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Articles from 2020 In July


Covanta Reports Strong Q2 2020 Results

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Covanta Holding Corporation (CVA) reported solid financial results for Q2 2020 today.

The company cited three reasons for its solid performance:

  1. Strong Q2 results reflect decisive response to business conditions 
  2. Waste markets recovering from initial pandemic levels 
  3. Effectively navigating a challenging operating environment

During the company’s earnings call, the Covanta management team highlighted that waste volumes were up meaningfully, tip fees were up in June YOY and dramatically improved from previous months, and that its cost management initiatives were successful.

The company pointed out that even though one month does not make a trend, the June 2020 results are promising and volume recovery began earlier than expected. Covanta maintenance timing and relative increased costs will impact EBITDA.

Here’s an overview of the financials:

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"Our business performed well in the second quarter under difficult circumstances," said Covanta's president and CEO Stephen J. Jones. "Covanta adapted quickly to the emerging COVID-19 pandemic, implementing steps to protect employees, ensure continued reliable operations at our facilities, and reduce costs to mitigate financial impacts. Overall business conditions remain challenging and there remains significant macro uncertainty, but we have seen meaningful recovery in our core waste markets from the initial months of the crisis, which benefited results as we exited the quarter. Covanta is a resilient company, built on critical infrastructure and outstanding employees, and these unprecedented times highlight the underlying stability of our business."

Jones also confirmed the company’s ongoing commitment to sustainability, its existing projects, and the importance of being a good operator in the overburdened communities it serves. Even though Covanta stated that the pace and slope of the recovery is unclear, it is enthusiastic about Q2 results and the impressive resiliency of its business and team.

 

Need to Know

Former Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter Joins Rubicon’s Board of Directors

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Atlanta, Georgia (July 30, 2020) – Rubicon, a software company that provides smart waste and recycling solutions to businesses and governments worldwide, today announced that the Honorable Michael A. Nutter, former mayor of the City of Philadelphia and well known leader in sustainability and smart city innovation, will be joining Rubicon’s Board of Directors, effective immediately.

“We are honored that Mayor Nutter is joining Rubicon’s Board of Directors,” said Nate Morris, Founder and CEO of Rubicon. “He is a proven and effective leader who knows first-hand the lead role cities can and must play in providing cost effective solutions to waste, recycling, and other quality of life issues now facing communities across the country. As an advisor to our RUBICONSmartCity™ business over the past few years, he has fully embraced our mission to end waste, in all of its forms.”

For the past two years, Mayor Nutter has partnered with the RUBICONSmartCity™ team in his capacity as a Rubicon Advisory Board Member. Mayor Nutter has led valuable efforts to help grow and develop Rubicon’s smart city business, as well as advocate for the company and its mission. Mayor Nutter’s familiarity with the intricacies and functioning of city government, as well as his understanding of what it takes to develop collaborative partnerships between business and government has proven invaluable for Rubicon, RUBICONSmartCity, and most importantly, dozens of the company’s city government partners. Additionally, the mayor has expanded his role as an Advisor to various other business units within the company.

“Two years ago, my strong beliefs in resiliency, equitable public service delivery, and responsible environmental policy fit perfectly with Rubicon’s mission to end waste and their Advisory Board focusing on Smart Cities,” said Michael Nutter. “I am excited to expand on our relationship by joining Rubicon’s Board of Directors, continuing to work with the many talented people at Rubicon, and furthering our mission.”

Mayor Nutter was the 98th Mayor of the City of Philadelphia (2008-2016) where issues related to the environment and sustainable development were a cornerstone of the former Mayor’s administration. He created the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability during his very first term and led the development of the city’s comprehensive sustainability plan, Greenworks Philadelphia. Mayor Nutter also served as President of the United States Conference of Mayors (2012-2013), and co-founder, and now Advisory Board Member, of the African American Mayors Association. Among his many current affiliations, Mayor Nutter is a Professor of Practice at Columbia University SIPA, an Executive Fellow at the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, a Senior Advisor at Bloomberg Philanthropy’s What Works Cities Initiative, and a Non-Resident Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics.

About Rubicon

Rubicon is a software company that provides smart waste and recycling solutions for businesses and governments worldwide. Using technology to drive environmental innovation, the company helps turn businesses into more sustainable enterprises, and neighborhoods into greener and smarter places to live and work. Rubicon’s mission is to end waste, in all of its forms, by helping its partners find economic value in their waste streams and confidently execute on their sustainability goals. Learn more at www.rubicon.com.

Rubicon’s inaugural Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Report, Toward a Future Without Waste, can be found at www.rubicon.com/esg-report/.

