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Articles from 2015 In July

10 Points About Progressive Waste’s Q215 Results

Progressive Waste Solutions Ltd. posted lower net income and revenue for its second quarter and first half.

The Vaughan, Ontario-based company, however, said volume growth was strong for the latest period ended June 30.

Here are highlights from the company and its latest financial results.

  1. For Progressive net income in the latest quarter dropped 9.3 percent to $37.1 million, or 33 cents per share, compared with $40.9 million, or 36 cents per share, in the year-ago period.
  2. Revenue for the quarter declined 4 percent to $493 million from $513.5 million a year earlier, according to a news release.
  3. For the first half, net earnings dropped 17.2 percent to $55.3 million, or 49 cents per share, compared with $66.8 million, or 58 cents per share, in the 2014 period.
  4. Revenue for the first half fell 3.1 percent to $953.2 million from $983.3 million in 2014.
  5. When the U.S. and Canadian dollar differences discounted, Progressive Waste had a 0.6 percent increase in revenue, largely because of an increase in overall pricing and high volumes, and partially offset by net acquisitions and lower fuel surcharges.
  6. President and CEO Joseph Quarin’s take: "Volume growth was the highest we have achieved since 2010, with improvement in our North, East and West regions, and across service lines, with the most notable increases in our commercial and residential collection lines and at our transfer stations and certain landfills. This demonstrates the effectiveness of our organic growth programs, as well as signs of a more supportive economic environment in the markets we serve."
  7. Progressive is updating its 2015 outlook. Higher operating expenses because of the floods in Texas, as well as higher costs of insurable risk and bad debt expense prompted the company to lower its outlook for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA). Now the company expects adjusted EBITDA of about $500,000 to $515,000 in 2015, compared with its original expectation of between $515,000 to $535,000.
  8. The results met Wall Street expectations. The average of seven analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research also was for earnings of 28 cents per share, according to the Associated Press. Revenue rose slightly above what six analysts told Zacks they expected.
  9. During the quarter Progressive reorganized its regional management structure into the East region (now including Florida); the West region (its former U.S. South segment, excluding Florida); and the North region (its former Canadian segment).
  10. Quarin was one of the panelists at the WasteExpo Heavy Hitters panel. He talked about the ongoing cost of recycling problem. “If you go back on how you bid these contracts, you bid a collection fee and assumed commodity prices would take care of processing costs. We have to step in and say, if we are collecting, charge for collection and if we are processing, charge for processing. How you split the revenues or costs of the end products should be a separate discussion. 
Need to Know

City of Houston Considers Monthly Surcharge for Trash Collection, Recycling Expenses

The city of Houston’s garbage czar wants to hit homeowners with a monthly surcharge of $15-$20 to cover a variety of expenses related to trash collection and recycling.

“We are the only big Texas city that doesn’t have a fee like this,” the City of Houston's Solid Waste director, Harry Hayes, said.

Among the expenses, the city spends approximately $1 million annually on illegal dumping.

Continue reading at Click2Houston.com

Need to Know

Proposed $56M Landfill Expansion in Manor Township, Pa. Praised, Attacked

A foresighted, unobtrusive “green mound” that is imperative for Lancaster County’s future waste needs and continued economic prosperity?

A permanent blight looming over the beautiful Susquehanna River that will send more heavy trucks down back roads, invite more out-of-county waste and maybe some day tumble into the river?

The planned vertical expansion of the county Frey Farm Landfill in Manor Township prompted both of those viewpoints at a public hearing Tuesday evening.

Twenty-seven people spoke at the hearing held by the state Department of Environmental Protection on the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority’s $56 million plans to use reinforced earthen terraces to raise the height of the landfill another 50 feet and expand the capacity of the landfill by 18-20 years.

Continue reading at Lancaster Online

Need to Know

Roanoke, Va., Announces Fall Launch of New Single-Stream Recycling Program

Mayor David Bowers brought his trash downtown.

Bowers lifted two bags full of paper, plastic, bottles and cans from his home and tossed them in a light-blue, 96-gallon recycling cart, announcing plans for the new “single-stream” recycling program Wednesday in front of a small crowd at Market Square.

