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Need to Know

Rabobank Announces Redesigned FoodBytes! Innovation Platform to Advance Sustainable Food and Agriculture

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NEW YORK (July 7, 2020) --  Rabobank today announced the redesign of its FoodBytes! food and agriculture innovation platform, which features an expanded startup discovery program FoodBytes! Pitch and a reinvented corporate innovation program FoodBytes! Pilot. Startups can apply for FoodBytes! Pitch through August 10.

“The FoodBytes! redesign is the result of a year’s worth of planning to reimagine how our network can work harder for startups, large food and ag corporations and investors in driving industry change,” said Anne Greven, global head of F&A innovation, Rabobank. “Since FoodBytes! launched in 2015, we’ve hosted 17 total live pitch competitions across North America, Europe and Australia, but our vision is much larger than events. Our network has grown to 310 active startup alumni globally. We want to build a powerful engine for ongoing collaboration and innovation between food and agriculture change agents who want to feed the world sustainably.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that players in our food and ag system must be prepared for constant change and transformation. Rabobank is now playing a much larger role in helping companies adopt the innovation mindset and capabilities that are essential for a resilient food supply, as well as long-term business success,” added Greven.  

New: FoodBytes! Pitch Offers Expanded Connections in Single, Virtual Program

Startup discovery platform FoodBytes! Pitch unveils today its expanded virtual program that offers corporate leaders and investors exposure to a larger group of startups - with opportunities for deeper connections and networking:

  • Rabobank is expanding FoodBytes! Pitch to select 45 startups total, including 15 startups in each of three verticals: sustainable consumer foods (CPG), food tech, and agtech. This expanded pool of startups offers greater peer-to-peer networking opportunities, as well as more tailored mentorship in each vertical.
  • The selected startups will participate in three weeks of digital programming that offers valuable exposure to corporate leaders and investors, mentorship and one-on-one connections.
  • All 45 startups will have a chance to pitch their businesses via pre-recorded video to FoodBytes! judges. All 45 startups become FoodBytes! Pitch alumni who join Rabobank’s engaged community with ongoing support and introductions to help grow their businesses.
  • The judges will select 15 finalists to participate in a public, live-streamed pitch competition on December 2, which will also be viewed by C-level executives participating in Rabobank’s Annual Food & Agriculture Summit.
  • The live-streamed pitch competition will culminate in the selection of one winner in each vertical: CPG, food tech and agtech. Being a FoodBytes! Pitch winner offers startups a valuable credential that opens doors, as well as deeper support from Rabobank to help them grow. 

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rabobank encourages applications from entrepreneurs whose technologies and products address critical food system challenges, including food loss mitigation, on-farm automation, animal health tech, shortened supply chains, accessible food e-commerce and functional ingredients. Corporate organizations and investors now gain access to all FoodBytes! Pitch startups, as well as the programming designed to create meaningful connections, through a paid membership.

Introducing the FoodBytes! Pilot Corporate Innovation Program

Rabobank has also launched FoodBytes! Pilot, a reinvented corporate innovation program which replaces its TERRA accelerator and its cohort format. The new 6-to-9 month program features consultative services that help corporate partners embed long-term innovation into their organizations -- something that often requires organizational change.

  • FoodBytes! Pilot is open year-round to corporate partners who receive consultative support to develop innovation objectives and create cultural change that supports success.
  • Rabobank serves as a ‘matchmaker’ - pairing Pilot corporate partners with startups for customized pilot collaborations based on the organization’s unique goals and challenges. Partners receive Rabobank guidance and consultation throughout the pilot.
  • For startups, FoodBytes! Pilot provides industry validation, due diligence for investors and accelerated growth through access to corporate resources.
  • Pilot collaborations between corporations and startups can result in mutually-beneficial outcomes, such as: product co-development, commercial partnerships, licensing agreements, new customer relationships and investment.

After a pilot is complete, Rabobank can connect corporate partners who want deeper change management and organizational transformation with consulting services via its partners.

“Our move to introduce FoodBytes! Pilot is about much more than a longer pilot collaboration between corporate partners and startups. It’s about our vision to help established food and ag companies future-proof their businesses, and solve real problems, in a rapidly changing food and ag landscape. Our partners know that their continued success -- and their impact on sustainability goals -- requires new ways of thinking and operating,” said Greven. “Rabobank brings expertise, a large network of startups and consultant partners to the table to help them manage through change.”

For More Information, or to Apply:

Startups interested in applying for FoodBytes! Pitch can learn more and apply here.

Investors and food and ag corporations interested in FoodBytes! Pitch membership should contact Caroline Keeley at [email protected]om

Food and ag corporations interested in learning more about FoodBytes! Pilot should contact Caroline Keeley at [email protected]

About Rabobank and F&A Innovation

Rabobank is a leading global food and agriculture bank providing sector expertise, strategic counsel and tailored financial solutions to clients across the entire food value chain. Rabobank’s F&A Innovation team is part of its global mission of Growing a Better World Together. The team aims to help turn today’s most promising ideas into tomorrow’s impactful solutions through two global programs (Pitch and Pilot) that are designed to build a community of forward-looking corporates, investors and entrepreneurs that pioneer the future of food and agriculture.

