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Articles from 2019 In February


Senate Confirms Wheeler as Permanent EPA Administrator

Win McNamee/Staff/GettyImages Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler arrives for testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Aug. 1, 2018.
Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler arrives for testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Aug. 1, 2018.

The Senate on Thursday approved Andrew Wheeler to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by a vote of 52-47.

Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, has been serving as acting administrator since former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned in July 2018 amid federal ethics inquiries. President Donald Trump announced in November 2018 that he intended to nominate Wheeler to be the agency’s permanent administrator. Trump officially nominated Wheeler as the permanent EPA administrator in January.

Wheeler began his career at EPA during the 1990s but spent years on Capitol Hill before heading to the private sector. He has won praise from Republicans for his deregulatory agenda but criticism from Democrats for his refusal to take action on climate change and several public health priorities, according to The Washington Post.

During his confirmation hearing in January, Wheeler highlighted dozens of significant rules that the EPA has begun to roll back during the past two years, and he made clear to lawmakers that he intended to continue the Trump administration’s reversal of environmental regulations, according to the report.

The New York Times pointed out that the 52-47 vote went mostly along party lines and underscored partisan divisions over the Trump administration’s continued commitment to repealing environmental regulations under Wheeler.

Senator Susan Collins of Maine was the only Republican to vote against Wheeler, saying “the policies he supported as acting administrator are not in the best interest of our environment and public health, particularly given the threat of climate change to our nation.”

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) released the following statement regarding Wheeler’s confirmation:

“ISRI is pleased the Senate confirmed Andrew Wheeler as the new EPA administrator,” said Robin Wiener, president of ISRI. “Administrator Wheeler was instrumental in hosting an America Recycles Day conference at the EPA last year where ISRI was able to explain the many challenges the recycling industry faces while reaffirming the longstanding and critical role the recycling industry plays in both the nation’s manufacturing chain as well as environmental protection. The scrap recycling industry consistently recycles more than 130 million metric tons of materials each year helping to protect the environment, conserve natural resources, and create more than 530,000 jobs. Administrator Wheeler understands and appreciates our vibrant industry and we look forward to working with him and his staff to further improve recycling in the United States.”

Need to Know

Closed Loop Partners Announces NextGen Cup Challenge Winners

The NextGen Consortium, convened by Closed Loop Partners, announced the winners of the NextGen Cup Challenge, an open-sourced, global innovation challenge to redesign the fiber to-go cup and create a widely recyclable and/or compostable cup.

After a rigorous four-month review process by a group of judges, including NextGen Consortium business leaders, as well as experts in recycling, composting and packaging, the challenge narrowed the nearly 500 submissions from more than 50 countries down to 12 winners.

These 12 winning solutions—broadly categorized into innovative cup liners, new materials and reusable cup service models—have the potential to turn the 250 billion fiber to-go cups used annually from waste into a valuable material in the recycling system.

“This is a notable milestone to achieve our aspiration of sustainable coffee, served sustainably which is a particular passion for our over 350,000 Starbucks partners,” said John Kelly, senior vice president of global public affairs and social impact at Starbucks, in a statement. “We’re a founding partner of the NextGen Consortium because we believe it will take the scale and influence of many global companies to make recyclable, compostable to-go cups an industry standard rather than the exception.”

Many of the largest players in the food and beverage industry have united within the NextGen Consortium. Starbucks and McDonald’s were early investors and founding partners of the NextGen Consortium, with The Coca-Cola Company, Yum! Brands, Nestlé and Wendy’s joining as supporting partners. The World Wildlife Fund acts as an advisory member of the consortium, and OpenIDEO is an innovation partner.

Up to six winners will enter the NextGen Circular Business Accelerator, where they’ll gain access to a network of experts, business and technical resources and testing opportunities to ensure these innovations can successfully scale to serve the needs of the industry.

The challenge is the first stage of the NextGen Consortium’s three-year effort. Next, the NextGen Circular Business Accelerator, with testing and piloting opportunities, will help solutions get onto the shelf. Further, the consortium is working with suppliers, recyclers and composters to ensure that the winning solutions can get successfully recovered for the highest value. The consortium will work together to support the needs of the recycling and composting system and identify ways to make it easy for consumers to choose the right bin.

