of the existing landfill operator's contract."
The authority's private operator had no landfill experience, and his waste filling sequencing was resulting in a massive generation rate of leachate and stormwater comingling. The landfill's first 22-acre cell was designed for 70,000 tpy, Hartmann says, which caused him to look at the facility with "raised eyebrows."
"We never saw volumes that high. We're currently averaging about 50,000 tons per year and have 12 years of developed capacity," he says. "So, essentially, we've got a 22-acre bathtub open to the elements and there's nowhere for water to go because of the landfill's configuration."
The authority's 1.5-million-gallon retention lagoon was unable to handle the 8 million gallons of leachate that the land- fill was generating annually. The authority was forced to truck and treat leachate to a nearby wastewater treatment facility at a cost of 2.5 cents per gallon.
Recognizing that he had to reduce the size of the cell to get his operational costs under control, Hartmann approached state regulators with an innovative leachate evapo-transpiration system consisting of seven acres of an interim cap planted with poplar trees. By recirculating leachate onto the cap, the trees serve several purposes. "They will act as a sponge and transporate more water into the atmosphere, and they'll eventually be harvested which will bring in income," he explains.
The trees are planted on 13-foot centers, enabling landfill employees to apply organic materials such as sludges between the rows which eventually becomes topsoil. "It should provide a mechanism for competitive fees for organic waste, and at the end of 12 years when we have to install a synthetic cap, we'll have six to eight feet of topsoil," Hartmann explains. "It's a win-win situation." With a golf course to the north of the landfill, he says the trees are excellent litter control and are aesthetically pleasing to neighbors.
Realizing that it had to secure waste streams in order to stay afloat, the authority began offering discounted tipping fees and guaranteed disposal capacity to members in return for waste delivery pledges. "One of the biggest fears we have is being able to attract waste to our facility," Hartmann says. "Just recently, one of our largest independent haulers was bought by a private company that owns a landfill. We're asking ourselves, 'Do we need to become vertically integrated and get in the collection business?' Up until now we've said, 'no.'"
Communicating - Trial and Error Communicating design and engineering theories to landfill personnel and actually seeing them implemented isn't always as simple as reading a blueprint. When Rob Burnette, vice president of engineering for Santek Environmental Inc., Cleveland, Tenn., joined the landfill management company five years ago, he soon learned consistent and effective communication with landfill personnel results in fine-tuned facilities and stronger, more pragmatic landfill designs.
Managing publicly-owned landfills across the Southeast, Santek structured its internal engineering company to be a help-mate to its managers. "By combining engineering and construction as part of daily operations, we're there as constant technical support," he says.
"Just because an engineer designs something and it's approved by state regulators doesn't always mean it's the most practical plan to implement."
Burnette's design of a stormwater flap and its reception by one his landfill managers is a good example of how critical communication can be in the field. On paper, the flap was designed to tie to the bottom liner and wrap over a dirt berm with no foreseeable problems.
In the field, however, synthetic liner incurs folds and creases, resulting in shortened length. "Going out into the field, I, as an engineer, got to hear the hands-on, mud-on-boots frustrations with my design, and the landfill manager got to hear my frustrations with his ability to construct the flap," Burnette recalls. "I was able to take his knowledge and input and make the engineering product better in the future."
Although personal pride often can override constructive criticism, Burnette says getting feedback from his landfill managers is crucial to the landfill's overall efficiency.
"As an engineer out of the consulting world, the first time I was told my design couldn't be done in the field, I was personally offended," he says. "But, I've learned that to be a responsible engineer whose goal is to assist landfill managers, I've got to have that kind of rapport in order to make my designs and drawings better. And, just as importantly, we've got to communicate for the overall betterment of the landfill."
More than a One-Day Stand
Imagine space-suited hazmat crews trying to manage a contaminated load of refuse on a busy city street. Science fiction? Not if a homeowner innocently threw away some pool chemicals into their garbage can, causing a chlorine cloud that could evacuate an entire neighborhood - or worse.
During the past decade, household hazardous wastes (HHW) management has made the transition from one-day collection events held once or twice a year to on-going regional programs in permanent collection facilities, staffed with highly-trained personnel.
The roles and functions of both state and local governments also has evolved in an effort to better manage this portion of the waste stream. Converse to industrial hazardous waste management where federal and state regulations provide stringent cradle-to-grave control, HHW is nearly impossible to control or regulate once the product has been purchased by the consumer.
HHW consist of a variety of consumer items, ranging from petroleum-based products such as lubricants and pesticides; household paints, including enamels and latex; and cleaning products containing bases such as ammonia and acids such as hydrochloric acid.
In addition, products such as nickel cadmium batteries which power a variety of home electronics and fluorescent light tubes also are considered to be hazardous.
Although laws and regulations governing proper disposal may vary from state to state, the prohibition against disposing of HHW in municipal trash is universal. For example, a gallon of pool chlorine, tossed into a garbage cart could overwhelm a collection worker, contaminate a refuse truck or be a catalyst for a chemical reaction.
For many metropolitan areas, HHW operations began as periodic, one-day collection events designed to collect large volumes of materials quickly.
However, over the last seven to 10 years, these programs have matured into regularly-staffed, on-going operations housed in permanent facilities ranging from simple storage sheds to state-of-the-art facilities which include laboratories, consolidation equipment and exchange programs.
Most programs are operated either by county or regional governments, with technical and contractual support and some grant funding from state agencies.
Handling Hazards in San Bernardino The HHW program in California's San Bernardino County, the largest in the continental United States, serves almost 1.5 million residents. It began as a pilot project funded by a 1984 state water resources control grant which established two permanent collection facilities and the operation of two, one-day collection round-ups.
Spurred by the pilot's success, the board of supervisors continued to fund the program through a solid waste tipping fee surcharge. Nine permanent facilities have been placed throughout the county: four in the heavily-populated valley area, two in the mountain region and three in the upper and lower deserts.
The program collects typical HHW, including: used oil, oil filters, latex and solvent-based paints, fertilizers, pesticides, household cleaners, hobby chemicals and automotive products. Operating on an annual bud-get of $1.4 million, the program employs 14 full time and four part-time staff members.
Although the county continues to offer one-day collection events, the em-phasis is on the permanent facilities, which offer an ongoing solution and an opportunity to participate.
"The permanent facilities are more cost effective," says Diane Christensen, supervising environmental health specialist. The facility's permit allows it to hold waste up to one year. Thus, it can ship out full truckloads at a time - a more efficient method than the one-day event plan in which staff must clean everything and send it out immediately.
"For the [one-day] events, we ship the waste back to our central facility so that we can maximize our disposal costs in terms of combining wastes," Christensen says. "These events are very labor-intensive. There's a lot of additional permitting for each time and site run. The potential for accidents is higher, too, because people are operating at a faster pace."
During the last four years, the program has seen 96,671 participants bring in a total of 3,114 tons of HHW. Now, the county is looking to expand operations. "We're looking at some different funding sources, possibly some public or private partnerships," Chris-tensen reports. "Our waste recycling and disposal costs are high, and we're always looking for ways to reduce those amounts or find a use for the waste."
Christensen stresses the need for waste prevention education. "We need to promote waste reduction and minimization," she said, noting that if consumers use these products completely, they can eliminate the waste altogether.
Palm Beach's Program Over on the Right Coast, the Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach Coun-ty, Fla., oversees permanent collection facilities serving approximately 1 million full time residents along a 20 mile strip of the Eastern sea-board. It employs six full-time staff mem-bers and is al-lotted an an-nual budget of $500,000.
Initially, the program focused on one-day, state-sponsored collection events that were held a couple of times a year. However, capitalizing on a state grant, the county set up its own permanent facility in June 1990.
"Our facility serves most of the county," says Robert Madden, assistant director of hazardous waste services. "We decided to turn our five transfer stations into satellite household hazardous waste collection facilities."
Palm Beach's permanent facility is open Monday through Friday and the second Saturday of each month. At the satellite facilities, the Saturday drop-offs are rotated. The satellites serve a dual purpose.
On Saturdays, they are staffed to accept materials from the public, package and remove them.
During the week, they collect a limited number of items on a self-serve basis, including used oil, batteries and propane cylinders - items that the public can safely handle without supervision.
"We make an area available [for these items]," Madden reports. "We monitor the satellites daily with transfer station personnel for general clean up and to note problems.
"We visit a minimum of twice a week and collect any dropped off materials and bring them back to our central facility where we process and package them."
