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Articles from 2012 In September

The Heap
Landfilled Lager

Landfilled Lager

Some stories are almost too heartbreaking to report. An 18-wheeler carrying more than 17,000 cans of beer en route to Texas pulled off a remarkable imitation of its intended clientele when it became tipsy while passing through Arkadelphia, Ark., and fell over on its side. Thankfully no one was harmed in the accident, but the beer inside the truck was deemed unfit for sale by Arkansas’ Alcoholic Beverage Control and Department of Health. All of the despoiled Busch Lite (rendering this a somewhat lesser tragedy — craft beer would have warranted a candlelight vigil) was duly conducted to the landfill.

The landfill operator in question declined to comment after workers were spotted surreptitiously installing taps on the facility’s leachate collection system.

Source: siftingsherald.com

NIMBY Notes: The Power of the Personal

NIMBY Notes: The Power of the Personal

Usually when a city council hearing is dominated by two hours of public comment about a waste company, it’s not a good sign. People don’t line up in droves to talk about how happy they are with their garbage collection service, or to stick up for it when its business is threatened. The most a solid waste company can hope for from its customers, the thinking goes, is a sort of benign indifference.

But a recent episode in Vacaville, Calif., is turning that conventional wisdom on its head. There, San Francisco-based Recology, a solid waste firm that encompasses collection, sorting, transfer and landfill management, was coming up against a June 2013 expiration date for its contract to collect trash for Vacaville. Earlier in the year, at a May city council meeting, the municipal government decided to open up the city’s collection contract to new bidders over Recology’s objections. As in many cities across the state, it was getting harder and harder for officials to keep the budget in the black.

Opening up the contract to new bids seemed to be the first step on the path to ditching Recology and finding a new, cheaper firm to handle the town’s waste collection. Three new bids came in to the council, and one of them was recommended by municipal staff to be awarded the contract. It wasn’t that Recology was disliked; it was just cold, hard dollars and cents. The staff recommendation noted that its preferred vendor would net the city $1.1 million in savings compared to the status quo.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the landfill. At the City Council meeting to award the contract, a veritable army of citizens spoke up in support of Recology and preserving the city’s contract with them. They ranged from customers, who had grown to appreciate the quality service they received, to Recology employees, who were well known in the community. The Daily Republic, a local newspaper, characterized the display as “an outcry of public support.” The council heard “emotional pleas by employees, residents and folks from other cities speaking on behalf of Recology. Speakers pointed to the sense of community the company has with Vacaville after more than 50 years of service.”

Ultimately, this show of support for Recology carried the day. Councilman Mitch Mashburn declared that “Vacaville has spoken,” and joined his colleagues in voting unanimously to stick with the firm in spite of their own staff’s recommendation. It was a victory for the citizens who turned out to speak, but beyond that, it was a vindication of Recology’s decision to invest time and effort in developing a relationship with their community. And it represents the future of the relationship between the waste industry and its customers.

Recology’s success proves that the future belongs to those companies that choose to develop strong community relations. A positive relationship with neighbors, customers and employees isn’t just a feel-good bit of fluff; it’s a competitive advantage that will become increasingly relevant as technology allows citizens to become more engaged with their government and each other. This personal touch is hard to find, but it’s valuable. For the city of Vacaville, it was worth more than $1.1 million. For Recology, it was worth many more millions in the form of a renewed contract.

We often talk about the threat to the waste industry that NIMBYism represents. However, it’s important to remember that the inverse is also true: good community relations can be an asset to companies that take the time and effort to cultivate them. Customers and clients are people like anyone else: they want to do business with vendors they know and respect. Make it easy for them to get to know and respect your business, and you’ll have an advantage that no competitor can trump.

California Adopts law Combating Flow Control

California has adopted a law blocking local flow control laws of waste and recycling.

Gov. Edmund Brown Jr. signed assembly bill 845, designed to ensure that counties can handle waste in the best interest of their region, according to a news release by the bill’s sponsor, assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco and San Mateo counties).

The law prohibits the disposal of waste based on its geographic origin.

“Cites are dealing with limited solutions, and we must move forward together as we work towards zero waste,” Ma said. She said the law will ensure that cities and counties in California dispose of their waste in the most efficient and environmentally sound way.


Waste Management Buys Land and Lakes Assets

Waste Management Buys Land and Lakes Assets

Waste Management Inc. has bought most of the assets of Chicago area waste and recycling firm Land and Lakes for an undisclosed amount.

The Illinois subsidiary of the Houston-based Waste Management acquired the hauling company, three composting facilities and the Prarie Lakes Recycling and Transfer Station, said Jennifer Andrews, director, corporate communications & community relations for the region, in an e-mail. The composting facilities are in the Illinois cities of Dolton, Buffalo Grove and Romeoville, and the hauling operation and transfer station are in Matteson. Waste Management kept all employees involved.

Waste Management purchased everything but the clean fill site, the company said.

The Park Ridge, Ill., based Land and Lakes confirmed the deal as well, but officials were unavailable to give more details. The company is owned by the Cowhey family.

 The specific acquisitons and their assets are Land and Lakes Co., various pieces of equipment; Land and Lakes Disposal Services LLC, hauling assets; Land & Lakes Yard Waste Reclamation Inc., compost assets; Construction Equipment Leasing LLC, various pieces of equipment; and Matteson Investments LLC, transfer staion permit.