Media Inquiries

For press information, interviews or photography, please contact Alicia Balkrishna

[email protected] | 415-336-1712

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Need to Know

Lion Electric and Boivin Evolution Announce Initial Sales of Lion8 Zero Emission Refuse Trucks to Waste Connections

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QUEBEC, July 6, 2020 /PRNewswire/ - The Lion Electric Co. (Lion) and Boivin Evolution (BEV) are proud to announce the first sales of Lion8 chassis with fully automated side load bodies to Waste Connections, Inc., a leading provider of non-hazardous solid waste collection, transfer, recycling and disposal services in the U.S. and Canada. The introduction of these electric vehicles into markets in Washington and Florida will represent the first applications of zero-emission trucks with fully electric waste collection bodies and automated arms in North America.

For Waste Connections, this investment furthers the Company's sustainability efforts and is consistent with its commitment to growing and expanding its environmental initiatives through technology and innovation.   Developed for the electric market, the combination of the Lion8 chassis and the BEV all-electric automated side-loading body offers a cost-effective waste management solution, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

"We are excited to lead the industry with the introduction of the Lion-Boivin electric vehicles to our markets and look forward to expanding their application," said Worthing F. Jackman, President and CEO of Waste Connections.  "This investment in zero emission vehicles furthers our continuing efforts to reduce our environmental impact and expand our capabilities within the communities we serve."  

The advantages of the Lion8 with BEV

  • Range of 130 miles for a full day of operation (1,200 homes) on a single charge 
  • No noise pollution 
  • Optimal visibility and turning radius 
  • Zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 
  • No hydraulic pumps, valves, tubings, hoses and fluid. All arm and body movements are powered by the battery that drives electric motors for each function 
  • Overnight recharging when the truck is not in operation and when demand for electricity is lower, which reduces energy costs 
  • Savings of up to 80% on total energy costs 
  • 60% lower service costs thanks to the simple, low-maintenance electric powertrain that has few components 
  • Oil-free operation with very few moving parts 
  • Longer lasting brakes due to regenerative braking system

Never before have waste collection trucks been so beneficial to our planet, our society, and our quality of life.

"We are thankful to Waste Connections for leading the heavy-duty electric movement and we are excited that they have chosen Lion in assisting them for their transition to a zero-emission fleet. I am highly confident that Lion's all-electric refuse trucks will be a valuable addition to Waste Connection's operations. I hope this transaction inspires everyone seeking an economic, sustainable and environmental transportation solution to leverage the substantial benefits of electrification"

                                                           – Marc Bedard, CEO - Founder, The Lion Electric Co.

"We are proud to have been chosen by Waste Connections for the electrification of their fleet of refuse collection trucks.  This introduction of electric vehicles is the beginning of a new tendency towards a cleaner environment."

                                                                     - Claude Boivin, Founder and CEO, Boivin Evolution

About The Lion Electric Co.
The Lion Electric Co. is an innovative manufacturer of zero-emission vehicles. We create, design, and manufacture all-electric class 5 to class 8 commercial urban trucks and all-electric buses and minibuses for the school, paratransit, and mass transit markets. Lion is a North American leader in electric OEM and design, build, and assemble all its vehicles' main components: chassis, truck cabins and bus bodies.  

Always actively seeking new reliable technologies, Lion vehicles have unique features that are specifically adapted to its users and their everyday needs. We believe that transitioning to all-electric vehicles will lead to major improvements in our society, environment, and overall quality of life.  

About Boivin Evolution 
Boivin Evolution, located in Levis on the south shore of Quebec City, is the first equipment manufacturer to offer automated, all-electric waste collection trucks. With more than 40 years of experience in the innovative waste collection equipment manufacturing industry, Claude Boivin, a familiar name among the largest equipment manufacturers in North America, has resumed operations under the name BOIVIN EVOLUTION INC. BEV is the continuation of many innovations that Claude Boivin and his team of engineers have brought to the waste collection and recycling business. Electricity for efficiency.

About Waste Connections
Waste Connections is an integrated solid waste services company that provides non-hazardous waste collection, transfer, disposal and recycling services in mostly exclusive and secondary markets in the U.S. and Canada. Through its R360 Environmental Solutions subsidiary, Waste Connections is also a leading provider of non-hazardous oilfields waste treatment, recovery and disposal services in several of the most active natural resources producing areas in the United States, including the Permian, Bakken and Eagle Ford Basins. Waste Connections serves more than seven million residential, commercial, industrial, and exploration and production customers in 42 states in the U.S., and six provinces in Canada. The Company also provides intermodal services for the movement of cargo and solid waste containers in the Pacific Northwest.

