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Articles from 2015 In April


9 Sculptures Molded From Recycled Tires

A year ago Irish sculptor Mick Davis began using recycled tires as a medium. A big part of his motivation was his concern for the environment.

Waste Management Posts Major Loss in First Quarter

Waste Management Inc. posted a big loss in its first quarter and a revenue decline, caused by a combination of financial and operational factors.

The Houston-based waste and recycling firm reported for the period ended March 31 a net loss of $129 million, or 28 per diluted share, compared with net income of $228 million, or 49 cents per diluted share, in the 2014 quarter.

Revenue dropped 10.6 percent to $3.04 billion from $3.4 billion a year earlier, according to a news release.

The net loss includes a 74 cents per diluted share loss on early extinguishment of debt, a 3 cents per diluted share impact from non-cash charges related to post-closing adjustments that reduced the gain on the sale of certain operations in 2014 and an impairment of a short-lived landfill asset. On an as-adjusted basis, excluding those items, net income would have totaled $227 million in the first quarter of 2015 compared with $212 million a year earlier. That comparison also excludes earnings from businesses and assets divested in 2014, which provided 4 cents per diluted share to the first quarter of 2014.

Most of the revenue decline came from divestitures; lower recycling revenue, led by a 14.1-percent drop in commodity prices; lower fuel surcharge revenue; and foreign currency fluctuations.

Solid waste revenue was virtually flat, with high-margin collection and landfill operations offsetting revenue declines in the lower-margin residential and national account lines.

“We are pleased with our first quarter results,” said David Steiner, Waste Management president and CEO. “We continue to see the benefit from disciplined core price growth and cost controls.”

Regarding the remainder of the year, Steiner said, “First quarter results put us on track to achieve our full-year guidance.”

Waste Management’s results fell in line with Wall Street expectations, according to the AP. The average estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was also for earnings of 49 cents per share.

The company’s revenue, however, was short of financial forecasts. Four analysts surveyed by Zacks anticipated $3.18 billion in revenue.

Waste Management in March completed its recent major acquisition, the Midwest waste and recycling hauler Deffenbaugh Disposal Inc. at a cost of more than $400 million.

The deal went through after Waste Management agreed with the Justice Department to divest small and commercial waste collection assets in Arkansas and Kansas.

After Waste Management divests the required assets, Deffenbaugh represents about $176 million in revenue and $52 million of operating earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) annually.

In Leone Young’s Waste360 Business Insights column in March, she said Waste Management is looking to replace the earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) from its 2014 sale of Wheelabrator “and believes it can do so (or at least most of it) at acquisition multiples averaging around 7x.”

Young also said that Waste Management stuck to a pricing yield outlook of 2 percent, as expected.

Waste Management forecasts 2015 adjusted earnings per share of $2.48-$2.55 compared with $2.48 reported for 2014.

Special Events Help Promote Recycling, Sustainability

The 45th celebration of Earth Day is over, and a review of the media coverage indicates that the event was a success. Earthday.org tracks Earth Day events and listed thousands of educational fairs, festivals, concerts and cleanups that were held in the United States and around the world in celebration of Mother Earth.

Some events were small while others were huge. Some were simple while others were massive undertakings that took months to plan. Companies, corporations and governments spent millions of dollars sponsoring Earth Day activities. The result…millions of people around the globe gave pause to think about the environment and the importance of protecting and enhancing our planet.

While Earth Day is the most popular “environmental holiday,” it’s not the only day that is focused on sustainability. Other events include America Recycles Day, Arbor Day, Earth Hour and World Environmental Day.

Sponsoring and planning a special event to promote environmental awareness is an excellent opportunity to improve recycling rates and foster a better understanding of the things people can do to be more environmentally sustainable. If you are considering hosting an event to raise environmental awareness or promote a recycling program, consider the following tips to make your event a success:

Good planning creates good events

Regardless of the size or type of event, its success or failure is directly related to the amount of planning and leadership involved in the project. At the start of the planning process spend some time to come up with an idea or theme for the event. Ask, “What it is that you want to promote or change?”

Once you have a clear objective, you can move forward with the planning process. As you plan, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. No idea is too big or too small.