Contact:
Michael Allegretti
Chief Strategy Officer, Rubicon
[email protected]

Need to Know

Harsco Releases 2019-2020 Environmental, Social & Governance Report

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CAMP HILL, Pa. – (July 27, 2020) - Harsco Corporation (NYSE: HSC), a global market leader providing environmental solutions for industrial and specialty waste streams, today released its Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) Report, highlighting the company’s corporate sustainability accomplishments throughout the 2019 fiscal year and the first half of 2020.

Harsco’s most comprehensive sustainability report to date provides a detailed look at the company’s vision, strategy, values, governance and key focus areas anchoring its sustainability strategy. To read the full report, visit: https://www.harsco.com/sustainability 

The past year has been a period of unprecedented growth and change at Harsco. Adding to the extraordinary global circumstances presented by COVID-19, Harsco is undergoing a complete business transformation into a global, market-leading environmental solutions platform.  Our treatment, recycling and repurposing of industrial waste and by-products help accelerate the circular economy, preserve natural resources and reduce carbon emissions.  

“The world is changing rapidly, and it is vital to acknowledge how Harsco has continued to provide essential services to all our customers while ensuring the safety of our own employees during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Harsco Chairman and CEO Nick Grasberger. “Now more than ever, I am confident in our decision to focus on the urgent societal needs of providing environmental solutions for industrial and specialty waste streams. This sustainability report demonstrates the value we are bringing to our customers, communities, employees and shareholders.” 

Harsco’s 2019-2020 ESG Report is informed by leading market standards including the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB).  As part of Harsco’s ESG strategy, the company has identified four focus areas where it can deliver business value and positive outcomes for stakeholders: Innovative Solutions, Inspired People, Safe Workplaces and Thriving Environment. Goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) for each focus area include:  

  1. Innovative Solutions: Derive over 90% of Harsco’s annual revenue from environmental products and services. 
  2. Inspired People: Enhance diversity and gender representation on the board and senior management.
  3. Safe Workplaces: Achieve a Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) less than 1.25 in 2020.
  4. Thriving Environment: Reduce the energy and carbon intensity of operations by 15-percent by 2025.

Highlights of the report include:

Corporate Governance

  1. Increased ESG oversight at the director level by expanding the Governance Committee’s (formerly the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee) review of ESG strategy, initiatives and policies.
  2. Kathy Eddy and Carolann Haznedar, two of our Directors, were recognized by WomenInc. Magazine as two of the 2019 Most Influential Corporate Board Directors.
  3. Enhanced focus on ESG in the 2020 enterprise risk management process.

Innovative Solutions

  1. Acquired Stericycle’s Environmental Solutions business in April 2020, increasing Harsco’s geographic scale and reach, while enabling the company to create a leading national hazardous waste management platform. 
  2. Launched 22 new environmental solutions across the company.
  3. Equipped Clean Earth’s water treatment plant in Detroit to accept PFAS-contaminated water, making it one of the first large-scale PFAS water treatment facilities in Michigan. 

Thriving Environment

  1. Saved over 5 million metric tons of carbon emissions through Harsco’s Environmental’s recycling and repurposing solutions.
  2. Rolled out a fleet management strategy in Harsco Environmental North America, resulting in a 10-percent reduction of diesel fuel consumption and emissions.
  3. Recycled or repurposed 18.6 million tons of material in 2019, up from 13 million the previous year.
  4. Increased number of ISO 14001 certified sites by 39-percent. 

Inspired People

  1. Recognized as a Winning “W” company by 2020 Women on Boards for having women comprise at least 20-percent of our Board of Directors in 2019.
  2. Employees contributed over 5,500 hours volunteering with community organizations.
  3. Launched new a corporate human rights policy in May 2020. 

Safe Workplaces

  1. Implemented the HarscoCares COVID-19 Global Principles at all facilities to ensure the health and safety of our people around the world through the COVID-19 crisis.
  2. Achieved a total recordable incident rate in 2019 of 0.8.
  3. Increased number of ISO 18001/45001 certified sites by 14%.

# # #

About Harsco Corporation

Harsco Corporation is a global market leader providing environmental solutions for industrial and specialty waste streams, and innovative technologies for the rail industry. Based in Camp Hill, PA, the 13,000-employee company operates in more than 30 countries.  Harsco’s common stock is a component of the S&P SmallCap 600 Index and the Russell 2000 Index. Additional information can be found at www.harsco.com.