SOURCE The Lion Electric Co.

Need to Know

ReSource Center Largest Reducer of Greenhouse Gases in Santa Barbara County, CA

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July 7, 2020 -- The Santa Barbara County Public Works Department has been looking for ways to improve recycling programs and overall diversion from landfilling for the past decade. Their Tajiguas Landfill serves the South Coast and Santa Ynez Valley areas of Santa Barbara County and accepts around 200,000 tons of material each year. To align with new State laws that mandate increased diversion rates and reductions in the amount of organics sent to landfills, Santa Barbara County invested in the ReSource Center. This project, built on the Tajiguas Landfill will simultaneously address new mandates through increasing recycling, composting organics currently being landfilled, and reducing the landfill’s carbon footprint. 

Set to be fully operational by early 2021, the first phase of the project is a new MRF (materials recovery facility) that will process municipal solid waste (MSW) collected from the area, separating recyclables and organics from the trash. At the MRF, two 3D trommel screens, various sizing screensair density separators, three elliptical separators, and 11 optical units will recover and separate paper and containers. MRF equipment is supplied and installed by Van Dyk Recycling Solutions, Norwalk, CT. Installation is nearing completion and is set to begin start up and commissioning by fall of 2020.

The recyclables captured at the MRF are baled and sold to market. The organics captured at the MRF move on to second phase of the project, the anaerobic digestion facility. Here, organics are broken down and turned into compost and renewable energy. The energy generated by the ReSource Center (which also includes an existing landfill gas collection system) will be enough to power the system itself as well as 2,000 local homes per year.

The county estimates about 60% of incoming MSW material is either recyclable or compostable. The MRF is expected to recover that fraction (composed of roughly equal parts recyclables and organics) from the MSW, significantly reducing the county’s landfill contributions. This will extend the life of the landfill by up to a decade, while significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the project will be the largest reducer of greenhouse gases in the county, slashing 117,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the landfill’s output (the equivalent of taking 29,000 cars off the road) each year.

For more information on this project:

www.LessIsMore.org/ReSourceCenter

www.vdrs.com

Waste Management Pros Build UV Sanitizer for Health Providers

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When Frederick, MD’s health system started seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases, their supplies of N-95 masks/respirators were getting very low, and there were concerns about the possibility of running out of this critical personal protective equipment. Local government stepped in to ensure lasting supplies—and brought Frederick County’s Division of Utilities and Solid Waste Management (DUSWM) into the picture.

Some local providers had been using ultraviolet light (UV) room sterilizers on used masks, hanging them in a room, closing the door and waiting until UV levels reached, and remained, at a level sufficient to sterilize the room and its contents, says Mark Schweitzer, division of Utilities and Solid Waste Management acting director. 

“But this equipment was now needed for other uses; meanwhile we had experience with UV disinfection, which we use at our wastewater treatment plant to disinfect treated wastewater,” says Schweitzer. So the utility built a sterilization unit for its community’s health care workers. 

They had UV tubes that generate the light, UV ballasts that power the system, and meters to measure UV intensity. And they had a maintenance department familiar with the UV technology who knew how to build the unit. 

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Frederick County’s deputy chief administrative officer, who 

formerly held Schweitzer’s job at DUSWM, was heavily involved in building and proving out the technology, relying on Centers for Disease Control guidance materials during design and construction. 

The sterilization system consists of a small enclosed cabinet, resembling a toaster, with racks and UV lights inside.  Wheels roll the racks that the masks hang on, eradiating them within about 20 minutes.

They had a target dose rate of 1 Jewell per square centimeter, which is the dose of UV light needed to disinfect a mask.  And there was some work to be done to validate they were reaching that mark. 

“We had experience validating batches from our autoclave process 

whereby we put tape on a test tube, and once it gets to a certain temperature stripes appear on the tape. We hoped to apply similar principals using color strips to confirm we got to the required UV dose,” says Schweitzer. 

His division collaborated with the University of California, Berkeley, who was researching UV light-sensitive test strips and was specifically studying color measurement. But commercial color strips did not prove accurate, so DUSWM staff ended up simply using conservative time estimates to determine they were reaching the right UV dose.

Where the University of Berkeley came in especially helpful was in informing how to interpret and calculate intensity and dose.

“And we learned from them that Tyvek is highly reflective of UV light, so we ended up lining the inside of the chamber with Tyvek house wrap. It increased the overall intensity of light to get to the required 1 Jewell dose much faster,” says Schweitzer. (See here)

Michael Marschner, deputy chief administrative officer for

Frederick County, was the one who asked DUSWM to put together a UV-C test unit to verify spare parts from the division’s UV-C disinfection system could be used to decontaminate N-95 masks.

