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Articles from 2012 In July

Procter & Gamble, EPA Agree to Develop Recycling, Sustainability Tools

Procter & Gamble Co. (P&G) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have formed an agreement to develop sustainability, recycling and zero waste tools for manufacturing and supply chains.

The Cincinnati-based consumer products company signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the EPA’s National Risk Management Research Laboratory (NRMRL) to develop tools to optimize sustainability improvements in manufacturing facilities and their related supply chains, the organizations said in a news release.

The initiative addresses the goals of P&G’s sustainability vision: using 100 percent renewable materials or recyclable material for all its products and packaging; sending zero consumer or manufacturing waste to landfills; powering its plants with 100-percent renewable energy; and designing products that maximize resource conservation.

To meet those types of goals, the EPA has developed a comprehensive list of sustainability metrics and performance indicators that can be used to quantify sustainability in manufacturing and supply chains.  Meanwhile, P&G has a range of manufacturing operations and supply chains that can be leveraged to optimize those metrics to guide choices.

The work under the CRADA will use P&G's manufacturing and supply chain knowledge with the EPA's work on metrics to develop a modeling and assessment tool to assess future product design, material sourcing and manufacturing options.

P&G will develop this framework based on metrics associated with its tissue and towel products.

The CRADA is a five-year accord.



Illinois’ Cook County Approves Demolition Debris Recycling Law

Illinois’ Cook County has passed an ordinance requiring the recycling of demolition debris in the region.

Chicago’s county board of commissioners said in a news release that the new Demolition Debris Diversion law requires demolition contractors working in suburban and unincorporated Cook County to recycle 70 percent of their debris for all demolition projects. Residential properties must show that 5 percent of the debris is being diverted for reuse. Only sheds and garages are excluded.

The law takes effect Nov. 21. In the next few months, the county Department of Environmental Control will be working with business partners and industry groups to educate contractors and building owners about the requirements and benefits of the new ordinance.

The recycling requirement is a step for the county toward its zero waste goal established in the board’s recent solid waste plan update and the board’s larger sustainability goals.

“Reusing and recycling demolition debris is another important step toward building a greener Cook County,” said board President Toni Preckwinkle. “The benefits go beyond positive environmental impacts. This also creates jobs, stabilizes local economies and creates materials for construction, renovation and infrastructure building.”

Medical Waste Firm Stericycle Posts Income Jump in Second Period

Net income for medical waste company Stericycle Inc. rose 22.5 percent for its second quarter ended June 30.

The Lake Forest, Ill.-based company said in a news release that its net income totaled $67.6 million, or 78 cents per diluted share, in the 2012 period compared with $55.5 million, or 63 cents per diluted share, in the year-ago period. Revenue increased 14.3 percent to $468.9 million, compared with $410.4 million from the second quarter last year.

For the first six months net income climbed 19.1 percent to $132.5 million, or $1.53 per diluted share, compared with $111.2 million, or $1.27 per diluted share. Revenue advanced 14.9 percent to $929 million, compared with $808.6 million in the same period last year.


The Heap
Swifter, Higher, Greener

Swifter, Higher, Greener

The Games of the XXX Olympiad bowed in London on Friday. Have you been watching? So far the competition has been intense, but not all of it is on the field. Organizers of the games have publicly stated that they expect the 2012 Games to be the greenest ever, going so far as to set a goal of sending zero waste to landfill. A variety of techniques will be used to achieve this goal, including the use of packaging color-coded to route it to appropriate recycling receptacles, and a range of compostable serviceware.

Still, with thousands of athletes and millions of spectators flooding the country (and the immense carbon footprint that implies) it does seem a tad facetious to call anything about the Olympics "green" (and I say that as a huge Olympics nut and a proud Olympic volunteer when the games were held in my hometown of Atlanta). But it's a noble goal all the same.

We will have an in-depth look at the specific sustainability efforts at the London games later this week.

Recycling at the Olympics: A TakePart Infographic
Via: TakePart.com
Are London Olympics Going for Recycling Gold
Take Action: Opt for Recycled Paper Products

Study: Municipal Solid Waste Generation Could Double by 2025

The amount of municipal solid waste (MSW) generated globally could double by 2025, according to a new study.

The Washington-based Worldwatch Institute said in a news release that growing prosperity and urbanization could result in MSW volume reaching 2.6 billion tons in 13 years compared with the current 1.3 million tons. That could challenge environmental and public health management in the world’s cities, according to the independent environmental research organization.

