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Updated: 26 min 30 sec ago

GFL Environmental closes on two acquisitions

Sun, 03/04/2018 - 20:13
Toronto-based environmental services firm GFL Environmental Inc. has closed on the acquisition of Smithrite Disposal and Carney’s Waste Systems, both located in British Columbia in western Canada. The acquired companies provide solid waste, recyclables and organic food waste collection, plus additional hauling, processing and management services.

GFL indicates the acquisition will complement and extend its existing solid and liquid waste operations in British Columbia.

“Smithrite's success under the leadership of Gordon Smith has been driven by the same customer focus that has been the key to GFL's growth,” says Patrick Dovigi, GFL's founder and CEO. “Bringing our two businesses together means that we will be able to provide even more sustainable, environmental solutions to our customers. We are confident that the common commitment of our employees to excellent customer service will make the integration of our service offerings seamless. We are excited to have Gordon and more than 300 employees of Smithrite and Carney's join the GFL team.” 

Gordon Smith, president of both Smithrite and Carney’s, remarks, “When my father and mother started the Smithrite business in 1947, they were driven by the core values of hard work and customer first that have continued to guide us for over 70 years. GFL shares these values. Joining the GFL team will increase our ability to support the communities and customers we serve and provide more opportunities for Smithrite and Carney's employees.”


Recleim receives investment for expansion

Sun, 03/04/2018 - 19:48
The South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) has announced its SC Launch Inc. program has finalized an investment in the Atlanta-based appliance recycling company Recleim. The funds have been earmarked toward expansion of Recleim’s Graniteville, South Carolina, facility.

The SCRA is a public, non-profit corporation chartered by the State of South Carolina to enhance and improve the development and growth of the state’s economy.

The investment is part of Recleim’s recent $5 million equity round the company is raising to allow it to grow and expand.

Recleim indicates it can recover about 95 percent, by weight, of the commodity components in appliances. The company also captures and destroys refrigerants and greenhouse gases trapped in the insulating foam of refrigerating appliances and other white goods.

In addition to its Graniteville flagship facility, the company operates demanufacturing facilities in Philadelphia and in Lima, Ohio. The company also operates nine logistics hubs in the eastern United States.

“At a time when customers expect businesses to stand for more than just their financial statements, businesses are searching for a way to make a real impact and form real connections with their customers,” says Steve Bush, Recleim CEO. “Recleim is dedicated to helping businesses and organizations usher in renewal: renewal of the environment, renewal of communities, and renewal of how business is done.”


Conservit receives approval for new equipment

Sun, 03/04/2018 - 19:19
Scrap metal recycling company Conservit has reportedly been granted a setback appeal by the Washington County (Maryland) Zoning Appeals Board to install a conveyor belt at its scrap yard in Hagerstown, Maryland.

An online article by the Hagerstown-based Herald-Mail reports that Conservit President Jack Metzner has said the radial conveyor will be in a fixed position on the property and would be able to pivot 180 degrees.

Conservit operates an auto shredder at the Hagerstown site.


Sappi North America joins The Recycling Partnership

Fri, 03/02/2018 - 11:55
Boston-based Sappi North America, a producer and supplier of paper and packaging products, has become a funding partner of The Recycling Partnership, Falls Church, Virginia. The national nonprofit uses corporate funding to improve recycling efforts in communities across the U.S.

The Recycling Partnership says less than half of recyclables in U.S. homes are getting captured for recycling; just 22 million tons out of an available 46 million tons are recycled every year. While the funding and management of recycling systems historically have fallen on the shoulders of cities and towns across the country, through The Recycling Partnership nearly 40 companies, including Sappi, are committing financial resources to work with the nonprofit and local governments to improve recycling.

Since 2015, The Recycling Partnership says it has invested more than $27 million in corporate funding toward recycling infrastructure.

“Sappi North America has been part of The Recycling Partnership through the Recycling Works in Publishing (RWIP),” says Keefe Harrison, CEO of The Recycling Partnership. “We are grateful to have them now on board as a direct partner. The work Sappi has done throughout Maine and beyond with co-funding pedestrian recycling bins has been very successful. We look forward to working with their team on generating new ideas and partnerships to improve recycling in cities and towns across the United States.”

Laura Thompson, director of sustainable development and global policy initiatives, Sappi North America, says Sappi is committed to sustainability, particularly waste reduction and the best use of materials.  “We’re excited to further this work by supporting The Recycling Partnership in its mission to transform recycling for good in the U.S.,” she says. “We are proud of the work that we have already completed with the Partnership over the years, and we are ready to make an even larger impact on recycling in our country moving forward.”

For the last two years, Thompson has served as the chair of RWIP. Last fall, Sappi worked with The Recycling Partnership to launch a recycling cart program in the city of Portland, Maine, increasing access to recycling for the city’s residents. The Portland project is helping to inform greater collaboration with the Ocean Conservancy and its Trash Free Seas initiative, a public awareness program designed to educate consumers and reduce pollution in the world’s oceans. Sappi also is a member of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), and a supporter of ASTRX, a joint initiative between SPC and The Recycling Partnership, which aims to increase recycling by strengthening each element of the materials supply chain to create reliable and valuable manufacturing feedstock.

“The paper industry has very high recycling rates compared to other materials,” Thompson says. “Recent statistics show we are recovering over two-thirds of paper in circulation—but that means there are still nearly 20 million tons of paper-based materials that are not being recovered each year. Through efforts such as designing for recyclability to improving infrastructure, access and education, we can further improve our industry’s recycling efforts,” she says. “We see The Recycling Partnership as a key player in making this goal a reality, and we’re proud to help further its mission.”



World crude steel production posts incremental gain in January

Fri, 03/02/2018 - 09:49
World crude steel production in January 2018 for the 64 countries reporting to the Brussels-based World Steel Association (Worldsteel) was 139.4 million metric tons, a 0.8 percent increase compared with January 2017, the association notes.

Charts courtesy of Worldsteel

China again led the way in terms of crude steel production. The country produced 67 million metric tons in January 2018, a decrease of 0.9 percent compared with January 2017. Japan produced 9 million metric tons of crude steel for the month, an increase of 0.3 percent from January 2017. India produced 9 million metric tons of crude steel during the month, an increase of 2.5 percent from January 2017.

The U.S. produced 6.8 million metric tons of crude steel in January 2018, a 2.2 percent decrease from January 2017.


At 3.2 million metric tons, Turkey’s crude steel production in January 2018 increased by 7.6 percent compared with January 2017.

Brazil’s crude steel production for January 2018 was 2.9 million metric tons, an increase of 1.3 percent compared with January 2017.