The deal was completed August 1, and President Jim Cowhey subsequently left the company.

Report Outlines Strategies, Policy Options for U.S. Recycling Programs

Greenstar Expands Carton Recycling Program to Six Cities

Greenstar Recycling has expanded its carton recycling program to six municipal markets.

The Houston-based Greenstar said that in cooperation with the Carton Council, of Vernon Hills, Ill, Greenstar’s carton recycling markets now are Akron, Ohio; Allentown, Pa.; Dallas; Des Moines, Iowa; Pittsburgh; and San Antonio. Greenstar has worked with each of the cities to add carton recycling to their recycling service offerings.

Greenstar has installed new processing equipment at several of its facilities to maximize carton recycling. The equipment can recognize cartons and separate them from other items in the stream.

Pomona, Calif., Converts Waste Fleet to CNG

The city of Pomona, Calif., has converted its entire fleet of waste vehicles to compressed natural gas (CNG) trucks.

Pomona is expecting delivery this month of 22 CNG Mack TerraPro Low Entry vehicles. The city ordered 20 side loaders and two rear loaders, according to a Mack news release.

 “The City of Pomona is committed to reducing its environmental footprint,” said Howard Morris, Pomona solid waste manager.

“Refuse is an ideal application for natural gas because these trucks return home each day for refueling,” said James Waterbury, Mack Pacific District sales manager.

Pomona worked with TEC Equipment Inc., La Mirada, Calif., to complete the purchase.

The trucks were built at Mack’s Macungie Assembly Operations outside of Allentown, Pa.

Sadoff to Buy Midwest Metals Recycling

Sadoff to Buy Midwest Metals Recycling

Sadoff Iron & Metal Co. has agreed to buy Midwest Metals Recycling for an undisclosed amount.

Sadoff, of Fond du Lac, Wis., said in a news release it reached an agreement in principle to buy Omaha, Neb.-based Midwest Metals, which does aluminum can and other nonferrous commodity recycling. Sadoff plans to take ownership of the company by the end of September.

In the summer Sadoff said it would expand its scrap metal receiving and processing facility in Lincoln, Neb., by 13 acres.

“Midwest Metals has a great reputation, and we look forward to enhancing partnerships in the Omaha market,” said Sadoff CEO Mark Lasky.

Sadoff does ferrous, nonferrous and electronic scrap metal recycling, with six facilities in Wisconsin and one in Nebraska.


Balcones Opens Recycling Facility in Austin, Texas

Balcones Resources Inc. has opened a new recycling facility in Austin, Texas.

The Austin-based Balcones said in a news release the material recovery facility (MRF) can process 25 tons of single-stream recycling materials per hour. The MRF cost $25 million, which the company said is the largest capital investment by a privately held recycling firm in Texas history.

A video below also details the move.

The facility is located on a 10-acre site in Austin. It was designed for expansion. The company said it handles a significant portion of the city’s commercial recycling, and in October will begin processing 60 percent of Austin’s residential curbside recycling material.

The new facility also will have access to a rail line.

Court Upholds San Francisco Bag Ban Extension

San Francisco’s proposed extension of its bag ban to all retail stores and food establishments has been upheld by a local judge.

A San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled as valid the local ordinance extending San Francisco's ban on non-compostable plastic checkout bags and imposing a 10-cent charge on other bags provided to consumers. The ruling allows San Francisco to begin enforcing the ordinance as planned beginning Oct. 1, according to a news release from the city attorney’s office.

San Francisco has had the first prohibition on plastic checkout bags since 2007, affecting large supermarkets and retail pharmacies. The proposed expansion was signed into law in February.

The new law will apply to all retailers in October, with retail food establishments, such as takeout restaurants, subject to the ban beginning July 1, 2013. All establishments affected must charge customers 10 cents for each single-use paper or compostable plastic bag.

The Save the Plastic Bag Coalition sued the city following the signing of the new ordinance into law. The coalition argued that the law violated state health and sanitation standards.



Alcoa, Keep America Beautiful Pledge to Boost Aluminum Can Recycling

Alcoa Inc. and Keep America Beautiful (KAB) have pledged to increase the aluminum can recycling rate by 10 percentage points, and Alcoa is committing $2 million to the effort.

The Pittsburgh-based Alcoa said in a news release that Alcoa, the Alcoa Foundation and the Stamford, Conn.-based KAB have started the “Action to Accelerate Recycling” to generate awareness, create incentives and provide recycling access and infrastructure to increase U.S. recycling of aluminum, plastic, glass and paper.

The organizations made the announcement at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting.

The goal is to increase the aluminum can recycling rate to 75 percent. Alcoa said that would generate close to 300 additional tons of recycling, reduce more than 2,850 tons of greenhouse gas emissions and create 1.5 million jobs, according to one report.

“Our partnership with Keep America Beautiful is a ‘call to action’ for companies, consumers and community organizations to make recycling a priority,’ said Klaus Kleinfeld, Alcoa chairman and CEO. “Together with our industry partners, we set and can achieve an ambitious yet achievable 75 percent aluminum can recycling rate by 2015 in the U.S.”The plan includes the design and launch of global recycling programs that educate and engage people of all ages, incentivize behavior change, increase access to recycling bins, and help parks, housing complexes and universities build infrastructure to create and expand recycling programs.