"The level of interest we saw in the challenge demonstrates a real appetite for long-lasting sustainable packaging solutions," said Kate Daly, executive director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners, in a statement. "This level of industry collaboration in support of the NextGen Cup Challenge is really exciting, and we look forward to building on this momentum to encourage more innovative solutions. Fully recoverable fiber to-go cups are just the beginning."

“Billions of paper cups created from tens of millions of trees end up in landfills each year—trees that could otherwise help stabilize our climate but are instead cut down just so consumers can use something once and throw it away. This global trash problem requires leading brands like Starbucks and McDonald’s to adopt one of these groundbreaking recyclable and compostable cup technologies as quickly as possible,” said Todd Paglia, executive director at Stand.earth, in a statement.

International environmental organization Stand.earth launched its BetterCup campaign in 2016 after Starbucks, which first pledged in 2008 to create a recyclable paper cup, “continued to outsize its contribution to the global trash problem,” according to Stand.earth. In March 2018, the Starbucks responded to Stand.earth and a growing global plastic pollution campaign by pledging $10 million to bring a recyclable and compostable cup to market in three years. In September 2018, Starbucks formally launched the NextGen Cup Challenge and was joined by McDonald’s, Coca-Cola Company, Nestle, Yum! Brands and Wendy's.

Need to Know

Critics Claim Massachusetts’ Commercial Food Waste Ban is “Failing”

Sports Venues Would Recycle 100% of Food Waste Under De Blasio Plan

In an effort to curb commercial food waste, five years ago, Massachusetts banned universities, hospitals and large businesses from sending discarded food to landfill. Now, critics are saying state regulators have failed to enforce those restrictions, “leading to widespread lack of compliance,” according to The Boston Globe.

According to the report, the ban, which applies to institutions that produce more than a ton of food waste a week, sought to reduce the amount of food waste sent to incinerators and landfills. It was also considered a major step to increase recycling and curb emissions. But companies have been sidestepping the ban.

Last month, as part of the Commonwealth’s commitment to help increase the diversion, reuse and recycling of materials, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) announced that during calendar year 2018, the agency issued 119 notices of non-compliance and eight waste ban orders with penalties to entities found violating the rules.

These actions, which build upon the Baker-Polito Administration’s efforts to promote the environmental benefits of recycling, were for violations involving the improper disposal of significant amounts of recyclable materials and cover a wide spectrum of public and private institutions, including the food and retail sectors, hospitality sector and educational and medical facilities.

The Boston Globe has more details:

Five years ago, Massachusetts launched the nation’s most ambitious effort to curb commercial food waste, banning universities, hospitals, and large businesses from sending discarded food to landfills.

But critics like John Hanselman, who built a business based on the ban, say that state regulators have failed to enforce the restrictions, leading to a widespread lack of compliance.

Hanselman’s company invested $70 million to build five high-tech plants to convert food waste — a significant source of carbon emissions — into electricity, heat, and fertilizer. But now his company is scrounging to find a sufficient amount of waste for the plants.

Read the full article here.

Need to Know

SC Johnson to Launch 100% Recycled Ocean Plastic Bottle

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As part of its ongoing commitment to tackling the problem of plastic pollution in the oceans, SC Johnson has announced it will launch the industry’s first product that uses 100 percent recycled ocean plastic in a major home cleaning brand. That product is part of the Windex brand.

“With over 5 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean, conditions are continuing to get worse and worse,” said Fisk Johnson, chairman and CEO of SC Johnson, said in a statement. “The Windex bottle is just one of the many ways we are not only providing solutions to combat ocean pollution but taking action to make these solutions a reality.”

The Windex Vinegar Ocean Plastic bottles are an everyday offering and will be made available at North American retailers such as Target and Walmart. As many as 8 million units will hit retail shelves this spring. The new product is the world’s first glass cleaner bottle made from 100 percent recycled ocean plastic, and it is also nontoxic and cruelty free, noted the company.

As part of the release of Windex Vinegar Ocean Plastic bottles, Johnson appeared at the GreenBiz 2019 conference in Phoenix. There, he discussed the role companies can play to combat the ocean plastic pollution crisis.