In the European Union, Italy’s crude steel production for January 2018 was 2 million metric tons, for an increase of 5.3 percent compared with January 2017. France produced 1.4 million metric tons of crude steel, a 3 percent increase compared with the previous year. Spain produced 1.1 million metric tons, a 1 percent decrease relative to January 2017.

The crude steel capacity utilization ratio of the 64 countries in January 2018 was 70 percent, or 0.2 percentage points lower than in January 2017. Compared with December 2017, it is 0.7 percentage points higher, Worldsteel reports.


Casella Waste Systems sees decline in operating income from its recycling segment

Fri, 03/02/2018 - 09:00
Rutland, Vermont-based Casella Waste Systems Inc., a regional solid waste, recycling and resource management services company, has reported revenue increases in the fourth quarter of 2017 and for the full year, which ended Dec. 31, 2017. In its 2018 guidance, Casella Waste predicts further revenue gains.

For the fourth quarter and full year, Casella has reported:

  • revenue of $151.2 million, up $7.4 million, or 5.2 percent, from the same period in 2016 and revenue of $599.3 million, up $34.3 million, or 6.1 percent, from fiscal 2016;
  • net income of $20 million as compared with a net loss of $12 million for the same period in 2016 and a net loss of $21.8 million compared with a net loss $(6.9) million in fiscal 2016;
  • adjusted net income attributable to common stockholders of $4.6 million compared with $1.9 million for the same period in 2016 and $28.7 million compared with $7.8 million in fiscal 2016;
  • adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of $30.2 million, up $800,000, or 2.8 percent, from the same period in 2016 and $129 million, an increase of $8.4 million, or 7 percent, from fiscal 2016;
  • net cash provided by operating activities of $107.5 million for the fiscal year, up $27.1 million, or 33.7 percent, from fiscal 2016; and
  • normalized free cash flow of $38.8 million for the fiscal year, up $11.7 million, or 43.1 percent, from fiscal 2016.

On Feb. 26, 2018, Standard & Poor's increased the company’s corporate credit rating from “B” to “B+” with a positive outlook.

"We had a strong operational quarter and a great year, as we continued to execute well against our key strategies," says John W. Casella, chairman and CEO of Casella Waste Systems. "We remain focused on creating shareholder value through increasing landfill returns, improving collection profitability, creating incremental value through resource solutions, driving general and administrative efficiencies and strong capital discipline."

He adds that the progress the company has made is visible in Casella Waste’s financial results in the fourth quarter. "Our disciplined solid waste pricing programs continued to add value, with landfill pricing up 3.6 percent and collection pricing up 3.7 percent. This strong pricing was coupled with 2 percent solid waste volume growth, mainly driven by 4.8 percent growth in landfill volumes as we continued to source new volumes in the tightening northeastern disposal markets and 1.2 percent solid waste revenue growth from acquisitions."

Casella says the company has set a goal to grow revenue by $20 million to $40 million per year through acquisition or development activity for the next three years. “We are off to a great start with this strategy, with roughly $18 million of acquired revenues over the last two months. During the fourth quarter, we completed a small tuck-in hauling acquisition, and in early January 2018 we completed the acquisition of an integrated solid waste company in western Massachusetts that provides us with a new market entrance and a strategic truck- and rail-served transfer station that will enable us to direct additional waste volumes to our landfills in New York and Pennsylvania,” he says. “Our acquisition pipeline remains robust, and we believe that investing a portion of our excess cash flows to grow our business will create additional shareholder returns through higher cash flow growth rates driven by new revenue streams, internalization to our disposal facilities and cost synergies."

Revenue growth in the fourth quarter was driven primarily by robust collection and disposal pricing, strong solid waste volumes, the roll-over impact from acquisitions and higher volumes in the customer solutions line-of-business, partially offset by lower recycling commodity pricing and volumes, the company says.

Net income attributable to common stockholders was $20 million, or 46 cents per diluted common share, an increase of $32 million for the fourth quarter as compared with net loss attributable to common stockholders of $12 million, or 29 cents per diluted common share, for the same period in 2016.

Operating income was $9.9 million for the fourth quarter, down $100,000 from the same period in 2016, whereas adjusted operating income was $10.3 million for the fourth quarter, down $600,000 from the same period in 2016.

"During the fourth quarter, operating income was down approximately $2 million year over year in our recycling business," Casella says.  "This decline was mainly driven by China's National Sword program, which imposed strict new contamination standards for recycled commodities and significantly reduced global demand for paper and cardboard products. This has led to mixed paper price declines of approximately 80 percent from July 2017 to January 2018, while at the same time our operating costs are up as we have slowed sorting lines and increased labor to produce higher quality end products.”

He adds, “Our mature risk mitigation programs, such as the Sustainability Recycling Adjustment fee, have worked well to offset the majority of commodity price declines during the quarter, and we expect these programs to continue to significantly reduce our commodity risk exposure."

The increase in yearly revenue reflects the impact of robust collection, disposal and recycling commodity pricing, higher volumes in the company's collection, disposal and customer solutions lines-of-business and the roll-over impact from acquisitions, partially offset by lower organics volumes, Casella Waste says.

Net loss attributable to common stockholders was $21.8 million, or 52 cents per diluted common share, a decrease of $15 million for the fiscal year compared with net loss attributable to common stockholders of $6.8 million, or 17 cents per diluted common share, for fiscal 2016.

Adjusted net income attributable to common stockholders was $28.7 million, or 67 cents of adjusted diluted earnings per common share, for the fiscal year, compared with adjusted net income attributable to common stockholders of $7.8 million, or 19 cents of adjusted diluted earnings per common share, for fiscal 2016.

Operating loss was $12.6 million for the fiscal year, down $57.5 million from operating income of $44.9 million in fiscal 2016, whereas adjusted operating income was $52.8 million for the fiscal year, up $6.9 million from fiscal 2016.

"Our fiscal year 2018 budget is on track with the fiscal year 2021 strategic plan that we first introduced in August 2017 and reflects continued execution of our key strategies with the goal of driving additional shareholder value," Casella said. "We remain cautious about near-term headwinds from the recycling business; however, we believe that our mature risk mitigation programs will continue to offset the vast majority of commodity price declines and current market conditions are contemplated in our fiscal year 2018 guidance."

The company provided guidance for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2018, by estimating results in the following ranges:

  • revenue between $618 million and $628 million (compared with $599.3 million in fiscal 2017);
  • adjusted EBITDA between $135 million and $139 million (compared with $129 million in fiscal 2017); and
  • normalized free cash flow of between $42 million and $46 million (compared with $38.8 million in fiscal 2017).