Research other events to determine if there are other events in your area

Review what has occurred in the community during prior Earth Days or America Recycles Days. An internet search can help you identify groups and organizations who may be helpful in the planning process. If appropriate, consider joining forces and building alliances to create a spectacular event.

Choose an event and a location

You will want to host the event at a location that has good visibility and access for the community. Think about the logistics such as the number of people coming, parking, type of activity, etc… Reserve the space well in advance. Avoid locations that are too far out of the way and too remote for people to get to or find. 

Publicize the event

Put extra effort into spreading the word and getting the community involved in the event. Recruit volunteers and community groups to participate! Use a variety of tools to communicate within the community. While many people use social media, don’t forget about the importance of traditional advertising and marketing techniques.

You should have a well-planned strategy for your communication efforts including the use of social media, e-mail, posters, flyers and print advertisements. Working with the news media will help get attention in advance of the event. Submitting information to local papers, television and radio stations will help get the word out to participants.

Another great way to publicize the event is to attend a town board or city council meeting to raise enthusiasm for your event and invite public officials to participate.

Details, details, details…

The key question when working out the logistics for the event is, “What will we need and how many?” Planning to host a large number of people requires an orchestrated effort, so be sure to think about all the details of the event including transportation, tools, parking, signage, safety, refreshments, entertainment, recycling and waste management, security and cleanup after the event.

Have fun!

You want to make the event fun. Volunteers and participants are sharing their time so make it a fun and memorable event. At the end of the day, everyone should feel good about what they learned or the work they accomplished.

Whether you plan to do a neighborhood cleanup, a poster contest, tree planting, foot or bike race, a recycling drop off service or something else, make sure it is relevant, positive and takes a step toward lasting change for your community. Remember, your event is the perfect opportunity to create greater awareness of the environment…start planning your event today.   

Will Flower is general manager with Winters Bros. Waste Systems in Long Island, N.Y.

A Recycling Cart Makes All the Difference in Happy Household Diversion

This past Monday, on the eve of our normal trash day, a 96-gallon, four-wheeled present arrived on our tree lawn. (That’s what we, in Northeast Ohio, call the green space between the sidewalk and the curb.)

A municipally-charged excitement rolled through my neighborhood of 100-plus-year-old colonials on postage stamp-sized lots as homeowner after homeowner discovered that they were the new owners of their very own majestic blue recycling carts.

“Hon! We finally got our recycling cart!” I shouted to my husband after I pulled back on our bedroom curtain to ascertain the cause of early-morning clamor. Our refuse workers apparently weren’t operating in stealth during their delivery mission.

As I did a happy dance down the stairs and out of my house to inspect the cart up close, I realized this was a moment; one that went beyond my personal elation that I’d no longer have to navigate the hot mess of recyclables cluttering the landing of our basement steps—a dicey dodge I’d been doing for the last 11 years.

This was a moment for civic pride. My city’s commitment to single-stream recycling had matured beyond the infancy of hand-tossed blue bags. Its green-minded goal of 60 percent landfill diversion was within reach of the steel grips of big-boy automation. Our street, along with a total of 6,000 other households, had now joined forces with fellow cart diverters as part of the third and final phase of the city’s $1.47 million recycling initiative.

In an effort to streamline waste collection, save money, and encourage environmental stewardship, my adopted hometown of Lakewood, Ohio, began the first of three phases in 2013. An eclectic suburb situated along Lake Erie, Lakewood is several miles west of downtown Cleveland.

The city counts more than 50,000 residents in five square miles and has been referred to as one of the most densely-populated cities between New York and Chicago. Home to many hip restaurants and small business storefronts, our city is diverse with a socio-economic landscape that includes everyone from Burmese refugees to executives living in mansions along our Great Lake. Our city’s public high school is a melting pot where more than 30 languages are spoken. (I’m not sure I can even name 30 languages, even with the help of my daughter, who is finishing her sophomore year at the school.)