Episode 69: Crystal Ball Insights on the Economics of Waste & Recycling (Transcript)

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[00:00:00] Liz Bothwell: Hi everyone, welcome to Waste360's NothingWasted! Podcast. On every episode, we invite the most interesting people in waste recycling and organics to sit down with us and chat candidly about their thoughts, their work, this unique industry and so much more. Thanks for listening and enjoy this episode.

[music]

[00:00:25] Liz: Hi everyone. Before you dive into this great episode with Michael Hoffman, I just wanted to let you know that the Waste360/Stifel Investor Summit registration is open. This event is amazing; you get insights from all of the top executives. This year, there's four topical panels about rail hauling, waste, and energy lessons from the UK and Europe, safety, private equity, plus Ron Mittelstaedt from Waste Connections will be back to make his first public appearance in almost 18 months. This is going to be insights that you won't want to miss and it's all online, August 10th. You can register at WasteExpo.com and go to the Investor Summit. Thanks and enjoy this episode.

Hi everyone. This is Liz Bothwell from Waste360 and I'm with Michael Hoffman from Stifel. Welcome, Michael, and thanks for being on the show today.

[00:01:20] Michael Hoffman: Hi, Liz. Thanks for having me.

[00:01:21] Liz: Michael, we usually start in the beginning, so could you please tell us a little bit about your background and how you ended up in waste and recycling?

[00:01:29] Michael: I have been working as a self-site analyst for a little over 30 years, came out of graduate school, landed in Wall Street and, back in the late '80s, it was called pollution control. Now it's called environmental services, but it was a hot industry going through lots of consolidation. One time there was almost 20 public solid waste companies, and I was hired to cover this space at a firm that actually doesn't exist anymore called Solomon Brothers, and I've been covering environmental services my whole career. All the way through, I've done other things, broadly, in industrials, covered multi-industry, especially chemicals.

Right after 9/11, invented a space that I called Homeland Security Soldier Force Protection and covered a whole bunch of stocks related to that issue, as well.

[00:02:28] Liz: Good for you. You've seen a lot over the past few decades and I would love your take on the impact of COVID on waste and recycling, what you thought was happening in March compared to where we are now.

[00:02:42] Michael: I would describe these last few months, called the last six-seven months, into three buckets. There's a before, during, and an after. The before, if you were talking to companies even at the end of March, or all through April, but didn't know there was a pandemic and you just said, "How was the first three months of the year?" They said, "We're off to a great start. Better than last year. Going to be up five to seven percent between organic growth and rollover acquisitions, plus M&A we're doing".

Then, clearly, the pandemic hit at the end of March, the worst of it was seen in April, that's the during. What we've learned now is that it pretty much found its bottom in April and began to show gradual recovery within the context of the business fundamentals, beginning early in May. Pretty much every week it was incrementally better, so the during was short-lived four to six weeks. The after is now, a stage of improving trends, but -and that's the most important statement, the but- it really depends on a company's geographic mix and what was the condition of and current state of an economic restart.

Pretty much the great shutdown, as it's discussed on a national basis, is really state and local driven, when did a state and local economy allow a reopening, and therefore, where is an individual company's business relative to that. What you're hearing broadly is the bottom was not as deep as feared. The sustain on depth of that bottom wasn't as prolonged as feared and most of the companies, not all, but most of the companies speak to trends that are going to be better than overall.

From a stock market standpoint, the overall stock market's perception of how that may play out, and where there's an exception, it has to do with geographic mix. It's not that a company is running their business poorly, it's a function of the geographic mix and what are you exposed to as far as where are we in an economic restart.

[00:05:03] Liz: Tell me a little bit about that regional play. Are you saying that because the parts of the northeast are faring better, in terms of lower cases, being able to open, and stay open relative to what's happening in the south, is that what you're saying, Michael? That correlation?

[00:05:20] Michael: Actually, I would reverse that for a moment. Today, there's this improving trend, but early on, they keep a line. Pretty much mid-Atlantic, call it Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and everything up was much later restarting. All of Canada, because Canada put a national shutdown on. Illinois, the West Coast were really slow in restarting, so as it relates to the second quarter and the messaging coming out of the second quarter to the degree that there have been resurgences occurring in states that opened earlier.

The major difference of this cycle of this is that they're not shutting down whole economies, that they're- maybe an analogy would be they're pulling their foot off the accelerator a little bit, but as opposed to just pulling up to a hard stop, throwing the parking brake on, turning the engine off, and walking away, that's not happening. Companies that had, and have, Northeast, midland Northeast Canada, and West Coast, Illinois, exposure are just further behind, relative to the one areas around the country that restarted their economies beginning in May.