A number of assumptions are built into the company’s outlook:

  • Overall, Casella Waste says it expects revenue growth of between 4.6 percent and 6.3 percent in fiscal 2018. However, the company says it expects that the adoption of the new revenue recognition standard to lower revenue by approximately 1.5 percent. Given this change, Casella Waste expects revenue growth of between 3.1 percent and 4.8 percent in fiscal 2018.
  • In the solid waste business, it predicts revenue growth of between 6 percent and 7.5 percent, with price growth from 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent, volume growth from 0.5 percent to 1 percent, and 3 percent growth from acquisitions already completed.
  • In the recycling business, overall revenue declines of between 15 percent and 20 percent are expected, driven by lower commodity prices, lower volumes and changes in revenue recognition, partially offset by higher processing fees.
  • In the Other segment, overall revenue growth of approximately 5 percent is expected, with growth in the industrial segment for the Customer Solutions group and higher volumes in the Organics group, the company says.
  • The budget includes the roll-over impact of acquisitions completed during fiscal 2017 and in early fiscal 2018 but does not include any acquisitions that have not yet been completed.
  • The company says it expects capital expenditures of approximately $65 million and payments on operating leases of approximately $7.5 million.
  • Casella Waste also assumes no material changes in the regional economy from the last 12 months.

Mississippi DEQ awards grants to boost solid waste and recycling efforts

Fri, 03/02/2018 - 08:36
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Jackson, Mississippi, has announced the newest recipients of its Solid Waste Assistance Grants.

The grants are used by local communities for programs to prevent and clean up unauthorized dumps; to aid in hiring local solid waste enforcement officers; for public education efforts on solid waste disposal and recycling; and to establish programs for the collection of white goods, bulky wastes and recyclables.

The recent recipients of the state’s solid waste planning or recycling grants include:

  • Northeast Mississippi Solid Waste Authority, Walnut, Mississippi: a solid waste planning grant of $36,000 that will be used for a solid waste management plan. The authority serves seven counties in the state.
  • Yazoo City, Mississippi: a $24,000 two-year waste tire grant to continue its local waste tire collection program for small quantity generators of waste tires. Funding for the tire grants is provided by a waste tire account funded from a fee charged on the wholesale sale of every new motor vehicle tire sold in the state.
  • Neshoba County: $22,800 that will be used by the county for a solid waste management plan.
  • Claiborne County: $38,344 that will be used for a solid waste enforcement officer and its cleanup program.
  • Warren County: $50,000 that will be used for a household hazardous waste collection event on June 16 and for illegal dumpsite cleanup.

Cities and counties in Mississippi may apply for Solid Waste Assistance Grants through the state’s DEQ.


Nine cities to participate in Global Recycling Day events

Fri, 03/02/2018 - 08:11
Global Recycling Day is just two weeks away, and cities across the world are announcing their plans to participate in the inaugural event. The initiative from the Brussels-based Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) calls on the world to think of recycling in a new way.  

March 18, 2018, in London, the Global Recycling Day team will showcase the scale of what is possible by using large bundles of recycled materials at a central location.

In France, the Federation of Recycling Enterprises (FEDEREC) will hold a press conference at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) France’s headquarters in Paris to raise awareness of the need to use the world’s Seventh Resource, which the day’s organizers have termed recyclables, Thursday, March 15.

Similar events are scheduled for Capitol Hill in Washington and in Sao Paolo for Global Recycling Day March 16.

In Johannesburg, a public cleanup campaign has been scheduled with the help of the Catholic Diocese and the city of Johannesburg.

At the head office of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) in Sydney, more than 50 academics and industry experts will gather to recognize Global Recycling Day and discuss cross-sector collaborations. Both events are taking place ahead of the Global Recycling Day.

These events will encourage individuals to pledge to make at least one change to their recycling habits and ask them to sign BIR’s petition calling for the day to be recognized by the United Nations. To help the message spread and highlight the importance of a global approach to recycling to world leaders, Global Recycling Day T-shirts and Frisbees will be handed out at events across the world. The T-shirts are sustainably sourced and made from organic cotton and, in the spirit of the Day, the Frisbees are made from recycled plastic. The T-shirts and Frisbees can be recycled at the end of their lives.

On social media, the day’s supporters are encouraged to use #GlobalRecyclingDay and to adopt an exclusive Global Recycling Day border for their profile pictures. People also are being invited to share videos and images of recycling actions and celebrations. The aim is to showcase how central recycling is to our daily lives, the BIR says.

BIR President Ranjit Baxi says, “The world’s first Global Recycling Day is a vitally important new date in our global calendar. To truly harness the power of recycling, we must adopt a global approach to its collection, processing and use. It is time we put the planet first and all commit to spend 10 more minutes a day ensuring that materials are disposed of properly. It is a joint responsibility, not one of the few and I look forward to seeing individuals, communities, businesses and leaders joining us and celebrating the day on 18th March.

“Global Recycling Day is also a wakeup call to all of us, wherever we live. We must unite with those involved in the industry—from workers on waste mountains to the world’s largest businesses—to help them to make the best use of what we dispose of, to make recycling easier, inherent even in the design of products and to stop expecting countries to simply accept recyclables which are difficult and  costly to process.”


BIR appoints two to chair positions

Fri, 03/02/2018 - 00:34
Bureau of International (BIR) President Ranjit Baxi has announced the appointment of chairs for the association’s Communications Committee and Convention Committee. The new positions take effect March 1, 2018.

Named to head BIR’s Communications Committee is Mark Sellier of OneSteel Recycling Hong Kong Ltd. He replaces Kamiel van Wijk. In announcing the appointment, Baxi says Sellier has been an active member of BIR for years and previously was chairman of BIR’s Convention Committee.

The Convention Committee will be chaired by Murat Bayram of European Metal Recycling Ltd (EMR), who has been active on the BIR Non-Ferrous Metals Division board since November 2015. Bayram also is an active member of the German recycling federation VDM. In naming Bayram to the position, Baxi stressed the strategic importance of the Convention Committee, which helps determine future convention venues, formats and programs.


Trump tariff talk stirs markets

Thu, 03/01/2018 - 22:27
An announcement made by President Donald J. Trump on Thursday afternoon (United States time) that he fully intends to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum greeted metals producers and traders in the rest of the world as they awoke on Friday morning, March 2.

Trump’s announcement was cited as the cause of a sell-off in the New York Stock Exchange and provoked numerous reactions and comments in North America and beyond. According to CBS News, the president “summoned steel and aluminum executives to the White House” on March 1 and stated, “We'll be signing it next week,” regarding an executive order imposing new tariffs. Trump reportedly added, “You’ll have protection for a long time, in a while.”

One Hong Kong-based scrap trader, who requested anonymity, noted that while China is pointed to most frequently as the problem by campaigning politicians, an analysis he read “suggests that it may be Canada, Germany, Japan and South Korea, all close allies of the United States, who will suffer most.”

Reactions from Canada and Europe have been strong, but coverage of the tariffs by the China Daily, considered closely aligned with the Beijing government, indicates China was responsible for just two percent of the imported steel shipped into the U.S. in 2017.