Beginning Aug. 15, about 34,000 residents living within city limits will receive either the larger, two-wheeled cart or a 64-gallon version, depending on available outdoor space. Once the new program is launched, residents can dispose of all recyclable material at once, every other week.

“The old misconception is that recycling is supposed to make money,” said Roanoke Solid Waste Manager Skip Decker. “Recycling is never meant to make money. That’s an old wives’ tale. Where you make your money is cost avoidance.”

Continue reading at Roanoke.com

Need to Know

St. Louis to Install more than 60 Cigarette-Recycling Bins

Tired of seeing cigarette butts littering the streets and sidewalks? A new recycling program in downtown St. Louis is turning discarded butts into something useful.

Cigarette butts are, by some counts, the world`s number one litter problem.

But now places like the Old Post Office Plaza in downtown St. Louis and restaurants and bars are offering smokers the option of recycling their cigarette butts.

Continue reading at KPLR

Need to Know

Unifi Selects BHS for Plastics Recycling Facility

Unifi Manufacturing, Inc., Greensboro, North Carolina, has selected Eugene, Oregon-based Bulk Handling Systems (BHS) to design, manufacture and install a front-end polyethylene (PET) purification system in the company’s Reidsville, North Carolina, facility.

Unifi says system will help achieve its goal of backward integration into bottle processing for its Repreve recycled fiber product line.

The new system, a $25 million investment, is set to begin operation in June 2016, and will feature the latest in screen, air and optical sorting technologies from the BHS family of companies, including BHS, Nihot and National Recovery Technologies (NRT). 

Continue reading at Recycling Today

Florida Wildlife Agency Looking to Waste Industry to Help Curb Bear-Human Interactions

Improperly disposed of garbage isn’t only messy. In some cases, it can also be dangerous.

For example, the scent of garbage that’s not properly disposed of is drawing black bears into residential neighborhoods, leading to dangerous interactions.

Now, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is pushing for mandated bear-proof cans to keep the animals away from what could be harmful garbage and from the forming of potentially harmful habits.

“Education is key,” said FWC Chairman Richard Corbett in a recent press release. “We know that bear feeding is an issue, so we need to continue to be proactive and responsive with our efforts. Properly securing garbage and other attractants is the single most important action for reducing conflict situations with bears.”

The commission signed a Waste Management Resolution and approved a policy paper, explaining the need for comprehensive waste management to address human-bear conflicts and improve public safety.

In some areas across the state, where bear-human interactions have become more common, bear attacks are in the news.

In response to those attacks and interactions, the FWC contacted the Florida chapter of National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) in June suggesting that some of the problem of black bears in human-populated areas is the result of unprotected garbage cans and roll-off containers. The suggestion was made that bear-proof containers are the answer to the problem, says Keyna Cory, lobbyist for NWRA's Florida chapter.

However, says Cory, Florida is a franchise state, so each community tells the hauler what kind of cans they’ll have, when pickup will be, etc. A blanket change for the state may not be a realistic option as sometimes local government pays for containers, but sometimes it’s built into the cost of collection. Switching to bear-proof bins can cost as much as $200 per container. Then there’s the issue of automated collection that would be necessary to pick up the heavier, bear-proof cans. 

Since June 2014, of the 23,000 residences in the county, approximately 390 bear-proof bins have been purchased from county haulers, Florida-based Waste Pro and Pennsylvania-based Advanced Disposal, Edwards says. The county, he says, may not have been ready to mandate the bins as the costs for 23,000 bins could run between $4 million and $5 million. And there’s no guarantee the bear-proof bins will keep the bears out of neighborhoods. In one recent situation, a black bear ate a 20-pound bag of dog food at a residence and proceeded to take a long nap in the yard. So it’s not just the garbage that needs to be considered.

An issue in the beginning, Edwards adds, was the 94-gallon bear-resistant bins the agency suggested were too thick and heavy for workers handling the manual solid waste pick-up. Haulers agreed to retrofit trucks for semi-automated pickup and to use 64-gallon bear-proof containers. Only those residents who chose to pay the additional cost for a bear-proof bin received them.