Most of those didn't restart until the middle of June. As it relates to the second quarter, that geographic mix is about when did you start phase one, and where are you relative to phase one versus three. Even the hot states, Florida, Texas, and places like that, are still in a phase two, or some version of a phase three. They're just tempered pieces, as opposed to going all the way back to zero.

[00:07:04] Liz: That makes sense. What do you think needs to happen for you to really feel like we're out of the woods?

[00:07:11] Michael: I have written consistently that I felt we were in a swoosh. First I called it the Great Shutdown, then I said, "I think this is going to be more swish-like." Back in end of April, as the early trend started to show. What I think it is a series of swishes, so if we stood way back and it was like looking at a piece of art, you can see that it was something different. You get really close too and it looks very different, so if you get really close to it, you'll see a lot of little switches. Is that we'll have these pockets of short dips, then a long, shallower improvement, then a dip again, but the overall trend, when you step away from it, is gradually improving.

What I am concerned about, and I think the companies are acknowledging they have to be prepared for. If we think about what's happened here, you basically took an economic cycle that might normally trend into a downturn over a nine, 12, 15-month period before you declare the bottom, then there was a beginning of a restart and you compressed it into four to six weeks. If you look at an economic cycle, when you do it normally, there is a certain level of business value.

Early on, the message from the public garbage companies, and even the bigger privates, very few cancels. This is really about commercial collection, very few cancels, less than one percent. Most of the commercial business wherein economy was reopened, trying to get back on their feet, whether the PPP money helped, whatever the circumstances where they're trying to restart. What I fear, and I think this is sad but true, there will be some businesses that won't make it.

If you look at the Great Recession as an example, the US census tracked the data all way through, and garbage industry talked about it going out 12-13. They lost five percent of their customers. Now, the census data is two point five percent in the three years they measured, but the garbage industry will talk about a loss of five percent of their commercial customer base. Are we going to have a five percent loss of customers? I don't know.

What I do believe, though, is they're going to have losses that are greater than the one percent, that they talked about in early May when they were doing first-quarter reporting and in another two weeks, we'll hear more about that.

From an industry standpoint, through the during, they ran at full employment, didn't furlough anybody. The public companies, smaller companies, had to. They didn't have a choice, but the bigger public companies, the bigger operators, didn't furlough anybody, maintain the integrity of services, did all the things you're supposed to do from an employment standpoint, from a safety and security with all the right personal protection equipment.

The employee base rose to a level that doesn't surprise me covering this for 32 years and going to the NWRA Awards breakfast every year, listening to the driver awards, but I think lots of people were surprised.

They showed up every day, did the work brilliantly, absenteeism was low. What I believe we'll see going through the next six months is there will be some right-sizing of the economy and with it, the industry will have to adjust. I think most of that will be done through attrition, there's always certain turnover. I'm not looking for big furloughs, just there'll be some attrition and that's the important message.

I think the garbage industry learned a lot about how to adjust its business model quickly because the Great Recession, and will be able to repeat that as needed. They're planning for the best, operating as if it's a V planning for it to be worse, and in a position to be able to respond when, and if it happens. If it doesn't, great, and if it does, they'll adjust. I think that should be made clear, there's not going to be any unit pricing pressure. Great misperception.

You can't have this volume compression and not have price compression unit. Price in this context, price per ton, price per yard, price per pole, we see no pressure on that. The breadth of this is pretty equitable across all pump companies servicing this industry, in the sense of everybody seeing very similar circumstances, so that small little company that sits here in their truck's 80% full saying, "I'm going to steal somebody's customer to fill the truck." Everybody's had 80% full, conceptually.

We're not seeing pricing pressure to move business around, but I think that's another lesson that was learned out of the Great Recession. I'm not saying nobody's going to do this, but in my career, in prior cycles, where the little company always thought that they should be full, I think lots of business, garbage companies, service companies, collection sites learn that they're better off 80% full at 100% price than 100% full at a discount, and that will be a major difference as we come through this cycle.

[00:12:41] Liz: I like that. It'll be interesting to watch. You mentioned earnings calls are coming up, but is there anything that you're expecting?

[00:12:51] Michael: We've had a couple of pre-announcements or, for instance, two in a pre-announcement. Waste Connections came right out and just told the market, "Hey, numbers aren't going to be as bad as we thought", and reset them. We've been in front of a hundred percent of our coverage in the last three to four weeks, and the general message was business was going to end up being better than we thought it was going to be.

The one, tempered voice, and I want to be careful here, I'm not trying to say, "Waste Management's out there going; oh, it's horrible", because they're not, but they're a little more tempered. I think that has everything to do with mix, that's the comment I made at the beginning of our podcast. Over 60% of their revenues are in the geography, as we talked about, that were slower in the economic restart. They're further behind and they're 55% urban, so we're just seeing a slower recovery in their commercial collection business.

