Sweden does a good job at recycling – too good.
With just 4% of the country’s household waste ending up in a landfill and the rest being recycled or used as fuel in waste-to-energy plants, the country is having a difficult time supplying plants with trash, Public Radio International (PRI) reported.
Sweden’s answer has been to import about 800,000 tons of trash per year from the rest of Europe.
“We have more capacity than the production of waste in Sweden that is usable for incineration,” Catarina Ostlund, senior advisor for the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, told the radio outlet.
The majority of the imported waste comes from neighboring Norway because it’s more expensive to burn trash there and cheaper for the Norwegians to export their waste to Sweden, which receives revenue for taking the trash, PRI said.
The trash burning generates 20% of Sweden’s district heating, a system that distributes heat by pumping heated water through residential and commercial buildings, PRI said. The WTE plants also provide electricity for 250,000 homes.
March 6 — New Mexico buried at least $168 million worth of material in its landfills in 2010, according to a recent report.
The New Mexico Recycling Coalition (NMRC) conducted the study that also found New Mexicans spent $51 million to bury $168 million worth of recyclable material, based on 29 reporting landfills with an average cost of $31.29 per ton to dispose of waste.
“New Mexico has a huge potential to reap more value from its waste stream. Using an economic incentive structure such as Pay-As-You-Throw [PAYT], citizens will readily recycle more and purchase more carefully if that means a lower trash bill,” English Bird, NMRC executive director, said in a statement. “The critical component for that community is to have easy and convenient recycling options available.”
The report´s primary recommendation to increase diversion is for communities to use rate incentives, such as setting lower rates for recyclable materials at landfills and to institute a PAYT program that could, on average, dispose of 45% less solid waste.
The report was conducted as part of NMRC´s multitiered Rural Recycling Development project, funded by a grant from the U.S. Energy Department.
In 2010, New Mexicans recycled 200,000 tons, with an estimated market value of $25 million. In 2009, the state’s recycling rate was 14.6%, less than half of the 32.5% national recycling rate. New Mexico has a goal of reaching 33% by the end of this year.
Across the country recycling is evolving at an unprecedented pace. Zero waste is the buzzword and green is the norm.
As industry moves to embrace new approaches to meet the demand for more material recovery, regulators are taking a more distrustful approach when it comes to embracing innovation. One has to ask, are the concerns of “big brother” overblown?
Many states have laws exempting recycling from heavy waste regulation; however, as more and more waste is recovered and diverted to these facilities, many states are taking the position that some basic materials and activities can only be properly handled under its watchful eye. Speculative recovery to avoid landfill costs is a valid concern, but regulators seem eager to shoot first and ask questions later in an effort to restrain this burgeoning frontier.
When does a material cease to be waste? Or, perhaps more importantly, when does a material become waste? If a forestry log is exempt from waste regulation, then why are recovered logs from two-by-fours, pallets, or even engineered woods made from that same log any more of a concern?
For years scrap metal processors have operated without waste permitting and only more recently have been regulated by such things as storm water permits. Scrap metal businesses historically have considerable issues with potential environmental contamination; however, these types of recyclers stay off the regulatory radar. So why do these recovered materials get to cruise into market while new recovery groups are held in contempt? Why is drywall, shingles or any recovered materials more of a concern?
Organics recycling in particular is under attack. Federal, state and local officials are jumping on the regulation bandwagon almost as fast as entrepreneurs can create startups to meet the green demand for disposal and products. Regulators have long controlled certain higher pathogenic potential composting, but their sights now seem set on all forms of recovered wood. Their concerns seem centered on scary sounding formaldehyde concentration, oxygen displacement and pH imbalance, which are all possible effects to the environment when wood decomposes.
Why then are these long-established natural effects suddenly causing alarmist reactions to certain recycling operations while similar industries continue unregulated? As with the scrap metal industry, thousands of unregulated timber yards pose similar risks. What about stockpiled land clearing material left in the field to rot? Why do these facilities that turn what some deem “waste” into mulch, biomass, clean compost or soil endure more scrutiny than others who use the same feed material from a nonwaste source? Is the potential decomposition of stockpiled wood not all the same?