“That initial unit was really a proof-of-concept.  Once we were able to verify that the system could achieve the necessary energy levels for inactivation of Corona virus analogs, I provided staff with diagrams for the first operational prototype. This included the removable racks that allow increased throughput, significantly increasing the number of masks that could be treated each day,” says Marschner. 

A severe shortage of the N-95 masks could have greatly increased the risk to health care providers, possibly rendering them incapacitated, he noted. 

“Nurses, doctors, and other medical staff may be forced to wear soiled or contaminated masks, increasing their exposure risk. No one knew if there would be enough N-95 masks if the hospital was overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.  We acted on this idea, building an operational unit within four weeks, preparing for the worst case but hoping for the best case—that the decontamination unit would not be needed,” says Marschner. 

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Supply concerns have subsided since DUSWM went to work on this project, but the first fully fine-tuned unit remains at the hospital for emergency use.  A second unit is ready as a back should it be needed. 
And since UV light breaks down the genetic material of other viruses and bacteria, preventing them from replicating, this technology could be used, not only should there be a spike in COVID-19 cases, but it could sterilize supplies and equipment with other illnesses. 

Sustainability Talks

L’Oréal Makes New Sustainability Commitments for 2030

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The L’Oréal Group has announced its goal of being “fully sustainable” by 2030. To that end, it has launched the “L’Oréal for the Future” program, which marks the second phase of its sustainability journey.

The Group says, “It is no longer enough for companies to reduce their environmental impact with objectives that are ‘self-set.’ At L’Oréal, our commitment is to ensure that our activities are respectful of the so-called ‘Planetary Boundaries,’ meaning what the planet can withstand, as defined by environmental science.” 

This new program incorporates a strategy with “measurable, time-bound impact reduction targets that will guide our internal transformation, that of our stakeholders and our contribution to urgent social and environmental needs.” And, in addition to direct impact, the Group’s commitments also have an eye toward “indirect, extended impact,” related to the activity of suppliers and the use of its products by consumers.

Specifically, the Group has set 2030 targets in the areas of fighting climate change, managing water sustainably, respecting biodiversity, and preserving natural resources. These include:

  • We have committed to achieve carbon neutrality in all of our sites by 2025, by improving energy efficiency and using 100% renewable energy. 
  • In 2030, 100% of the water used in our industrial processes will be recycled and reused in a loop. 
  • By 2030, 100% of the bio-based ingredients for formulas and packaging materials will be traceable and will come from sustainable sources. None of them will be linked to deforestation. 
  • By 2025, 100% of our plastic packaging will be refillable, reusable, recyclable or compostable. 

The Group says it will report regularly on progress against each of its new goals.

View the original article here.

Highlights from SWANApalooza

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News from the Front

In the first keynote presentation, David Biderman, Executive Director and CEO of SWANA, spoke with Kathryn Garcia, Commissioner of the Department of Sanitation, New York City (DSNY). As the initial epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, Garcia talked about the substantial impact to solid waste and recycling operations in New York City (NYC). Although at one point fully 25 percent of DSNY workers were out sick, the garbage got picked up, albeit with some delays in certain areas, and on longer shifts with more overtime. The transfer and disposal system proved to be robust. She noted that commercial waste was down anywhere from 70-90 percent, not unexpectedly, but still a shocking number. Ironically, at odds with other parts of the country, where residential waste was initially up on average 25 perccent, NYC’s residential waste was actually down 7 percent in April, as people left the city in droves, particularly in Manhattan, though interestingly, recycled volumes rose in the same timeframe.

Given the “fiscal cliff” confronting NYC, Commissioner Garcia has had to make budget cuts, not only to the workforce, but notably in the suspension of curbside organic and e-waste services, as well as in litter sweeping. The expected request for proposal (RFP) for commercial franchise zones in the city has been indefinitely postponed, pending further reopening phases and depending on how businesses recover. As she noted, it is not fair to ask haulers to bid on commercial business that unfortunately may or may not return. 

PFAS: Important Research Underway; Early Sequestration Estimates

A number of sessions focused on various aspects of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). In the PFAS keynote, Dr. Morton Barlaz, Professor at North Carolina State University, noted that the percentage of PFAS from landfill leachate that ends up in publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) is generally relatively small, but that the variation can be very wide depending on the size of both of the respective landfill and POTW. 

Additionally, PFAS do appear in the ambient air above landfills, but any study of that PFAS aspect is in the very early stages. The Environmental Research and Education Foundation (EREF) is obviously very focused on PFAS research and has funded several grants.  The first is to study whether existing landfill liners are robust enough to protect the surrounding environment—can they contain the PFAS-- which is currently believed to be the case. Additional EREF grants include studying the pretreatment of leachate before discharge to a POTW. The presence of PFAS in leachate is much greater than in drinking water generally (26,000 ppt on average), and leachate in general is much too nasty to put through standard drinking water treatment technologies such as granular activated carbon (GAC) or ion exchange as is—it must be pretreated – by as many as four stages in some cases. 