The program's success has created the need for a better facility. "Because we were the first permanent facility in Florida, we didn't have a lot to draw on as far as design," Madden says. "We need a facility that's covered and that can handle all our processing."
"We're on the verge of starting up latex paint recycling; we've done a pilot, and it seems to be successful." According to Madden, the county plans to ship this waste to a paint manufacturer for remanufacture and repackaging.
"I would also like to get away from the shotgun approach to collecting all HHW and instead focus on prioritizing five or six problem wastes," he adds.
The State to the Rescue While HHW facility operation generally resides at the regional level, state agencies often are the driving force behind these programs.
State agencies may provide services, ranging from seed money in the form of grants, to arranging master contracts for transportation and disposal services.
Just ask the folks in Minnesota. The state is home to about 4 million people - approximately 2 million of whom reside in a seven-county metropolitan area.
Although the other half are scattered over 80 rural counties, everybody has access to HHW collection services.
"The state provides some funding support for the non-metropolitan programs," explains Leslie Goldsmith, supervisor of special waste with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. "We coordinate a collective contract for household hazardous waste disposal. The counties pretty much run the programs themselves. We help coordinate state-wide educational pieces."
The state also acts as a facilitator, providing opportunities for local operators to network. "I know that there are a lot of programs throughout the country that spend more bucks or do 'glitzier' stuff, but the degree of cooperation we have among the programs provides a lot of energy."
In Massachusetts, the Department of Environmental Protection, Boston, assists in establishing HHW collection programs. Funding is generated from the state's bottle bill program and is placed into the Clean Environment Fund.
Lori Segall, coordinator for the department's "Hard to Manage" Wastes division, says the program has two sections. "One, we give out 500-gallon, double-walled oil tanks for motor oil collection. Two, we help establish permanent collection centers for surplus paint. We give out wooden storage sheds that serve as a focal point for permanent collection.
"Along with the shed, we also give one or two flammable storage cabinets," she continues. "If communities collect latex, oil-based paints, stains and thinners, they can put the flammable materials in the storage cabinet and it'll be safe."
According to Segall, the state trains HHW program staffs on topics such as: paint varieties, what can and cannot be accepted, safety, set up, volunteer use and supplies.
Massachusetts coordinates a state-wide disposal contract for the collected paint. In this master service agreement, the state hires a hazardous waste hauler that has contracted with various destination facilities to haul the paint and either recycle or incinerate it.
The state also provides custom-made mailers for consumer education.
Currently, Massachusetts is trying to move municipalities away from one-day collection events towards establishing permanent operations. "On-going collection would not only be more convenient, but it also would promote reuse," Segall says.
Collecting in Oregon In Oregon, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) provides management services to 1.8 million residents living outside Portland's metropolitan area. The $400,000 program collects all types of HHW with the exception of radioactive waste and explosives.
In addition, it offers conditionally-exempt generator and agriculture pesticide collection in conjunction with the household collection events. It is staffed by two employees who share a single position.
According to Maggie Conley, HHW coordinator for the DEQ, there are only two permanent HHW collection facilities in Oregon. Both are in the Portland-metropolitan area and are managed by the Portland-Metropolitan Service District - an arrangement that leaves the remaining population high and dry.
Cooperative arrangements extend between the state and the Portland Metropolitan Service District. "We issue vouchers to anybody outside Portland who wants to bring waste into one of the permanent collection facilities," Conley says. "So, we're able to provide an on-going service to people who can't get to the one-day collection events. We pay the Portland-Metropolitan Service District to take that waste."
The DEQ provides a purchaser program where any local government can use the department's contract with a hazardous waste company.
"Rather than having to do a request for proposals, drawing up a contract and spending a lot of time and money, they can call our contractor and schedule a one-day collection event," Conley says. "Since we buy in a larger quantity than a local government, the prices are good."
Annually, the DEQ orchestrates 25 to 30 collection events around the state. There is no schedule, and communities must apply yearly. "It's competitive, and there's no guarantee that a community will have a collection event each year," she says.
Like other state programs, Oregon offers a variety of educational materials which are used by local agencies to promote HHW activities.
"One reason this program has been kept by my agency is because it's one of the only white hat programs we've got," Conley says. "People love it, and once a community can get over the financing obstacles, it'll have a lot of support."
collection: Variable Rates Boosts City's Recycling
Faced with weak state leadership, no solid waste utility and a strong local interest in recycling, the city of Fort Collins, Colo., decided on a one-two punch: providing automatic recycling services for residents, with a pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) collection system.
Here's how they did it: Fort Collins, inspired by neighboring Loveland's (Colo.) award-winning, municipally-operated solid waste programs (see World Wastes, December 1996, pg. 37), began a recycling outreach program and city-sponsored drop-off site in 1987.
By 1992, Larimer County - located mid-way between Fort Collins and Loveland - had built a materials recovery facility, and Fort Collins required private haulers to provide curbside recycling service on demand. However, participation was low since most companies charged for the service. Disappointed in the modest gains that were being made, the city council adopted new goals in 1994:
* reduce the total waste stream by 20 percent by the year 2000, despite growth;
* reduce landfilled waste by 20 percent; and
* increase participation in curbside recycling by 80 to 90 percent.
To reach these goals, in October 1995, the city required haulers to provide curbside recycling for all single family and duplex residences at no extra charge (recycling costs were absorbed into regular trash bills). By January 1996, the city created a PAYT - or variable rates - system for collection.
Within six months, curbside recycling participation had jumped to 79 percent, which was up from 53.5 percent the previous year.
The city defined a trash unit as 33 gallons or less, and customers would be charged the same for collecting additional containers of the same size. Although the city originally wanted the haulers to charge based on volume, they allowed them to charge a flat monthly fee to recover their fixed costs.
The flat fee, however could not exceed 50 percent of the total customer cost so that the monetary incentive of charging variable rates was not lost (for instance, charging a $10 monthly flat fee and only a nickel for each bag or can).
The city was concerned with potential negative reactions to PAYT because its citizens might:
* want to discard unlimited amounts of trash;
* fail to understand or support the public policy objectives; or
* find using prepaid bags, tags, labels inconvenient.
As it turned out, residents supported increased recycling and waste reduction, and paying for the landfill space they used.
However, they didn't want to use prepaid plastic bags, tags or labels and preferred using their own trash cans. As a result, the haulers, with city approval, recorded the numbers of bags or cans on route (except for one company that already used prepaid bags).
The city plans to audit the haulers' billing system to determine if the bills accurately reflect use. If the city finds that haulers are failing to charge for extra trash bags or to credit customers who have been waste reducers (since bills go out in advance), they could require them to switch to pre-paid bags or labels.
For some people, PAYT was simple, but others may need more time to accept the concept. Fort Collins, however, has learned from its experience. In retrospect, city staff should have spent more time preparing for the change, with more emphasis on educating the public and anticipating their questions. Staff also should have worked more closely with private haulers to "work out the bugs" in their billing.
The city feels that PAYT is responsible for achieving its recycling and participation goals. For example Fort Collins residents are generating less solid waste, which may be attributed to local policies and regulations.
Making curbside recycling a part of trash collection was vital for successfully implementing PAYT in Fort Collins. Getting recycling "for free" reinforces the message that customers only pay for what they throw into the landfill.
People quickly learned that they could divert significant portions of their household waste stream. For instance, a growing number of citizens have begun backyard composting, with help from a volunteer Master Composters program and yearly truckload sales of plastic compost bins. Likewise, community leaf drop-offs are gaining popularity: This fall, more than 2,000 loads of leaves were collected for composting.
Given the opportunity, most citizens will recycle and reduce waste once they see savings on their trash bills. Also, this type of system increases citizens' awareness of market limitations, and may help increase the recycling of even low-value materials. This awareness, hopefully, will help fuel consumer demand for greater recycling opportunities and less waste in manufacturing.
For more information, contact: Fort Collins Natural Resources Department, P.O. Box 580, Fort Collins, Co. 80522-0580. (970) 221-6265. Fax: (970) 224-6177.
Freightliner Unveils Truck Division Portland, Ore. - With negotiations complete and manufacturing, marketing and distribution plans in place, Freightliner Corp., Portland, Ore., finally has unveiled the name of its new Ford Heavy Trucks acquisition: Sterling Truck Corp.
The announcement culminated a months-long search for a name out of many possibilities. Among the requirements, it had to obtain international clearance and accommodate both corporate and product identification.