Shanghai-based investor John Browning of BANDS Financial, who spoke at the May 2017 Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) Convention in Hong Kong, observes in his daily dispatch to customers that “In the popular press this morning [in China], the Trumpian trade tariffs news was placed below ‘China, Tonga agree strategic partnership.’ This may reflect the fact that in China these tariffs may largely be a non-issue.”

Figures for 2017 published by the Washington, D.C.-based American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) show China shipped less finished and semi-finished steel into the U.S. in 2017 than it did in 2016, and the 813,000 metric tons it shipped were surpassed by: Brazil (987,000), Taiwan (1.2 million), Germany (1.4 million), Japan (1.5 million), Turkey (2.2 million) and South Korea (3.7 million).

All those nations’ figures are topped by Canada, which in 2016 shipped more than 5.5 million metric tons of steel to the U.S.

The Hong Kong trader also questions the use of America’s Section 232 national security measure as a means of imposing the tariffs. “He’s using a national security investigation from last year and invoking a loophole in international trade rules allowing restrictions in times of war. Is he bringing in the measures for political gain to stimulate the domestic economy and U.S. labor market, or is he preparing for something more serious, or just hedging both bets?”

He concludes, “Any way you look at it, if he signs off on the order, other countries will follow [with measures of their own].”

In addition to the New York stock sell-off, on the Shanghai Futures Exchange on Friday morning, March 2, most aluminum contracts were trading higher while copper and steel rebar pricing was moving lower.

Closer to home, Trump’s announcement was greeted with skepticism by several Republican Party elected officials in the U.S. According to CBS News, Senator Orrin Hatch said the Trump advisors who pushed for the tariffs “ought to be reprimanded” because the new tariffs are “not going to help America.”

Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, like both Trump and Senator Hatch a Republican, called the move “leftist economic policy” when contacted by CBS, adding that the U.S. had “tried it a bunch of times over the last two centuries, and every time, American families have suffered. It is bad policy.”

Exactly what will be included in the measure President Trump intends to sign the week of March 5-9 is not yet final. The U.S. Commerce Department has suggested different ways to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, including: tariffs of 24 percent on all steel and 7.7 percent on aluminum imports applied to all nations equally; or higher tariffs on 12 targeted countries, including Brazil, China, Russia, Hong Kong, Venezuela and Vietnam; or quotas limiting countries to either equal to or less than what they shipped in 2017.

The BBC and New York Times have reported the president is backing tariffs that will involve imported finished and semi-finished steel facing a 25 percent rate while aluminum will see a 10 percent tariff imposed. News outlets were unclear whether those tariffs will apply to all nations or only selected ones.

Leaders from around the world did not hesitate to question the decision. European Commission President Claude Juncker commented, “Protectionism cannot be the answer to our common problem in the steel sector. We will not sit idly. The EU Commission will bring forward in the next few days a proposal for World Trade Organization (WTO)-compatible countermeasures against the U.S. to rebalance the situation.”

“Should restrictions be imposed on Canadian steel and aluminum products, Canada will take responsive measures to defend its trade interests and workers,” Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland was quoted as saying by political website The Hill. Regarding the use of Section 232 in the measure, she added, “It is entirely inappropriate to view any trade with Canada as a national security threat to the United States.”

As of Friday, March 2, neither the Brussels-based BIR or Washington, D.C.-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) had released a statement reacting to the tariff announcement.


Bio Pappel US paper mill plans delayed

Thu, 03/01/2018 - 18:35
The McKinley Paper Co. subsidiary of Mexico-based Bio Pappel has reportedly pushed back its plans to reopen a paper mill in the United States Pacific Northwest that it purchased in March 2017.

Plans to retrofit the mill in Port Angeles, Washington, mill have been “put on hold,” according to an online article posted by the Peninsula Daily News. The re-tooling project involved converting the mill from one that made graphic paper, including paper for phone directories, to one that produces linerboard.

The mill, formerly owned by Nippon Paper Industries USA, had been targeted for a reopening before the end of 2018, but a McKinley Paper vice president quoted by the media outlet stated, “That’s not going to happen,” and added, “things are happening in the market” to cause the delays.

McKinley and Bio Pappel continue to operate a plant in Pruitt, New Mexico, in the U.S. that produces recycled-content linerboard.

When Bio Pappel acquired the Port Angeles plant in early March 2017, it stated the purchase would allow it to double its production capacity in the U.S.

“McKinley will convert the production of this plant to its business line to efficiently integrate it with its current operations in the U.S., which will allow it to strengthen its presence and competitiveness, as well as capture the opportunities of the new cycle of economic expansion expected by a significant reduction of taxes on businesses, an investment-intensive infrastructure and extensive industrial and financial deregulation, announced in that country,” the company’s March 2, 2017, news release stated.

“We consider that Bio Pappel is one of the companies best positioned to insert competitively into a new business environment where international paradigms are changing,” said Miguel Rincon, Bio Pappel’s general director and board chairman when announcing the purchase. “The company is convinced that Mexico, the United States and Canada are globally the best region to invest in, with or without the Free Trade Agreement.”

Bio Pappel produces several types of paper, including newsprint, corrugated cardboard graphic papers and kraft sacks at more than 40 plants in Mexico, the U.S. and Colombia. The company also operates 13 recycling centers for recycled fiber.


EPA starts cleanup of former light bulb recycling facility in Cleveland

Thu, 03/01/2018 - 13:54
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington, has began cleanup of a recycling facility that house potentially toxic light bulbs and other hazardous waste, a report by says. Two to three million spent fluorescent bulbs, 250 drums of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-containing lighting ballasts and other electronic equipment were stored at the former Fluorescent Recycling Inc. warehouse in Cleveland.

The plant operated as a waste facility until a recent fire, the report says. The Cleveland fire department notified the Ohio EPA, which contacted the U.S. EPA to warn about the potential threat of the facility to the public. The EPA determined the facility was contaminated with mercury vapors and PCBs.

Eric Pohl, an EPA on-scene coordinator, says in the report the air quality is not a threat to the area surrounding the warehouse and the EPA is monitoring and testing the air quality daily. Officials are removing the lamps and PCBs because they contain mercury, which can be harmful when inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

Pohl says in the report there is no timeline on the cleanup’s completion. The owner, George Dietrich, provided the U.S. EPA with access to the warehouse.


Tepid demand for copper

Thu, 03/01/2018 - 00:16
Continuing a trend that began in the fourth quarter of 2017, copper scrap dealers are seeing extended delivery dates from their domestic consumers as supply outpaces demand. This situation, as well as softer export buying, is contributing to the wider spreads recyclers are reporting.