It was stressed that communication between landfill owners and POTW operators is very important, as the two are often intertwined, and it is important to determine at which point and where — at the landfill or the POTW – is the best place to mitigate and treat for PFAS. It is believed that a number of pretreatment technologies/methods are pretty close to commercialization. Another grant involves research on potential PFAS destruction technologies. Current technologies are only transformative, or result in concentrate, that must be re-landfilled, incinerated or injected into deepwells. Even incineration is not believed to destroy PFAS—the temperatures required are higher than a typical waste-to-energy plant (WTE), and controversy has erupted over the practice, given the recent findings at the Norlite facility in upstate New York. Incineration is also expensive – $1-$2 per gallon. Deepwell injection is cheaper, at $0.15 to $0.20 per gallon, but the permitting issues are formidable. Future technologies are expected to be key to destruction, and any cost-effective commercial applications are probably three to five years away. 

In light of the aforementioned lack of cost-effective destruction capability, there is great interest in understanding just how effective the landfill is in sequestering PFAS, as right now, management through landfill appears necessary. Samuel Nicolai, VP, Engineering and Compliance at Casella Waste Systems, discussed the results of his work attempting to estimate the ability of landfills to sequester PFAS, though as he admitted, it is very theoretical and requires quite a bit of estimation! 

Bottom line, however, he looked at the incoming mass (to the landfill) in a 2018-2019 study, where 95 percent of the samples contained PFAS—anywhere from 50 ppt to 2000 ppb, with the resulting average being 23 grams per day coming in. Then, he looked at the mass output — leachate — which on average contained one to two grams per day, based on six compounds. Thus, he was able to estimate that the vast majority, more than 90 percent, remains sequestered  in the landfill, based on this data.

Recycling In Need of Systemic Change

In the recycling keynote, “Overcoming Recycling Challenges and Taking Advantage of New Opportunities”, Elizabeth Biser of The Recycling Partnership noted that 32 percent of what could be recycled is lost to disposal—20 million tons. Participants agreed that systemic change was needed, from more leadership from the federal government and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to better design from the consumer brand companies to enable more packaging to be recycled, to more technology investment at the material recovery facility (MRF) and to further development of end markets. 

Education also remains paramount, as nationwide contamination rates were still estimated to be between 17-20 percent. Yet, it was also emphasized by a number of participants that it has become much clearer as a result of the pandemic that the U.S. economy needs the material supplied from recycling—which was particularly notable in certain paper shortages and the impact on recycled PET and aluminum supplies resulting from the temporary suspension of redemption activities in bottle bill states. As a result, several participants were actually more hopeful than they have been for some time that we will see more legislative and policy action on the federal level. Extended producer responsibility (EPR) and landfill bans were controversial among the participants, while the call for greater recycled content in packaging (to spur end markets) was more generally agreed upon. 

The State of Solid Waste and Steps to Recovery

Michael Hoffman, Managing Director at Stifel, presented “The State of Solid Waste: The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same”.  He discussed the solid waste industry before, during and after COVID-19. Bottom line for the “during” COVID-19 portion, he noted that things generally did not get as bad as feared. Landfill tonnage was down 20 percent, while commercial collection was off between 10-15 percent, and they appear to have bottomed and are now recovering week by week. Residential waste had been reported up as much as 25-30 percent but now seems to have settled into being up about 10-15 percent. Hoffman believes the industry players generally exited the second quarter better than expected when they reported first quarter results in the first week of May, while noting that more than three quarters of the customer base are NOT in retail trade, accommodation and food services, or arts and recreation. 

He also believes that the pandemic fallout on residential waste is a call to reprice and restructure municipal contracts, similar to what began in recycling in the wake of China’s National Sword. In terms of recovery, both for the economy and the industry, he stressed that the key item to watch was housing — it is the canary in the coal mine for both consumer sentiment and ultimately waste volumes. On other topics, he noted that industry price discipline appears to be, and is expected to remain intact, while merger and acquisition (M&A) activity is expected to restart after a pause during the lockdowns.

In the final keynote presentation, “COVID-19: Steps to Recovery”, participants were asked to discuss what they saw as continuing into the new normal out of what was seen or learned during the pandemic. Work From Home (WFH) appears to be a trend that is expected to continue, as well as higher reliance on technology. Given the need for social distancing, in particular, the push to automated trucks (and away from two to three man trucks) and greater recycling automation technology was noted. And of course, it was reinforced that taking care of your people and adhering to best operating practices were key!

Life (And Lobbying) Must Go On

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It seemed for the longest time that there were no other issues impacting the waste and recycling industry aside from those directly related to COVID-19. When that finally changed, it did so suddenly and felt like a breath of fresh air reminding us of how things were just a few short months ago.

