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Articles from 2012 In December

Profiles in Garbage: Corrugated Boxes

Corrugated boxes are named  for the fluted inner layer that is sandwiched between layers of linerboard. They need to be impact, drop, and vibration-damage resistant, while still being light enough to ship products. Corrugated packaging is the largest segment of the packaging industry, with more than 1,300 manufacturing plants in North America.

Paper recyclers call used corrugated boxes “old corrugated containers” or “OCC.” Consumers often mistakenly call them “cardboard boxes.” Those boxes, however, do not have a fluted inner layer and lack the strength of a corrugated box. “Double-lined kraft” refers to cuttings generated during OCC manufacturing.

The extensive use of OCC in the American economy makes them the biggest manufactured product in the waste stream by weight. Easily recyclable, it also is the most recycled product by weight, greatly diminishing the amount sent to disposal. Since 1960, OCC generation increased by 296 percent; its MSW market share increased by 27 percent. Its recycling rate increased by almost 150 percent and its disposal share decreased by 55 percent. Box production has rebounded from the recent recession, benefitting in part from the need for smaller shipping boxes by online merchants.

While some corrugated boxes are made of plastic, this profile is limited to paper boxes.

Chaz Miller is state programs director for the National Solid Wastes Management Association, Washington. E-mail him at: cmiller@envasns.org.


Corrugated Boxes Facts*


  •  29.05 million tons, or 11.6% by weight.
  •  188 pounds per person per year.
  •  31.9 million tons per year according to 2011 industry data.


  •  24.7 million tons, a 85% recycling rate.
  •  29.1 million tons, or a 91.2% recycling rate (2011 industry figures).

Recycled Content:

  • 43% in 2006.
  • Corrugated medium usually has more recycled content than linerboard.


  •  Compostable if shredded properly.

Burned or Landfilled:

  • 4.36 million tons, or 2.6% of discarded MSW by weight.
  • 7,047 Btus per pound, compared to 4,500-5,000 Btus for MSW.
  • The third largest disposed-of product by weight.

Landfill Volume:

  •  26.3 million cubic yards, 6.2% of landfilled MSW in 1997.
  •  The second largest item in landfills by volume.


  • Landfilled OCC weighs 750 lbs. per cubic yard (lbs/cu.yd.).
  • Loose, unbaled OCC weighs 50-100 lbs/cu.yd.
  • Loose, unbaled, stacked OCC weighs 350 lbs/cu.yd.
  • Baled OCC weighs 1,000-1,200 lbs/cu.yd.

Source Reduction:

  •  10% to 15% weight reduction in last decade due to linerboard lightweighting.
  •  Compression, stacking strength and burst tests limit the ability to lightweight corrugated boxes. Heavy use of recycled fibers can increase box weight to meet these tests.

Recycling Markets:

  •  Using OCC to make corrugated medium or linerboard is the largest market.
  •  Exports are next followed by using OCC to make recycled paperboard.

End Market Specifications:

  •  ISRI Paper Stock Guidelines #11 (Corrugated Containers), #12 (Double-sorted Corrugated) and #13 (New Double-Lined Kraft Corrugated Cuttings).
  •  Contaminants include wax coatings, plastics, chipboard, mill wrappers.



American Forest and Paper Association, www.afandpa.org and http://stats.paperrecycles.org

“Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2010,” U.S. EPA, Office of Solid Waste, www.epa.gov/osw

Corrugated Packaging Alliance, www.corrugated.org

Fibre Box Association, www.fibrebox.org

“Measurement Standards and Reporting Guidelines,” National Recyling Coalition, Washington, www.nrc-recycle.org
Scrap Specifications Circular, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Washington, www.isri.org

*Data is from 2010 EPA estimates, except where noted.





December 28, 2012 - EQMTechnologies & Energy Inc. has bought Vertterre Corp., an engineering firm that develops waste-to-energy and landfill gas projects.

Buying Company: EQMTechnologies & Energy Inc. (Cincinnati)

Selling Company: Vertterre Corp. (Albuquerque, N.M.)

Transaction Amount: $1.5 million

Asset Acquired: Entire company

Close Date: 12/28/2012

New Headquarters:

CEO: James Wendle

EPA Finalizes RFS Volumes, Biomass Diesel Volumes

EQM Buys Waste-to-Energy Firm Vertterre

EQMTechnologies & Energy Inc. has bought Vertterre Corp., an engineering firm that develops waste-to-energy and landfill gas projects.

The Cincinnati-based EQM, which provides environmental services to government and commercial businesses, acquired all the capital stock of Albuquerque, N.M.-based Vertterre for about $1.5 million, according to a news release.

