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Articles from 2012 In May

New Hampshire Hospital Pays $200,000 Fine for Hazardous Waste Violations

Concord (N.H.) Hospital Inc. has agreed to pay a fine of $205,000 for hazardous waste violations.

The New Hampshire Department of Justice said in a news release that the Merrimack County Superior Court approved a settlement between the state and Capital Regional Health Care Corp. New Hampshire alleged that Concord Hospital failed to identify certain pharmaceutical wastes as hazardous wastes. Concord Hospital shipped the hazardous waste pharmaceuticals to facilities that were not authorized to accept the waste material.

The state during an inspection discovered these violations, as well as the hospital's failure to identify hazardous waste alcohols, solvents and used oil for recycling, and follow certain hazardous waste management requirements. The hospital quickly corrected the problems once they were identified by the state.


Recology Partners with IBM for Zero Waste in San Francisco

Recology Partners with IBM for Zero Waste in San Francisco

Recology Inc. is partnering with IBM to improve recycling, reduce landfill disposal and achieve zero waste in San Francisco by 2020.

The San Francisco-based waste and recycling firm Recology said in a news release it is using Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM’s Smarter Computing approach to information technology to manage data and better analyze the composition and quantity of San Francisco's waste stream. Using IBM's power system, Recology can pinpoint the location, types and amount of waste that need to be collected for sorting or composting. This allows Recology to identify the most effective recycling programs for different business districts and neighborhoods.

Recology is working on the project in collaboration with IBM business partner Key Info Systems.

San Francisco’s diversion rate has reached 78 percent, which it claims is the highest in the country. Recology offers 20 recycling programs in San Francisco, which it said is more than is offered in any other city.

"Cities are struggling with a wide range of challenges and threats to sustainability in their core operations," said George McGrath, Recology chief operating officer. "Our collaboration with IBM has helped us transform the programs we provide in San Francisco and, in turn, the very way people view bottles, coffee grounds, packaging, plastic bags, and other materials they generate every day."



Canadian Court Orders Hazardous Waste Landfill Divestment

A Canadian government court has ordered CCS Corp. to divest a hazardous waste landfill following the purchase of Complete Environmental Inc.

The Ottawa-based Competition Tribunal determined that CCS, a unit of the Calgary, Alberta-based Tervita Corp., must divest the proposed Babkirk hazardous waste landfill site, which Complete Environmental owned. The site is near Fort St. John, British Columbia.

The Competition Bureau, an independent law enforcement agency aiming for fair competition, had asked the Competition Tribunal to dissolve the acquisition or force the divestment of some assets. The Competition Bureau argued to the Tribunal that the acquisition “would lead to a substantial prevention of competition in the market for the disposal of hazardous waste within northeastern British Columbia.”

"Today's ruling sends a clear message to companies who seek to eliminate competitive threats through acquisition," said Melanie Aitken, commissioner of the bureau, in a news release. "The bureau has prevented a multibillion dollar company from entrenching its monopoly for hazardous waste disposal in northeastern British Columbia."


EnXco Buys Wood Waste Biomass Project in South Carolina

EnXco has purchased a biomass project from Roswell, Ga.-based Southeast Renewable Energy LLC for an undisclosed amount.

San Diego-based EnXco, a subsidiary of the EDF Group of Paris, said in a news release it purchased the Pinelands Biomass Project, which consists of two 17.8 megawatt energy generating facilities that use wood waste as a source. The facilities, in the South Carolina counties of Allendale and Dorchester, are under construction and expected to be online by the end of 2013.

EnXco said the counties have a substantial and reliable wood supply. "Utilizing wood waste to generate electricity is a proven renewable technology that complements EnXco's robust portfolio of wind, solar and biogas projects in North America," said Tristan Grimbert, EnXco president and CEO.

The two Pinelands facilities will connect to South Carolina-owned power utility Santee Cooper's transmission system adjacent to the sites. The renewable energy generated from the project will supply the utility under a 30-year agreement.

Waste Management Partners with Armstrong on Ceiling Tile Recycling

Waste Management Partners with Armstrong on Ceiling Tile Recycling

Waste Management Inc. is partnering with Armstrong World Industries to expand ceiling tile recycling.