The last in-person lobbying meetings that I had on Capitol Hill were on March 10, only a few days before everything shut down. Things already had begun to change — the customary handshake greetings were dispensed with, and automatic hand sanitizing stations were set up at the entrances to Senate offices. You could feel that something ominous was coming.

That day, I, along with National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) members representing both our services and suppliers sectors, held several meetings with congressional staff to discuss repeal of the 12% Federal Excise Tax (FET) on the first retail sale of all commercial trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating above 33,000 pounds. This tax serves as a disincentive to the purchase of new heavy-duty trucks, which are more fuel-efficient, less polluting, and safer for their operators and passengers, as well as the public that shares the road with them.

We found this to be an issue that cuts across party lines. Both sides of the aisle have constituencies that stand to benefit from increased sales of newer vehicles — manufacturing companies and their employees, union laborers, and environmentalists, truckers, and safety advocates — many of whom typically find themselves on opposing sides of issues.

Despite this formidable bipartisan coalition, that effort was stopped in its tracks, as was everything else when the coronavirus took hold.

As the intentionally self-inflicted recession gripped the world, it became clear there was the potential for a devastating impact on the manufacture, sale and purchase of new heavy-duty trucks. In March, Class 8 truck orders dropped by 52% compared to the corresponding period last year. Some estimates predicted that sales for the year could be down as much as 50% from 2019.

As Congress began consideration of legislation in response to the pandemic and assisting with economic recovery, the idea of suspending the FET on the purchase of new heavy-duty trucks and trailers until the end of 2021 was put forward. NWRA and its coalition partners believe that the suspension of the FET would serve as an effective and immediate policy to spur the sales of newer, cleaner trucks, which would help retain jobs in the trucking sector and rebuild our economy.

As a result of government-ordered closures, truck manufacturing plants and truck dealers have either suspended or scaled back operations. A suspension of the FET, which increases the cost of new heavy-duty trucks and trailers by $22,000 on average, would jump-start this sector of the economy by immediately sparking the purchase of heavy-duty trucks and trailers. This would help save or bring back the livelihoods of the 7.8 million Americans employed in jobs related to trucking.

In addition to saving jobs, a suspension of the FET would spur sales of today’s cleaner and safer heavy-duty trucks by making them more affordable during this difficult economic time. Over the past two decades, the trucking industry has made strong environmental gains, and today’s heavy-duty trucks are cleaner than ever before.

Cleaner fuel and engines utilizing advanced technologies have combined to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 97% and particulate matter emissions by 98%. Since 2010, more fuel-efficient diesel trucks have saved 101 million barrels of crude oil and reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 43 million tons. Suspension of the tax would also encourage the sale of newer trucks, which are equipped with the latest safety technologies that help reduce roadway crashes, injuries and fatalities.

During this crisis, our nation has been more dependent than ever on our trucking fleet for waste removal and recycling collection, as well as the delivery of goods and critical medical supplies. Suspension of the FET can help keep the nation clean, safe, and well-supplied in rebuilding America’s vital trucking industry and related employment.

When NWRA asked its members if they were interested in signing on to the coalition letter to Congress making the case for FET suspension, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Members from both the services and suppliers sectors responded quickly and enthusiastically to the call.

There are now more than 150 signatories on the coalition’s letter to Congress, many of whom have ties to the waste and recycling industry. Members of Congress are once again taking up the cause for FET suspension. We may not be back to normal yet, but life — and lobbying — goes on.

Findings from The Recycling Partnership’s 2019 West Coast Contamination Initiative Report

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The Recycling Partnership (TRP), a national nonprofit committed to improving recycling, estimates that contamination costs the U.S. recycling system at least $300 million every year. And, as the organization points out, this cost “gets passed down from the processors to the haulers, the communities, and ultimately the residents—and puts a strain on the entire recycling system.”

So, The Recycling Partnership launched its West Coast Contamination Initiative (WCCI) with the goal of increasing “the quality of recyclables collected at the curb in communities up and down the West Coast.” 

In order to assess the current situation and identify opportunities for improvement, TRP surveyed cities with populations of more than 50,000 people, residents from these cities, and material recovery facilities (MRFs) in California, Oregon and Washington. The research took place in 2019 and has been compiled into the inaugural WCCI Research Report.  

TRP found that the current infrastructure, coupled with positive attitudes toward recycling, puts the West Coast in a good position for residential-recycling success. More than 95 percent of surveyed residents said that they recycle, and 92 percent said recycling is important to them. However, as is the case in most markets, contamination is an issue. California cities reported inbound contamination rates of 20 percent on average; in Oregon and Washington, the rate averaged 11 percent.

When contamination is decreased, or the quality of recyclables is improved, “there is a compounding positive impact to the fate of the collected materials and the financial wellbeing of the system that benefits all stakeholders.”