Members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a group of 34 industrialized nations, lead the world in MSW generation with nearly 1.6 million tons per day. By contrast, sub-Saharan Africa produces less than one-eighth that amount at about 200 million tons per day.

The list of top 10 MSW-generating countries includes four developing nations (Brazil, China, India, and Mexico) in part because of the size of their urban populations and in part because their city residents are prospering and adopting high-consumption lifestyles. The United States leads the world in MSW generation at about 621,000 tons per day. China is a relatively close second, at about 521,000 tons. The United States generates nearly seven times more urban waste than does the nation in the 10th position, France.

About 25 percent of the world's waste is recycled, composted or digested. Recycling rates vary widely by country, the report stated. In the United States, the amount of MSW recycled grew to 34 percent in 2010 from less than 10 percent in 1980. Other countries, particularly industrialized ones, report similar increases.

Circular File

Circular File: Scudder's Folly

Almost 60 years ago, a New Jersey newspaper publisher was using a blender to mix newspapers and water in a sink. He was looking for a way to separate ink from the newspaper’s fibers. After further research at a university, Garden State Paper, the world’s first newspaper deinking mill, opened in 1961. Within two decades, three more deinking mills were operating. Dick Scudder, who died in early July at the age of 99, was the co-inventor of newspaper deinking. In doing so, he also launched modern recycling.

Other newspaper mill executives laughed at the idea of deinking. They could not conceive of old newspapers as a useful raw material for new newspapers. They called Garden State “Scudder’s Folly. ” He had the last laugh. Today, recycled fiber is a common component of newspapers.

But to succeed, these mills had to solve two big problems. One was to prove that recycled newsprint was as good as virgin. Over time this happened and deinked newsprint proved it was as good as new.

The other problem was to secure a reliable supply of raw material. At first, Garden State relied on the network of traditional paperstock dealers. They would buy unsold newspapers and spoiled press runs. These dealers would also pay for newspaper collected as fundraisers by volunteer groups such as the Boy Scouts. The former supply was relatively steady but paper drives were too dependent on volunteers. Deinking mills needed a more reliable supply.

The advent of Earth Day in 1970 provided one potential answer with the proliferation of recycling centers. But their reliance on volunteer workers was a problem. Worse yet, in those days, quality specs were demanding. Even “rotogravure paper” (Sunday supplements) was a no-no. Not many people could be bothered to consistently supply good raw materials.

To solve the supply problem Garden State began promoting curbside collection of old newspapers. It could be done. San Francisco’s hauling company had been collecting newspaper from households for decades. Then in 1970, Madison, Wis., began a curbside recycling program. By the middle of the decade, more than one hundred American communities were collecting newspapers at the curbside.

EPA jumped into the picture with extensive promotions of what it then called “source separation.” The agency published a study of the different ways to collect newspaper such as racks under the body of the garbage truck or a trailer behind the truck. In 1976, the agency even funded a test of America’s first multi-material recycling programs in Somerville and Marblehead, Mass. Back then, “multi-material” meant newspapers, glass bottles and metal cans. A modest start perhaps, but at the time it was revolutionary.

Curbside recycling progressed through the ’70s, with more than 250 programs by the end of the decade, some of them multi-material. Then, in 1987, the Garbage Barge set sail.  At that time, perhaps 600 municipalities had curbside recycling. Within three years, most states had some kind of recycling law. Curbside programs began collecting a wide array of materials. Now most American communities collect recyclables separately from trash.

I’m not sure what Dick Scudder would have thought about our shift from recycling to diversion. But I’m sure he was proud of what he started. It all began in a kitchen sink with a blender, water and some old newspapers. And somewhere out there, another entrepreneur may well be working on the next big step.

Conventional Thought

Conventional Thought

You blow into town for a convention. You work hard for three or four days, maybe play hard too. And you generate a fair amount of waste. What happens to it once the lights are turned off and you exit the exhibit hall?

While recycling and sustainability are becoming more of a priority for convention centers and meetings, the answer can vary widely from city to city, and from convention to convention. It can even vary widely within a city, such as Las Vegas, says Amy Spatrisano, principal with Portland, Ore.-based MeetGreen, which provides conference management and sustainability consulting for the meeting industry.

It’s a mindset,” she says. “I don’t think a lot of these centers spend a lot of energy or concentration on it. And it does vary with the infrastructure; some cities just don’t have it.”