Plans are underway to launch a 100 percent Social Plastic Windex bottle with Plastic Bank by fall 2019. This product will include recycled ocean-bound social plastic sourced by Plastic Bank from Haiti, the Philippines and Indonesia. Under this program, the company is now creating recycling programs as part of the solution to stopping ocean-bound plastic and addressing poverty at the same time. The program is designed to educate on recycling and get people to live with and use plastic responsibly. Each bottle will represent a new source of income or economic opportunity for the program’s participants.

“The goal is to create recycling infrastructures to help minimize plastic waste and address the challenges of poverty at the same time,” said Johnson in a statement. “This is a massive environmental issue, and it is going to take businesses, governments, NGOs and civil society working together to solve it.”

Need to Know

Lytx Honors Drivers, Coaches with Annual Awards

Lytx announced the recipients of its 2019 Driver of the Year and Coach of the Year awards. The awards recognize outstanding professional drivers and coaches currently using Lytx's Driver Safety Program. The awards were presented during the seventh annual Lytx User Group Conference in San Diego.

Lytx said this year's recipients demonstrate that safe driving is the product of continuous learning and that a deep-seeded commitment to safety can have a positive impact on every individual, company and community they serve.

During the award ceremony, Lytx also presented a donation to Heidi Jenkins, founder of The Erich Jenkins Change-A-Life Foundation, to support the foundation’s mission to provide scholarships to deserving youth. Jenkins created the foundation after her late husband was involved in a fatal accident. She accepted the donation on behalf of the foundation and was joined by Jeff Martin, president of safety services at Waste Management.

"Lytx is honored to recognize these drivers and coaches who truly make a difference on America's roadways. It's not about never having an incident but learning from a mistake, making a commitment to implement safety practices daily and coaching those around you to do the same," said Del Lisk, vice president of safety services at Lytx, in a statement. "These drivers and coaches exemplify the safest driving standards and behaviors found in the transportation industry today."

Lytx captured and analyzed more than 100 billion miles worth of driving data to identify the best professional drivers and coaches.

Lytx recognized winners of the Driver of the Year Award from clients across six commercial driving categories: Government; Services and Utilities; Transit/Motor Coach; For-Hire Trucking; Private Trucking; and Waste/Construction.

Waste/Construction

  • First-place winner Leonard Leanos of Waste Management San Gabriel, Calif., has been with the company for more than three decades and receives praise from his coworkers, the community and customers he serves. In 2018, he was recognized as the National Waste & Recycling Association Driver of the Year, as well as the Waste Management San Gabriel Employee of the Year. In addition, Leanos conducts recycling demonstrations at local schools and participates in the annual California Highway Patrol's CHiPS for Kids toy drive event, helping to distribute toys to less fortunate children. Leanos even helped fulfill a little boy's fourth birthday wish of having his very own Waste Management truck, stopping by with a toy-sized model and showing the boy around his full-sized, side load trash truck.
  • Second place was given to Bill White of Waste Connections.
  • Third place was given to DeAnn Martwick of GCC.

Government

  • First-place winner Martin Bowen of the city of Ocala, Fla., has been committed to how his Lytx DriveCam Event Recorder can help him improve safety since his last coachable event in November 2016. The incident transformed the way he operates his clamshell truck. Since then, Bowen has made safe driving a habit and hasn't triggered a single coachable event. He has won numerous safety awards, including Ocala's Driver of the Year Award in both 2017 and 2018, as well as the Public Works Department Character Award in December 2018, which was sparked by a citizen calling the city to express appreciation for Bowen going above and beyond what is expected of him.
  • Second place was given to Juan Trujillo of the city and county of Denver Solid Waste Management.
  • Third place was given to Donald Cassedy of the Fairfax County Government Land Development, Va.

Services and Utilities

  • First-place winner Jerry Ingram of Murphy-Hoffman Company (MHC) has been a model employee who has risen quickly to be the lead driver and driver trainer at MHC's Atlanta branch. Ingram has never been involved in a preventable collision nor received any moving violations during his tenure at the company. He is well liked by his MHC team and by the vast customer base he serves. He approaches customer service with a "whatever it takes" attitude and consistently provides constructive feedback to help the company further reach its goals. Ingram also serves his community as a youth football coach and disaster relief volunteer.
  • Second place was given to John L. Enos of National Grid.
  • Third place was given to Louie Escando of Rescue Rooter.