TRP’s research showed some common concerns between the cities and MRFs across the region surveyed. Plastic bags ranked in the top five contaminants for all groups, and needles were also a commonly cited issue across MRFs. “Non-program plastic” also showed up as a top problem for cities in each of the three states. TRP notes that, “These common issues provide an opportunity for states, cities, and MRFs to collaborate on messaging to residents across the entire West Coast. Providing the same messaging where residents live, work, study, shop, and play will help to ensure positive actions as a result of those messages.”

This learning applies to cities and MRFs around the country as well. Cody Marshall, Chief Community Strategy Officer of TRP told Waste360 that, “there are major trends we see in these three West Coast states that are similar to other parts of the country. For example, the top contaminants that are reported by MRFs on the West Coast are very similar to MRFs on the East Coast and in the South. Plastic bags and wrap(s) along with hazardous waste like batteries and needles are always highlighted as the most detrimental contaminants.”

TRP also identified other specific challenges on the West Coast that, if addressed, could help reduce contamination from the residential recycling stream: 

  • Key program-specific measurements are currently not consistently tracked
  • Residents are not aware of what can be recycled curbside, even those who think they know how to recycle.
  • Highly diverse communities need tailored approaches to educate the various segments of the community
  • Multifamily is a growing sector with lagging recycling infrastructure and understanding of best practices for education and outreach.
  • Recycling programs are stretched thin due to competing priorities, low funding, and tight markets. Resources available to educate residents and measure progress are limited.
  • There is fragmented collaboration between local programs, haulers, MRFs, and state agencies

The report digs into the plastic-bag contamination problem and concludes that this behavior of putting plastic bags in recycling bins “is driven by the misunderstanding that all plastics are recyclable, the chasing arrows means the item is recyclable curbside, recycling more is better, and the recycling system will fix mistakes that residents make.” It also notes that many survey participants said, just “finding out that plastic bags cannot be placed in the recycling cart was motivation enough to change their behavior.” There is, thus, a need for raised awareness, which should lead to an improvement in behavior. 

Although 85 percent of residents surveyed felt satisfied with their recycling program, “they feel that more information on what, where, and how they can recycle is the number one thing that would make recycling easier for them.” The surveys showed that residents most frequently look for recycling information online. 

The report’s conclusions and recommended next steps are: 

  • Turn Data Points into Action

    “It is imperative that program-level metrics are tracked monthly and, at minimum, annually. As these metrics become more readily available, community programs, states, and industry partners can start identifying clear factors causing problems in recycling and solutions for programs to adopt.

     
  • Resources Go Further with Collaboration

    “Collaboration and coordination between stakeholders will help get the necessary data, identify the messages that will help improve the local recycling system, create consistency in messaging across stakeholders, and reduce stress on any one stakeholder group.”

     
  • Be Clear and Consistent

    “Residents need and want more information about which items to recycle, where to recycle, and how to recycle the item properly (clean, remove lid/cap, bag/don’t bag, etc.). Clear, simple, and consistent messaging is needed for residents to understand and retain the information. Surveys showed that charts with pictures of items are helpful, but icons need accompanying phrases to make the messaging clearer.”

     
  • More Technical Assistance and Funding is Needed for Local Recycling Programs

    “More funding and technical assistance is needed to support community recycling programs, especially to create and deliver effective outreach and education. Public-private partnerships are key to a more impactful, robust recycling system.”

In summary, “West Coast states have built a strong recycling culture. While they are collecting more recyclables than the national average, there are materials not being captured. If we do not continue to provide clear messaging to residents, contamination will continue to be and will grow as an issue.”

So, as noted by Marshall, “Now we do the work! While doing these surveys and research [we] connected one on one with stakeholders up and down the West Coast to learn about what local governments and MRFs need for support. At the end of last year, we held two workshops before writing the report, one in Los Angeles and one in Portland. There, each community received special collateral we created for them to customize based on what we learned from our research.” He also emphasized that TRP is “always looking at ways to learn more about the landscape of residential recycling and how different regions are impacted by market variability.”

Additionally, the organization is now providing grants to cities and counties to help improve curbside quality and grants for multifamily recycling. Since the launch of the WCCI work in 2019, the organization has awarded eight grants totaling more than $1M. 

Finally, Marshall encourages “community and MRF programs to dive into the report’s addendum and use that data to inform their programs. We provided that information so people can make their own conclusions as they are working on their curbside programs.”

Download the report and addendum here.

MRFs & Brands Working Together to Design Packaging for Recycling

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How recyclable a package is depends on its design. And between new innovations in some of these designs and a spike in sheer volumes of these spent products, materials recovery facilities (MRF) are hard pressed to manage what comes into their plants. MRFs often get updated or retrofitted every 8 to 10 years and in the interim, along have come stand-up pouches, full wrap shrink labels, product-enhancing additives, and other packaging materials, forcing operators to constantly try to update their technology.