Soon, Freightliner's acquired line of heavy trucks products, including previous Cargo and Louisville/Aeromax (HN80), will carry the new Sterling nameplate, which will mark the "independent" paths the two companies will take, says Freightliner President and CEO James Hebe.
Sterling Truck Corp.'s headquarters will be located in Willoughby, Ohio, near Cleveland.
For more information, contact: Jim McNamara, Sterling Truck Corp., 4420 Sherwin Rd., Willoughby, Ohio 44094. (440) 269-5544.
1 - D. Virtually every car we scrap is stripped of useable parts, crushed and shredded to recover recyclable materials. In fact, enough steel was recycled from cars in 1995 to build 151 Golden Gate bridges.
2 - D. And, it takes just one gallon of improperly disposed of oil to contaminate one year's water supply for 50 people.
3 - B. More than 18 billion steel cans were recycled last year. The result? Besides saving 2,500 pounds of iron ore; 1,400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone for each ton of steel recycled, 1.6 million tons of steel cans were diverted from the landfill.
4 - D. Call you local recycling office to find out about these and other recycling options.
5 - B and D. Every year grass clippings make up about 17 percent of all residential solid waste, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. However, by grasscycling and/or composting landfill diversion is increased and cities and counties may reach mandated diversion goals faster.
Questions courtesy of the National Recycling Coalition (NRC) and the Steel Recycling Institute (SRI).
For more information, contact: SRI, 680 Andersen Drive, Foster Plaza 10, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15220-2700. (800) 876-7174. Fax: (412) 922-3213. Web site: www. recycle-steel.org. Or, NRC, 1727 King St., Ste. 105, Alexandria, Va. 22314. (703) 683-9025. Fax: (703) 683-9026.
Acquisitions General Materials, Raleigh, N.C., has been acquired by Geo Synthetics Inc., a nationwide distributor/installer of geomembranes and geotextiles.
Allied Wastes Industries Inc., Scotts-dale, Ariz., has agreed to purchase a landfill with approximately 230 acres and 9 million cubic yards of capacity from Anderson County, S.C. The landfill's sale is being completed in connection with an amendment to the county's regional solid waste plan which designates the landfill as a regional facility. Separately, Allied entered into waste transfer contracts with the cities of Durham, Rocky Mount and Wilson, N.C. The municipal contracts call for the transfer and disposal of solid waste for up to 20 years.
technology: New Use for Old Tires
You can make old tires into new roads, play grounds and energy, but can you make them into new tires?
Until recently, that answer was "no." However, researchers at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, Wash., in cooperation with Rouse Rubber Industries, Vicksburg, Minn., are developing "RubberCycle," a new technology which increases the surface reactivity of ground tire rubber making used synthetic rubber reusable. Currently, one of the biggest challenges to mixing used rubber with a virgin rubber matrix is overcoming its particle surfaces' lack of reactive sites.
At the heart of PNNL's new technology is a bioreactor, where sulfur loving microorganisms - derived from strains of bacteria, Thiobacillus, Rhodoccus and Sulfolobus, originating in Yellowstone National Park's hot springs - modify carbon/sulfur cross-links in finely ground waste rubber.
Before entering the bioreactor, used tire rubber is ground into 74 micron size particles. The modification selectively metabolizes the sulfur, which was used as a vulcanizing agent during the original rubber's manufacture. The process changes the material from a nonreactive to a reactive filler.
After the bioprocessing is complete, the rubber is rinsed, filtered to remove the microorganisms and culture media and dried. The surface-modified rubber particles now are ready for mixing with virgin rubber to create new rubber compounds.
This highly selective bioprocess minimizes the degree of damage oc-curring to the polymer backbone of the rubber and allows the rubber particles to maintain many of their original physical properties. Indeed, improvements in the physical properties are seen in virgin rubber compounded with surface-modified ground tire rubber. These include:
* better rheological properties (materials flow easier during molding of products),
* increased hardness and
* better material integrity.
The recycled rubber also is less expensive than its virgin counterpart.
Preliminary economic analysis shows that the technology could recycle rubber with a potential profit margin of between 0.3 to 0.8 cents per pound of tire rubber. Also, the process is environmentally friendly: Bio-processing is performed at moderate temperatures, ambient pressure and uses no hazardous compounds or toxic chemicals. Additionally, many of the ingredients used in the process can be recycled.
The RubberCycle process has been demonstrated in the laboratory and now testing is being scaled up to 100-pound batches of rubber. So far, the research shows significant recycle content can be produced which then can be used to produce high-performance, moldable rubber goods, including car and truck tires.
Acquisitions Eastern Environmental Services Inc., Mt. Laurel, N.J., has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the 174-acre Pine Grove Landfill and the Pine Grove Hauling Co., located in east central Pennsylvania. The landfill and hauling company are projected to have gross revenues of approximately $18 million annually, prior to internal disposal costs.
Med/Waste Inc., Opa Locka, Fla., has purchased the assets of Environmental Waste Reductions Inc. (EWR), a medical waste hauler serving customers in Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and North Carolina. EWR's seller was a debtor-in-possession in a bankruptcy proceeding under Chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy code.
Company Incriminates Employees
When confronted with a criminal investigation for polluting a Minnesota river, Darling International Inc. acted quickly to minimize its own exposure. It sacked the four employees responsible and gave prosecutors incriminating statements made by the men.
The maneuver worked. In exchange for the company's guilty plea, Darling paid a $4 million fine - a fraction of what prosecutors say they were planning to seek at trial. Why? The company helped build a case against the ex-employees. The cooperation "really made the settlement possible," says David Lillehaug, the U.S. Attorney in Minneapolis.
The Darling case is part of a pattern throughout the country. Companies under scrutiny are winning leniency for themselves by "giving up" their employees.
The driving force behind the trend is the U.S. Sentencing Commission guidelines for corporations. Drawn up in 1991, the guidelines greatly increase fines for corporate crimes but give a break to companies that, among other measures, mete out "adequate discipline" to responsible employees.
The business community is feeling the effect of the guidelines. Courts are dishing out harsher punishments to companies that don't play by the rules, say prosecutors and defense attorneys.
"You get a lot more justice a lot more quickly" under the guidelines, says Craig Benedict, a federal prosecutor in Syracuse, N.Y. Last year, after a chemical dumping incident, Benedict declined to press charges against an em-ployer who took "immediate steps" to fire and demote the delinquent employees.
It's often difficult, however, to figure out who is really re-sponsible for corporate crimes. Just because a company decides that certain individuals should take the rap, does not mean the picture is complete. For example, the targeted employees usually will claim that others in the company knew about or participated in the illegalities.
Sometimes, a company that believes it already is, or will soon be, under investigation launches its own internal probe. When the federal government took over the Darling case from state pollution control authorities, it convened a grand jury. Nevertheless, the inquiry went nowhere. In the meantime, the company itself took the initiative by conducting a confidential internal audit.
With the help of outside lawyers, the company thoroughly reviewed its practices and operations, interviewing key pollution management employees. One of the employees, under pressure from the lawyers, admitted his part in illegally dumping pollutants and trying to fool state environmental authorities by rigging monitoring reports. Wiser now, the em-ployee says he assumed the lawyers were on his side and "wouldn't go running to the federal government."
After the lawyers reported their findings to company management, the board of di-rectors instructed them to cooperate with prosecutors. Thus, as Darling steadily un-covered evidence of illegalities, it turned over to the government what it had. The company even hired lawyers to represent the targeted employees.
The company's help pushed the federal investigation "light years ahead," according to the U.S. Attorney. In return, he decided to use aspects of the federal guidelines that permit mitigated penalties for companies that are especially cooperative. He characterizes the outcome as fair because the company paid a steep fine and the four individuals were prosecuted for their actions.
The employees who lost their jobs don't see things quite the same way. Darling got "to pay a measly fine and wash their hands of the rest of us," says the waste-water system manager who confessed to the outside lawyers. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and agreed to testify against the other employees.
Another employee also pleaded guilty to conspiracy. His attorney observed that employees don't have much choice in cooperating with investigations. If they stonewall, they know for sure they will lose their jobs, he says.
The treatment plant's general manager was convicted of violating the Clean Water Act and, at press time, was a-waiting sentencing. The company's former vice president for environmental affairs will face a trial unless he reaches an agreement with prosecutors.
Prudential Insurance Co. of America calls itself "Rock Solid." However, a lawyer who represents policyholders suing the company for deceptive sales practices probably would take the phrase further - rock solid waste.