Capitol Steps Toward Diversion

Gaylord Hotels, with properties in cities around the country, selects “Green Teams” to emphasize sustainability issues. Heading the Green Team at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Washington, home of Wastecon 2012, is Monroe Harrison, director of public affairs for the hotel. The Gaylord National generated 4,375 tons of waste in 2011 and recycled 14 percent. The facility has set a goal of recycling 25 percent of its waste this year.

The Gaylord National’s recycling program includes 18 strategically placed front of house recycling bins and back of house recycling baskets in each office and cubicle. It operates energy conservation programs as well. The facility owns six waste compactors, with three dedicated to recycling.

The Gaylord National is located in Prince George County, which offers single-stream recycling. The hotel staff doesn’t do any source separation; the unsorted recyclables go to the county recycling center. “As long as we capture the paper, plastic, aluminum and glass together and we take that from the hotel to the proper recycling compactor, we’re meeting our goal,” Harrison says.

Games Conventioneers Play

The process is similar for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which hosted WasteExpo 2012. The Las Vegas Convention Center doesn’t offer traditional blue bins for conventioneers to deposit their recyclables. Rather, recyclables, commingled with trash, are collected by Republic Services Inc. and sorted off site.

“It is a challenge to make sure that show management and delegates understand that we are a recycling facility,” said Taryle Spain, director of client services for the center, in e-mail responses. “Having the material sorted off-site means that it is more convenient for our visitors to participate.”

The Las Vegas convention center operates other green-minded programs besides its material recycling collection. It employs a crusher to recycle fluorescent lighting, installed water stations instead of providing bottled water, uses environmentally friendly cleaning products and has converted most of its vehicle fleet to run on either electricity or natural gas.

The center also works with Repurpose America, a non-profit organization in North Las Vegas. The organization has helped the convention center divert non-recyclable materials such as large shipping crates, which are made into garden containers, and show banners, which are converted into badge holders, says Zachary Delbex, CEO of the organization. In the last five years Repurpose America has diverted about 7.5 million tons of material, according to Delbex.

The efforts have resulted in a recycling rate for the Las Vegas facility of about 64 percent, says Spain, adding that for some shows, the figure can top 90 percent.

Diversity of Diversion

That broad fluctuation of recycling rates is not usual, particularly for convention centers. “The amount of waste generated from different shows can vary widely,” says Harrison. “Some groups are definitely more environmental than others.”

The Gaylord National doesn’t play host to a lot of manufacturing shows, instead housing more office and retail-type exhibitions: government, pharmaceuticals, pet stores, paper, military. “The military is so meticulous about leaving the site in better condition than when they found it,” says Amie Gorrell, director of public relations for the Gaylord National.

The biggest challenge Harrison says he faces is that several times a year exhibitors leave materials and products behind. In those cases the Gaylord National convention service manager works with the group’s meeting planner to select a charity to give the items to “and keep them from going to the landfills,” Harrison says.

Before larger conventions begin Harrison’s team meets with the guest organization and determines what materials might be left behind. “We have a pretty solid game plan going in.”

Both during setup and tear-down the Gaylord National has one of its managers working the compactor to make sure material ends up in the proper place, and the staff works with the customer “so as little waste goes into the building as goes out.”

The Gaylord National also partners with Orlando, Fla.-based Clean the World Inc., a non-profit charitable organization aiming to prevent illness and death stemming from poor hygiene. The Gaylord National collects discarded shampoo products from its hotel and donates them to the organization, which makes sure they are reused.

Taking a Bite Out of Recycling

But while convention centers and meeting operations have made progress in some areas of waste reduction, Spatrisano sees lots of room for improvement. One convention center she declined to identify by name recently wanted to charge a customer she was working with to provide sufficient recycling bins for the meeting group. She notes that this was in a city with an aggressive diversion rate. “Cities make these ordinances and then don’t have a way to police them.”

Spatrisano says she is consistently surprised that convention centers and planners don’t look for more creative ways to minimize their waste. Regardless, both parties’ good intentions often run smack into economic reality when the local landfill tipping fees are low. A general manager of three large properties in Georgia told her,  “’Why should we care about the waste? We pay less to take it a landfill.’”

“He had a point,” Spatrisano admits. “If you don’t believe in it fundamentally and don’t see the economical value, then what’s the motivator?”

She says composting is another factor not adequately considered with convention recycling. “Food waste is a big part of the waste stream. If you can take food waste out you can get higher diversion rates.”

And there’s a lot of confusion about those rates. Spatrisano says her group worked with an association that held an event in Florida that claimed a 100-percent recycling rate -- “which isn’t even possible, not in anything we’ve ever seen. The recycling facility there couldn’t do it, and there was no composting.”