Moving, though slowly

The nonferrous marketing manager for a scrap processing company based in the Midwest says that while U.S. copper scrap generation varies by grade, it has been increasing generally.

“Higher terminal market pricing in conjunction with China backing away from the copper market has certainly increased domestic supply on the copper commodities,” he says.

Generation from the demolition and construction sectors is stronger than the marketing manager has seen in the past few years. “Capital investments being made by domestic manufacturing companies to replace and upgrade older equipment are generating increased scrap. The material pickup is seen across the board, from increasing scrapped out CNC (computer numerical control) machines to entire plant demolitions,” he says.

The chief operating officer for a scrap processing company based in the Northeast says obsolete generation is about where he would expect to see it in the Southeast region, which is where he is based. “It is probably a little bit above where we would be traditionally.”

He attributes the increase in obsolete supply to the upward trend in COMEX pricing for copper, which he says is spurring more interest in the metal.

However, as the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), Washington, notes in its Jan. 8 “Weekly Market Report” email, copper scrap prices have not matched the price gains seen at the commodity exchanges.

ISRI, citing American Metal Market data, states “the discount on No. 2 copper scrap delivered to U.S. refineries stood at around 42-43 cents per pound in early December 2017. In comparison, the spread on No. 2 copper scrap was around 17-19 cents in June 2016.”

The association also mentions that “scrap market participants are questioning whether terminal market copper prices reflect physical market fundamentals or speculation,” which has been fueled in part by China’s clampdown on scrap imports and expectations that its consumption of copper cathode and other forms of refined copper will increase as a result.

A broker based in the Midwest also points to steady generation of obsolete material. However, he adds that “you can’t match it up” on the demand side. “No. 1 copper is hard to find, but I have demand for it, while bare bright is everywhere, but I can’t get mills to take it.”

He adds that “chops are everywhere” and that the domestic market has been unable to keep up in terms of demand.

More generally speaking, the source in the Southeast says, “Demand is good, but supply must be better than demand.”

Delivery appointments for copper scrap have not been readily available, he says, though—at three weeks to 30 days—they are not as far out as they were in the fall.

The marketing manager attributes softer demand for No. 2 copper to lower-than-expected volumes of orders at rod mills and ingot makers.

“Otherwise,” he says, “higher copper markets have caused an increased amount of supply to enter the market, thus driving pricing down. But we believe the wider spreads to be a result of increased supply amid steady demand.”

The marketing manager continues, “We believe that commodities like bare bright will see demand pick up as the Chinese consumers are forced to compete or pay up for cathode or equivalently clean copper units.”

As of mid-January, the broker characterizes demand from domestic consumers as being lower, adding that consuming facilities are not running at 100 percent. “They are generating enough return scrap to get what they need,” he says.

It is common to see a seasonal depression in copper scrap demand going into the end of the calendar year, says the nonferrous marketing manager. “Although we did not see much of a pickup in January, indications are that demand will pick up in February and remain strong through the spring and summer.”

He adds, “Consuming facilities are reporting lower than anticipated sales for finished goods at the moment, but order books appear to be quickly improving.”

The export picture

Export buying activity has been mixed, the marketing manager says. “Understandably, our Chinese customers have been unable to purchase the same materials they had been over the past several years, but other consumers have emerged.

“In recognition of the transition that is occurring from Chinese consumers moving to other countries, the Indians have been aggressively attempting to gain market share,” the marketing manager adds.

According to AMM, the Chinese government has issued the first two rounds of solid waste import licenses for 2018, and copper scrap import license numbers and tonnages are down by more than 94 percent each.

The marketing manager says these reductions are a “temporary inconvenience.” He adds, “China has taught the rest of the developing world a valuable lesson as it pertains to acquiring affordable raw materials through the leveraging of their labor markets. We are already seeing several customers moving operations to other countries where there is a high demand for materials and low costs of labor.”

As a result, the marketing manager says, “We are still moving many of the commodities that we had been, just delivering to different ports.”

When asked if his company has made any adjustments to its operations in response to China’s harder line on scrap imports, he says, “Any changes that we have made are simply to process materials further as opposed to selling as-is.”

He adds that this decision is driven by economic considerations. “If a market for material in one form disappears, we will process the material further until we have a saleable commodity yielding the highest margin available.”

The source based in the Southeast says his company has been shipping very little material to China, though he adds that it did send a load of motors there as well as one load of birch/cliff in January.

Transportation woes

In addition to the widening spreads recyclers are dealing with, rising transportation costs associated with the shortage of trucks and drivers are eating into the margins of copper scrap dealers.

“The shortage is certainly being seen on the pricing being offered by transportation companies,” the marketing manager says. “As of now, we are paying considerably more to move material, but have not ultimately had many issues securing transportation if you are willing to pay the going rate.”

The source based in the Southeast says the higher prices and tightness in the trucking sector have only gotten worse since the initial disruptions caused by the hurricanes in Texas and Florida. He points to regulations requiring drivers to electronically log their hours that went into effect in mid-December of 2017 as the primary reason. He says his company is double-booking trucks just to be sure it gets service.

“It’s not a bad thing,” he says of the new requirements, “but it will take a while for the market to adjust.”

The Midwest-based broker also blames the hours-of-service regulations for the tightness in the trucking market and the rising prices. He says he’s seen trucking rates double. “It is going to turn into instant inflation because products are going to start costing more,” the broker says.

Despite the challenges currently facing copper scrap dealers, the marketing manager based in the Midwest remains “cautiously optimistic.” He says, “We believe that we will see a higher average price for the red metals as compared to 2017; however, domestic mill demand remains in question. If order books continue to build, and the Chinese economy remains strong, then we believe that we will see spreads come in considerably.”

An extended version of this article, with additional information, appears in the February 2018 print edition of Recycling Today, and can be viewed online here.


HBI facility receives permit from Ohio EPA

Wed, 02/28/2018 - 23:08
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a final air emissions permit-to-install to IronUnits LLC, which will allow the company to build an iron briquette manufacturing facility in Toledo, Ohio. When operational, the facility will be capable of producing nearly 2.5 million tons per year of hot briquetted iron (HBI) using a gas-based direct reduction process supplied by Charlotte, North Carolina-based Midrex Technologies.

IronUnits is a subsidiary of Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., a steel industry raw materials supplier based in Cleveland.

The permits include conditions limiting the total maximum air emissions, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and greenhouse gas pollutants.

The decision to issue the permit followed the Ohio EPA and the Toledo Division of Environmental Services conducting a public meeting about the project in January 2017. Public comments received during the open meeting and during the public comment period were reviewed and considered before a final decision was made, according to the Ohio EPA.

Permits from Ohio EPA’s Division of Surface Water also are needed before the company can begin physical construction of the facility.