On the other hand, I think their landfill volume's probably has popped back nicely. The combination of the two might temper their numbers on a relative basis to waste connections, GFL, Republic. Republic issued and [unintelligible 00:14:02] last week, end of the week, talking about a credit agreement adjustment for their covenants that was opportunistic, there was no need to do it other than, "Let's shift them because we can", didn't cost them anything. But they made a reference to where their leverage ratio would be at the end of 2q being similar to 1q.

If you work the math on that, the expectations of the stock market are way low about where Republic's numbers are going to come out. The point of the statement is we could end up with some upside surprises. Connections took that out of the market because they told you it was going to be better. I think GFL, Republic, could end up pleasantly surprising the market. I suspect that Casella is right in line with expectations, is slightly better because this is their seasonal period. Might be a little bit tempered by we're not moving around and traveling as much in New England, a tourist destination. I think Waste Management, probably, has numbers that aren't quite as attractive comparatively. not that they're bad numbers, just comparatively.

I think the other interesting issue will be there's clearly a big merger in the marketplace with Waste Management trying to buy advanced disposal, they recut the terms. We're waiting for the justice department to announce that they have a consent order meaning they're allowed to proceed with the closing. We don't have it yet, and by the time they report we'll be four weeks into the reset terms. You would have thought, if you were resetting your terms, that you at least had a sense of a commitment by justice to get to a finish line.

That'll be a fascinating set of conversations on the Waste Management call if they don't have an announcement that they have a consent order. Then, when are we getting it? Because it seems that should be happening by now. Why isn't? What's holding it up at this point?

[00:16:07] Liz: Right. Definitely, I can't wait to hear more about that. Speaking of M&A, I know that you have written about and you're thinking that, possibly, M&A activity will heat up again. Do you still stand by that?

[00:16:23] Michael: We do. Remember the industry consolidation, if you look at the 21st century, all of the 2000s, and you think about the public companies, except for Republic buys Allied, and then Waste Connections buys Progressive, that's in '16. Then, in '18, GFL buys Waste Industries, such a big transaction. Those three big deals. Other than those funky bits, pretty much the consolidation kept pace with the underlying organic growth of the industry, which is about 3%.

We then got tax reform in 2017. With it, corporate rates were changed permanently, personal tax rates were changed with a sunset at the end of '22. Meaning in 2023, unless they were extended, the rates will all going to go back up to where they were pre-tax reform. The vast majority of the 12,000 plus private companies that are out there that make up 25 billion dollars of a 75-billion-dollar industry are taxed on a personal basis, they're not C corps.

If you knew you were an eventual seller of your business, and tax reforms happened in '17, and we're nine years [unintelligible 00:17:41] economic cycle -the great recession it's the bottom in '08- and we haven't had an economic cycle yet, we're nine years into-- This has been flat for '05 until '14. Then in '14 on, we started seeing this gradual improvement. You're looking at lower taxes, and you knew you're a seller, and we're way late. At this point, they pulled forward your deal. We had this above average pay in '17, '18, '19. That's where this is going.

We come into '20, again, pre-COVID, and the guidance is, "We're going to have a really good deal here like '17, '18, '19." Pandemic happens, clearly for lots of reasons things get pause. At the minimum, can you do due diligence? I think it's going to restart. I think the pipelines were chockablock full. Then, you have two interesting questions. Are there sellers out there that go, "I'm not going to fight this fight and try to rebuild this. Let's just get it done." That's the COVID effect. It pulls a certainty on, "I'd like to get to the finish line, let's get it done".

The second one, and I normally never talk about presidential actions, and people say to me all the time, "Well, but this it's environmental stuff, so it must be something they'd run on." I go, "Actually, on my old career, it's irrelevant." The rules are pretty mature. We've known that republican administrations tend to do more cleanups and democratic administrations tend to do more enforcement actions. Outside of that, it's pretty mature environment. But no, actually presidential elections never really matter. This one does less about the individual people, more about the platforms, and the platforms couldn't be further apart about tax. There's a clear message, the democrats have made it very clear, they're raising corporate tax rates and they're letting all of the personal rate sunset.

You want tax certainty on your sale, you got to get it done in 2020 because, at the moment, if the polling data is right, you're going to have higher taxes. Therefore, you'd like to pull forward your deal, make sure it gets done. If that's the case, you really pretty much have to be in the market negotiating pretty much no later the end of September. It's hard to get it done, just the mechanics of it. If it's anything, 10 million or bigger. We're advocating, we could exit the year where 2021 guidance will have 3, 4, 5%, 6% rollover, depending on the size of the company, deal activity out of 19/20 into '21 because you got a whole bunch of things closed at the end of 2020.