But she sees it as a learning curve, noting that some operations are making great strides. For example, MeetGreen worked with Chicago’s McCormick Place a few years ago, when the center boasted a paltry 5 percent recycling rate. MeetGreen got it up to more than 80 percent for one event. “It’s possible, but the waste programs have to be manageable.”

At the Las Vegas Convention Center recycling has become more of an expectation, says Spain, but the level still varies depending on the organization hosting the event.

Harrison says more and more meeting planners are asking about green initiatives at the Gaylord, from waste to energy to the availability of locally grown produce. They’re seeing thumb drives replacing brochures and even scannable digital badges to get information, instead of thick packets of printed material. “It’s just part of the industry now, how to be more sustainable.”

Spatrisano sees more inconsistency. “Part of the challenge is we go in, and then they go back to business as usual after the event,” she says. “They need to keep it in place for them to see the financial benefit.”

But she’s keeping the faith. “There’s lot of potential, lots of opportunity.”

Allan Gerlat is news editor for Waste Age and waste360.com

California’s Alameda County Passes Producer Responsibility Pharmaceutical Law

California’s Alameda County has passed a law requiring pharmaceutical companies who sell products in the county to pay for collection programs for unwanted medications.

The move was applauded by three product stewardship organizations – the Boston-based Product Stewardship Institute (PSI); the Product Policy Institute of Athens, Ga.; and the California Product Stewardship Council, Sacramento, Calif.

The Alameda County board of supervisors unanimously approved the measure, the PSI said in a news release. Oakland is the Alameda County seat.

Without a safe, convenient collection program for unwanted pharmaceuticals, there are significant risks of prescription drug abuse, accidental poisonings, aquatic impacts and pollution of waterways, the groups said.

“Alameda County took a stand and said if the federal government and state legislators fail to act to protect public health and the environment, and the product manufacturers refuse to share in the responsibility for their products which they profited from, local governments will take action because the public is demanding it," said Heidi Sanborn, executive director of the California Product Stewardship Council.



Republic Net Income Triples in Second Period

Republic Net Income Triples in Second Period

Republic Services Inc. net income more than tripled for its second quarter.

The Phoenix-based Republic said in a news release net income for the period ended June 30 totaled $149.2 million, or 40 cents per diluted share, compared with $46.5 million, or 12 cents per diluted share, in the year-ago period. The company said excluding certain charges that impacted both years, net income for the 2012 quarter would have totaled $218.4 million, compared with $184.9 million a year earlier.

Revenue for the quarter slipped 1.2 percent to $2.06 billion compared with $2.09 billion in the year-ago period. The company blamed the revenue decrease on drops in fuel surcharges, volumes and recycling commodity pricing. Results were aided by increases in core prices and acquisitions.

For the first six months net income rose 43 percent to $292.1 million, or 79 cents per diluted share, compared with $204.7 million, or 54 cents per diluted share, in the 2011 period. Excluding those charges net income would have risen to $359.2 million compared with $344.5 million a year earlier.

Revenue for the first half slipped 0.2 percent to $4.04 million compared with $4.05 million in 2011.

"The business is operating within our expectations,” said Donald Slager, Republic president and CEO. "We achieved 30.3 percent EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax and amortization) margins in the quarter, continued to see a stronger pace of acquisition activity and completed our refinancing activities.”

Republic updated its full year earnings guidance for adjusted diluted earnings per share to be in a range of $1.91 to $1.93.


Net Income Drops 22 Percent for Progressive Waste

Progressive Waste Solutions Ltd. reported a 22-percent decline in net income, hurt by weak commodity prices and waste volumes in the northeast United States.

The Vaughan, Ontario-based company said in a news release its net earnings fell to $28.4 million, compared with $36.6 million in the year-ago period. Revenue rose 1.3 percent to $475.4 million for the period ended June 30, compared with $469.5 million in 2011.

For the first half, net income fell 16 percent to $50.4 million compared with $59.7 million a year ago. Revenue increased 2.4 percent to $913.7 million from $892.4 million.

"In the second quarter, I am pleased that our core business continued to demonstrate resilience in the face of this challenging economic environment,” said Joseph Quarin, Progressive vice chairman and CEO. As for the struggling business in the northeast United States he said, “We are executing on plans that we expect will improve our financial results … going forward.”

He said the company is on track to meet the lower end of its guidance for the year with revenue at $1.88 billion and earnings before interest, tax and amortization (EBITA) of $535 million.