All that greatness aside, I’ve been intensely jealous of thousands of Lakewoodites who have been able to toss all their recyclable materials into single, tidy carts during the last two years. The enviable simplicity of having one designated place for all paper, aluminum, glass, cardboard, metal and plastic is a beautiful thing. No need to buy expensive blue bags that often sat deflated on my front porch waiting for trash day; or worse yet, buried under snowfall or bloated from spring rains.

After the moment of silent admiration passed, I pulled out my iPhone to document the day, added a filter to the image and posted it to Facebook.

“I’m like a kid on Christmas morning. Our recycling cart was just delivered. Yippee!” I announced on social media. Comments came in like rapid fire—neighbors wondering if the whole street got them and other friends, residents on other straggling streets, lamenting their wait to receive their carts.

“Isn’t it funny how excited we get over a trash can?” one neighbor commented.

No surprise here. The conversion to curbside carts almost always translates into larger recycling collections for municipalities. That’s exciting news for everybody, especially the city which expects to see a “big boost” in recycling numbers, lowered landfill fees and enhanced diversion rates.

A conservative estimation of an increase of 50 percent in curbside recycling volume from 3,800 tons to 5,700 tons will reduce the city’s disposal costs by $120,000 per year upon full implementation of automated curbside recycling, according to Chris Perry, unit manager of refuse and recycling for Lakewood.

Lakewood recycled 16,261 tons of material in 2014—its highest level ever in a single year. This figure represented nearly 51 percent of the city’s total municipal solid waste.

“The results from the first two phases are proving to be greatly effective, as we strengthen our environmental and economic sustainability,” Perry says. At the beginning of 2016, city officials will expect a return on the investment within five years. “I also think our efforts align with our residents’ desire for sound governance; many residents who I have talked to share the passion and ideals associated with our city’s green initiatives.”

A passionate recycler, who hoards materials in my car if I’m out and I can’t find a bin, I know this accessible cart will encourage greater recycling activity in and out of my house, especially among my teen and husband who truly mean well but prefer the-easier-the-better solution. And really, why shouldn’t recycling be easy, convenient, clean and enjoyable in the year 2015? Thankfully, it is all those things at our house.

Now I’m off to find some poor recycler in need of my remaining stash of blue bags.

Chrissy Kadleck is a contributor to Waste360 covering the recycling beat.

Study Highlights Best Practices for Increasing Recycling at Workplaces

A simple step—providing employees with a desk-side recycling bin along with smaller trash bin—can lead to a 20 percent increase in office recycling, according to a new study.

The “Recycling at Work” study was commissioned by Keep America Beautiful with support from PepsiCo Recycling and CBRE and conducted by Action Research. The study took place during a six-month period in 2014 and was aimed at defining best practices for recycling programs that foster improved recycling behaviors in the workplace and result in an increase of quality and quantity of materials collected.

The research focused on the effects of office bin placement on recycling rates and level of contamination. In addition, the research team collected qualitative information about the potential issues encountered prior to and during the study’s implementation, as well as other important factors to consider when setting up a workplace recycling program.

"We want to get smarter and better understand how we can be most effective at getting individuals to recycle more and recycle more of the right things," says Brenda Pulley, senior vice president of recycling for Keep America Beautiful. "Much of the focus has been on curbside recycling, as it should be, since that's the low-hanging fruit. But when you look at other opportunities, the workplace setting appears ripe for making inroads."

The EPA has estimated that 45 percent of municipal solid waste is generated in workplace settings. While Pulley says that estimate may be too high, it still underscores the overall opportunity for improving recycling rates by reducing waste in those settings.

Four conditions were tested in offices in Atlanta, Boston, Houston and San Diego in buildings managed by commercial real estate services firm CBRE. Each city has single-stream recycling programs.

  • “Equal-size” provided employees with two equal sized bins, one for recycling and one for trash. This is one of the more common office set-ups.
  • “Recycling only” provided employees only with a desk-side recycling bin, but no trash bin. The set-up was meant to draw attention to recycling while making it more difficult to dispose of trash.
  • “Little trash” gave employees a desk-sized recycling bin equipped with a small hanging trash bin. Having both bins makes recycling convenient while increasing the difficult of generating large amounts of trash.
  • Lastly, a control group was provided only with recycling information without a change in their office setup.

