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Need to Know

RethinkWaste Issues Nearly $50M in Bonds to Reduce Waste, Emissions

The bonds will be used to divert organic waste from landfill and convert it into natural biogas.

RethinkWaste issued Green Bonds consisting of $48,775,000 in Solid Waste Enterprise Refunding Revenue Bonds Series 2019A and Solid Waste Enterprise Revenue Bonds Series 2019B (for new projects) to make various environmental upgrades at its agency-owned Shoreway Environmental Center in San Carlos, Calif.

The Green Bonds, approved by the 12 city/county Board of Directors, will be used to develop an innovative program to divert organic waste from landfill (where it generates methane) and convert it into natural biogas and to improve the sorting of paper so that the facility can meet stringent global recycling standards.

The investments will not only lower total annual debt payments for RethinkWaste (and therefore its ratepayers) but will also help RethinkWaste capture more items for profitable recycling. The bonds were underwritten by Raymond James.

“By refinancing our old facility bonds at today’s competitive interest rates and extending the maturity by six years, we were able to pull $20 million in capital into RethinkWaste to support our innovative investment program while also reducing annual debt payments by almost $500,000 a year,” said Chairman Jay Benton in a statement. “We are all extremely proud of our team and our financial advisors for helping us do so much for our residents without adding even one dollar to current garbage rates.”

The refunding component generated $10 million in present value savings on the cost of the prior bonds. The refunded bonds were issued in 2009 and financed the initial construction of the Shoreway Environmental Center, including a new materials recovery facility and 2,700 solar panels that opened in 2010.

The Series 2019 A and Series 2019 B Green Bonds financing follows the guidelines of the International Capital Markets Association Green Bond Principles, providing investors with assurance of the deal’s “green” or pro-environment credentials. A second opinion against the Green Bond Principles was done by Kestrel Verifiers, an approved verifier by the Climate Bonds Initiative. These are the first Green Bonds floated in San Mateo County for green infrastructure and waste reduction.

“Our investment will divert millions of pounds of methane-producing food waste from landfill and convert it into biogas which, we hope, will one day fuel our Recology garbage trucks,” said Michael Brownrigg, chairman of the RethinkWaste Zero Waste Work Group, in a statement. “We’ll also be able to sort waste paper better, yielding much higher recycling value to our residents. Being part of the Green Bond movement, helping investors put their money into projects that will improve the environment, is especially satisfying.”

RethinkWaste has set goals to develop and implement strategies that divert organics and recyclables from landfills. The Shoreway Environmental Center construction and improvements financed by these Green Bonds aim to help RethinkWaste meet this goal.

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