[00:20:24] Liz: I like what you said about the COVID effect, it's definitely accelerating some stuff for sure.

[00:20:31] Michael: Some people go, "Do I really want to fight the fight of trying to rebuild it?" If you listen to the talking heads, we're like, "This is going to be years before we find our way back to the pre-COVID economy." I'm not sure I'm in that quite bearish of the view, but if you think that's the case, would you want to fight the fight? You knew you're a seller, you get your business old. Sorry, you were going to say something, Liz.

[00:20:54] Liz: No, absolutely. Especially if the leader or leaders of that company are getting a little bit older, they might not feel like fighting the fight, like you're saying.

[00:21:06] Michael: Remember something, in March, first half of March, January, February, first half of March, we were looking at an industry that was running at 5% open positions when you're normally at two and a half. Your driver turnover was high, you're having a hard time finding labor. You had owners driving garbage trucks again because the labor environment was so tight. This is six months ago.

[00:21:28] Liz: It feels like forever ago, doesn't it? So much has happened and changed.

[laughter]

[00:21:37] Liz: Another thing that has changed, and I would love your perspective on this, the Waste360/Stifel Investor Summit is coming up, it's on August 10th. Could you please give our listeners an overview of this awesome event and what takeaways will get by attending?

[00:21:54] Michael: This is the eighth year now that we've done this in partnership. Myself, and you have actually been in a couple different firms, but this is our eighth year. For the participants, those who've come to it in the past, it will feel a lot like a normal investor summit in the sense of it's a full day of getting caught up on solid waste, industrial waste, medical waste.

It's 10 public companies, we have four topical panels that we're going to tackle this year, rail hall, and the role of rail hall in the marketplace. We're looking at waste energy, which is seen as a key component of a long-term solid waste management plan in the UK and Europe, and it's not in the US. There lessons to be learned from that with the two biggest players in US, but also they're part of the development cycle that's going on in the UK.

I'm a big believer that we need to take safety out of the closet to speak of, pull it out and make it a top three. It's got to be talked about all the time. I'm not saying the companies aren't, but I'm doing a safety panel, I've got this thesis, I call it out of 10 and 10, meaning, "Let's get us out of the top 10 worst industries, most dangerous industries measured in the United States in the next 10 years".

We're going to do a private equity panel, we do that pretty much every two, or three years. We add private equity, just talk about where they are in the investing and the industry. Then, the last one, which I'm really excited about, is that we have Ron Mittelstaedt, who's the founder and executive chairman of Waste Connections. This will be his first big public stepping back in from a visibility standpoint with the marketplace since taking his leave a year and a half ago. We're really looking forward to catching up with him on the state of the industry and his perspective on what's going on. He always has great insights to share with the marketplace.

That's the agenda this year, it's going to look a lot like it normally would, but obviously we're doing it virtually, would be webcast. I think we're working out together, we're going to try and do it virtually, so you'll get to see us all somewhat live. As somebody email me, "Are you going to sit at your desk and wear a bow tie?" Because I always wear a bow tie when we do this thing, and I said, "Yes. Of course, I'll have my bow tie on".

[00:24:23] Liz: [laughs] Yes, you need the signature bow tie. That's great, I'm really looking forward to that. Like you said, having him come and share his insights that have always been amazing, Ron, that's going to be a big plus for the audience. I know you have to go, you have a hard stop, but I can't have this interview without asking how you felt about being named one of MWRA Hall of Fame winners? Congrats, it's well deserved. How do you feel about this honor?

[00:24:55] Michael: Thank you very much, Liz. Humble, I'm truly humbled. If you have an opportunity sometime, go on to MWRA site, go to their hall of fame section, click on and start looking at who's in the hall of fame. To be accepted and acknowledged as worthy of that group, it's a fascinating group of people, a lot of them I know and knew through my career. Humbled to be part of that organization. I love this business, and these are people who are the salt of the earth. It's very family-oriented industry, they love this country. It's a critical essential necessary service that's done [unintelligible 00:25:50] every single day, and it's just amazing to be part of it. Humbled is the best I could say.

[00:25:58] Liz: Congrats again, you really are joining legends. We're very happy to partner with you, you've added a lot to this industry and continue to.

[00:26:08] Michael: Thank you very much, I appreciate that. Those are kind words.

[00:26:11] Liz: I know you have to go, but anything else we should be paying attention to in the world of waste and recycling? You've always have an eye towards the future.

