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Articles from 2012 In February


Waste Management Opens Organic Waste Recycling Facility in Arizona

Waste Management of Arizona opened an organic waste recycling facility in partnership with its subsidiary company.

The unit of Houston-based Waste Management Inc. said in a news release it has launched the Maricopa Organics Recycling Facility at its Sierra Estrella plant. Waste Management will collect green waste such as yard and clean wood waste recovered from the company’s transfer stations.

Garick LLC, a manufacturer and marketer of biomass fuel supply, organic lawn and garden products, will process the material into biomass wood fuel. That fuel in turn will be sold primarily to Frito-Lay to run its Casa Grade, Ariz., facility.

Garrick will also produce compost and mulch for local use.

“This illustrates one way we are diversifying our service offering and creating sustainable solutions for our customers, while area consumers, businesses and communities benefit from locally developed compost and mulch,” said Pat De Rueda, Waste Management of Arizona-New Mexico area vice president.

Waste Management Recognizes Exceptional C&D Diversion Efforts (with video)

Waste Management Recognizes Exceptional C&D Diversion Efforts (with video)

Waste Management recently announced the inaugural winners of its new Sustainability Circle of Excellence Award. The slate of 10 North American construction companies serviced by Waste Management were honored for achieving important sustainability milestones in 2011, as determined by Waste Management’s online Diversion and Recycling Tracking Tool (DART).

Launched in May 2011, DART tracks information related to construction projects, including the amount of construction and demolition (C&D) material diverted from a landfill to a recycling facility, as well as the types of reused materials. Information on the portal is updated daily to track the environmental performances of the nation’s top builders.

According to Waste Management, the winning companies diverted the highest total C&D tonnage from a landfill to a recycling facility in the year 2011 (measured from the launch of DART). Those companies include:

  • Big-D Construction Corporation, Salt Lake City
  • JE Dunn Construction Company, Kansas City, Mo.
  • Gibson-Lewis of Indianapolis
  • Balfour Beatty Construction, Dallas
  • Skanska USA Inc., Parsippany, N.J.
  • James H. Cone Inc., Little Rock, Ark.
  • The Walsh Group, Chicago
  • Rockwell Corporation
  • Nabholz Construction, Conway, Ark.

Together these companies diverted more than 27,000 tons of C&D material, or 90 percent of their total discarded materials, according to Jim Halter, Waste Management's vice president of construction solutions.

“Congratulations to each company for their outstanding environmental performance,” said Waste Management president and CEO David Steiner in a press release. “We look forward to tracking these benchmarks in the future, since they represent a shared commitment to diversion, recycling and sound environmental practices.”

Progressive Waste Posts Loss for 4th Quarter, Year

Progressive Waste Posts Loss for 4th Quarter, Year

Progressive Waste Solutions Ltd. said its struggling operations in the Northeast United States led to a net loss for its fourth quarter and year.

The Vaughan, Ontario-based solid waste company reported a net loss of $296.2 million, or $2.48 per weighted average diluted share, for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31. In the 2010 fourth quarter Progressive had a net profit of $21.7 million, the company said in a news release.

The company took an impairment loss in the 2011 fourth quarter of $360.6 million resulting from a re-evaluation of the U.S. Northeast unit’s fair value, which was determined to be lower because of deteriorating economic conditions and strong competition in the market.

Revenue for the quarter rose 6.4 percent to $457.2 million compared with $429.9 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted net income totaled $38 million compared with $27.2 million a year earlier.

For the year, Progressive had a net loss of $196.1 million compared with a profit of $82.1 million in 2010. Revenue increased 28.7 percent to $1.84 billion compared with $1.43 billion in 2010.

For 2012, Progressive said it expects earnings before interest, taxes and amortization (EBITA) to be between $535 million and $550 million. Revenue is projected to rise 2.2 percent to 3.8 percent to $1.88 billion to $1.91 billion.