Though Edwards says he cannot speak yet to the success of the use of those cans, bears are making an appearance in the area, but so far,  a relatively small amount of residents are willing to pay the extra costs for bear-proof containers.

“We’re learning,” he says. “It’s not an issue that’s going away any time soon.” 

At first blush, the agency thought requesting a few million dollars from the legislature for new cans would do the trick, but after talking with NWRA's Chuck Dees, they were ready to hear more.

Dees agreed to do a presentation at an FWC meeting in Sarasota last month, where he explained the association was there on behalf of its members “to be part of the solution, not to be the solution.”

It has to be big picture, she says.

NWRA has agreed to sit down with various agencies involved to determine problem areas, and to perhaps plan a pilot program in some areas to learn what works. Bear-human contact is taking place everywhere from rural areas to gated communities.

“We’ve all agreed we’re going to be working on this issue together," Cory says. "There’s no magic wand to make this whole thing go away. We’re going to have to figure out together, collectively, what’s the best solution for each community. And I think they’re on board."

Florida has grown so fast, she says, and humans have gone into the bear’s neighborhoods. It’s an issue more complex than bear-proof bins.

“I’m very optimistic that we’re going to come up with a plan of action,” she says.

The commission has no authority to mandate the bins. Local governments do. However, it is unlikely the state legislature, who Cory says are not “big on mandates,” would do something statewide to focus on a more concentrated area that encounter these bear issues There also aren’t a lot of bears in Miami Beach, for example, she says.

Across the state, however, the black bear population has grown to such numbers, the FWC has started to push for the bear-proof bins while also authorizing the state’s first bear hunt in 21 years.

In Seminole County, Fla., the FWC helped with grant monies for optional bear-proof cans for residents last year. An uptick in media coverage of black bears in neighborhoods and a few bear attacks of residents and pets was the initial catalyst for the new bins, Seminole County Solid Waste Manager Johnny Edwards says.

12 Takeaways from Casella Waste’s Latest Financial Results

Casella Waste Systems Inc. nosed back into the black for its second quarter.

The Rutland, Vt.-based waste and recycling firm also saw revenues climb for the period ended June 30, as it experienced some pricing improvement.

Here are some highlights from its most recent results.

  1. Casella Waste netted a profit of $943,000, or 3 cents per diluted share, compared with a net loss of $10.4 million, or 17 cents per diluted share, in the 2014 period.
  2. Revenue rose 4.7 percent to $143.7 million from $137.3 million a year earlier, according to a news release.
  3. The waste and recycling company still is in the red for the first half. The net loss for the first six months totaled $7.02 million, or 20 cents per diluted share, compared with nearly $24 million, or 50 cents per diluted share, a year earlier.
  4. Revenue for the first half climbed 3.9 percent to $260.3 million from $250.5 million.
  5. The company said its overall solid waste pricing increased 2.6 percent, driven mainly by strong residential and commercial collection, which advanced 4.3 percent.
  6. Chairman and CEO John Casella’s take: “We had a strong quarter as our team continued to execute well against our key management strategies of increasing landfill returns, improving collection route profitability, creating incremental value through resource solutions, reducing financial and operational risks and improving our balance sheet.” He said landfill volumes rose by 4 percent from a year earlier, and collection line-of-business experienced 3.7 percent higher pricing.
  7. The company moved to reduce its commodity pricing risk exposure by introducing a new sustainability/recycling adjustment (SRA) fee to its residential and commercial collection customers.
  8. The company also bolstered its board of directors by hiring longtime waste industry executive James O’Connor.
  9. Casella Waste is increasing its guidance for the year for revenue, now projected between $525 million and $535 million (from a previous range of $520 million to $530 million), while it maintains the current guidance for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of between $103 million and $107 million.
  10. At WasteExpo, the company said market conditions in the Northeast are shaping up well. Casella should benefit from a disposal supply contraction.
  11. Casella Waste also has seen activist investor JCP Investment Management calling for three people it named to be placed on the Casella board, and that JCP has had numerous inquiries from potential buyers. Leone Young in her June Business Insights column said industry analysts have pegged Casella’s valuation on a takeover basis within a wide $5-$10 per share. Casella’s management had little comment on the situation at the WasteExpo Investor Summit, other than to say they would consider the proposed board members as part of the process, while noting that the company on its own had made significant progress during the past two years on a number of fronts.
  12. St. Louis-based investment firm Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. Inc. reported prior to the announced results that consensus revenue is above its estimate. The firm also believes its likely Casella Waste will be in a proxy fight at its annual general meeting Nov. 6.
On Location