Prudential, which was fined $1 million in January for destroying documents relevant to litigation against it, now faces new allegations. More than 1,200 customer documents, including some "central" to policyholder lawsuits, were thrown into a trash container outside a Prudential sales office in Florida, according to an October 3 letter from a St. Pete-rsburg, Fla. attorney to a federal district judge in New Jersey.
For its part, Prudential promised to investigate the matter. "If it happened, it would be a serious violation of company policy," a company spokesperson says.
Get Rigged, Smooth Rider
Tires, engines, chassis and suspensions. World Wastes Truck Editor Bob Deierlein profiles several of the product improvements that have been announced in the past several months in these key components.
Talkin' Tires In the market for new tires? Tire manufacturers are unveiling an assortment of tire models with improved casing and retreadability warranties. For example, Goodyear Tire & Rubber, Akron, Ohio, has modified its Unisteel G300 Series tire line, extending the G300 Series casing warranty from four to five years.
The warranty sets the casing value at $100 through the original tread life and the tire's first retread life. It will retain this $100 value through an unlimited number of retreadings during the five-year warranty period, providing the processes are performed by Goodyear authorized retreaders using Good-year materials.
Size depending, most other Goodyear over-the-road truck tires have a casing value of $90 that includes the first 25 percent of the tire's retread life. Afterward, the casing value shrinks to $68.
Depending on service and proper retreading, Goodyear stresses that there are no disadvantages to retreading, and casings can be retreaded an average of 311/42 times.
The leading retreader, Bandag, Muscatine, Iowa, reports that it has improved durability by investing more than $74 million in its dealer system for new equipment.
A good share of that investment was spent on the latest inspection technology, like the 7110 NDI non-destructive casing analyzer which finds separations in the tire that could ultimately waste recovery fleets' money and increase downtime. It also detects penetrations, bad liner splices, poor repairs and other flaws.
Bandag has introduced six new application-specific products that are designed to maximize tire performance in a given vocational operation. Dealers study an operation and its equipment to recommend specific tires which would give the fleet the best return on their investment.
According to Michelin, Greenville, S.C., tires are the second-highest operating fleet cost behind fuel expenses. However, those costs are inter-related. All moving tires use fuel, but the less rolling resistance that tires have, the less fuel they cause the vehicle to consume.
Michelin proved this relationship in 1992 when it introduced its Ad-vanced Technology tires, which offer a 14 percent reduction in rolling resistance over the company's other tire lines. This reduced rolling resistance has led to nearly a 4 percent savings over competitive radials, according to the company.
Michelin's recent generation of fuel-efficient tires, the XZA2 and XDA2, provide the fuel efficiency of their predecessors while enhancing traction, handling, tread mileage and retreadability through the use of new tread compounds, and casing and tread designs.
To attain optimal fuel efficiency, the correct tire must be chosen for the specific application. For example, regional/local rough hauling vehicles that operate in hostile environments require rugged tires, equipped to with- stand scrubbing, pinches and punctures.
Michelin's all-wheel position XZE tire is designed for applications where turning and scrubbing influence tire life.
The XZA2 is optimized for steer axles, but is versatile enough for all-wheel position use.
The XDA2 drive axle is designed for long, even wear and improved fuel economy for 6 x 4 tractors.
It boasts a 26/32 tread depth for increased mileage, wide see-through grooves for wet-weather handling, and stabilized shoulder tread blocks to resist irregular wear, promote longer original tread life and reduced noise.
Retreads Gain Acceptance Don't fear the retread. After years of negative public perception, retreaded tires finally are enjoying the acceptance of fleet managers who purchased approximately 17.6 million retreaded medium- and heavy-truck tires.
Shedding the unfounded distinction of having a short life that ends in unraveling along the highway, re-treads now are used as replacements more than new tires.
Why have retreads lost their stigma? It appears that fleet managers finally are recognizing the savings. A quality retread can be purchased for about one-third of a new tire's cost - saving up to $1,000 per vehicle in annual replacement tire purchase costs. Plus, retreads deliver service and performance comparable to the more expensive new tires.
Considering that tire purchases comprise about 20 percent of a vehicle's maintenance cost, retreads deserve a second look.
Purchasing retreaded tires also can save valuable landfill space: Compare the 22 gallons of oil needed to manufacture a new truck tire to the seven gallons required to retread that same tire. Thus, with each decision to retread, 15 gallons of oil can be saved. In fact, last year alone, retreading accounted for saving 400 million gallons of oil. Since a quality tire can be retreaded an average of three times, retreading can reduce disposal problems by up to 75 percent.
What's Groovin' in the Cab Navistar International Corp., Chicago, reports the following new key features for its International 4000 Series:
* The first step into the cab is only 14 inches off the ground with non-slip, self-cleaning grating.
* A galvanized steel cab eliminates corrosion, and a protective urethane finish on paints enhances value.
* The 50-degree wheel cut lets drivers in and out of tight streets, pick-up points and dumps.
* Flat, clean frame rails allow easier body installation. Fuel tanks, batteries and oil reservoirs will not be in the way of body mounting.
The company applied its HEUI (hydraulically actuated, electronically controlled unit injector) technology to meet the proposed emission standards for the year 2004 which will reduce allowable truck NOx emissions to 2.4 grams emitted per brake horsepower hour - less than half the allowable level of today's heavy-duty truck NOx emissions.
Navistar also introduced its cold ambient protection (CAP), a software modification that is programmed into all new International diesel engines. CAP maintains combustion chamber temperature to ensure that fuel burns properly and more completely, preventing white smoke and eliminating residue and carbon deposits. This will increase engine life and improve cold-weather starts and idling.
Peterbilt Motors, Denton, Texas, introduces its medium-duty Model 330 in a 4 x 2 tractor configuration. The expansion of this product line increases Peterbilt's presence in the Class 7 market.
The Model 330 has a 50-degree wheel cut for maneuverability, and an all-aluminum, corrosion-resistant cab.
Also, Caterpillar 3126 and Cummins M11+E engines are now available in its Model 320 low cab forward. The new engines represent the first electronic engines available in this model.
The Caterpillar 3126 is a 7.2 liter, in-line six-cylinder, four-stroke, electronic engine available with ratings from 230 horsepower (hp) to 300 hp. The engine uses programmable electronic parameters to save fuel.
The Cummins M11+E is compatible with manual transmissions and the Allison HD series automatic transmissions.
Cummins Engine Co., Columbus, Ind., announces the Signature 600 engine, the first electronic dual overhead camshaft diesel which is rated at 600 hp, has six cylinders and 2,050 feet/lb. of torque, according to the company. It has a larger displacement than the Cummins 14-liter N14, but weighs about 300 lbs. less. Its overall dimensions are only slightly larger than the Cummins 11-liter M11.
The dual overhead cams have extra-wide lobes to reduce load factors and increase component life. One cam-shaft drives the high-pressure fuel injection system and the other drives the valves and a new engine brake system.
It has one-third fewer parts than the N14, partially due to the fact that the fuel and air systems are integrated into the electronic controls.
The dual cam design includes:
* Fuel injection pressures of 28,000 lbs. per square inch.
* Electronic sensors located throughout the engine and accessories that send performance data back to the electronic control monitor which then compares the numbers to "normal" performance specs. This enables easy detection of trends such as air compressor performance and fuel delivery systems to catch potential problems early. The system also will sense and protect the engine from failures, warning the driver before engine temperatures exceed normal limits.
* A variable output turbocharger with an electronically-controlled wastegate which performs differently at different speeds for higher performance and fuel efficiency. At low speeds, it performs like a small turbo, quickly pumping up the pressure for improved engine response. At high speeds, it functions like a big turbo, managing airflow to maximize performance and efficiency.
The Signature 600 engine, which will become available in the spring is designed to travel more than a million miles and requires oil changes at 50,000-mile intervals.
Suspensions and Transmissions Meritor Automotive Inc. (formerly Rockwell Automotive), Troy, Mich., manufactures the RHP Highway Parallelogram, a trailer air suspension system. This sliding tandem system is centered around a single, unified frame bracket rather than two separate trailing arm suspensions on a frame. Air springs are situated directly over the axles rather than behind.
This design also offers:
* Easy access to system components.
* Weight equalization to reduce frame stress and protect from tire, bearing and axle overload.
* A constant vehicle height regardless of load, equating to maximum interior volume and constant tire/road clearance.
* Increased stability. The increased roll stiffness controls trailer lean.