Recycling Rock Star

Recycling Rock Star

If you’ve ever watched HGTV’s House Hunters and admired the sparkling granite countertops, or perhaps had some installed in your own home, it’s likely you never considered the waste byproduct that those counters generated. Julie Rizzo did.  When the real estate and investment markets began to head south in 2006, the St. John, Ind.-based entrepreneur took side work consulting for a granite fabricator.

“That’s when I came across a big Dumpster filled with granite,” says Rizzo. “I wondered where it went and came to find out it went to the landfill.”

Rizzo says approximately 80 percent of countertop installations are granite, and 30 percent of that granite slab winds up as waste. Appalled by the math, and sensing a business opportunity, she began investigating ways to make use of that material. She consulted with a number of stone cutting machine manufacturers to devise a method for processing discarded granite into cut tiles and pavers for interior and exterior home projects. She registered recycledgranite.com in 2008 and began forging relationships with granite fabricators around the country to establish feedstocks.

“Let’s use my Chicago market, for example,” says Rizzo. “There are approximately 300 granite fabricators in that market. I form long-term partnerships with them to take the material off their hands and save them thousands of dollars in disposal fees. So I divert that stone that was once being thrown into the landfill.”

The split granite tiles have a unique aesthetic quality and are more durable than almost anything else on the market, says Rizzo, making them very attractive to clients. She licenses her patented granite cutting processes, proprietary installation techniques and marketing materials to individuals around the country so they can set up their own granite recycling facilities.

“Right now we only have about 20 licensees. We foresee between 500 and 1,000 markets being opened within the next few years or within the next five years.”

Another aspect of the business in which Rizzo takes pride is the way in which she has incorporated it with her work with special needs individuals. “I work with special needs students, and my goal is to teach my licensees and the entire world how to utilize these individuals,” she says. “Doing this job is very repetitive and very monotonous. I’ve taught two classes of granite recycling artisans, people with disabilities from Down’s syndrome to autism to cerebral palsy. These individuals are the absolute perfect workers for this industry because they’re focused, they love task work and they have done an outstanding, remarkable job.”

Ultimately, though, it’s the environmental impact of her business that Rizzo hopes people grasp.

“There are 10 million tons of granite waste that are thrown away every year in America,” she says. “That’s an astronomical number. If everybody did what I do and recycled that material, they would make thousands and thousands of dollars, and they would be diverting tons and tons of material from a landfill.”

—Steven Averett, Editor

Proposed Amendment Would Lift West Virginia E-Waste Landfill Ban

A bill introduced in the West Virginia legislature would lift that state’s ban on landfill disposal of e-waste. House Bill 4643, introduced by Rep. Troy Andes, R-Putnam, would amend a landfill e-waste ban that took effect on Jan. 1, 2011, to allow for the landfill disposal of computers, computer monitors, televisions and other devices.

The original ban also prohibits the landfill disposal of yard waste and some other items like lead-acid batteries and tires. Under the current proposal, that language would not be changed.

Tender for Purchase, On-Site Processing and Removal of Used Tyres from Cayman Islands' Landfill Sites

Tender for Purchase, On-Site Processing and Removal of Used Tyres from Cayman Islands' Landfill Sites

Cayman Islands logoThe Government of the Cayman Islands invites interested contractors to tender for the purchase, on-site processing and removal of used tyres from the Cayman Islands three landfill sites. CTC/11-12/DEH/018

Project Scope: The Government of the Cayman Islands invites eligible Tenderers to submit proposals for the purchase, on-site processing and removal of all the "Used Tyres" accumulated at the Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman Landfill Sites. The three islands are physically separated.

Description of Project: "Used Tyres" are not limited to, loose, unprocessed or semi-processed tyres.  These bulky items require special technical capabilities to cut, transport and remove from the sites. The majority of used tyres are located at the Grand Cayman Landfill.

Eligibility: Interested Tenderers will need to meet the following eligibility criteria in order to be considered and evaluated.

  1. Companies or individual Tenderers must comply with all applicable local laws including business registrations, health, pensions and any other regulations.
  2. Tenderers are reminded that the bids should be inclusive of all costs necessary to conduct the project.
  3. Proof of finances and technical ability to fulfill the contractual obligations must be demonstrated.