Some manufacturers and MRFs are starting to work together to ensure evolving products make it through recycling infrastructure, but these partnerships are not an industrywide effort, says Steve Alexander, president of the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR).

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“Someone may change a package component that makes it nonrecyclable when prior it was recyclable, or  vice versa,” he says, adding APR has fielded calls from within the industry about fairly new material components that a manufacturer has labeled as recyclable that actually are not. 

These are among reasons the trade association has been busy facilitating connections between manufacturers and MRFs, as well as plastics processors. The outcome has been a design guide to help designers and engineers determine what package components are recyclable and what are not, as well as a “sortation potential protocol,” which is part of the guide. Manufacturers use the sortation potential tool as a protocol to test products for their compatibility with technologies that sort by size, color, plastic types, and metals. Some designers tap into this resource in APR-hosted training programs. 

Some of them have gone on to a full-scale test MRF owned and operated by equipment manufacturer Van Dyk.  Here, they see how packages make it through that system. 

“So, our training program manager walks them through our design guide and sortation potential protocol. Then they get to see firsthand how the whole process works,” says Alexander.

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“What’s nice is you can adjust the speed, angle of the line, and size of the screen to get a comprehensive picture of how material would sort in potential situations. Because of the number of specs you can test, you can get a good idea of how it will work in your MRF,” he says. 

Now there is work being done to expand the sortation potential protocol:  it will soon include guidance in determining if a container goes through the line as two-dimensional (paper and cardboard) or as three-dimensional (such as containers).

While containers would be three-dimensional, if they were flattened they may go to a two-dimensional line, ending up with the paper stream, where they don’t belong, explains Curt Cozart president, Common Sense Solutions, a Montclair, NJ-based consulting company that designs and builds plastics recycling systems. Cozart created the sorting potential protocols.

“There is so much variety in MRF’s equipment and capabilities. If you are a plastics designer your material may be recyclable at one MRF but not at another, and you may get different test results from one MRF to another,” says Cozart.

He conducts custom training for companies’ package designers where designers learn how MRFs and plastics processors’ operate. They learn how to use APR’s design guide. And they learn about the sorting potential protocols, which help them understand what most commonly occurs in a MRF.  

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“We also spend time walking through their specific packaging to address how it measures up for recyclability. Then we go on to a MRF to see how products stand up,” says Cozart.
So far, 18 major brands have completed the training program with about 40 in attendance for each one. There has been a similar program for companies with less participants, where multiple brands attend, though they do not discuss their specific packaging because their competitors may be in attendance.  

Cozart says by identifying problems and recommending alternative materials, the design guide is helping to initiate change. For instance, the guide called out PETG (a transparent co-polyester) as a problem; it was jamming in equipment. As a result, manufacturers created a new plastic type called EPET [extrusion blow moldable polyethylene terephthalate (PET)].

“We also called out black items that were not being recycled because optical sorters couldn’t see them. Consequently, brands went to their color suppliers who are now creating colorants that optical sorters can see. Another example:  pressure-sensitive labels typically have adhesive that’s problematic, which the APR design guide identified, and adhesive manufacturers and label manufacturers created material that works for both users and the recycling process,” says Cozart.

Maite Quinn-Richards, managing director of Closed Loop Partners and chair of APR’s MRF subcommittee, is encouraged that some individual brands are proactively engaging with MRFs to ensure that their packaging materials are captured and processed at these facilities. 

“By understanding that there are bottlenecks, brands can help with investments in new infrastructure and help create end markets that will support investment,” says Quinn-Richards.

Need to Know

NWRA Urges Congress to Pass Legislation to Fix IRS Ruling on Taxability of PPP Loans

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Arlington, VA – Today, the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) joined other associations on a letter to Congressional leaders in the House and Senate urging them to pass the bipartisan Small Business Expense Protection Act (S.3612/H.R. 6821). The legislation would ensure that small businesses can deduct eligible expenses paid with funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The legislation is in response to an interpretation from the IRS that states that normally deductible expenses will not be deductible if the business pays the expense with PPP funds.

“The PPP is an essential lifeline for small business owners as they deal with mandated shutdowns or slowdowns from different levels of government.The impact of the IRS interpretation is significant. The effect will be to substantially increase the tax liability of PPP loan recipients at the worst possible time,” said NWRA President and CEO Darrell Smith. “We urge Congressional leaders to do the right thing and pass this legislation quickly so the president can sign it into law.”

NWRA believes the IRS  decision is contrary to what Congress intended when it passed the CARES Act. 

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ABOUT NWRA

The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) represents the private sector waste and recycling services industry. Association members conduct business in all 50 states and include companies that manage waste, recycling and medical waste, equipment manufacturers and distributors, and a variety of other service providers. For more information about NWRA, please visit www.wasterecycling.org. 

Contact:
Brandon Wright
National Waste and Recycling Association
[email protected]
202-364-3706