* User-friendliness. The air springs weigh only 20 pounds, attach with small bolts and can last more than a 1,000,000 miles.
* Versatility. It can fit almost any application, load, design height and environment.
* Fuel Mileage. Direct drive transmissions (the Direct 10 model) aid in fuel economy due to the direct route of torque travel.
Other fuel-saving options include a stamped steel spider available on the 16.5" x 7" Q Plus cam brake and the aluminum carrier option on the company's 40,000-lb. tandem axle (RT-40-145A).
The stamped steel spider offers a weight savings of 6.5 lbs. per brake when compared to 16.5" Q Plus brakes with cast spiders. A weight savings of up to 90 lbs. can be achieved with the RT-40-145A without sacrificing performance or durability, the company says.
The Engine Synchro Shift transmission system has eased manual transmission shifting by automatically synchronizing engine rpms to road speed during both up and down shifts. The system is available through several OEMs with a Detroit Diesel Series 50, 55 or 60 engine.
Finally, Meritor's Easy Steel front axles feature unitized hub assembly, inclusive of seals, bearings and a specifically-formulated grease, which reduces six wheel-end components into one unit.
Hendrickson Truck Suspension Systems, Woodridge, Ill., introduces the HN 462, the newest offering in the HN series of vocational truck suspensions.
Rated at 46,000 lbs., the HN 462 boasts a lightweight, beam and saddle. The installed weight is 933 lbs.
The VariRate Spring System's diagonally-mounted rubber springs act in compression and shear to deliver a smooth ride while in the empty or slightly loaded condition.
As the load increases, the rubber springs compress and stiffen for increased stability without affecting the ride.
To improve stability, spring centers have been increased by four inches. Combined with the VariRate Spring System, the wider spring centers eliminate the need for center bushings, cross tubes and lubrication common to suspensions and thus has no routine maintenance requirements.
Other notables from Hendrickson:
* The saddle is designed to save 77 lbs.
* The equalizing beam saves 90 lbs. over the former HN 460 beam design, and the elimination of the cross tube saves an additional 30 lbs. The HN 462 is standard with a 54-inch axle center.
* The new rebound control strap protects the bolster springs from excessive rebound tension.
Calculating Recycling Markets
Remember the old line about the salesman who was so slick he could sell your dirty socks back to you? These days, that salesman won't bother with the likes of you; he can get between $100 and $200 per ton for old socks and other textile wastes in the recycling marketplace.
Towns like Oyster Bay, N.Y., know: It garnered about $125 a ton for discarded textiles collected in drop-off bins last year under a contract with American Recycling Technologies, East Northport, N.Y., which picks up the recyclables at drop-off stations.
As prices for recyclable materials such as textiles, paper, plastic and metal rise and fall precipitously from year to year, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that the markets for these materials do indeed grow annually.
To be sure, this market growth is volatile, faltering, too fast, too slow, nearly impossible to predict, and very, very hard on businesses. Nevertheless, the growth is there, created by a combin-ation of natural market forces, government prodding and social reform.
Come on, you say. Look at Houston-based Browning-Ferris (BFI). After spending $300 million to build 150 material recovery facilities (MRFs), the bottom fell out of the market last year and caused the company to close 32 of those facilities.
And take Weyerhaeuser, Tacoma, Wash.: The paper giant appears to be souring on MRFs as well, having closed eight of its 40 facilities in the past couple of years.
Industry figures suggest that the MRF business has become downright untenable: Old newsprint (ONP) prices have dropped from $190 a ton in 1995 to somewhere around $20 a ton this year. And plastic soda bottle prices have collapsed completely, falling from $600 a ton in 1995 to $60 a ton today.
Yet processing costs average $30 a ton for ONP and $100 a ton for plastic bottles.
Anyone who didn't come down with yesterday's rain can see a problem here.
So, what's a MRF operator to do? Market, that's what. Other businesses have to market effectively. Why should a MRF be exempt?
Exercising Marketing Muscle The markets are out there and growing. And the MRFs with marketing savvy are tapping into them with an array of short-term and long-term marketing techniques.
For example, Maryland Environ-mental Services (MES), a state agency and non-profit corporation based in Annapolis, operates two MRFs: one in Montgomery County and the other in Baltimore County.
"I do the marketing for containers at MES," says Chief of Recycling Richard Keller who has devoted his 20-year career to increasing the purchase of recycled products. "There is fairly strong competition for materials currently."
Keller's marketing approach includes day-to-day sales strategies and long-term marketing strat-egies.
On the sales side, Keller combines the material outputs of both MES' MRFs and uses quantity and quality as levers to solidify customers and the prices they will pay.
"Manufacturers will pay higher prices to insure secure supplies," Keller says.
"We market the fact that we have significant quantities of high-quality materials that we can send in trailer-load quantities versus roll-off quantities.
"On the container side, whether it's plas-tic, aluminum, steel or glass, we don't have trouble moving the material."
Bill Moore, president of Moore & Associates, an Atlanta-based paper recycling consulting firm, adds that tying a MRF's collection supply source to prices on the buying side is an important strategy considering today's volatile prices. "If I'm selling old corrugated (OCC) to a mill, I know that prices will be up and down in that market," Moore says. "So, when I arrange to collect loose corrugated from a supplier, I'll use a contract that links prices to baled OCC.
"If my sale price goes up, I'll give the generator more. When my price goes down, I'll reduce what I pay down to a guaranteed floor."
Some analysts note that BFI's recycling losses probably stemmed from a lack of such arrangements with generators.
Teaching is Half the Battle Keller calls long-range marketing the "second piece of the puzzle" when it comes to marketing MRF output. MES' efforts in this area include administering a program that trains personnel in federal, state and local government agencies and also in private companies to buy products with recycled content.
Keller serves as director of training for the program, which was developed originally by the Maryland Waste Disposal Authority in Baltimore. And, in November of this year, he conducted the one-hundredth training seminar offered under the program, which is given in cooperation with the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
"The idea is to close the loop and make sure people are buying recycled products and that there is an end market for the materials we process. These training programs give purchasing and recycling officials and using agencies the tools they need to expand their buy recycled programs by answering questions such as: How do you change your specifications? How do you do cooperative purchasing? How do you find recycled products? How do you do good record keeping and evaluation? How do you do waste prevention?"
The National Recycling Coalition Inc. (NRC), Alexandria, Va., also has undertaken a number of buy recycled training programs which address three audiences:
* government purchasing and procurement agents,
* business purchasing managers and
* general consumers.
In the government purchasing arena, NRC has organized a series of three meetings for purchasing agents. These seminars aim to help achieve the buy-recycling goals set forth in President Clinton's 1993 Executive Order.
"Our meetings focus on one product at a time," says Dr. William M. Ferretti, NRC's executive director, who notes that the 1997 focus was recycled copy paper. By the end of 1996, 20 percent of all federal agencies had complied with the Executive Order, Ferretti reports. He expects that figure to grow to 90 percent by the end of 1997.
NRC's Buy Recycled Business Alliance, which currently includes more than 3,200 companies committed to increasing the purchase of recycled products, addresses buy-recycled issues in the private sector. Among its many activities, the organization develops informational materials for purchasing managers and purchasing influences in the private sector.
"For example, we've documented recycled products available for building construction," Ferretti says. "Our audience includes architects, interior designers and others who specify products for commercial structures."
NRC also has created a program aimed at developing the biggest market for recycled products: American consumers.
"Consumers accept intellectually that buying recycled is a good thing to do," Ferretti says. "They understand that they have two roles to play in the loop: separating and dropping off material that can be recycled and buying it back in the form of new products. The problem is they don't have enough information to make informed purchasing decisions."
Thus, NRC kicked off a national effort to educate consumers about recycling purchasing with "America Recycles Day" which was held on November 15, 1997. The nationwide event drew support from federal government agencies, the National Conference of Mayors, the U.S. Postal Service, the Environmental Defense Fund and a host of private companies.
For the event, companies such as Atlanta-based Home Depot produced point-of-purchase literature and developed featured displays for products containing recycled materials.
"The consumer market is important," Ferretti says. "If you build public awareness and spur consumer demand, you also send signals to businesses about making products with recycled materials. That's our overall goal: to generate a stable demand in the public and private sectors and also among consumers."
Business Assistance Buy-recycled programs are just one of several strategies designed to create demand for recycled products. Betsy Dorn, a principal with Dorn and Associates, a plastics marketing consultant in Apex, N.C., notes that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently funded recycling business assistance centers in states around the country.
