Weekly News Bulletin: Nov. 25-Dec. 1, 2008


Energy and Commerce Committee Investigates EPA E-Waste Regulations

Leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee said they are investigating how effectively U.S. EPA regulates the export of electronic waste (e-waste), following several reports documenting inadequate controls and the harmful effects of sending toxic materials to developing countries. Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) and others wrote a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson expressing concern that the agency has failed to prevent companies from exporting e-waste overseas where it most often ends up in poorly regulated countries where it is mishandled and wreaks havoc with human and environmental health. CRTs each contain between 4 and 8 pounds of lead, according to the Electronics TakeBack Coalition, who claim that about 40 percent of the lead, mercury and cadmium in landfills comes from old electronic equipment.

A "60 Minutes" investigative report this month revealed that even recycling programs in the United States that claim not to send electronics overseas sometimes do. A Government Accountability Office report this year accused the EPA of not only failing to prevent e-waste exports to developing countries, but also of not even being able to identify the destinations of 80 percent of exported material; not surprising without a national plan and strategy.

Currently, CRTs are the only form of e-waste regulated by EPA when exported for reuse or recycling. Violators are subject to civil and criminal penalties. The lawmakers want to know how much e-waste has been exported from the United States since 2007, as well as the steps that EPA has taken to enforce the CRT rules since last year...Read More »



Waste Connections Concerned About Drop in Commodity Prices

Waste Connections warned that the downturn in the markets for recycled commodities is likely compromise fourth quarter financial performance. "The precipitous drop in recycled commodity values over the past few weeks is unprecedented," CEO Ronald J. Mittelstaedt said Nov. 24. "Many of these commodities generated on the West Coast are shipped to Asia, where demand has dried up. In certain of our markets, recycled commodities that had a strong value only a few weeks ago now have no buyers," he said. "Until demand from Asia re-emerges, a commodity that historically has had value could remain a cost." The company now forecasts fourth quarter 2008 revenue to be between $264 million and $267 million based upon current market conditions and assuming no recovery in recycled commodity prices.

Separately, the company recently purchased two west coast firms with combined annualized revenue of approximately $15 million. Each of which, Yakima Waste Systems Inc. in Yakima, Wash. and the residential collection assets of Trashco Services Inc. in Portland, Ore., operate under exclusive arrangements in their respective markets...Read More »



Wallingford, Conn. Waste-to-Energy Plant could be sold

Officials of towns surrounding the Wallingford waste-to-energy plant in south central Connecticut are said to be considering an offer from Covanta Energy, the plant's operator, to buy the facility from its owner the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority (CRRA). The CRRA has until the end of the year to work out an arrangement under which the agency, or the five municipalities served, can buy the facility or sign an agreement to have Covanta continue operating it. But, if not decided by Jan. 1, Covanta can purchase the plant for $1, according to its contract. Paul Nonnenmacher, a spokesman for the quasi-governmental CRRA said that the agency will seek to "exhaust all reasonable possibilities to keep the plant under public ownership." However, Covanta is offering a lower tipping fee of $65 per ton which would climb each year according to the consumer price index. CRRA's offer includes a tipping fee of between $67.45 and $75.30 in 2010. The plant is estimated to be worth $23.5 million...Read More »



Waste Management Buys California Medical Waste Company

A division of Waste Management Inc. called WM Healthcare Solutions is buying certain assets of Spectrum Environmental Solutions, an Escondido, Calif.-based medical waste company. "The purchase of Spectrum Environmental's assets will allow us to provide an increased level of service options for our customers in the San Diego and Orange County region," said Jason Rose, general manager of Waste Management of San Diego and Orange County. As its name implies, WM Healthcare Solutions provides waste and environmental solutions for the health care industry. Terms of the deal were not disclosed...Read More »



Fortistar Buys Landfill Gas to Energy Project in Texas

Renewable energy portfolio company Fortistar said it is purchasing a 3.2 MW landfill gas-to-energy project being constructed in Trinity Oaks, Texas. The deal should close in early 2009. "This acquisition is a continuation of our plans to expand our landfill gas portfolio," said Tom Gesicki, president of Fortistar´s methane group. With this transaction, Fortistar will have interests in sixty green / renewable projects generating the equivalent of over 370 MWs of power, making it one of the largest owners of landfill gas projects in the country with about 12% of the market...Read More »



Pepco Energy Opens 5 MW Bethlehem, PA Landfill Gas Project

IESI Bethlehem, a division of BFI Canada, and Pepco Energy Services announced the opening of their new 5 megawatt landfill gas to energy (LFGTE) project. The 8,800 square foot plant houses a combustion turbine that will ultimately produce enough electricity to power 1,900 homes. It is owned and will be operated by Pepco Energy Services subsidiary Bethlehem Renewable Energy, LLC. The project utilizes gas produced by the Bethlehem landfill that accepts about 1,500 tons of waste per day and operating since 1994. It is about 60 miles directly west of New York City near Allentown, PA. Pepco boasts that the plant eliminates the need for 140 railcars of coal per year and avoids the emission of some 73 tons of carbon dioxide from burning this amount of coal...Read More »


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