All conditions received an informational flyer on 10 items commonly found in offices—five recyclable items and five trash items. Recycling bins were also stamped with a logo created for the project featuring three common recyclable items—an aluminum can, a plastic beverage bottle and office paper. Meanwhile, trash bins were stamped with a “landfill” logo.

The results from the research were compared to baseline audits conducted before the new bins were put in place.

The study found the “little trash” approach yielded improved quality of material collected in the recycling bin—an increase of 20 percent in the quality of recyclables—along with a significant increase in knowledge about recycling and proper recycling behavior. After implementing the “Little Trash” condition, offices significantly increased the proportion of material in the recycling bin that was actually recyclable and decreased the amount of trash collected in the bin. There was also a decrease in the amount of recyclables improperly placed in the trash bin, especially that of office paper. Paper in the trash bin was reduced to nearly zero. Moreover, the respondents of the “Little Trash” approach had a positive experience with the program.

For “equal-size,” participants reported they liked the project, but the data did not show an increase in recycling behavior. According to the study, “There were more recyclables and less trash material in the recycling bins, but not fewer recyclables material in the trash.” The control group had “almost no significant changes in the knowledge, attitude, self-reported behavior, and perceived difficulty of the survey, and no significant changes in their waste audit results,” according to the study.

Meanwhile, in the “recycling only” condition, “many participants did not like the project, both in the survey and prior to implementation.” It led to four offices dropping out of the project and found that “participating offices may have been throwing recyclables in the trash that would have ended up in the recycling bin prior to the project.”

"We were surprised," Pulley says. "We know that convenience matters. We know that ongoing, clear, concise communication matters. We know that having a champion matters. What we’re trying to do is figure out how to be most effective in those areas."

The data showed that use of the small bin resulted in "sending the same amount of weight to the MRF, but there was a 20 percent improvement in the quality of the recycling stream," Pulley says. 

In terms of next steps, Pulley says KAB plans to promote the results of the study and share examples of the signage that was used in the test workplaces. It will also conduct additional studies.

Based on the frequency of the 10 targeted items in the recycling and trash, the study suggests the following items should serve as higher priorities for an office recycling program:

  1. Office paper is the most frequently recycled material, but it was still present in the trash in 50 percent of offices.
  2. Plastic beverage bottles and aluminum beverage cans are about equally present in recycling bins and trash bins. Similar to paper, these materials remain a priority.
  3. Paper towels were very frequently ending up in the recycling bin, with a steady decrease of presence over the course of the project.
  4. Food scraps had enough of a similar pattern to deserve a priority focus, though they were not present in recycling bins as frequently as paper towels.

For more research findings and recommendations, go to the “Recycling at Work” website. 

Need to Know

Mussman Backed Bill Expanding Electronics Recycling Passes Illinois House

Uriel Sinai/Getty Images e-waste

As quantities of electronic waste continue to increase, state Rep. Michelle Mussman recently passed legislation that will help facilitate increased recycling of electronic products by manufacturers.

"Electronic waste can be extremely harmful to our natural spaces and the amount of discarded devices grows every day," Mussman said. "Beyond the environmental impact, the expense of responsibly disposing of e-waste is putting an unneeded extra burden on taxpayers"

Illinois law requires electronics manufacturers to reuse or recycle a percentage of the total weight of devices sold in Illinois, subject to fines. To avoid a penalty, manufacturers generally pay third-party recyclers, which accept waste collected by other entities, including local governments, to satisfy this obligation. With growing amounts of electronic waste, the manufacturers' payments are not fully recuperating recycling and hauling costs, forcing local governments to make up the difference.

Continue reading at the Chicago Tribune

Wisconsin Firm Converts Waste into Soil Replacement

A Wisconsin-based anaerobic digestion company and renewable energy development business are relying on a little ingenuity to use what were once waste streams to create an organic byproduct to grow their business.

Cenergy USA, a Little Rock, Ark.-based company focused on the development and financing of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, has developed Magic Dirt through the use of digested solids from the DVO Inc. system.

Robert Joblin, president of Cenergy USA, says he and his business partner, Ted Sniegocki, came up with the Magic Dirt formula when they were trying to figure out a commercial use for the fiber from the DVO digester.