Houston-based Waste Management said in a news release that it will collect mineral fiber and fiberglass ceiling tiles from commercial renovation and demolition projects. The waste and recycling company will store and prepare the tiles for shipment to the nearest Armstrong ceilings plant, where they will be used to make new ceiling tiles.

The venture will expand the Armstrong Ceiling Recycling Program, which has recycled more than 123 million square feet of ceiling tiles since the Lancaster, Pa.-based company started the program in 1999. Armstrong labels tiles made with a high recycled content as Ceiling-2-Ceiling tiles.

Waste Management said its partnership with Armstrong adds more than 50 material recovery facilities (MRFs) to the Armstrong program, along with collection contracts with many of the United States’ top construction companies. Waste Management is an Armstrong certified construction and demolition (C&D) processor.

The company said recycling a ton of ceiling tiles saves 11 tons of raw materials, 1,892 gallons of potable water and enough electricity to power a home for 1.4 months. 



Minneapolis to Switch to Single-Stream Recycling

The city of Minneapolis is adopting single-stream recycling collection for its residents.

The city said in a news release that the changeover will take place sometime in 2013. Minneapolis officials conducted a study of the current multi-sort system, a dual-sort system and the single-stream option, and determined that the single-stream route would be the most cost-effective choice and the most convenient for customers.

Minneapolis officials expect the switch to improve the city’s recycling rate to 32 percent from its current 18.1 percent. Based on studies the city projects the amount of materials recovered to increase by 60 percent.

The city also is considering the collection of recycling from multi-unit dwellings and adding organics recycling.




The Heap
Origami with Purpose

Origami with Purpose

On May 31 there will be a lot of paper folding going on in and around the Greek city of Thessaloniki. The municipality is on a mission to break into the Guinness Book of World Records by constructing the world's largest origami structure -- in this case a 400-meter-tall (1,312 feet) replica of the town's presiding landmark, the White Tower, comprised of an expected 40,000 individual pieces of origami. But this isn't just a bid for obscure glory -- it's also a somewhat roundabout attempt to raise recycling awareness.

The stunt is the brainchild of Greek social anthropologist and origami teacher Myrto Dimitriou in collaboration with the Youth, Sports and Volunteers department of the Municipality of Thessaloniki. Hong Kong holds the current record with a 320-square-meter (3,444 square feet) origami structure.

"We want to send a message of hope, optimism and show the importance of recycling,” Dimitriou told the Greek Reporter. It's safe to assume that all the paper used in the attempt will ultimately be recycled, though no word on whether the city is making any attempt to ensure paper from recycled sources is being used to generate the origami army.

Also no word on whether there will be paramedics standing by to deal with the coinciding record number of paper cuts.

Alma Mater(ial Recovery)

Alma Mater(ial Recovery)

A record 605 colleges and universities competed in the 12th annual iteration of the RecycleMania Tournament, which ran for eight weeks in February and March. The competition calls on students, faculty and staff to increase on-campus recycling rates in an effort to best their collegiate competitors.

This year, 92 million pounds of recyclables and organic materials were recovered, which prevented the release of nearly 150,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. This reduction in greenhouse gases is equivalent to the annual emissions from more than 25,840 passenger cars; electricity use of more than nearly 16,406 homes; or the burning of nearly 705 railcars’ worth of coal, according to event organizers. The average recycling rate for participating schools increased from 27.61 percent to 28.49 percent over the course of the tournament.

The competition, which extended from Feb. 5 through March 31, included eight categories. Top schools in each category earn bragging rights and are recognized with an award made from recycled materials. The colleges and universities that took home top prizes in the three primary categories were:

  • Grand Champion: American University, Washington, which recycled 85.16 percent of its overall waste.
  • Per Capita Classic: Union College, Schenectady, N.Y., which collected 61.79 pounds (lbs.) of recyclables per person.
  • Waste Minimization: Valencia College, Orlando, Fla., which achieved the lowest overall amount of recyclables and trash per person at 2.79 lbs.

For the second consecutive year RecycleMania organizers sought to pique student enthusiasm for the event by holding a concurrent amateur video contest on YouTube. The contest saw 28 entries on the theme, “The Spirit of Recycling. ” A student submission from Florida State University garnered the most “likes” to win first prize followed by East Tennessee State University. Clemson University’s video received the Judges’ Award.