Evaluation: The criteria for evaluation and the relative points weighting system are included in the tender documentation. Particular attention will be paid to the proposed delivery plan and the relevant experience of the Tenderer.

Collection and Access to Tender Documentation: Tender packages including instructions on the submission of tender can be collected from the Department of Environmental Health, Cayman Islands Environmental Center, 580 North Sound Road, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. Tender documents will be available from the 15th February, 2012 between the hours of 9:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M. Monday through Friday. These documents are also available on the Government website: www.centraltenders.gov.ky

Return of Tenders: The return date is scheduled to close at 12:00 noon on the 16th March, 2012. Tenders are to be returned in an enclosed envelope (sealed) to:

The Secretary
Central Tenders Committee
c/o Treasury Department
Government Administration Building, Box 125
133 Elgin Avenue
George Town
Grand Cayman KY1-9000, Cayman Islands, B.W.I

All Tenderers are requested to submit any question they may have at least five days prior to the tender return date. For additional information on this invitation contact:

Roydell Carter
Director, Environmental Health
Department of Environmental Health
Tel: (345) 949-6696
Fax: (345) 949-4503
Email: roydell.carter@gov.ky

Late tenders will not be accepted, CIG ill not defray any cost incurred by tenderers. The Cayman Islands Government shall not be bound to assign any reason for not accepting any tender.

The Heap
Actress Missi Pyle sports the Red Carpet Green Dress contest winner by designer Valentina Delfino before the 84th Academy Awards in Hollywood photo by Lucy Nicholson courtesy of REUTERS
<p> Actress Missi Pyle sports the Red Carpet Green Dress contest winner by designer Valentina Delfino before the 84th Academy Awards in Hollywood. (photo by Lucy Nicholson courtesy of REUTERS)</p>

Stunning Sustainability at the Oscars (with video)

Photo by Lucy Nicholson courtesy of REUTERS.The go-to question on the red carpet leading into the Academy Awards each year is "Who are you wearing?" But this year, one actress might also entertain the question, "Is what you're wearing sustainable?" At last night's Academy Awards ceremony, Missi Pyle, who co-starred in "The Artist" wore a dress by Miami-based designer Valentina Delfino, who won Red Carpet Green Dress, a design contest launched in 2009 to raise awareness about sustainable fashion. Entries must be created entirely from sustainable fabrics or other materials.

According to Red Carpet Green Dress, the dress worn by Ms. Pyle contains silk peace chiffon, lined with recycled polyester and a sustainable zipper located on the left side seam. The silk chiffon was dyed with a natural mineral dye, which is both environmentally friendly and OSHA approved. They define peace silk as follows:

Peace Silk (or Cruelty–Free Silk) is the non-violent silk created through the process that permits the full life cycle of the silkworm pupae. The silkworm is able to emerge naturally and only then the cocoons are unwound.  On the contrary, the traditional sericulture approach kills the worm inside. This is done through the process of heat or steam, in order to keep the pupa from breaking through the cocoon – causing numerous threads rather than having a single fiber.

Given the way in which "The Artist" dominated most of the major Oscar categories (among other awards, taking home Best Actor, Best Director and Best Picture), there was ample time to spot Ms. Pyle in reaction shots.

Legal Lode: Well To-Do

Just in case anyone wonders why landfills need liners, a recent case from Virginia provides a nice illustration.

Claude and Virginia Royal own, operate and reside in the Twin Oaks mobile home park located some 45 miles east of Roanoke. The park, containing more than 200 lots and 450 residents, abuts a landfill, which has been owned and operated by Campbell County under a state permit since 1979. The 160-acre facility has three disposal areas: a capped and unlined Phase II, which was closed in 1995; an active Phase III; and Phase IV for future expansion. (State law did not require geomembrane liners when Phase II was constructed.) In the 1990s, the County installed state-mandated groundwater monitoring wells within Phase II, but, due to allegedly bad advice from its engineers, not until 2002 near the boundary the landfill shares with the park.