Vertterre has worked on numerous biomass projects in the southwestern United States using bio-derived waste, landfill gas, municipal solid waste, biomass and steam. Vertterre does design, development and implementation of electrical and thermal energy systems. The company has both public and private sector customers.

"Vertterre is our first acquisition since becoming a public reporting company and fits very well into EQM's strategy of growing both organically and through strategic acquisitions," said James Wendle, EQM president and CEO.

December 27, 2012 - Metalico Inc. has purchased an auto recycling firm in Bergen, N.Y., and established a scrap recycling joint venture in Cleveland.

Buying Company: Metalico Inc. (Cranford, N. J.)

Selling Company: Bergen Auto Recycling LLC (Bergen, N.Y.)

Transaction Amount: Undisclosed

Asset Acquired: Entire company

Close Date: 12/27/2012

New Headquarters:

CEO: Carlos Aguero

Metalico Expands Scrap Recycling Business in New York, Ohio

Metalico Expands Scrap Recycling Business in New York, Ohio

Metalico Inc. has purchased an auto recycling firm in Bergen, N.Y., and established a scrap recycling joint venture in Cleveland.

The Cranford, N. J.-based scrap metal recycling firm said in a news release that the Cleveland venture will operate as Metalico JBI Cleveland at a site of a previous scrap yard. It will serve new accounts and support Metalico’s existing Ohio yards in Akron and Youngstown. Joseph Immormino will manage the operation.

The company’s Metalico Rochester Inc. subsidiary bought the assets of Bergen Auto Recycling LLC, including its junk-car inventory and real property in Bergen, a suburb of Rochester. Metalico plans to substantially expand Bergen Auto's salvage car buying capabilities and continue its "pick-and-pull" auto parts business while using the additional access to scrap metal to supply its shredding facility in Buffalo, N.Y.  

Terms for the two transactions were not disclosed.

"Our full-service scrap yard platforms are already well established in both of these geographic regions and have ample processing capacity to handle additional flow,” said Carlos Aguero, Metalico president and CEO. “Our expansion into these new locations is consistent with Metalico's growth strategy of penetrating geographically contiguous markets and benefiting from intercompany and operating synergies that are available through consolidation."

Metalico operates 29 recycling facilities in seven states and four lead fabricating plants in three states.

EPA Administrator Jackson to Leave Post

EPA Administrator Jackson to Leave Post

Lisa Jackson, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,  said she is stepping down from her position following President Obama’s State of the Union address in January.

Jackson said in a news release, “I want to thank President Obama for the honor he bestowed on me and the confidence he placed in me four years ago this month when he announced my nomination as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. … I will leave the EPA confident the ship is sailing in the right direction, and ready in my own life for new challenges, time with my family and new opportunities to make a difference.”

Electronic Waste Recycling Executives Convicted of Fraud

Electronic Waste Recycling Executives Convicted of Fraud

Two top officials for Executive Recycling Inc. were convicted of multiple counts of mail and wire fraud related to illegal disposing of electronic waste.

A jury in U.S. District Court of Colorado found guilty of environmental crimes related to the illegal disposal, smuggling and obstruction Brandon Richter, 38, of Highlands Ranch, Colo., owner and CEO of the Englewood, Colo.-based company, and Tor Olson, 37, of Parker, Colo., former vice president of operations, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release.

The defendants misled business and government entities that Executive Recycling would dispose of their e-waste in compliance with all laws and regulations, and do so in the United States and not send the e-waste overseas. Executive Recycling did in fact export the e-waste to foreign countries, including China, between 2005 and 2008, according to the attorney’s office.

Richter and Olson each face seven counts of wire fraud, each count of which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. They also face one count exportation contrary to law, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine or twice the gross gain or loss, or both. Richter also faces one count of destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in federal investigations and bankruptcy, which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

In addition, the company faces a $500,000 fine per count for seven wire fraud counts, or twice the gross gain or loss. The corporation faces a conviction for one count of failure to file notification of intent to export hazardous waste and one count of exportation contrary to law.

The case came to light after the Seattle-based Basel Action Network (BAN), an environmental watchdog organization, documented the malfeasance and reported it to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Government Accountability Office and CBS News, which did a story on the matter for “60 Minutes.”

“This conviction is very welcome, but sadly as we speak, there are many hundreds of other fake recyclers out there that are loading up Asian-bound containers full of our old toxic TVs and computers,” said BAN Executive Director Jim Puckett in a news release. “We hope this conviction sends a very strong message to business and the public that they should only use the most responsible recyclers.”

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the EPA Criminal Investigation Division and the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, Special Prosecutions Unit.

BLS Unveils 2018 Employer-reported Workplace Injuries, Illnesses

Living with Labor

The waste and recycling industry is like most industries when it comes to labor relations. The companies don’t much like the unions, and the feeling is mutual.