Transit/Motor Coach

  • First-place winner John Como of MV Transportation, Inc. loves what he does, especially when it comes to transporting the elderly or people with disabilities to doctor visits, shopping, the bank or wherever they need to go. After each coachable event, he works closely with his manager to find a solution and never makes the same mistake twice. Como's work ethic is unmatched. Even after a lung cancer diagnosis and ensuing treatment, he only missed two weeks of work.

For-Hire Trucking

  • First-place winner Doug Hager of American Central Transport, Inc. (ACT) has a goal to be the best driver he can be. He strives to always represent his company in a positive light and treat every customer and coworker with respect. He has gone two consecutive years without any coachable events and was recognized as the 2017 ACT Safe Driver of the Year. Hager works diligently to be the safest driver possible and encourages others to do the same by promoting important safety practices across his organization.
  • Second place was given to Edward Perry II of TransAm Trucking.
  • Third place was given to Arvis Dyches Jr. of TransWood.

Private Trucking

  • First-place winner Earl Brown of Performance Food Group (PFG) has been working with PFG since 2000, after he left the U.S. Army with the rank of Corporal. Brown recognizes that having his commercial driver's license is an honor, not a privilege, and views his Lytx DriveCam Event Recorder as an added benefit to help safeguard his livelihood. He is a model employee who treats every customer with respect. As a husband and a father of three, Brown supported his wife and family every step of the way after her diagnosis with lupus in 2012. He also helped to raise money and disease awareness through charity bike events.
  • Second place was given to Jonathan Gazda of Reyes Holdings.
  • Third place was given to Mark Connealy of Fred Meyer/Kroger.

Coach of The Year

Lytx also recognized Dina Dixon of ARS/Rescue Rooter as the 2019 Coach of the Year. Since implementing the Lytx Driver Safety Program, ARS was awarded Best Overall Safety branch in 2016. Dixon met or exceeded safety compliance in all four quarters of 2018. She coached drivers following incidents, provided weekly presentations on safety topics, conducted jobsite and vehicle inspections and managed annual and new-hire driver training programs. Her hard work culminated in reducing total collisions from eight in 2017 to three in 2018; improving preventable incidents year-over-year from 67 percent to 33 percent; and reducing total claims to just nine incidents with regard to auto loss, workers' compensation and general liability claims.

Dixon was also the first-place winner in the Services and Utilities category. Other first-place within their respective categories this year were:

  • Government: Carlos Garcia of the City of North Miami
  • For-Hire Trucking: Jody Clark of Big M Transportation
  • Transit/Motor Coach: Harry MacGlaughlin of Keolis Transit America
  • Private Trucking: James Bullwinkel of Sysco Sacramento
  • Waste/Construction: David Bass of Concrete Supply Co.

Recology and San Francisco Team to Boost Recycling

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Resolute to bump up recycling in San Francisco, Recology, the city’s sole municipal solid waste collector, has invested $33 million in three years in equipment upgrades, infrastructure and community education. It’s working with the city in support of a curbside recycling and composting mandate. And it’s challenging citizens to divert more and landfill less.

In 2018, Recology retooled Recycle Central, a 200,000-square-foot materials recovery facility (MRF). It built West Wing, an extension of its transfer station, to capture more organics for compost. It launched Better At The Bin, an online, interactive initiative calling on San Franciscans to be more savvy recyclers and explaining how to make less trash in the first place. And the company delivered more than 100,000 new residential recycling and landfill carts (doubling the size of the recycling carts and halving the size of landfill carts).

As of late February, when the new bin system was 85 percent complete, recyclables are up 9 percent, compostables are up 2 percent and garbage to landfill is down 6 percent in areas where the bin exchange occurred, according to Robert Reed, public relations manager, Recology.

There’s been a push to generate higher-quality fiber bales. Since installing new fiber optical sorters (called Pellenc) at Recycle Central, the company reduced contamination levels from 6 percent to 1 to 2 percent.

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“These new Pellenc optical sorters allow us to sort [blow on] smaller pieces of OCC [old corrugated containers] and plastic that previously wound up either as bale contamination or sent to the waste stream,” says John Ferrari, senior operations manager at Recycle Central, adding each Pellenc can be programmed to sort for three materials.

“We are capturing more in OCC and browns. And we will also be able to continue reducing and eliminating film plastic contamination in fiber materials,” he says.