“One unique aspect of RecycleMania is that everyone is a competitor, ” noted Bill Rudy, recycling coordinator at Brigham Young University and chair of RecycleMania Inc., in a press release. “No one sits on the sidelines. When students recycle, they add to their score, and if they throw something away, it hurts their school’s ranking. With the whole campus in the game, the competitive spirit spreads and recycling increases. ”

The RecycleMania Tournament is an independent program of RecycleMania Inc., a nonprofit organization led by recycling managers from participating schools. The competition is made possible with the sponsorship support of the Alcoa Foundation, The Coca-Cola Co., SCA AfH Professional Hygiene, Waste Management, the American Forest & Paper Association and HP. Program management is provided by Keep America Beautiful with additional program support from the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WasteWise program and the College and University Recycling Coalition (CURC). For the full results of the competition, go to http://recyclemaniacs.org/scoreboard.

Legal Lode: Get Smart with Your Lawyer

Legal Lode: Get Smart with Your Lawyer

Is your waste company getting the best from its lawyer? Many haulers and facility owners pay too much for legal services and get too little in return. While the problem can be due to a lawyer’s questionable experience and efficiency, even a business that’s been using a reliable firm for years may still be troubled by what it gets for what it pays. In particular, a start-up company needs a delicate balance: containing its legal expenses without compromising the quality of the services it receives.

Whether you are sizing up a prospective lawyer for your business or just evaluating your current company lawyer, keep in mind that he or she should be able to:

  • Help you select and implement the form of your business organization – corporation, limited liability corporation, etc. – and assure ongoing compliance with state and federal filing and disclosure requirements.
  • Assist your effort to obtain favorable financing and credit terms.
  • Negotiate contracts and leases for land, buildings, trucks and equipment, and office systems.
  • Explain the tax consequences of proposed business transactions and initiatives, or refer you to someone who can.
  • Keep you abreast of current federal, state and local laws, as well as court decisions (past and pending) that affect your business operations and opportunities.
  • Handle any necessary litigation.

To get under way on locating the right lawyer for your business, talk with members of your local waste trade group or chamber of commerce, contact non-lawyer professionals (accountants, financial advisors) who regularly deal with lawyers, and consider referrals from lawyers who themselves are not looking for your business.

After you’ve assembled a short list of likely candidates, schedule an appointment with each prospect where you can find out the nature and size of the lawyer’s practice and that of his or her colleagues, the lawyer’s experience with similar businesses, the lawyer’s professional style, particularly how he or she communicates (legalese or plain English) and keeps you abreast of the various legal matters being handled, and last, but surely not least, fees and billing.

Speaking of fees, lawyers and law firms typically charge for these initial consultations. But, don’t think of it as money down the drain; if you’ve done a good job of weeding out the less qualified firms, chances are you’re going to hear something useful even during a get-acquainted visit. Some firms may even credit the consultation fee to your first billing statement.

Lawyers charge for their time and advice, depending on the nature of the work, in one of several ways:

  1. Flat fee paid in a lump sum or installments for a specific job regardless of how much time the lawyer spends on the work. Some clients pay a monthly or quarterly fee (retainer) that can cover phone calls, office conferences and meetings at third party locations, and review of some documents. As retainers tend to encourage a client to freely use a lawyer’s time, the business ultimately benefits. Retainer rates can be re-negotiated periodically to reflect actual usage.
  2. Hourly rate, which is a common fee option. Rates will vary depending on where the lawyer practices and his or her skills and experience.
  3. Contingent fees are attractive in collection cases and in some litigation matters. The fee is based on an agreed-on percentage of the amount recovered. The rate often is lower for a settlement negotiated early in the process and higher if the matter goes to trial.

Besides the fee for services, lawyers generally expect reimbursement for necessary out-of-pocket expenses such as photocopying and faxes, overnight courier, travel, transcripts of testimony and court reporters. Some firms tack on Westlaw/Lexis and other on-line research charges, but a growing number of clients say these costs should be part of the firm’s overhead and won’t be reimbursed.

[Next month: specially tailored fee arrangements and more]

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.

A Conversation with Waste Industry Analyst Michael Hoffman of Wunderlich Securities

Analyst Michael Hoffman of Wunderlich Securities sits down with Waste Age and Waste360 editor Steven Averett to discuss the economic forces impacting the waste and recycling industry as it moves into the second half of 2012 and beyond.