A Recycling Summit Sneak Peek with Harvey Gershman

Waste360 recently had the opportunity to catch up with Harvey Gershman, President of Gershman, Brickner & Bratton, Inc., a Fairfax, Va.-based firm that consults public- and private sector organizations on optimal solutions for solid-waste-management challenges. 

Harvey will be speaking at the Summit, in Friday’s session on “Conversion Technologies.”

Please enjoy this sneak peek into what promises to be a great discussion!           

Waste360: What can participants expect from your Conversions Technologies session at the Waste360 Recycling Summit?

Harvey Gershman: My presentation will give participants insight into the fast-growing technology changes occurring in the industry.  I will review the status of conversion technologies; what they do, who provides them—and the status of the new ones being built, under development, and operating.  I will also share the importance of mixed waste processing as part of these offerings as well as key factors to consider when implementing them as part of a local integrated solid waste management system.

Waste360: Could you pinpoint a few concrete takeaways attendees will be able to implement right away in the real world?

Harvey Gershman: I’m hopeful that once attendees hear the presentation, they will begin thinking about the economics and efficiencies of their entire system rather than simply comparing conversion technologies to landfill disposal.  Incorporating the cost of the collection infrastructure that brings the waste/recyclables for processing conversion can be a game changer.

Waste360: Gershman, Brickner & Bratton has been delivering sustainable solutions to complex waste and recycling issues for more than 30 years.  What positive changes have you seen in the industry during this time?

Harvey Gershman: So much has happened to move us away from simply throwing resources away.  Across the U.S. some 40% of MSW is recycled/recovered/utilized for its fuel value.  The services, financings, contracts, etc. that stand behind those sustainable solutions and systems were very challenging to plan, implement and keep operating.  We have seen project financings used, enterprise fund solid waste systems set up by local governments, and full service contracting (many with private ownership structures); taking control of the collection marketplace and services underpin these sustainable programs.  We are very proud to see our solutions still working for our clients. 

Waste360: With the cost and state of recycling being so top of mind these days, do you think your session can help attendees with education or advice around that?

Harvey Gershman: Yes. Recent newspaper articles highlighted that recycling has become such a part of managing our resources that some people are losing sight of the fact that recycling is a part of the whole system of managing waste – which has a cost.  My presentation will talk about how more materials may be recovered from the system and how to extract value; I will highlight the recent work we completed for the American Chemistry Council on mixed waste processing.

Waste360: How did you get into this industry and why?   

Harvey Gershman: Earth Day 1970 first inspired my career to focus on helping do better things with waste.  I had a design project in my senior year of mechanical engineering undergraduate work, and it won a national award.  I thought then that there would always be waste and there had to be better things to do with it than dump it on the ground or burn it in an uncontrolled manner.  I’ve been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to help many do better things with their waste over my 40+ years in this industry. 

It is so fitting how your interest in this industry began Earth Day, Harvey!   We look forward to great insights from your 40+ years of experience.

See the full conference agenda and register for the Waste360 Recycling Summit here.

On Location

You've Got Recycling Questions, We've Got Answers! (Part Three)

This is the third part of a series that provide answers by industry experts to questions you have about recycling. The questions came out of Waste360’s recent webinar on the cost of recycling. For further discussion on these issues, don’t miss the Waste360 Recycling Summit in Chicago later this year.

Read part one here; part two here.

Question: What is the average monthly waste and recycling costs for a commercial location?