The facility operates seven optical sorters that collectively deal with multiple materials. Four are TOMRA/TITECH designs with a 6-foot-wide belt capacity that sorts multi-material containers. The Pellenc units utilize a 9-foot-wide belt design, have disc spreaders that distribute fiber material evenly and run at high speeds. 

All sorters can be programmed to target materials based on changing market demand. For now, fibers and beverage and food containers are the primary focus, says Ferrari.

To capture more organics, Recology launched an extension of its transfer station. While it currently receives 750 to 800 tons of food scraps and yard trimmings a day, the new operation has capacity to receive and transfer more than 1,000 tons daily, a target it’s aiming for.

While robust investments in equipment and infrastructure are making a difference, San Francisco still grapples with getting people to recycle and compost properly, a priority especially since 2009 when the city began requiring every city entity to compost and recycle.

“Property owners are putting out the bins and people are using them, with 99 percent compliance among accounts. But 60 percent of what we find in black bins should be in the blue or green bin,” says Debbie Raphael, director of San Francisco’s Department of the Environment.

“That 60 percent says it’s not just about infrastructure or the ability to separate cardboard from plastics and other materials. It’s also about educating on what goes in each bin. And it’s about motivation to make sure they put it there,” she says.

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The city and Recology meet weekly to discuss issues like this and devise strategy tweaks. Trucks are wrapped with recycling messages. More messages are pushed through social media. And people tour through the MRF and transfer station for insight.

But Reed believes one of the most persuasive tools is Better at the Bin, an online platform intended to both motivate and educate. It features compelling data, such as how much trash Americans generate and simple steps for reducing waste.

Visitors can read how to sort and watch videos showing how to clean beverage and food containers, while hearing about the value of paper and that liquids and food render it worthless.

Allowing visitors to engage easily and in ways they’re used to makes a difference, believes Reed, noting the site had about 50,00 visits from late October through early February.

“People using a smart phone can simply scroll down and read key points, watch short videos and read bullet lists noting things we can all do to make a positive difference,” he says.

Raphael calls the city’s partnership with Recology “the perfect union between the public and private sectors when it comes to moving to zero waste."

“The city passes policies. Recology can make longer-term investments in infrastructure. And together we work on outreach and education. I think this partnership between waste service provider and the city is what makes San Francisco successful. Together, we always ask what’s next, looking at new material to divert, new outreach methods, new sorting technologies and new policies,” says Raphael.

FCC Group Reports Net Profit Increases for 2018

In 2018, Madrid, Spain-based FCC Group obtained a net attributable profit totaling €251.6 million, which is a 113.2 percent increase compared to the €118 million obtained in 2017. The company reports this was due to the good performance of operating activities, the reduction in financial expenses and the larger contribution from investee and associated companies.

FCC Group revenues in 2018 rose by 3.2 percent compared to last year and amounted to €5,989.8 million. This improvement is largely due to the development of the environmental (3.2 percent) and water (8.7 percent) areas, accompanied by more demand in the cement (9.5 percent) area. There was a slight contraction in the construction area, particularly internationally, due to the impact of the depreciation of certain currencies against the euro. Accordingly, adjusted by the effect of the exchange rate in the group's various international business areas, consolidated revenue in constant currency increased by 4.4 percent during the period.

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Here are some key highlights from the group’s earnings in 2018:

  • Gross operating profits (EBITDA) obtained by the Citizens Services company amounted to €861.2 million at the end of 2018. This represents 5.6 percent growth over the preceding year due to the increase in the revenue from the group's business areas, the operational actions taken to increase efficiency, new synergies and the diverse measures addressing increases in productivity.
  • The performance of the environmental area in terms of the EBITDA growth in the business areas is notable due to its large contribution to the group, and it reflected 3.7 percent growth to €441.4 million. The cement area is also notable with a 22.7 percent increase to €70.9 million, supported by the improvement of the business in Spain. The water area recognized €247.5 million, 2.5 percent more than last year, and construction attained €65 million, 7.6 percent less than last year due to the evolution of the work in progress.
  • Debt is another notable aspect of 2018. The group reduced its net consolidated financial debt during the year by 24.8 percent compared to December 2017, primarily as a result of the September 2018 sale of a minority interest in the lead company in the water area for €1,024 million.