This year the industry suffered several high-profile strikes by the Washington-based Teamsters, the predominant union organizing waste and recycling workers. In the spring Phoenix-based Republic Services Inc. faced a work stoppage of a little less than two weeks at two of its Alabama facilities and then enforced a short lockout in Indiana. In the first case the issue was health insurance; in the latter, pensions.

Then this summer Houston-based Waste Management Inc. suffered a strike of about a week in the Seattle area regarding salary increases. Theo Galoozis, vice president, labor relations, for Waste Management, says the company tries hard not to let it get to that point. “If you ever hear of a strike with us, I guarantee the other side isn’t being reasonable,” he says. “We have to live together afterward.”

Galoozis says one challenge for the waste industry as opposed to some other fields is that customers just want their garbage taken away when it’s piling up, and they don’t care so much about who does it or the reasons behind a problem.

Mary O’Brien, chief marketing officer with Jacksonville, Fla.-based Advanced Disposal Services Inc., agrees with Galoozis that good waste companies aim to differentiate themselves, but the old adage can apply: “When we’re doing our best job you don’t know we are there.”

With labor relations, the waste industry is competitive and changing from a technology perspective, Galoozis says. “Collective bargaining process law was written for a different day. Things go slow. [Companies] want to make the right decision, but they don’t want to take a year to do it.”

Waste Management didn’t say how much of its workforce is organized; at Advanced Disposal the number is small – less than 10 percent. But that will increase with its just-completed purchase of Veolia ES Solid Waste Inc., which has operations in several union states in the Northeast and Midwest.

While the company would rather not have a union, O’Brien avoids putting it in those terms. “First and foremost, what we’re looking for is professional drivers, mechanics, employees that have a strong work ethic, want to do a good job and want leave the environment clean.”  
Galoozis agrees. “People think you’re antiunion. On the contrary, we’re pro-employee,” he says. “Your first responsibility is that your employees are properly taken care of, gainfully employed and are safe. If you do that everything else is going to take care of itself.”

Teamster Target

The waste industry is an organizing target for the Teamsters. The union has a Solid Waste, Recycling and Related Industries Division and already 32,000 members in those businesses, says the division’s director, Robert Morales. The Teamsters sees a potential additional 150,000 to 200,000 members. “Garbage will be the second biggest job creator for the Teamsters after UPS,” he says.

Los Angeles, New York and Miami are key geographic organizing markets for the Teamster waste and recycling division. “We believe that having control of these markets will help not only membership but also the climate,” Morales says. “We can save stuff going into the landfills for better use.”

The union also is aiming to work with municipalities to help improve safety for its workers, because Morales claims there are many employers that are not following proper guidelines.

Morales also believes a lot of non-union employers and chambers of commerce continue to fight unionization because “they don’t want to have a controlled system since they know if they have to follow the guidelines it’ll cost more.”

Galoozis says Waste Management has great relationships with the union at some locations and less strong relationships at others. The reason isn’t geography resulting from a generally unionized North and non-unionized South. It comes down to individual personalities. “A union is no different than any other large organization. People are committed to their jobs but they’re also committed to their careers.”

Sometimes those personality issues can make working with a union more challenging than a non-union workforce, says Scott Friedlander, general counsel for Advanced Disposal. With a union a company may be dealing with a business agent who may not know the business well. Individual circumstances more easily can be taken into account with a non-union staff. “The one-size-fits-all of a union contract sometimes makes that more difficult.”

Regardless of the personalities involved, Waste Management aims to be consistent and stick to business. “Our position always has been with unions that we respect the law and process,” Galoozis says. “When we present proposals we submit them with legitimate business justifications.”

Galoozis has seen both small and large companies handle labor relations and there’s not much difference. He’s seen smaller companies sometimes manage a negotiation better because they have more intimate knowledge of the situation.

Safety First

Safety is a bigger issue in the waste and recycling industry than some others because it can be a dangerous business, Friedlander says. “Frankly, with union cooperation we’ve been able to make strides in terms of our safety performance.”

Friedlander says health care and pension plans, many of which are underfunded, are bigger issues than wages these days. Morales agrees. With pensions, he says, companies sometimes “want to destroy what took us many years to obtain.”

Galoozis argues that society is much different than 25 years ago. “Industry itself is changing. Any time the way of doing business changes, that causes consternation. Lots of locations understand that, but change causes fear and uncertainty that can make negotiations more difficult.”

But Friedlander sees labor relations in the waste industry getting better. “Unions that we deal with for the most part recognize that we’re in a competitive industry. If we don’t service our customers well, someone else will. The problem for a union is that it could be a nonunion competitor.”