After detecting significant levels of waste constituents in Phase II downgradient wells in 1998, the County filed groundwater protection standards (GPS) with state environmental officials who approved them in 2001. Virginia solid waste management regulations allow GPS based on federal maximum contaminant levels (MCLs), state-approved, site-specific background concentration levels, or risk-based alternate concentration limits.

A year later, sampling at the wells revealed trichloroethene and vinyl chloride at levels significantly exceeding their respective GPS. These readings triggered corrective action by the County, including an exploratory study and the drilling of additional monitoring wells to address possible groundwater contamination migrating beyond the site. Samples later taken from these wells showed the presence of a number of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Data collected during the study revealed a two-pronged plume of chlorinated and aromatic hydrocarbons present in the uppermost aquifer beneath Phase II. One prong extended 2,000 feet into the Royals’ property. Data from some water supply wells located in the park showed contamination from the plume. “Evidence indicate[d] the source of the contaminants [was] both landfill gas and leachate from” Phase II and “that natural attenuation of the contaminants [was] occurring in the aquifer,” the study said.

In October 2002, the state issued a Notice of Violation to the County, faulting the landfill’s groundwater monitoring system for “ not ensur[ing] detection of groundwater contamination in the . . . aquifer at the . . . boundary [between the landfill and the park].” Subsequently, the County signed a consent order agreeing to develop and implement a corrective action program and to notify “all persons who own . . . or reside on land [above] the . . . contamination that [had] migrated beyond the [landfill’s] boundary.”

Not until almost a year later did the County inform Mr. Royal by letter about the contamination it had detected under the park. But, the letter only confirmed what the Royals already knew; they had drilled a monitoring well on their property in early 2002 and found small amounts of VOCs in the wells they had installed to serve park residents.

Inexplicably, the Royals waited three more years before filing suit against the County. Seeking an award of damages, they alleged that the landfill operations “contaminated . . . the drinking water . . . near the landfill and [in] the park” and released “harmful and toxic chemicals, hazardous substances and pollutants from . . . the landfill . . . negatively impact[ing] the air, groundwater and surface water on, within and under the park.”

Because the chlorinated hydrocarbons found in the groundwater fit the statutory definition of “oil,” the Royals charged the County with illegally discharging oil. They also claimed that their property had been “taken” without compensation in violation of the state constitution. For its part, the County flatly denied all the allegations.

Next month: Experts testify. The trial judge rules. But the Virginia Supreme Court has the final say.


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

The legal editor welcomes comments from readers. Contact Barry Shanoff via e-mail: shanoff@knopf-brown.com.

The Pay-As-You-Throw Playbook

The Pay-As-You-Throw Playbook

Variable rate waste collection pricing, or “pay-as-you-throw” (PAYT), makes customers largely responsible for their own sanitation bill, depending on how much they throw out. Proponents argue that it shifts the ultimate waste versus recycling decision from legislative chambers and boardrooms to kitchens and the curbside. But others caution that customers and politicians may be spooked by the risk of cost shifts and the general behavioral change required, and that some will circumvent the system illegally.

“It’s a fair system,” says David Junger, assistant city manager for the Public Works Department in Decatur, Ga., which has operated a PAYT system since 1998. “People who are really into recycling, they get the benefit. It will cost you a little more if you don’t have the inclination.”

Little recent data on PAYT is available. But in 2006 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Skumatz Economic Research Associates (SERA) compiled a study on PAYT. It reported that there were more than 7,000 such variable rate programs in the United States, including 30 of the 100 largest cities. It determined that the overall diversion rate in PAYT communities was 28.7 percent, compared with 21.4 percent in non-PAYT jurisdictions.

The number of programs has been increasing lately, due perhaps in part to the improving economy, says Lisa Skumatz, founder and principal of the Superior, Colo.-based SERA. While it may not be growing as fast as single-stream recycling, that related innovation is nonetheless aiding PAYT, given that haulers have more flexibility over what they can do with automated pickup.