Michele Nestor, president, Nestor Resources Inc.: This is the most frequently asked question and one that always gets the same response from me: “There is no average." Claiming so would be misleading. Although often criticized, there are legitimate reasons why two customers sitting right next to one another, franchises in different locations or communities with identical bid specifications may pay more or less than one another. Whether it is for commercial or residential service, we have failed as an industry to communicate the many variables that go into "the price." Time, fuel, labor, insurance, fees, equipment, volume, weight, frequency, debt, shareholder expectations, etc. Frankly, some service providers are simply more efficient than others and therefore can have a higher profit margin even when the customer pays less. A big influencing, but often misunderstood, factor  is that customers/municipalities could significantly reduce their prices by relinquishing unrealistic time and service constraints in their contracts.

Question: Recycling costs money. If landfill fees would go up and adequately accommodate true cost of landfilling and true cost of raw materials. Why aren't we focusing on developing the market that produces jobs, reduces carbon footprint and increases overall revenue?

Albe Zakes, global vice president, communications, TerraCycle Inc.: This is a key challenge to recycling. Industry and consumers alike feel that recycling is a costly alternative to landfill or incineration because they don't fully understand the cost of those other end-of-life solutions. When you consider the potential value recovered in reselling the recycled materials, the push to recycle more materials–instead of burying or burning it–begins to make ecological and economic sense. In addition, a more robust recycling industry creates more, jobs, more supply chain security and only further reduces how governmental dependence and economic stability is based on oil and other commodity prices.

Question: Could you please elaborate further on the dependence of mixed waste processing on its ability to recuperate recyclables?

Harvey Gershman, president,
Gershman, Brickner & Bratton Inc.: A mixed waste processing facility (MWPF) relies upon sophisticated equipment to separate marketable recyclables from a municipal waste stream (MSW).  At the front end of the facility, feedstock goes through a series of screens, magnets and sorts (very similar to those used in a traditional recycling facility) to separate recyclable containers and paper from its organic components (food, wood, contaminated paper, etc.) and residuals (batteries, rocks, and other non-recyclables). The quantity of materials that is recovered will depend on the level of a MWPF’s automation, how modern its equipment is, whether the organic fraction is processed for recovery and the availability of markets for the separated recyclables. Metals and plastic containers seem to recover very well in MWPF. Contamination issues are of greater concern for the paper stream. High-end paper markets demand that paper not be overly wet, contain large quantities of glass or putrescible materials. Because the incoming paper has been mixed with wastes of all varieties it is more likely to have come in contact with these contaminants–rendering it less likely to meet the high-end market standards. This does not mean that the paper is not marketable. It does mean, however, that markets will need to be identified that can tolerate some contamination in the bales. A more in-depth explanation on a modern MWPF similarity to MRFs and ability to recover materials is discussed in The Evolution of Mixed Waste Processing Facilities, 1970-Today, a report for the American Chemistry Council.

Eric Herbert, CEO, Zero Waste Energy LLC: Mixed waste processing can offer some significant advantages. A materials recovery facility (MRF) that accepts mixed solid waste receives the entire waste stream, not just the customer source-separated stream. Recent studies have shown that single-stream collection programs have access (participation) to less than 20 percent of available commodities such as paper, plastics and metals. With a mixed waste or “one bin” program, processors have access to 100 percent of available recoverables. It’s then up to the system to maximize recovery. Advanced mixed waste processing systems utilize sophisticated technologies and processes that have demonstrated recovery numbers far greater than previous systems. In addition to lower collection costs and the participation advantage, these advanced systems can also capture organics and create engineered fuel from items that would otherwise go to landfill or go unrecovered in a single-stream system.

Michele Nestor: There seems to be confusion on the purpose of certain contract terms that are viewed as penalties for the community trying to recycle in other ways. The truth is that there is really no sense in investing in a process to mine materials unless there are materials remaining in the mix that can be retrieved. A big part of the Performa in determining the feasibility of a project would be the types, quantities and anticipated values of the materials one would hope to recover and market. If those materials were allowed to be removed by third parties prior to the expected "mix" reaching the facility, the operator's return on investment would be negatively affected by reduced amounts of material to market, and the facility would either have to increase customer rates or go out of business. So those contract terms are there to ensure their rights to recover and recycle the materials in exchange for third investment in the facility.