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2018 milestones include:

  • FCC Medio Ambiente makes advances in the launch of several waste treatment and reduction plants. Last December, the subsidiary of FCC Medio Ambiente in the United Kingdom commenced the testing of the thermal plant in Edinburgh and Midlothian, Scotland. Involving an investment exceeding £140 million and a 25-year operating concession, the plant will treat more than 150,000 tonnes per year of waste and will produce electricity to supply more than 32,000 homes. It is expected to enter into full operation over the course of 2019.
  • During the fourth quarter of 2018, a consortium led by FCC Medio Ambiente successfully bid for the second phase of the Environmental Complex in Guipúzcoa. This 20-year contract covers the construction, launch and operation of a facility with a cost exceeding €32 million and an estimated revenue portfolio of €92 million. The facility is expected to begin operating during the second half of this year.
  • FCC Construcción ends 2018 with a 5 percent year-on-year increase in its project portfolio. The volume of the group's construction contracts throughout 2018 exceeded €2,000 million, which allowed the portfolio to grow by 5 percent to €4,516.4 million at December 2018. This is the first year in which an increase has been seen since 2014, and it was particularly supported by the contracts awarded for unique buildings and industrial construction projects.
  • In November, FCC Environmental Services (environmental services subsidiary in the United States) obtained three new contracts in Texas (Garland and Lewisville) that bring it to a total of 10 in the state and its portfolio to more than $550 million in the U.S. at the end of the year.
  • The sale of a 49 percent minority stake in the parent company of the water area, FCC Aqualia, to fund manager IFM for €1,024 million was completed in September. The disposal proceeds were mostly used to pay down financial debt at the group parent by more than €800 million and, coupled with the new funding raised, repay FCC, S.A.'s previous syndicated loan. The remaining resources from the sale are earmarked for differing corporate purposes.
  • Over the past four years, FCC Medio Ambiente has led a consortium that has developed a platform for versatile and efficient environmental service vehicles that combine 100 percent electric operation with an auxiliary natural gas system. This bus provides a solution that can be adapted to several types of needs, with more than 50 percent energy savings compared to conventional vehicles and the elimination of their polluting emissions.
Need to Know

Garbage Truck Driver Naylor Found Not Guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter, DUI

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Last year, a train that was carrying Republican members of Congress to West Virginia crashed into a garbage truck on the railroad tracks. One of the garbage truck passengers died, and the other two were seriously injured.

The truck was driven by Dana W. Naylor Jr. of Time Disposal, who was found at fault and indicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence (DUI).

During a trial this week, Albemarle County, Va., Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Higgins ruled that there was no evidence for the DUI-related charge and refused to allow blood test results that revealed Naylor had THC in his system or the fact that marijuana was found inside the truck as evidence for a DUI.

That “evidence” was tossed out after Higgins agreed with a toxicology expert’s statement that having traces of THC in your system doesn’t mean you’re impaired.

The jury came to a unanimous decision and sided with Higgins, freeing Naylor of involuntary manslaughter and DUI charges.

“Regardless of the verdict in the criminal case, this tragic incident is a reminder to all haulers to train their drivers not to try and beat the train,” says David Biderman, CEO and executive director of the Solid Waste Association of North America.

NBC29 has more information:

The man accused of involuntary manslaughter stemming from a fatal collision between a trash truck and an Amtrak train last January has been found not guilty.

Authorities had charged Dana William Naylor, Junior, with involuntary manslaughter and DUI maiming in connection with that crash that occurred in Crozet on Lanetown Road on January 31, 2018.

Judge Cheryl Higgins ruled Wednesday, February 27, that there is no evidence for the DUI-related charge.

Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Tracci and Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Juan L. Vega wanted to present evidence that Naylor was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the crash, but Judge Higgins ruled in the defense’s favor and wouldn’t allow the jury to hear it.

Read the full story here.

More Highlights from SWANApalooza 2019

SWANApalooza Postponed Amid Coronavirus Concerns

Day three of SWANApalooza, the Solid Waste Association of North America’s (SWANA) technical gathering for professionals to explore environmental solutions for integrated solid waste management held this week in Boston, comprised more keynote and education sessions, as well as show floor networking. Read some highlights from day two here.

The final day of the show, February 28, will include certification exams and site tours of E.L. Harvey & Sons and the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation.