Entrepreneurs are continually cultivating creative approaches to our age-old waste problem. Meanwhile, regulators are stuck in a waste-is-waste mentality. Their actions are saying, “If I have lost control by not landfilling, then I will create control by regulating the recycling process!”
Landfills are an environmental vault where the safekeeping of waste offers a false sense of security. I can´t think of a more irresponsible approach to the management of any potentially recoverable item. If dumping shingles into the landfill averages $42 a ton nationally, and the asphalt content of one ton of carefully recovered shingles is valued at $100, then the economics are clear. Yet each year hundreds of thousands of tons are landfilled because of regulation. Now that is waste!
Only time will tell how much regulation will impact what materials are recovered, how they are recovered and how they might be used. I hope for a better approach than dropping the proverbial environmental hammer. I suggest that before one bit of regulation is crafted, pause and start by asking questions: What is the concern? How significant is the potential threat versus the benefit offered?
Then and only then, regulate proportional to the known and proven threat. Make any necessary regulations protective, not restrictive, and above all find a way to facilitate the effort — not kill the spirit!
Dec. 29 — The state of New Jersey is used to accepting New York’s trash, but this is trash of a different kind.
New Jersey´s garbage and recycling industries are vulnerable to intrusion by the mob, according to a report.
The State Commission of Investigation, an independent fact-finding group that exposes organized crime, public corruption and waste in New Jersey, found that mob-affiliated individuals who were banned from operating in New York have continued to skirt the law by moving to neighboring New Jersey and exploiting loopholes there.
Although the state implemented the A-901 program in 1986 that made background checks mandatory for garbage business executives, a lack of funding and manpower for the system has allowed criminal elements to infiltrate the lucrative waste collection industry.
There are about 1,300 licensed solid waste haulers in New Jersey and around 100 new companies apply for licensing each year.
The commission found more than 30 people in New Jersey with connections to the mob or criminal elements who were barred from the industry in New York.
Recycling operations, in particular, are susceptible to corruption because checks aren’t required for operators in that sector, said Lee Seglem, assistant director of the commission.
“We´re not suggesting that they´re in the grip of organized crime. The issue is the vulnerability of that happening,” Seglem said. “We´re concerned about what´s going on with contaminated soil and demolition debris falling into the hands of people who don´t care about public health. There should be a licensing structure set up for that.”
In some instances, the commission found that individuals who were barred from direct-participation in the waste industry, continued to profit as “commercial landlords.”
To run their schemes, criminals operate behind the cover of supposedly legitimate companies, making money secondarily as real estate owners or through equipment leased to waste operations. Some also may have stakes in companies owned by relatives with clean records, according to the report.
Bruce J. Parker, president and CEO of National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA), said the solid waste industry consists of hardworking people, but he´s concerned that some may paint it with a “broad brush stroke” because of the stereotype that the entire industry is somehow involved in organized crime.
Parker said it´s an undeserved stigma.
“NSWMA supports 100% arresting criminals who are involved in the solid waste industry. We support law enforcement prosecuting people who are alleged to be in organized crime,” Parker said.
Under the A-901 law, “key employees” such as owners and managers for garbage companies must fill out detailed statements about their personal and financial backgrounds and get a fingerprint check.
Thanks to a loophole, workers such as consultants and sales representatives don´t get the same treatment even though they carry out key tasks, Seglem said.
The report indicated that sales reps can convert blocks of commercial clients to their company.
“There are certain types of individuals that never receive that type of scrutiny,” Seglem said. “Those positions were occupied by people who had criminal backgrounds. They were using those positions to govern how a company was operating.”
The report says the state should improve regulations by expanding background checks for garbage industry employees and requiring checks for those working in recycling.
It also recommends more money for law enforcement and the formation of a centralized list of criminals banned from conducting business in New Jersey.