And the unions generally recognize that wage and benefit levels need to match productivity. “Then we all win. We get more business. They can get more employees.”

The thing to keep in mind with labor relations, Galoozis says, is the golden rule – to treat workers as you would want to be treated. “If you keep in mind that first and foremost your employees are your biggest asset, you should be fine.”

Allan Gerlat is News Editor for Waste Age and waste360.com.


Surviving Super-Sized Sandy

Surviving Super-Sized Sandy

Sandy was quite a storm. Dubbed a “Superstorm,” it was a hurricane that merged with a winter storm to create one “super-sized” system that brought storm conditions to the entire eastern seaboard, including blizzard conditions in West Virginia and nor’easter/hurricane conditions everywhere else.

For waste firms in the region, Sandy brought two challenges – first, trying to make a quick recovery from any disruption in service, and second, assisting in the challenging clean up.

Due to flooding in its regional headquarters building, Progressive Waste Solutions, which services the greater New York area, reported how it temporarily ran its operation out of a hotel in nearby New Jersey. While its second floor office space didn’t sustain flood damage, damage to the first floor kept the waste firm and other tenants out of the building for days immediately following the storm. In addition to office displacement, the firm, like many area waste firms, also had to contend with power outages and fuel scarcity. From its temporary offices, they were staffing up, bringing workers and equipment from other locations to meet demand in the Northeast. Despite their business disruption, this waste firm was able to carry out its obligations and take advantage of additional storm related work, undoubtedly as a result of their advance emergency preparedness planning.

As with most natural catastrophes, Superstorm Sandy has highlighted the critical nature of preparing for and responding appropriately after catastrophes. Especially for waste firms, preparing and reacting effectively during times of crisis will protect key resources, restore operations quickly and lead to not only financial recover but operational recovery that allows firms to take advantage of new opportunities presented by storm cleanups.

Certainly after an event like Sandy, many businesses made the call to their insurance companies to get started on their post-Sandy recovery. What they could have considered and might want to consider now, is making another phone call to their insurance companies or brokers to see how they can minimize risks associated with clean up from this storm and how they can be better prepared for the next one. Waste companies in the region are keeping very busy, and will be for quite a while, facing months of difficult collection and disposal work. Now, to keep pace with the need for their services and keep their workers safe while doing it, waste companies are wise to reach out to their insurers to help them understand their own insurance coverage more clearly and take advantage of the advice, guidance and other services available to them to make sure that they are managing their risks appropriately as they clean up after this storm and others. Everything from ergonomics training to guidance on protecting workers from mold or hazardous waste exposure will help keep Sandy’s clean up activity from generating additional insurance claims, lost profitability or injury to their workforce.

Businesses are wise to brush up on the details of their insurance coverage, and learn a little more about what risk management resources may be available to them. Insurers offer a variety of loss prevention, training and risk engineering services to help clients to take preventative actions to minimize risks and financial losses that can result in the event of a natural disaster. Property insurers often employ risk engineers who can provide wind analysis to test how a facility will fare in sustained high winds, or flood prevention advice. An insurer’s loss prevention experts review a client’s facilities and look at ways to better protect property. Proactive changes could be a simple change to store supplies on site that would prevent damage in a flood surge to a modification the loss of a roof in a hurricane.

After incidents like last year’s tsunami in Japan and floods in Thailand, many insurers are also looking at ways to help clients take preventative measures to secure their supply chains and avoid possible business disruptions. Similarly, environmental insurers offer training and guidance on everything from hazardous materials handling to waste disposal contract reviews.

Adopting strong loss prevention measures before, during and immediately after a natural disaster positions waste firms to take on the business opportunities presented by a storm like Sandy without exposing their operations and employees to additional risks. For waste firms, it offers not only a business opportunity but a chance to help communities, families and businesses discard Sandy’s aftermath so that they can move on and rebuild.

Tips on Filing Claims

In the event of catastrophe-related claims, businesses, of course, should contact their insurance companies to give notice. New York-based Insurance Information Institute (www.iii.org), also known as the Triple “I”, offers valuable tips on how businesses can respond quickly to minimize their losses and work with insurers to ease the Sandy claims process, including taking steps to secure damaged property to prevent further damage and reduce the time it may take to restore it to carefully collection of business records which is vital to proving the value of damaged equipment, inventory or structures as well as loss of business income.

December 20, 2012 - Waste Management Inc. has purchased two recycling facilities in the Nashville, Tenn., area from QRS Inc.

Buying Company: Waste Management Inc. (Houston)

Selling Company: QRS Inc. (Louisville, Ky.)

Transaction Amount: Undisclosed

Asset Acquired: Recycling facilities in Nashville and Madison, Tenn.

Close Date: 12/20/2012

New Headquarters:

CEO: David Steiner