"The purpose of these centers is to aid entrepreneurs and any business that wants to increase the use of recycled products in the manufacturing of other products," Dorn says. "These programs provide loans, grants and education on matters such as permitting procedures."
Marplast, a Moorpark, Calif., company that manufactures products from recycled plastics, recently received a low-interest loan of $334,000 through the Ventura County Recycling Market Development Zone plus an $875,000 loan backed by the federal government to fund a major plant expansion. Marplast will use the money to purchase a new building and new molding machines, while bringing 10 new employees on board.
The American Plastics Council, (APC) Washington, D.C., also works with entrepreneurs developing methods for using recycled plastics in the manufacture of new products.
In June 1997, Epic Plastics, a Richmond, Calif., company, unveiled a new production line for the company's lines of plastic lumber. "After three years of research and development with assistance from the APC and the Alameda County Recycling Board, Epic Plastics now has moved to full production of highly-durable recycled plastic lumber and garden edging," says Craig Boblitt, president. Currently, Epic distributes its products through 100 locations in California.
New product possibilities are virtually endless, given adequate research and development funding. For example, The Marine Habitat Foundation in Sanibel, Fla., has begun installing artificial coral reefs made of recycled vinyl sheets in coastal waters off Florida's coast. These recycled plastic "bioreefs" are honey-combed and serve to attract bacteria that forms the basis of food chains for fish.
And, the Oneida tribe in Upstate New York hopes to begin supplying shredded plastic shopping bags to Alloyed Blend Polymers, a French manufacturer of Starflex, an asphalt road-paving product made more flexible and durable by the addition of plastic.
Whether it's plastics, paper, glass or metal: At the end of the day, MRFs will either flourish or not according to the dictates of public and private markets.
It's taken 20 years, but recycled paper fiber has become a mature commodity product capable of rivaling virgin fiber in the mainstream market.
According to the American Forest & Paper Association, Washington, D.C., recovered fiber has seized 30 percent of the raw materials market across all segments of the industry. However, this doesn't mean that you can stop looking ahead and thinking about how supply and demand will affect prices and profits.
Bill Moore, president of Moore and Associates, an Atlanta-based paper recycling consulting firm, stays in close touch with the paper markets. Following is his take on the market outlook for four grades of recovered paper: old newspaper (ONP), old corrugated (OCC) residential mix and office mix.
ONP: Moore estimates that as much as 65 percent of recoverable ONP is being collected in programs which, once again, have been driven by government desires to divert material from landfills. So, supplies are large.
On the demand side, in the early 1990s, state government mandates and recommendations (in addition to low ONP prices) caused a lot of capital investment in the newsprint industry to build capacity for recycled content newsprint.
"This was a first step," Moore says. "We've moved beyond that now. The big problems today are that people are reading fewer newspapers and advertising lineage is down. Therefore, manufacturers are sitting on excess virgin pulp capacity.
"Markets in Asia/Pacific Rim could be a potential savior. The Far East is fiber-short and has the potential to use a lot of material. While they are increasing their own recovery rates, they will continue to come to the United States, as they did in 1995 when prices here were so high."
OCC: Of all the paper grades, OCC appears to be the first to have gained an institutionalized status in the paper markets.
OCC moves in a free market on the supply side, generated and collected privately without government prodding.
"It's the same on the demand side," Moore says. "OCC recovery is higher every year because demand is higher every year, both in North America and in the Far East. In fact, I think we're going to reach the limits of recovery capacity sometime within the next five years or so, and that will run prices for OCC up."
Residential Mix: Residential mixed paper is the grade with the most potential oversupply in the market, according to Moore.
"The primary market force here is the desire of local governments to collect residential mix and reach higher levels of diversion," he says.
"This can create an over-supply in the market," he continues. "On the demand side, there is no government intervention. I think we'll see more of this grade being exported.
"In addition, the smarter mills already are experimenting with usage and finding ways to use more of it. As OCC gets more expensive, the mills will do more experimenting."
Office De-inking Mix: While several large cities have instituted commercial recycling regulations, enforcement has been lax.
As a result, supplies of this grade come mainly from the efforts of private sector recyclers who see markets for this paper.
On the demand side, the federal mandate to buy recycled content paper and "buy recycled" programs in the business community have stimulated some demand. "Market growth in this area is reasonable, both in the United States and internationally," Moore says.
As the market for recycled paper fiber has moved into the mainstream of the paper market, paper mill technology has begun to lock it in place.
"Approximately 200 mills today use strictly recovered paper," Moore explains. "A lot of mills can go either way, using more recycled fiber when prices there are better and switching back to more virgin when those prices are better.
"This isn't the norm yet," he adds, "but the market is moving in that direction."
Remember the recyclers' lament? "A few years ago, the problem was finding end markets," says Gerry Claes, general manager of Graham Recycling Co., York, Pa. Today, however, this waste processor reports "plenty of demand for recycled plastic but not enough is being collected."
Overall, plastic bottle recovery has increased from 1,272 million pounds in 1995 to 1,307 million pounds in 1996, with PET and HDPE resins accounting for most of this amount, according to a mid-1997 report from the American Plastics Council (APC), Washington, D.C.
Despite the increase in recovered plastic, the APC notes that plastic recyclers can process significantly more PET and HDPE.
The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers, Washington, D.C. believes that demand for recycled plastic is growing even faster than the supply stream and has undertaken a campaign to urge more communities to collect plastic bottles.
Two years ago, recyclers took it on the chin when they responded to high demand and high prices. "About a year ago, a big quantity of virgin capacity came on line and made off-spec and regrind available and put PET in the tank," says Ron Perkins, APC's director of recycling operations.
Now, demand has returned and prices are moving up. Will things be different this time around? No one can say for sure, but there have been developments that may raise the overall demand for recycled plastic to the next level.
New products that use recycled plastic continue to come to market. "Despite a shakeout in the plastic lumber market, there are some quality companies in this industry who are gaining the confidence of buyers," Perkins says. "The APC puts out a sourcebook listing products with recycled plastic content. It lists more than 1,400 products today."
In addition, advanced plastic recycling technologies have continued to mature. "Advanced recycling technology now can take recovered plastic components of virtually any kind and break them back down into monomers that can be turned into new polymer resins," reports Frank Aronhalt of Aronhalt Consultants, Hockessin, Del.
"Presently, not many recycled materials go through this process, but it has great potential because it can handle products with less purity such as coated video and audio tape," he adds.
A higher level of advanced recycling technology also has begun to evolve. According to Aronhalt, this technology can break down recovered monomers into feedstock materials.
"These are exciting technologies," Aronhalt says. "The problem that needs solving is the scale of supplies available to these advanced technology plants. A mature operation requires millions of pounds. When you go back into the recovery chain, you're dealing with thousands of pounds. And when you get back to the consumer, you're dealing with hundreds of pounds.
"Factor this into a plastics industry that requires billions of pounds of supply per year, and you can see the problem of creating a supply stream capable of competing with virgin resin production."
The bad news is that severe swings in supply and demand will probably continue to whipsaw prices for recycled plastics.
The good news is that the support industries that will purchase these materials are growing.
At least six key forces drive the supply, demand and pricing of recycled materials, says Richard Keller, chief of recycling at Maryland Environmental Services, a state agency and non-profit corporation headquartered in Annapolis, Md.:
1. Export markets. The Far East, where fiber is in short supply, represents a particularly strong export market for recycled materials.
2. Virgin capacities and recycled capacities. When price and availability of virgin commodities change, the price and availability of recycled commodities follow.
3. Geography. A West Coast generator with access to markets in the Pacific Rim has different opportunities than a generator in the Midwest.
4. Transportation costs. The distance to market plays a role in the pricing of all commodities, whether recycled or virgin.
5. End product demand. Recycled materials serve three key sectors of the economy: automobiles, housing and retail. When the auto industry booms, so does the steel and plastic industries. When housing booms, business increases for suppliers of steel, paper, plastic and other virgin and recycled materials. Likewise, when retail sales climb, so do paper and plastic packaging material sales.
6. Natural disasters around the world. When a community begins to rebuild after a natural disaster, demand for recycled materials in all areas spike up.
landfills: Bioreactor Electrifies the Northwest
The nation's first commercial-scale biological reactor soon will produce its first kilowatt hour of electricity due to pending final negotiations between Rabanco Co., Bellevue, Wash., and Klickitat County (Wash.) public utility district (PUD).