Monetary support for A-901 hasn’t been at recommended levels since the mid-1990s, the report found.
In the last decade, funding for A-901 has dropped each year, going from $2.7 million in the 2001 fiscal year to $1.7 million in FY2010, which is much lower than the $4.8 million the commission suggested more than two decades ago, the report said.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie´s office didn´t provide a statement on the report, despite numerous calls and emails.
Carrying out detailed background checks, for example, is one area where sufficient funding is imperative.
“You need personnel dedicated to do that and it costs money,” Seglem said.
Feb. 23 — Round2 Inc., a Texas-based electronics recycler, is moving to a new corporate headquarters in Austin, Texas.
The new headquarters will be at Commerce Park in Austin. Locating to the facility are the company´s executive, operational, sales and marketing departments, as well as a new research and development center.
“The R&D center will allow Round2 to focus on process optimization for our global ReDistribution Centers and maintain our position as the low cost operator in this space,” said Randy Weiss, company president and CEO. “This new facility represents our steadfast commitment not only to Austin, but to the electronics recycling community as well.”
The electronics reseller and recycler recently expanded its processing facility in Coppell, Texas, from 116,000 to 174,000 square-feet. Round2 has an additional facility in Grove City, Ohio. Round2 is an ISO 9001: 2008, ISO 14001: 2004, and OHSAS 18001: 2007 registered company.
Despite bringing in more revenue, Waste Management saw its earnings drop in 2010. Last year, the firm posted a net income of $953 million on $12.51 billion in revenue. In 2009, Waste Management posted a net income of $994 million on $11.79 billion in revenue.
For fourth-quarter 2010, the firm posted a net income of $281 million on $3.19 billion in revenue. During the same period in 2009, Waste Management posted a net income of $315 million on $3.01 billion in revenue.
Waste Management attributed the decrease in profits in part to $20 million in litigation charges that the firm paid during the fourth quarter.
“We are pleased that we exceeded our expectations for the fourth quarter, driven by strong internal revenue growth from yield, which offset lower-than-expected volumes,” said David Steiner, president and CEO of Waste Management. “Our collection, landfill and recycling businesses continued their strong performance, as each of these business lines increased both their operating earnings and operating margins compared with the prior year period.”
Source: Swisher International, Inc.
Billionaire H. Wayne Huizenga is getting back into the waste business while further consolidating the commercial cleaning industry as chairman of Swisher Hygiene Inc., which is buying Choice Environmental Services Inc. in a deal valued at $92 million. Choice Environmental is a Fort Lauderdale, FL-based residential and commercial solid waste services company. Charlotte, NC-based Swisher will issue 9.2 million shares of common stock valued at $50.1 million and assume about $41.5 million in debt as part of the deal. Huizenga recently brought Swisher public by merging it with CoolBrands International Inc., which provides cleaning services for restaurants in a $100 million deal last August.
“We have been looking closely for strong companies that will complement our current hygiene and sanitary business and products, and the acquisition of Choice Environmental is a perfect fit for Swisher Hygiene as we transform our company into a true full-service provider,” said Steven Berrard, CEO of Swisher and a long-time business partner with Huizenga.
Huizenga used the same industry consolidation model employed with Waste Management to make multi-billion dollar companies out of Blockbuster Video, Auto Nation, Extended Stay America and others. In 1994, he took a big position in Republic Waste (now Republic Services); helping it to grow into the number two $8 billion company it is today.
See also: “Waste Management Pioneer Huizenga Consolidating New Industry,”
Innovative Waste Solutions is proud to announce its Westward expansion. Growing from its Mid-Atlantic roots IWS has experienced tremendous growth that required additional support. With its Western hub in Salt Lake City IWS will continue to add consultants in additional Western Metro Markets. Founder Mark Kissner says that the economic downturn has more property owners and managers looking for ways to improve property performance. Contingency base consulting solutions such as Innovative Waste Solutions’ provide cost reduction without up front fees or capital investments.