[00:26:20] Michael: There's lots of talk about the pandemic leads to long-term permanent changes and how and where we'll conduct our lives. Yes, there will be change. The garbage industry tends to adjust to those changes in a timely and orderly manner. Very rarely are those changes revolutionary, most of the time they're evolutionary. What you'll watch is the industry make the adjustments as they can in a very disciplined manner.

Whether it's more volume and coming out of the homes and less coming out of offices, or it's moving from a commodity-based models to process fees, or moving away from index-based contracts to fixed fees or different index that better reflects the industry. They just put their head down, their shoulder on the wheel, they push forward, and they gradually grind it out and the model adjusts accordingly. Underlying it, are these great businesses with high degree and integrity.

[00:27:27] Liz: Great. Thank you so much, Michael. I appreciate all of your insights, I'm so glad we finally got to do this.

[00:27:34] Michael: Me too, thank you very much, Liz. Enjoy the rest of your summer. I look forward to August 10th.

[00:27:40] Liz: Me too. Okay, chat soon. Take care, Michael.

[00:27:43] Michael: Take care, bye-bye.

[music]  

Junkyard Maestro: NYC Artist Makes Music From Trash

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Many people spend their days doing creative things with waste: reusing it, or converting it into new products, or energy, or compost. New York City artist Ken Butler turns trash into musical instruments. And ultimately, into music.

Butler, who studied viola as a child and maintained an interest in music while studying visual arts in France and the United States, loves to scour the streets of his Brooklyn neighborhood scavenging discarded items to make into musical instruments. He estimates that he’s built 400 instruments since he began with a beat-up old hatchet he found in his basement in 1978.

Butler mainly makes stringed instruments, but percussion ones sometimes too. To build a stringed instrument, he explains, all you need are a head, a neck, and a body.

And such heads, necks, and bodies he has fashioned: Butler has built instruments from tennis rackets, showshoes, brooms, shovels, golf clubs, hockey sticks, crutches, pieces of furniture, toothbrushes, spoons, pieces of other musical instruments. The list goes on.

When it comes finding pieces of junk to convert into musical tools, in Butler’s head and hands, the street’s the limit.

Some of Butler’s creations are oddities made mainly to be gawked at, but most of them are real instruments built for playing. And play them he does, all over the world, in museums and concert halls, at music festivals and on television.

Butler creates real music with his junk assemblages, and it sounds lovely.

View a short video of Ken Butler doing what he does here.

Need to Know

Misfits Markets is on a Mission to Reduce Food Waste

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Food waste is expected to increase in the next ten years to 2.1 billion tons, worth $1.5 trillion (Boston Consulting Group). Misfits Markets, which sells subscription boxes with imperfect produce – considered too ugly to be sold at grocery stores, is hoping to change that. The company recently has closed an $85 million Series B financing round.

There are many structural inefficiencies in the food supply chain. Misfits Markets is able to get around them by sending its products directly to consumers.

“Despite these technological advancements that are happening, the amount of product that goes to waste in absolute and relative terms is increasing every year,” said Ra Misfits Market founder and CEO Abhi Ramesh. “When you look at food waste over the past five years and compare that to the amount of food that went to waste in the prior five years, it’s increased. It’s one of those super long-term risks, but at least what we’re seeing, and what the data is showing directionally around food waste, is that it’s growing in magnitude, which means there will always be opportunities for us, or a version of us, to go in there and eliminate waste and provide affordability for customers.”

Read the original story here.

Need to Know

Demand For Food Products Containing Upcycled Ingredients Fuels Growth

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Upcycling — reusing discarded objects and materials to create products of higher value than the originals — is growing trend that creates a lot of prospects for manufacturers of food and beverage products.

A recent Future Market Insights study found that the upcycled food waste sector was worth $46.7 billion in 2019, and its compound annual growth rate is projected at 5% over the next 10 years.

A survey by Mattson found that 39% of consumers currently wish to buy food and beverage products that incorporate upcycled ingredients, and 57% of consumers plan to buy more of those types of products next year.

The United Nations estimates that $400 billion worth of food is wasted before even being delivered to stores. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture says Americans throw out 133 billion of food annually.

A number of food and beverage ingredient makers have been finding success with upcycled ingredients, among them Toast Ale, Nutraberry, and WTRMLN WTR.

Read the original article here.

Need to Know

Seattle Software Firm Raises $12M to Help Grocers Cut Food Waste

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A Seattle tech company has landed $12 million in equity funding to fuel the growth of its software, which is aimed at helping grocers manage food orders to reduce waste and spoilage issues.