Here’s a look at some of the highlights from day three:

• In session “Tips for Aspiring Writers,” Waste360 Editorial Director Mallory Szczepanski, Waste Dive Senior Editor Cole Rosengren and MSW Management magazine Managing Editor Arturo Santiago joined Barry Shanoff, a Bethesda, Md., attorney, general counsel of SWANA and Waste360 columnist, to discuss writing tips and share what it’s like to write for industry trade publications.

Some of the tips highlighted were use proper grammar; do your research; don’t be afraid to ask questions; tell a story using your voice; utilize your resources; write a first draft and revise, revise, revise; meet your deadlines; and don’t turn down an opportunity because you think it will be “boring.”

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• In various sessions, the Environmental Research & Education Foundation shared insights from a number of different reports, covering topics like needlesticks at materials recovery facilities (MRFs), leachate management in the U.S. and landfill post-closure care.

• During session “China Import Policy Impact on Recovered Paper Supply Chain,” Mark Pitts, executive director, paper group, American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), addressed the volume gap for recovered fiber that had previously been exported to China and how the industry is adapting to the change. He also shared some insight from a white paper completed by AF&PA and MIT and how the research included in that white paper helped to quantify the grades affected and to predict potential future recovered fiber consumption by U.S. producers.

Pitts explained that while there is rapid Chinese economic growth and paper production, China is short on pulp and needs fiber. He said, “Should China stop all recovered fiber imports from the U.S., domestic manufacturers could potentially consume about 36 million tons, leaving a gap of approximately 9 million tons to be consumed elsewhere.”

He also said that a plunge in value has turned the economics of recovering mixed paper upside down—what was $100 per ton in 2017 has dropped to near $0, some municipalities are paying to have mixed paper hauled away and there’s a risk that mixed paper could be going to landfill in some cases.

According to Pitts, to adapt to the changing market, stakeholders and subject matter experts recommend improving the quality of domestic recovered fiber, improving processing technology, seeking alternative export markets for recovered fiber, encouraging policies that prioritize reuse, recovery, designing for recyclability and using recycled products.

• During keynote session “State of Solid Waste 10 Years into a Business Cycle,” Michael E. Hoffman, managing director and group head of diversified industrials research at Stifel, provided an in-depth overview of what the future looks like for the solid waste business.

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Hoffman said garbage is good—operating leverage hasn’t peaked, there is more inflation than just labor, FY19 has no accounting noise to overshadow, companies are using good fundamentals to clean up the portfolio and mergers and acquisitions activity is the most active it’s been in decades. He said in the past 10 years, public companies have only bought at or less than the organic growth. And in the next five years, there could be real share gains from consolidation.

As far as headwinds go, Hoffman points to inflation (labor, freight, fuel and capital equipment costs) and regional disposal costs.

On the recycling side of the business, he shared that importers like Nine Dragons are coming to the U.S. to make pulp/paper from recovered fiber, the recycling business model is changing (MRFs are adding more technology to the mix and the U.S. domestic market is undergoing a structural change), paper prices remain low but are now in a seasonal pattern and the National Sword is about cleaning up air and water, not contamination.

These moves and trends will be discussed in further detail at the Waste360/Stifel Investor Summit held during WasteExpo on May 6 in Las Vegas.

WasteExpo Preview: A Conversation with ERI’s Co-founder and Executive Chairman

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New at WasteExpo this year, the Waste360 Business Growth Forum is designed for small to midsized environmental services companies looking for business and financial strategies that go beyond day-to-day operations.

At the forum, attendees will gain access to insights, tools and resources for developing business and financial strategies that provide their companies with smarter solutions for growing their businesses.

Waste360 recently had the opportunity to talk with John Shegerian, co-founder and executive chairman of Electronic Recyclers International (ERI). He’ll be moderating the “Organic Growth” panel at theWaste360 Business Growth Forum on May 8, which will focus on the process of growing businesses organically and the best place to focus those growth efforts, whether in residential, commercial, roll-off, recycling or disposal.

Waste360: What type of takeaways can attendees expect from the session?

John Shegerian: The key takeaways from this session will be about the importance of innovation, regulation and certification. When you do things innovatively and the right way, your odds of success increase dramatically. I also hope attendees will come to realize that the road to success is never a straight line, but if you stay true to your mission, organic growth can be the most rewarding way to grow your business.