“We have DVO digesters on the renewable energy projects we have developed,” he says. “In 2008, Cenergy USA developed and is a partner in the renewable energy project at Big Sky West Dairy (in Gooding, Idaho). The DVO digester is an integral part of that project. Now, we use only DVO technologies on the projects we develop.”

Magic Dirt was introduced in 2014 as a replacement for potting soil and peat moss that is certified 100 percent bio-based under the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Bio-Preferred Program and approved for organic production by the State of Idaho's Department of Agriculture.

In October 2014, Magic Dirt won the 2014 Bioproduct Innovation of the Year Award from the Bioproducts World Showcase and Conference sponsored by the Bioproducts Innovation Center at Ohio State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The digester byproduct used in Magic Dirt, sold at stores like Walmart and garden supply outlets in the U.S., comes from a variety of waste streams, including animal manure, fruits and vegetables from distribution centers, ice cream manufactures, and slaughterhouse waste processed through the DVO Inc. mixed plug-flow system.

 “One large benefit of our mixed plug-flow digester system is that we have a system that provides a first in, first out treatment of all wastes,” says Melissa VanOrnum, marketing manager for DVO Inc. in Chilton, Wis. “This allows for better biodegradation of the wastes resulting in enhanced biogas production, greater pathogen destruction, and much lower COD discharge levels than our competitors’ systems.”

VanOrnum says the DVO digester system differs from traditional continuous stirred tank reactor digesters because of its plug flow design and mixing and heating system that achieves 20 to 30 percent more biogas.

“We are also cheaper to construct, utilizing local concrete and labor, and have an advantage in lower cost construction techniques,” she says. “More biogas per ton of input also means that we have a higher quality effluent with substantially less odor, pathogens, and residual energy in our effluent solids and liquid. This means that the effluent is more tolerable to neighbors, and is a better fertilizer or soil amendment.”  

DVO Inc. has more than 100 digesters at 87 sites in 17 states the U.S., in addition to several international projects. The company’s first digester was built in 2001 and it is still operational today.

Need to Know

EPA Honors Disneyland for Reducing Waste

Walking around Disneyland’s Circle D Corral ranch, Jared Blumenfeld was in awe.

A regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, Blumenfeld went inside the behind-the-scenes barn where Disney houses animals including horses, bent down to inspect a container, and with his right hand fished out clumps of stringy hair.

A Disney employee told the U.S. official that after every grooming, the hairs that naturally fall off of the horse is collected then donated to Matter of Trust, a nonprofit specializing in helping mop up oil spills in the ocean; the thick hair helps soak up the oil.

“Here, at Disneyland, everything is recycled down to their horses' hair,” Blumenfeld quipped while holding up a clump of black hair with his hand.

On Tuesday, the EPA awarded the Disneyland Resort the 2014 Food Recovery Challenge award for its zero-waste efforts and food recovery. Disneyland is the first theme park to receive the award.

Continue reading at the Orange County Register

Need to Know

Duke Opts for 'On-Site' Landfills Near Eden, Wilmington, N.C.

Duke Energy plans to build a coal ash landfill on property it already owns at the Dan River Steam Station — not on newly acquired land nearby that abuts a lower-income, predominantly black neighborhood in Eden.

Duke officials announced this morning they want to build "on site" landfills at both the retired plant near Eden and on the grounds of another shuttered steam station, the Sutton Plant in Wilmington.

Rumors have been flying in Eden recently that Duke intended to build the new landfill on another large lot near its plant but also in the vicinity of a largely African-American neighborhood.

Continue reading at the News & Record

Need to Know

N.Y. Company Looks to Expand Hazardous Waste Landfill

The first series of hearings kicked off in Youngstown Tuesday to discuss the potential $50 million expansion of the CWM chemical services landfill.

Although the hearings are open to the public, only representatives from specific entities, including the Canadian Parliament, Niagara County and Lewiston-Porter School District, are allowed to speak.

For more than 30 years CWM has processed hazardous waste from brownfields and environmental cleanups.

Continue reading at WKBW.com