The startup, Shelf Engine, was founded by software entrepreneurs Stafan Kalb and Bebe Jordan in 2016. The company offers AI technology that helps grocers such as Whole Foods, Kroger, and Target get the right amount of food onto the shelf at the right time.

More than 30% of meat, vegetables, and other perishable grocery items expire before their sell-by date, and that issue has been exacerbated by disruptions to the food supply and consumer purchasing patterns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shelf Engine’s product incorporates scan-based trade technology. The company guarantees sales for grocers by managing their orders, paying their vendors, and charging the retailer only for products that sell.

The company has 46 employees and plans to add 90 more with the new Series A funding, which was spearheaded by GGV Capital with participation from a handful of other funders.

Read the original article here.

Need to Know

Wisconsin’s Kenosha Selected as Next Region for Major Investment Under the Beverage Industry’s Every Bottle Back Initiative

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Kenosha, WI – America’s leading beverage companies and their environmental and sustainability partners announced today that the city of Kenosha is the latest locale selected for investment under Every Bottle Back, a breakthrough initiative to improve the collection and recycling of plastic bottles.

The $520,000 investment will help more than 32,000 households convert from an outdated plastic bag recycling system to 96-gallon, curbside recycling carts. This modernization will support the automation of recycling collection so that carts will be lifted and dumped into trucks via an automated arm, upgrading from the city’s current labor intensive, manual collection of bags. 

Currently, Kenosha’s recyclable materials are sent to a materials recovery facility (MRF) that does not accept bagged recyclables, resulting in unnecessary landfilling of valuable materials, including recyclable plastic bottles. Over the next 10 years, this investment is estimated to yield 54 million pounds of new recyclables, including 2.1 million new pounds of polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

Launched last October by the American Beverage Association (ABA), Every Bottle Back is an unprecedented initiative to reduce the beverage industry’s plastic footprint that brings together The Coca-Cola Company, Keurig Dr Pepper and PepsiCo with leading environmental and sustainability organizations - World Wildlife Fund, Closed Loop Partners and The Recycling Partnership. Together, they will support the circular plastics economy by reinforcing to consumers the value of 100% recyclable plastic bottles, ensuring they don’t end up as waste in oceans, rivers or landfills.

“America’s leading beverage companies launched Every Bottle Back last year to reduce our plastic footprint, marshalling the equivalent of nearly a half-billion dollars to educate consumers nationwide and improve our recycling system with modern technology and infrastructure,” said Katherine Lugar, ABA president and CEO.  “We are thrilled to partner with the city of Kenosha and The Recycling Partnership on this exciting investment.  Together, we’ll work towards our shared goal of creating a truly circular economy in which our beverage bottles are collected, recycled and remade into new bottles, as intended, meaning less new plastic in our environment.”

“This investment will preserve our environment and ensure the Kenosha Area remains a top, year-round destination by ensuring that valuable and recyclable materials, like our plastic beverage bottles, don’t end up as litter on the shoreline or as waste in landfills,” said Kelly McDowell of the Wisconsin Beverage Association. “The Wisconsin Beverage Association and its members are eager is work alongside the city of Kenosha and The Recycling Partnership to make recycling more accessible and convenient for consumers.”

“The Recycling Partnership is excited to partner with ABA and the city of Kenosha to move residents from placing their recycling in bags to large, lidded carts in order to collect even more valuable recyclables,” said Keefe Harrison, founder and chief executive officer of The Recycling Partnership. “When we know what we can and can’t recycle, we keep recyclables out of landfills and waterways, decrease greenhouse gases, support local jobs and reduce the need to create more products out of virgin materials.”

The Every Bottle Back initiative will measure industry progress in reducing the use of new plastic by increasing the amount of plastic that is collected and remade into new bottles. It is also investing in key regions of the U.S. to improve the quality and availability of recycled plastic and, in concert, has launched a public awareness campaign to remind consumers that our bottles are 100% recyclable and if recycled properly will be remade into new bottles. For a more detailed overview about the national components, click here.

To learn about recycling in Kenosha, click here

These efforts support individual sustainability commitments undertaken by The Coca-Cola Company, Keurig Dr Pepper and PepsiCo.

Learn more about the Every Bottle Back initiative at www.EveryBottleBack.org.

Need to Know

Making Biofuel from Fast Food Waste and Lithium Trash

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According to the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, scientists have discovered a new way to create biofuel using traditional waste products like grease from fast food restaurants and waste from lithium batteries. The creation of the new biofuel would reduce emissions and promote recycling. A win-win.

In the real-world, the biofuel could be used to fuel ships, airplanes, cars and bikes in the future. 

Read the original story here.