The company hopes to break ground on the facility by May 2018 with commercial operations starting around the middle of 2020. The facility will use taconite pellets as a raw material.


Chiho outfits Hong Kong processing plant

Wed, 02/28/2018 - 20:59
Hong Kong-based Chiho Environmental Group Ltd. has installed equipment it will start operating in 2018 to process several types of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), including wire and cable scrap.

The scrap recycling firm is installing two processing lines outfitted with equipment made by Denmark-based Eldan Recycling. One line will focus on processing wire and cable scrap while the other has been designed to shred a wider variety of WEEE items before harvesting marketable scrap metals and plastics from the shredded material created.

Chiho has grown via acquisition this decade and now operates scrap recycling facilities under the Scholz brand in Europe and as Liberty Iron & Metal in the United States and Mexico. Although Chiho, which also has processing facilities in Taizhou and Yantai, China, is based in Hong Kong, the new WEEE facility will be its first in that city.

The Hong Kong processing facility is located within three warehouses situated on a six-acre (24,000-square-meter) parcel of land in the Yuen Long Industrial Estate within Hong Kong’s New Territories.

Hong Kong’s government is supporting a WEEE collection system that will direct some types of obsolete electronics to a facility being operated by Germany’s ALBA Group. However, Chiho General Manager Kwok Chun Sing says ALBA is likely to receive “about 35 percent” of the 70,000 to 80,000 metric tons of WEEE generated in the HKSAR each year. “So, there is a market for other companies to operate,” states Kwok.

Veteran scrap trader Tom Bird, who joined Chiho as its chief operating officer in 2017, says the company’s ability to process material in Europe, North America, China and Hong Kong gives it “flexibility in terms of what we can buy and process,” providing Chiho with an advantage.

Kwok says the e-scrap processing experience that will be gained by Chiho in Hong Kong also could allow it to “play a bigger role in the domestic market” in mainland China. Adds Bird, “China’s domestic market is an opportunity, and Chiho is well placed to take advantage of that.”


Lee & Man boosts revenue and profits in 2017

Wed, 02/28/2018 - 20:12
Hong Kong-based Lee & Man Paper Manufacturing Limited has announced 2017 annual results that include total revenue of HK$25.84 billion ($3.3 billion) and a net profit increase of 76 percent compared to 2016.

The firm, which produces linerboard, corrugating medium and tissue products, indicates its revenue figure in 2017 increased by 40.9 percent compared to the previous year. Lee & Man’s reported net profit of HK$5.04 billion ($640 million) represents a 76 percent increase compared to the previous year.

“The Chinese government’s efforts to eliminate obsolete production facilities while implementing environmentally friendly policies had helped gradually reduce excess capacity in the industry during the year,” says Dr. Raymond Lee, chairman of Lee & Man Paper. “Demand recovering during the year also notably improved the demand and supply equilibrium in the industry,” he adds.

Continues Lee, “Paper [costs have] increased as a result of the surge in energy, raw materials and transportation costs. The overall increase in sales revenue as well as the value-added tax refund policy enabled satisfactory growth in the group’s profit margin. Looking ahead, the group is optimistic about the outlook of the paper industry. As the rapid development of e-commerce and online shopping has fundamentally changed consumption and logistics models, [this] in turn has benefited the packaging [sector, which is] currently undergoing consolidation. Overall paper consumption still has considerable room for growth.”

Lee & Man’s tissue paper business now has a total annual production volume of 685,000 tons. That business unit has 10 tissue paper manufacturing machines with a total annual production volume of 465,000 tons in Chongqing in western China; a machine with 110,000 tons of annual output in Jiangxi Province in southeastern China; and a 110,000-tons-per-year machine in South China’s Guangdong Province.

The company indicates it has been able to reduce the production cost of tissue paper thanks to greater economies of scale from increased production volume and steady supply from its pulp production facilities in Chongqing. Another two production lines with a combined annual production capacity of 110,000 tons in the Chongqing Industrial Park will begin production in 2018, boosting Lee & Man’s annual tissue output to tissue paper is expected to reach 795,000 tons.

On the packaging side, Lee & Man states it continues to invest in its paper manufacturing operations in Vietnam, with an annual production capacity of 400,000 tons now in operation there. In 2017 another paper machine also came online in Jiangxi, China, meaning the company is now capable of producing more than 6 million tons of packaging paper and board per year.

“Adhering to its long-held prudent strategies and with debts maintained at a reasonable level, the group will monitor the pace of economic development in China and Southeast Asia, while continuing to bolster production capacity for packaging and tissue paper, as well as strengthen its presence in Vietnam,” remarks Edmond Lee, CEO of Lee & Man Paper.

“Management will also proceed with plans to enhance production efficiency, strictly control costs and strengthen capital operations to maintain its competitiveness in the paper industry,” he adds.


Plastics Recycling 2018: Committing to recycling and recycled content

Wed, 02/28/2018 - 16:03
For recycling to be successful, brand owners must commit to designing products and packaging that are recyclable as well as to consuming recycled materials in the manufacturing of their products. Representatives from Seventh Generation, Coca-Cola and SC Johnson shared their commitments in these areas during one of the plenary sessions at Plastics Recycling 2018 titled Brand Owners Perspective on PCR.

While Ziploc bags and other plastic film can be recycled through store take-back programs, Pam Oksiuta, senior director of global sustainability at SC Johnson, Racine, Wisconsin, said, “We believe there is a better option than store take-back. It is not a very convenient option for consumers.”

To that end, SC Johnson has been studying the possibility of recovering plastic film, like its Ziploc bags, at material recovery facilities (MRFs) in the U.S., using the pellets created from recycling this material to manufacture plastic garbage bags in Europe.

Oksiuta said 3 billion pounds of plastic film are available for recovery, though only 4 percent of this material is recovered for recycling. The figure for Ziploc bags is even slighter: Only 0.2 percent of the bags are collected for recycling through in-store programs, she said. “We need to work together to find a solution.”

While Oksiuta said SC Johnson understands the issues recyclers face, she asserted that plastic film could be recovered at most material recovery facilities (MRFs), adding that the company’s experience with Materials Recovery for the Future (MRFF) has shown that optical scanners are capable of sorting single and multilayer films from the material stream.

“Test results continued to validate that MRF automated sorting is technically feasible,” the MRFF collaborative writes on its website. “Modeling results show costs to add flexible packaging recycling in large MRFs are within reason, particularly in regions with economic incentives that promote sustainable land use and end markets.”

Perceptions don’t align with this conclusion, Oksiuta said. “There can be a sizable end market for this material, but it is perceived as inefficient and unprofitable.”

She added that recycled film can be used in products ranging from pallets to outdoor furniture to decking to the previously mentioned garbage bags.

“We believe there is an opportunity here,” Oksiuta said. “This is not about selling garbage bags but to show there is an end market for this material and it can be a sustainable business.”