This is how it works: Water will be added to Rabanco-owned Roosevelt Regional Landfill's municipal solid waste (MSW) to speed its methane production. Then, the gas will be captured and the electricity generated with a series of 1.6 megawatt internal combustion engines, the number of which can be increased as gas volumes grow.
Four engines will be used for the first installation in mid-1998. And, by the year 2014, gas volumes are predicted to supply more than 60 mega-watts of power.
"Adding water to the solid waste more than doubles the amount of gas produced in a dry environment," explains Rick Morck, Rabanco's senior vice-president. "That additional gas is collected, and its energy value is re-captured for public benefit.
"Over the landfill's life," he continues, "this equals about 8 trillion kilowatt hours of additional power produced - enough to provide power to more than 31,000 homes over 20 years."
The sale of electricity produced at the landfill, however, will depend on the increasing popular "green power" concept, in which customers can pay a premium on their monthly bill for the purchase of electricity from such sources as solar, wind or landfill gas. Regardless, the PUD believes that the methane will be able to compete well in the near future, even in the low-cost Pacific Northwest market.
In addition to electricity production, Morck says, the biological reactor concept has many benefits. "Other landfill gas components, like carbon dioxide or waste heat from power production, can be exploited for their commercial value. It gives us one more kick at the recycling can - even greater reuse and recycling of solid waste."
Studies also have concluded that microbes consuming solids in the pile will create more airspace in the landfill.
Additionally, the benefits extend to the landfill's closure. "We leave a safer environment because the pile has decomposed more completely," Morck says.
The regulatory change allowing water addition, pursued by Rabanco engineers immediately following the landfill's construction, is the key to the project's economics, says Ward Sanders, president of Seattle-based Power Management Corp., which worked with Rabanco on the landfill project. (Roosevelt Regional was constructed with methane recovery systems factored in from its conception.)
"Every kilowatt hour you can create earlier in the project [has] greater net present value than electricity produced 10 or 15 years later," Sanders says. "[Adding] water to the solid waste makes what might have been a project for the next generation today's project, justifying [an] investment with higher near-term revenues."
Rabanco's studies indicate that each 100,000 tons of solid waste produces about 13,000,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. The yearly permitted capacity of Roosevelt Regional Landfill is 3,000,000 million tons.
Though negotiations are still under-way, the tentative plan is for Klickitat County PUD to purchase Roosevelt's methane beginning in mid-1998, assisted by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's Renewable Energy Production Incentive Program.
The PUD will finance the generation equipment with tax exempt bonds and either use the electricity or sell it to other utilities. A request for proposals the utility sent out in mid-summer produced three responses from utilities in Washington State and California. Rabanco will share its net gas revenues with the county.
For the methane currently in the landfill pile, Rabanco will benefit from the Section 29 Federal Tax Credit Program until it expires in 2007.
Roosevelt Regional Landfill, located in eastern Klickitat County, is the center of the most extensive waste-by-rail network in North America and is the largest MSW disposal site in the Northwest.
For more information, contact: Rabanco, 200 112th Ave., N.E., Ste. 300, Bellevue, Wash. 98004. (800) 929-1195. Fax: (206) 646-2440.
Acquisitions Waste Connections Inc., Roseville, Calif., has acquired Houston-based Browning-Ferris Industries' (BFI) subsidiary Fibers International, BFI of Washington and BFI's solid waste assets in Idaho Falls and Pocatello, Idaho. And, Salem, Ore.-based Continental Paper Recycling acquired BFI's recycling assets in Idaho Falls and Oklahoma City.
Duke Energy Power Services, Houston, and United American Energy Corp., Woodcliff, N.J., has signed a letter of intent to acquire a 50 percent ownership interest in Houston-based American Ref-Fuel Co. from Illinois-based Air Products and Chemicals Inc. Ref-Fuel, a 50/50 joint venture between Browning-Ferris Industries Inc., Houston, and Air Products, reportedly is the top-ranked waste-to-energy firm in New York and New Jersey and is the third largest in the United States. The company had revenues of approximately $350 million for the fiscal year ending September 30, 1997.
The Art and Science of Safety
Whether you manage a landfill, a materials recovery facility or a collection company, safety should be an integral and natural part of your operations. However, there can be a treacherous gulf between what you are willing (and able) to spend and what you must, in order to properly execute safety objectives and meet federal and state requirements.
Oftentimes, "companies want a safety program not to cost anything in terms of money or time," says Mark Lundegren, director of risk management for Go Pro Underwriting Managers Inc., Richmond, Va.
Understandably, businesses want to keep operations going. Thus, it falls to the safety manager to be both realistic and creative as he or she develops and implements an effective, cost-efficient safety program. "Safety is an art as much as a science," Lundegren explains.
If you must adhere to tight budgets, but still want to run a safe operation, Lundegren suggests the following approach: Review past losses to determine your most dangerous exposures. Next, target those exposures by developing tactics - the simpler the better- to predict and evade these hazards.
For example, encourage employees to think about and discuss safety issues by scheduling monthly safety forums. Then, regularly reinforce the ideas generated at these forums with employees, both individually and as a group.
Safety solutions can be as easy as good housekeeping, Lundegren says, or they may require more intrusive management techniques. For waste haulers, particularly, he suggests using hands-on or video-taped safety training, followed by incentive programs and, when necessary, disciplinary action.
SAFE ON THE ROAD "The biggest causes of loss for non-hazardous waste haulers are automobile-related," says Lundegren. And, with those losses comes a double-edged sword: responsibility for employee injury and liability for the damage done by the truck.
However, any number of measures may be implemented to alleviate the emotional and financial pressures caused by preventable accidents. For example, Superior Services, West Allis, Wis., uses a variety of tools to ensure its employees are aware of safety issues and their potential negative effects.
Remember, "safety is a process," says Pete Mattern, Superior's director of safety and risk management. "Application is one cornerstone, but owning the process - not the program - by all levels of employees is another."
Using a long-term approach, Mattern focuses his safety training/coaching on two key issues: anticipation and attentiveness. "Anticipation is a key factor in loss prevention," he says. "The employees should anticipate the risk in front of them and, then, pay attention to their surroundings - whether they're driving a garbage truck or doing any other type of work."
There are some general collection concerns that can be particular to route type, Mattern says. For example, on residential routes, attention must be paid to the way employees pick up garbage bags, cans and carts, and dump them into the truck.
"That's a repetitive motion that these guys constantly do all day," he explains. His solution? "We give [our workers] basic instruction regarding body mechanics and how to correctly lift."
For example, try promoting the "pivot don't twist" message, Mattern says, and already you've added an inexpensive, useful step to your safety plan.
Commercial routes are rife with safety exposures as well, Mattern says. "These guys continually push and pull on containers to place them correctly against the truck for tipping," he explains. "And, when ice hits the ground, [the company] really starts seeing problems. Now, not only do we have repetitive motion issues, but we also have slipping."
Since the refuse industry is relatively uncomplicated, Mattern contends that some of the more simplistic safety equipment can improve safe operations, especially for those operating on a tight budget. For example, treat your collectors to a footwear allowance so they can purchase lace-up, high-top boots, which will cut down on twisted ankles.
Also, a strong pair of gloves will reduce cuts and scrapes. Further, use of reflective clothes will make workers more visible on the roadways, especially at night or early morning when drivers' eyesight may be strained.
Likewise, constantly stressing safety awareness with frequent verbal and written communications is key, he says. "We produce a publication called SafeTalk, which in conjunction with a consultant, is developed monthly and sometimes bimonthly."
Here's how it works: Employees receive a one to one-and-a-half page safety coaching sheet. The team leader (who may be a supervisor, general manager or operations manager) receives a slightly different copy with some "for-your-meeting" suggestions. A meeting is called, and the sheet's contents, which describe one particular hazard that employees face on the job, is discussed, debated and, hopefully, remembered.
It's important to keep the info (and the meetings) centered on one point, Mattern stresses. "We also use this product to generate two-way communication, instead of lecturing. By requiring feedback, you get the employees thinking and, who knows the job best, but [them]."
Finally, "recognize your employees frequently," he advises. "I like to see companies use small rewards often for employees who work safely. It builds a strong culture."
ROPIN' THE WIND A relatively new safety incentive that Superior, as well as some of the larger waste companies (see World Wastes, May 1997, pg. 43), employ is a Safe Operators Rodeo.