PAYT advocates tick off the system’s advantages, which often begin with the fairness issue. “It doesn’t take away your choice – you still can chose any service level,” Skumatz says.  “Other options generally don’t do that.” She adds that it encourages waste minimization on multiple levels – recycling, composting and waste reduction. It creates jobs, is self-funding and reduces truck traffic. Skumatz estimates customer collection bills could go from $18 to $20 a month prior to implementation of PAYT to $9 to $12 a month after. And it can be a low investment for municipalities. “It is the cheapest thing you can do to increase recycling,” she says.

The Many Faces of Pay-As-You-Throw

Loveland, Colo., a city of about 65,000, initiated PAYT in 1992. Mike Mercer, manager of the Streets, Stormwater and Solid Waste Divisions for the Loveland Public Works Department, helped roll out the program and continues to oversee it. “Our goal was to implement a recycling program, and to be effective we wanted to incentivize it,” he says. “And the best way to do that is what I call ‘pocketbook economics,’ to get them to voluntarily do what you want them to do.”

There are three main types of PAYT collection methods: Carts, bags with identifying stickers/tags, or a hybrid of the two. The cart method is becoming the predominant method, Skumatz says, which is tied to the increased popularity of automation. Loveland has gone through several methods. The program started with bags, supplied by the city. It evolved into customers providing their own bags and using stamps to identify the bags. Eventually, the city wanted to move to automated collection, so it instituted a cart system with four sizes to choose from: 17, 30, 60 and 90 gallons. Loveland also offers three sizes of recycling carts.

Before PAYT was instituted, Loveland had no recycling or composting programs, and basically a zero-percent recycling rate. Since the first year of PAYT it has had more than 50-percent diversion. That was helped by the addition of a yard waste program instituted around the same time, Mercer says, which accounts for more than half of the total.

Residents bought in just as officials had hoped. “Whether they believe in it or not, whether they understood the benefits of it or not, they do understand that they want to save money,” Mercer says.

Decatur introduced curbside recycling in the late 1980s, but PAYT provided a jumpstart to the efforts of the town of 20,000 within sight of downtown Atlanta. The program calls for three bag sizes – eight, 16 and 32 gallons – with the bags available at retail stores and government sites, Junger says.

The city delivers the bags to the retailers, who then pay the city.  Businesses haven’t always been able to pay, and they get cut off. “It actually hurt their business,” because people look for the PAYT bags and then shop elsewhere when they can’t find them regularly, he says.

When the city started PAYT, the recycling rate was about 25 percent. Decatur is diverting about 35 percent now; 41 percent if commercial collection is included. The city has evolved from separated pickup to commingled to increase the type of items allowed in the recycling bin.

Junger says Decatur gets little pushback from residents on the program anymore. “People that have been here for a while get it.  Our community is environmentally conscious.” Part of that success comes from the city’s efforts; officials evaluate and sometimes adjust bag prices every year. “It’s just about managing that enterprise smartly,” he says.

Unlike Loveland, which operates its own waste and recycling services, Fort Collins, Colo., contracts out its collection to private haulers.  The guidelines are outlined in ordinances, which are tweaked every few years, says Susie Gordon, senior environmental planner for the city’s Natural Resources Department. Fort Collins has a population of about 140,000.

Skumatz says that’s an example of one of two main ways to implement a PAYT program – by contract or by ordinance. Implementing by ordinance maintains competition. Implementing by contract, she says, means fewer trucks on the street, potentially lower costs and more control over rate structure.

For Fort Collins the market driver was to meet the city’s 50-percent recycling goal; the city had 43-percent diversion in 2010. Before PAYT it was about 17 percent. The program is working, although the city’s law doesn’t require participation by commercial operations or large multifamily dwellings. “I don’t think it’s working for everybody but it’s working in right direction,” she says.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction is a big issue in Fort Collins. PAYT has reduced the truck traffic in half, resulting in a 50-percent reduction in GHG. “That’s been a huge revelation,” Gordon says.

Hauling with a Calculator

For haulers, PAYT can provide some challenges. Western Disposal Services Inc. does the collection for Boulder, Colo. The structure there calls for residents to pay 80-percent more for their second cart. “The challenge is a little math,” says Western Disposal President Gary Horton. “If they err, they can collect too little or too much.”