Seventh Generation has prioritized the use of recycled plastics in its packaging. (See “Committed to recycled content” in Plastics Recycling, a supplement to Recycling Today, for more on the company’s use of recycled content in its packaging.) Kelly Murosky, a senior packaging engineer with the company, which is based in Burlington, Vermont, said Seventh Generation’s 2020 packaging vision calls for it to eliminate the use of virgin plastics and to produce zero packaging waste.

“We are well aware of the waste that our packaging makes,” she said. “We keep this top of mind when designing packaging.”

The company has prioritized the use of PCR (postconsumer resin) because of the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that can be realized by doing so, Murosky said. It also has incorporated the use of drop-in bio-resins.

Increasing PCR content in its closures remains an issue, however, she said. “Finding a clean stream of polypropylene PCR has been difficult.”

Seventh Generation refers to the Association of Plastics Recyclers (APR) Design Guide for Plastics Recyclability when designing its packaging and works with its sourcing team to incorporate PCR costs upfront, Murosky said. “PCR may be more expensive,” she added, “but there are other steps to take to reduce costs.”

She said her team works with the company’s marketing team to redefine the bottle aesthetic regarding color and clarity to show consumers that PCR is a priority.

The company’s packaging incorporates the How2Recycle label to encourage consumer recycling. “We need consumers to recycle so we can continue to have a source of PCR,” Murosky said.

Sarah Dearman, sustainable packaging program director for Atlanta-based Coca-Cola provided details on the company’s World Without Waste sustainable packaging vision. She said the company would like to achieve 100 percent recovery of its packaging. “It is an extremely ambitious goal,” she said, “but we can do it with the help of others.

The company also is working toward 50 percent recycled content in its packages. To achieve that goal, it first has to work on increasing recovery, Dearman said. “There is not enough supply to go beyond 50 percent PCR in our bottles.”

She said Coca-Cola is engaging its entire system, from marketing through to its suppliers and bottlers, to reach its recovery goals. “We need game-changing solutions that leverage technology to drive more people to recycle the right way.”

The company has already invested $13 million to help improve recycling through various initiatives, Dearman said. “It’s still not enough as the recycling rate keeps going down for bottles and cans.”

Plastics Recycling 2018, organized by Resource Recycling, Portland, Oregon, was Feb. 19-21 in Nashville, Tennessee.



Plastics Recycling 2018: A question of infrastructure

Wed, 02/28/2018 - 14:18
Pictured above, from left: Nina Bellucci Butler, Mike Centers, Tom Outerbridge and Eddie Ingle.

As the stream of materials collected for recycling continues to evolve, it raises questions about how well existing U.S. recycling infrastructure is prepared to deal with these changes. Panelists during the Plastics Recycling 2018 session titled How to Optimize the Infrastructure attempted to address those questions.

Moderator Nina Bellucci Butler, CEO of More Recycling, Sonoma, California, noted that the presence of nonbottle rigid plastics and plastic film were growing in the residential material stream, while polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bottles have not grown. (For more information on the growth of film and nonbottle rigids recycling, click here.) However, she added, nonbottle rigid plastics and plastic film are among the recyclables most at risk currently, as they largely have been exported to China, which has banned the import of postconsumer plastics.

“If we don’t dramatically stimulate demand and improve infrastructure, will we have to reduce the types of plastics extracted?” Butler asked. She said recycling in the U.S. has been focused on collection at the expense of sorting and demand.

Mike Centers, founder of Titus MRF Services, Concord, California, said collecting recyclables was effective and efficient, while sorting of these recyclables was not as effective as it could be. He believed secondary material recovery facilities (SMRFs) could enhance existing recycling infrastructure, saying such facilities were the “missing link” the industry needs.  

Titus operates a pilot SMRF in California, where Centers said the company is “sorting material that would otherwise go to landfill.”

Centers said incoming contamination was an issue for MRFs. “If you put junk into a MRF, you get junk out.”

While he said machine yield losses vary by MRFs, they were generally increasing. This material is what his SMRF is sorting.

Centers said such facilities would take in residue from five to 10 MRFs in a geographic area for additional processing. The SMRF would “aggregate low-volume materials along with machine yield loses” from these facilities “to reach the critical mass necessary to justify investments in automated technologies for sorting by material type.”

The Titus pilot SMRF is recovering mixed paper, PET bottles, PET thermoforms, PETG (glycol-modified PET), HDPE/LDPE (low-density polyethylene), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene/expanded polystyrene (PS/EPS), polylactic acid (PLA), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), aseptic cartons and ferrous and nonferrous metals.

Centers said about 50 percent of the material his company receives at its pilot facility cannot be sorted into a product and is responsibly disposed of.

The SMRF offers an advantage to a plastics recycling facility (PRF), which sorts Nos. 3-7 plastics, because it can draw in more material from a given area than a PRF, which would have to source its bales from greater distances to get the volume required, increasing costs, Centers said.

To some degree, the Sims Municipal Recycling (SMR) MRF in Brooklyn, New York, functions in part like a secondary MRF because it sorts residue from other area MRFs as well as rerunning its own residue.

The facility is equipped with 16 optical sorters and ballistic separators, said Tom Outerbridge, SMR general manager. He described the MRF as being “very efficient given what we get from the city.”

SMR is a division of global scrap metal and electronics recycling company Sims Metal Management, with corporate offices in Sydney and in New York. Outerbridge said the company’s background in metals recycling “suffuses the MRF operations.”

The Brooklyn MRF, known as Sunset Park, employs 195 people and processes 500,000 tons per year of curbside recyclables, as well as Nos. 1-7 and Nos. 3-7 plastic bales.

He said it was New York City’s goal to optimize recycling participation, which meant simplifying the education message. Because New York City must export its waste to landfills, which is very expensive, Outerbridge said the city had an incentive to get materials in the right bins.

The city shifted to accept “all rigid” plastic in 2013, and the MRF’s incoming tonnage has grown by 5,500 tons per month, or 30 percent, from 2013 through 2017.

Although the MRF’s tonnage increased by 30 percent, so did its waste generation, he said. “The bump in contamination is the price we pay to get more material in the stream.”

“We can recover just about anything,” Outerbridge said, “but there has to be a market for it.”

He continued, “Without inherent commodity value, there must be a commitment to use recycled content to drive demand.”

Despite the impression that recycled plastics are inferior, Eddie Ingle, vice president of supply chain and Repreve polymer sales for North Carolina-based Unifi, said “You don’t need to compromise when you make a recycled product.”

However, that is not to say that the process is easy. Ingle said recycling PET bottles into yarn is “quite hard to do.”

Despite that, Repreve recycles 2.2 billion bottles annually into polyester yarn, which, Ingle said, “runs and dyes like virgin yarn.”