For its second annual event last September, Superior catered to more than 1,200 people, including competitors, their families and guests at the company's Glacier Ridge Landfill in Horicon, Wis. The rodeo:
* recognized the company's safe performers for completing one year of incident-free service;
* positively impacted the company's bottom line by reducing incidents and associated costs; and
* generated safe operating cost savings, allowing the company to spend its money on activities that benefit its employees and the communities in which they live and conduct business.
"This was a competition for any employee that we consider to be in a safety-sensitive position, such as drivers, mechanics and equipment - including landfill compactors, dozers, loaders, skid steerers and forklift - operators," Mattern explains.
More than 200 employees - up from 76 participants in 1996 - competed for approximately $94,000, Mattern says. There were 11 competition categories with cash prizes: $3,000 for first place, $2,000 for second place and $1,000 for third place in each category.
The competition consisted of a written test and a day-long, rodeo-style skills test. The skills tests included: rearload; recycle; rolloff; Class A tanker; strait tanker and front load truck driving competitions; the heavy equipment and forklift/ skid steerer operators and mechanics competitions.
The company also invited families to participate in the day's activities. "We had amusements, such as blow-up slides, petting zoos and a clown that roamed the grounds, for children of all ages," Mattern says.
In addition to the rodeo, Superior conducted a competitors' dinner the previous night. "We invited the competitors and their families down to Glacier Ridge, and threw them a dinner right at the landfill site," Mattern says. "A local caterer cooked a big spread, and we had entertainment for everybody that evening." There were approximately 600 people at that event.
MRFING SAFELY "No doubt about it. The greatest hazard facing a solid waste worker is materials handling," Mattern proclaims. "Time and again, [this exposure] always will be with us."
Though a true statement now, material recovery facility (MRF) operators likely can expect some relief in the near future due to a new, ground-breaking standard, Z245.41, that recently has won approval from the American National Standards Institute, New York City.
"It is the closest thing we've ever done to a comprehensive safety program for any of our facilities," says Jack Legler, executive vice president for Washington, D.C.-based Waste Equipment Technologies Association (Wastech).
Wastec, which is an arm of the Environmental Industry Associations, Washington, D.C., sponsors safety standards development jointly with the Solid Waste Association of North America, Silver Spring, Md., and the Washington, D.C.-based Institute of Scrap Iron And Steel.
"[The standard] will be our model should the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Washington, D.C.) go ahead with a mandatory comprehensive safety requirement as California and Minnesota currently have," he says.
According to Legler, the Z245.41 standard for commingled MRFs will apply to all new facilities and existing facilities' training sections 18 months from its approval date - October 14, 1997 - and to all MRFs starting five years from that time.
The standard is long and covers everything, explains Legler, especially in regard to system and machine integration's. "Basically, you're taking lots of different technologies from lots of different providers and [asking] the system's designer [to plug them all together]," Legler says. Thus, "the standard's main objective is to [guide operators through] these integrated operations - and that gets into many subjects."
The most significant points that are not included in the new standard are site safety (which concerns the actual lot and the roads leading into it) and aerosol can recycling.
Legler says that he has been unable to get enough input from the industry, in terms of time and interest, on these topics, but has reserved both for future development. "These [issues] will be dealt with as supplemental standards at a later time - hopefully within the next couple of years," he says.
In addition to Z245.41, two other standards - from the original Z245 series (see World Wastes, February 1997, pg. 39) - were approved for revisions: the Z245.2 standard on stationary compactors and the Z245.5 on balers.
Now, comes the challenge, Legler admits, since the standard is "a bit leading." However, he reasons that the document is the result of the industry's best and brightest putting their heads together - "and that's the way it ought to be," he says.
A recycle driver pulled alongside the curb: autumn leaves had been falling, and residents had raked them into piles by the curb for pick-up by the city.
The driver could have pulled his truck through the leaves to make his job easier - less steps with a heavy load. He though better of it, though, and stopped his vehicle just in front of the leaf pile.
When he exited his truck, he got a big shock: The leaf pile started moving as a little boy stuck his head out!
Driving through the leaf pile would have certainly severely injured the boy, or worse. How fortunate the little boy, his family and Superior Services Inc., West Allis, Wis., were that the driver had the foresight not to pull into the pile.
Excerpt from Safetalk, a printed safety tool used by Superior Services to advise its employees on safety.
What's the best reason to start a landfill safety program? Humans do not respond well to encounters with compactors, dozers and heavy trucks.
In addition to reducing pain, a solid safety plan will help you keep in regulatory compliance and salvage your bottom line by reducing workers comp premiums and liability claims, downtime and exposure to litigation.
In general, landfill site users want to get in and out of the area as quickly as possible, and if not controlled, serious accidents can occur. Remember, the landfill has an ever-changing landscape and a complex traffic situation. Thus, garbage trucks and landfill equipment should have a strict set of operational guidelines to keep them from interfering with human movement.
Another reason? It's the law. Both at the federal and state level, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Washington, D.C., rules and regulations must be followed. Federal regulations require frequent and regular safety inspections of job sites' materials, equipment and training. Be prepared: OSHA pays particular attention to first aid; fire protection; proper lighting; personal protection equipment (such as hard hats, ear plugs and goggles); equipment function; and proper hazwastes handling.
Include the following when developing a landfill safety plan:
* site-specific accident prevention procedures;
* methods to limit exposure to disease and pollutants;
* regular equipment and operations inspections;
* list of safety rules for operations of site equipment;
* personal protective equipment;
* emergency notification procedures; and
* confined space entry procedures.
It also should identify each employee's responsibility and schedule a regular review of health and safety items. Use the plan to underpin safety discussions with site users: It's imperative that all landfills exude a positive attitude toward health and safety.
Try using a formal training package such as Silver Spring, Md.-based Solid Waste Association of North America's (SWANA) Health and Safety Training Package. In addition to the overview, the package includes five lesson components:
1. What employees should know details types of injuries that employees and site users most frequently confront, situations to expect, teamwork, the importance of accident reporting, recognizing unsafe conditions and practices and surroundings awareness.
2. General landfill health and safety issues discusses landfill traffic and equipment, adverse weather conditions, personal protective equipment, and the dangers of landfill gas, leachate, disease vectors and hazardous materials.
3. Landfill health and safety issues related to specific work areas outlines various areas such as the scale house, the working face, shop areas, traffic and unloading areas, waste screening pads, landfill gas and leachate control and processing facilities and special waste handling areas.
4. OSHA and federal regulation issues defines confined space entry procedures, blood-borne pathogen issues (such as AIDS and Hepatitis B), personal protective equipment needs, hazard communication standards, asbestos management and landfill gas management.
5. Loss control highlights how to prevent material and monetary loss.
The training manual is being used as a basis for a SWANA training course and also is available to purchase. For more information, contact Michael Hechter, P.O. Box 7219, Silver Spring, Md. 20907-7219. (301) 585-2898, ext. 239.
While most technicians "know" how to use tools and shop equipment properly, you can never stress safety enough. Try posting some of the following suggestions from the Hand Tool Institute.
* Always follow manufacturers' instructions on the tool/equipment/package.
* Use the right tool for the job. Most jobs can be done best with general tools, but sometimes special instruments are needed.
* Protect eyes from flying pieces/parts by wearing eye protection.
* Service tools regularly; they'll last longer and be safer.
* Never use hand sockets/attachments on electric/air powered driving tools.
* When possible, always pull rather than push a wrench handle and adjust your stance to prevent falling.
* Remember, ordinary plastic-dipped handles are designed for comfort, not electrical insulation.
* Never use a pipe extension or other form of "cheater" to increase he leverage of any wrench. Adjustable wrenches should be tightly adjusted to the nut and pulled so that the force is on the fixed jaw's side.
* Never use a pipe wrench to bend, raise or lift a pipe.
* Don't use pliers to cut hardened wires unless it is manufactured for that purpose. Always cut at right angles; don't rock from side to side when cutting.
* Metal-cutting chisels are intended for cutting, shaping and removing metal softer than the cutting edge itself. The hammer's striking face should have a diameter approximately 3/8 inches larger than the struck face of the punch or chisel.
* Ratchet mechanisms should be cleaned and lubricated periodically with light grade oil.
* Do not heat pullers' jaws when heating bearings or gears, as heating can change their temper. Puller forcing screws should be kept clean and lubricated with medium-grade oil. However, pullers should not be kept clean and lubricated with medium-grade oil. Pullers should not be cocked at an angle when in use. When using slide hammer pullers, be sure hands are well away from hammer on the back end of the slide rod.