Horton says before PAYT only a small number of Western Disposal’s 42,000 customers were using just one can. After PAYT it went to 60 percent. “There was this big migration from lots of trash service to little trash service, “ he says. And that is a powerful incentive for recycling. Horton says his customers now tell him, “I can’t believe how little trash I have.”

But at first PAYT customers may see only that they’ve contracted for a large amount of trash to be removed. “It may be double what they paid,” Horton says. “They don’t understand they have to scale down.” He adds that helping customers with this transition is an opportunity for the hauler. “This is where individual companies can really shine.”

That issue of misleading cost appearances is one of the common challenges of implementing a PAYT program. “We knew we had to convince a fairly reluctant population how it was going to go, what the costs were going to be,” Mercer says. “We had to explain, explain, explain. People feared they’d go broke.”

The cost can be a challenge for a municipality as well if it’s a cart-based program, which requires more upfront costs.

The Solid Waste Management Association of North America (SWANA) doesn’t have a policy on PAYT. Communities have been able to increase their recycling rates with PAYT, but how the costs are presented is a concern, says Lori Scozzafava, deputy executive director of the Silver Spring, Md.-based association. If PAYT is done only on the trash part, that cost is inflated to pay for recycling. “It perhaps sends a false impression that curbside recyclable collection is free. Then it relies on an unsustainable funding approach.”

Mercer says a pilot program was very important for Loveland in the education process. “We were able to win people over who were against it at first,” he says. “They became our strongest proponents.” It also allowed the city to internally tweak the program.

Skumatz talks about making sure you have the political will to implement a program, as that is a recurrent stumbling block. The city of Denver is considering a PAYT program; Skumatz said they’ve been considering it for some time, and she personally has talked to officials there a half dozen times. “Any change in your trash system is something that makes people uncomfortable.”

The fear of illegal dumping is often mentioned as a potential drawback to PAYT, although all those interviewed said that fear is more imagined that real. Junger says people still occasionally put the household garbage in the wrong place. And his workers have gone Dumpster diving to retrieve waste mislabeled as recycling. “When we do that, word gets out,” he says.

New Horizons for Pay-As-You-Throw

There is plenty of new territory for PAYT to plow. “We really push for commercial PAYT in a number of communities,” Skumatz says. “It involves a lot of tonnage. After a certain point there’s only so much of residential sector.”

She also is pushing for a different marketing approach: Changing the name. “PAYT seems to be a name causing consternation.” Her new choice: Recycle and Save. “Any little barriers to get away from is a good thing.”

PAYT is not a one-size-fits-all type of program. “Every community is different,” Mercer says. “You can’t drop in what works one place somewhere else.

If you have a neighboring community that has done something, that’s good to look at.”

Scozzafava hopes more research is done on the concept to give people more information to make a decision. Establishing best practices examples will help diminish the chances of giving false impressions about costs. “There’s lots of ways to incentivize recycling, and PAYT is one of them.”

Ultimately, PAYT is about changing people’s waste management behavior. Gordon believes Fort Collins’ program has prompted residents to think more carefully about what they bring into the house.

Says Horton:  “I think PAYT is where world’s going to end up at.”

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

The Heap
Picking Up the Signs

Picking Up the Signs

It's an election year, and around the country communities are once again being blighted by forests of political signage that seemingly sprout overnight. The signs are usually plastic or cardboard, mounted on metal or wooden posts. But after the polls close and victory or concession speech is made, what happens to those political pickets? Unfortunately, they usually wind up in a landfill.

Cleveland is one of the latest municipalities to take on this problem. The Cuyahoga County Solid Waste Management District has launched a campaign of its own, called "Elect to Recycle," urging political candidates (or civic-minded voters) to collect the signs and turn them in for recycling. They're careful to note that the signs should be turned in AFTER the primaries/elections, lest some unscrupulous candidates seize on sign-snagging as a way to drown out some publicity for their rival.