He continued, “If we had more material at a lower price, we know we could sell more product.”

Ingle added that Unifi doesn’t use recycled material for the cost savings. Although the company would “love to have recycled material as cheap as virgin, we are not there yet,” he said.

Plastics Recycling 2018 was Feb. 19-21 in Nashville, Tennessee. The event is organized by Portland, Oregon-based Resource Recycling.  


Is technology the answer to China's recycling ban?

Wed, 02/28/2018 - 11:44
With waste materials piling up in the U.S. and other global markets, the China recycling ban enacted on Jan. 1 is already making an impact. A couple of months have gone by and China has showed no sign of reversing their policy, even though the waste industry around the world has stated their frustrations with the ban. Some U.S. House members have even called on the Chinese government to repeal it.

But, why continue to spend time and energy fighting this ban when we could instead focus on handling it here at home and making the necessary changes to adapt to our new recycling reality? Investing in technology across all levels of the waste life cycle can help the U.S. more efficiently manage our waste and even reduce our waste generation before it lands in the dumpster, therefore decreasing contaminated recyclables.

“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is a mantra that has been around for a while, yet the focus is typically associated with the recycling component more so than on reducing and reusing waste. While recycling makes companies and consumers feel good, the thought of reducing waste often evokes something akin to a fear response from the public, as people feel they have a right to consume at their discretion. However, the China recycling ban has made one thing clear: This approach is no longer reasonable or sustainable. Focusing on waste reduction may alleviate some of the issues we are currently seeing, and luckily, this is something that can be more easily achieved with the use of technology.

The future of the internet of things in waste

Today, there is a push to introduce new technology-enabled solutions into the waste industry as the internet of things (IoT) and connected devices allow visibility into processes we’ve never had access to before. New IoT-driven processes and technological advances will provide even more information to help better manage waste throughout the supply chain through the use of data to identify where reduction can occur and where action needs to be taken to help make waste and recycling programs more effective.

This type of visibility is critical in the wake of the China ban, making it easier to pinpoint exactly where the majority of waste is coming from, at what stage it is being generated most, and where it is getting contaminated. IoT devices allow waste services providers to identify changes in volume down to the specific site or facility level. By continuously monitoring and analyzing waste in all phases of its life cycle—from the dumpster to the truck to the waste facility—waste services partners can offer actionable insights to their clients, enabling them to make data-driven decisions to reduce the amount of waste at the source.

Technology in dumpsters

The ability to control what will ultimately be put in a landfill or recycling center starts at the dumpster. Waste services providers can leverage the IoT capabilities of container sensors to consistently monitor waste volumes coming out of a site. This data allows them to offer their customers clarity and visibility around how much waste they’re producing. This means that waste generators now can know how full a dumpster is, what its contents are, how quickly it became full, how often it needs to be collected, and most importantly, actionable insights on what the facility can do to reduce its waste.

By analyzing the data from container sensors, identifying patterns of activity and auditing waste streams, these connected devices allow waste services providers to uncover what causes changes in volume and to understand where in the supply chain the materials come from. With this information, facilities can make changes to ultimately help with the goal of reducing waste.

Further, waste services providers using dumpsters that are integrated with IoT sensors can help to discover if a facility is accurately following recycling regulations. If a site is placing recyclables in their dumpster or vice versa, waste services providers can lay out a simplified and easy-to-follow recycling program specific to the site’s county and city regulations to increase recycling accuracy and efficiency. This will decrease contaminated recycling batches as well as increase the volume of clean, sorted recycling, which is an overall win-win.

Technology in vehicles

After the waste and recycling materials get placed in the dumpster, technology in the hauler truck can continue the process of ensuring loads are not contaminated.

Some waste collection trucks are using cameras to take pictures of contaminated loads so that the haulers can send notices—and even fines—to end customers not adhering to recycling standards. This puts even more accountability on the waste generators.

Additionally, by being able to check if a load is contaminated before it reaches the recycling center, haulers will gain the added efficiency of knowing to place those collections in the appropriate location at a sorting facility, instead of with the other recyclables.

Technology in waste facilities

This same type of technology can be instituted at recycling and waste facilities to help better control contamination.

At these facilities, the use of robotic sorting technology is advancing. While still a major investment, robotic technology has been proven to sort materials faster and more accurately than humans can. Robotic sorters use deep learning technology to see the material, artificial intelligence to identify the item and, finally, a robotic arm to pick up specific pieces of waste. With recyclables, it’s critical to separate paper from plastic from aluminum, and these robotic workers can speed up and streamline this process while also ensuring accuracy is maintained.

Implementing and investing in technology at all levels and phases of the trash life cycle will help this objective and bring added clarity into the composition of waste that generators are producing.

Focus on the positive impact

China’s ban may have disrupted the status quo of the global waste industry, but this ban has just as much to do with what is going on oversees as it does in our communities in the U.S. These new regulations have placed the responsibility of recycling back into our hands.

While few industry stakeholders would likely classify the ban as a good thing, it has presented an opportunity to rethink and refocus on the systems and methods that are currently used in our industry.  The question now becomes, “Can we use it as a reason to implement positive, waste-reducing methods that will have a lasting impact?” It’s up to us in the waste industry to inform, educate and enforce accurate recycling and reduction waste provisions that can answer this question in the affirmative.


EPA removes Pennsylvania C&D recycling site from National Priorities List

Wed, 02/28/2018 - 08:14
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington, has removed a construction and demolition (C&D) recycling site in Foster Township, Pennsylvania, from the Superfund National Priorities List.

The 110-acre site was used to reclaim metals, including copper and lead, from cable wires from 1963 until 1984. Cable burning and processing materials at the site caused contamination of the surrounding soil and sediment that posed a risk to human health and the environment.

The cleanup included the stabilization and off-site disposal of contaminated soil and sediment by Nassau Metals Corp., New Providence, New Jersey. Approximately 80,000 tons, or 4,000 truckloads, of stabilized soil and sediment were removed from the site during the remediation.

EPA conducted oversight of the remediation work by Nassau Metals and has determined the site no longer poses a threat to human health or the environment.

The National Priorities List is a roster of the nation’s most contaminated sites that threaten human health or the environment. The sites on the list are eligible for cleanup under EPA’s Superfund program. EPA removes sites from the list once all the remedies are successfully implemented and no further cleanup is required to protect human health or the environment.

“Superfund cleanup and safe reuse of the site continues to be a priority at EPA as we work to create a safer and healthier environment for all communities affected,” Cosmo Servidio, EPA Mid-Atlantic regional administrator, says. “Removing this site from the list represents an important step toward achieving this goal.”

EPA did not receive any adverse comments during the 30-day public comment period on the proposal to delist.

For more information about the site, visit