Waste360: What would you say are some of today’s top challenges for the industry's small to midsized business owners?

John Shegerian: There are always challenges when growing a business, but the top hurdle that comes to mind is the assortment of federal regulations, state regulations and local regulations—which are sometimes aligned and other times at a crosshair. Rising wages are also something a smaller business owner needs to keep in mind; Amazon’s November 1 rising of the watermark to $15 per hour is meaningful and set a new wage standard. Also, the legalization of marijuana across the country, when combined with the use of heavy equipment, is an issue. Unemployment rates being at a new low poses a challenge as well in that finding new workers, staffing logistics and finding enough qualified drivers is becoming a challenge. Plus, an increasing climate of litigation (both employee and third party) is presenting a hurdle for growing companies in the industry. That’s my typical morning worry list, of late.  

Waste360: What's the best advice you’ve ever received when building your own businesses?  

John Shegerian: “Discipline equals freedom.” - Jocko Willink

 “Every task is important. Every moment has a purpose.” - Jesse Itzler

“Don’t just work hard, work smart!” - Maury Gallagher

“There is no such thing as a ‘work-life balance.’” - Gary Vaynerchuk.

Something I like to share with others is: “Stay focused on your goals, and don’t let nuisances and potholes on the road to success ever derail you.”

Waste360: What are your preferred metrics for measuring growth in entrepreneurial businesses?

John Shegerian: There are several. Being the leading brand and the primary innovator in our industry is vital. The metrics that should be followed are revenue growth, profit growth, client diversification growth and, last but not least, industry diversification growth.

Waste360: Do you have any advice for today’s novice business owners?

John Shegerian: Success never comes in a straight line. Bad things are inevitably going to happen to you during your business-building journey. It’s how you deal with each crisis and every piece of bad news or bad luck that’s going to define not only you as a leader and entrepreneur but ultimately the results you achieve at the end of your journey.

Waste360: What role do you think social media plays in the growth of small and midsized businesses?

John Shegerian: It could play a significant, positive role if you have the right team running it.  But, if your social media platforms are misused or neglected, it could either be a negative factor to your brand or possibly play no role at all. Therefore, when your social media platform is used correctly and strategically, it can be a massive bullhorn as you build and scale your brand and attract attention and visibility to all the great things you are accomplishing with your business.

Waste360: On another note, e-waste is on all of our minds. What opportunities are out there considering the regulations in Asia and other challenges? 

John Shegerian: The opportunities have never been bigger in the e-waste industry. As of now, the following reasons are behind why ERI is currently growing with the most velocity we’ve experienced since our inception:

a) Most companies are moving their businesses to conform to the principles of the circular economy. The sustainability revolution is here to stay, and a big part of that is that everyone—from individuals to major corporations—needs to responsibly recycle all of their old electronics.

b) Responsible cybersecurity hardware destruction is now an important reality. We are no longer in an industry that simply links back to electronic waste landfill bans. We are quickly becoming the hardware destruction version of Shred-it. With federal laws covering so many different industries (such as HIPAA, FINRA, Gramm-Leach, etc.) governing how data-containing hardware must be handled across the U.S., there are now serious consequences and legal penalties for those who do not efficiently protect and/or destroy data contained in hardware, be it their own or that of their customers.

c) The 4G to 5G switchover is now upon us. And we are about to see the highest turnover of electronics that we have ever seen in modern times. This turnover will dwarf the analog to digital switchover in comparison. And those who are prepared to responsibly receive and recycle all the old electronic devices that will be part of this turnover of volume over the next six to nine years will be the beneficiaries and the winners at the end of the day. 

Waste360: Your social contributions are admirable. How have these efforts helped you be a better business owner/leader?

John Shegerian: Recruiting great people is always a challenge for any new venture, but when recruiting for a new venture that demonstrates both a profit and a social bottom line, the quality and quantity of highly qualified individuals drawn to the business can grow massively. Building the right team and keeping that team together for the duration of the venture is always the trademark of any great enterprise, and socially responsible organizations have a huge advantage there.

Last but not least, after having cofounded numerous successful ventures that had a profit and social bottom line, I have come to realize just how valuable the human qualities of empathy and gratitude can be on a day-to-day basis.