Weekly News Bulletin: Jun. 23-29, 2009


Toronto Garbage Collectors and Other Workers on Strike

City of Toronto, ON garbage collectors, daycare workers and other municipal employees recently went on strike in a contract dispute that could lead to a prolonged shutdown of important services in Canada's largest city; and, just in time for the sweltering days of summer. According to The Globe and Mail, the strike was authorized by officials of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Canada's largest union, with around 590,000 members, after the city and labor negotiators were unable to reach an agreement by Sunday. The city is demanding concessions from the workers, including an end to the practice of "banking" unused sick leave. Meanwhile, the union contends that other unionized public employees in the city, ranging from the parking authority to police and firefighters, have reached agreements with wage increases of at least 3 percent and no concessions. Toronto's garbage collectors along with thousands of other city workers last went on strike for two weeks in the summer of 2002. CUPE city workers in Windsor, Ontario, have been on strike for more than nine weeks...Read More »



S&P Optimistic About Waste Industry Outlook

The rating agency Standard & Poor's, a division of McGraw-Hill, remains bullish about the waste management industry given the recession-resistant nature of the business and its ability to generate strong cash flow. Haulers have maintained cash flow through disciplined price increases, efforts to control costs, and willingness to sacrifice market share in order to steer away from lower margin business. Haulers are already enhancing customer service as a means to maintain a high retention rate, while maintaining a positive "churn" rate (price spread between new versus lost business). S&P expects lower construction and demolition (C&D), industrial and commercial volumes, along with soft, albeit stabilizing, commodity recycling demand and pricing, to outweigh higher overall prices. Waste collection volume is expected to gradually recover as economic conditions improve either late this year or early in 2010...Read More »



Greenstar Opens San Antonio Recycling Plant; Largest in Texas

Greenstar North America, a division of NTR plc, has opened what it claims to be the largest recycling plant in Texas in San Antonio. The 180,000-square-foot facility will handle up to 20,000 tons of material per month and is designed to process materials collected from single-stream programs on its nine acre site. Greenstar said that demand for recycling has risen dramatically as a result of the city's transition to a single-stream collection system while converting from 18-gallon to 95-gallon carts. Single-stream processing allows customers to put all recyclables into one bin, which avoids confusion, boosts participation and reduces collection costs; although, it is sometimes criticized for making some materials dirty and less recyclable. Greenstar selected Texas as its North American headquarters in part because it sees the potential for strong growth in a market not previously known for its recycling programs. Greenstar has invested $300 million in its US recycling business over the last two years, of which $50 million has been invested in Texas alone, all of which is part of parent company NTR's investment of $700 million in the US over that same period...Read More »



Landfill Methane to Fuel Tulsa Cement Plant

Officials from Lafarge Corp. and Waste Management last week dedicated an 8,000 pipeline that will bring methane from WM's Quarry Landfill to Lafarge's Cement Plant in Tulsa, OK. Lafarge plans to use at least 80% of the available gas which helps the company use less coal and other fossil fuels. Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor was one of many officials at the dedication who applauded the companies' partnership, which she called an "innovative step" toward reducing greenhouse gases. Jim Bachmann, the Lafarge plant's manager said that his plant will be fueled 8 to 9 percent by methane, 15-16 percent by burning tires, and 75 percent by coal, petroleum coke and natural gas. "It will reduce our carbon dioxide output by about 200,000 tons a year," he said. Methane gas from the landfill had previously been flared off...Read More »



$160 Million Biomass-to-Energy Plant to Begin Operations

This week Atlanta-based EnerTech Environmental Inc. hosted a tour of its new $160 million biomass-to-fuel plant in Rialto, CA. The plant which has been six years in the making is designed to process more than 270,000 wet tons of biosolids each year, generating more than 60,000 tons of renewable fuel called E-Fuel for the Southern California region. It will reduce annual local greenhouse gas emissions by over 80,000 tons in the process. The facility is owned by the city of Rialto and will receive all of Rialto and Riverside's treated sewage in addition to material from San Bernardino, Orange and Los Angeles Counties. The company describes its SlurryCarb™ process as one in which sludge under pressure is heated to 400 degrees, causing the material to carbonize while moisture is squeezed out and pollutants such as sulfur oxides and volatile organic compounds are removed. The resulting E-Fuel has energy content similar to that of coal but like coal it also has high carbon content. However, the company draws the distinction with sludge based carbon that comes from the atmosphere versus carbon from coal which was dug up from the ground and adds to the atmosphere when burned.

EnerTech said it is planning an expansion that would double its E-Fuel output in three years. Los Angeles-based Rentech Inc. plans to build within the park a plant that will turn green waste such as yard clippings into clean-burning synthetic fuels. Also, Chevron Energy Solutions is building a plant at the adjacent Rialto wastewater treatment plant to convert sludge and kitchen grease from local restaurants into methane and ultimately electricity through the use of fuel cells...Read More »



Bruce Parker Challenges Outdated Perceptions of Waste Industry

In a speech before the Society of Government Economists in Washington, NSWMA president and CEO Bruce J. Parker challenged outdated perceptions of today's modern waste industry. "Most Americans probably don't recognize today's garbage industry for who we really are - one of the most environmentally responsive and innovative industries in the nation," said Parker. He cited the nearly 400,000 people employed throughout the industry in careers as varied as haulers, mechanics, civil engineers and environmental scientists that do far more than "simply picking up trash." The industry has "invested tens of millions of dollars, not only to modernize landfills and boost recycling rates, but also to cut greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants, and find renewable sources of energy that reduce our dependence on fossil fuels." 87 waste-to-energy facilities generate enough electricity to power 1.7 million homes. 470 landfill-gas-to-energy projects provide power in 44 states and harness otherwise global warming methane gas. EPA estimates that using methane as renewable, "green" energy is equivalent to eliminating the carbon dioxide emissions of 195 million barrels of oil a year. He mentioned industry initiatives to develop more fuel-efficient and clean-burning vehicles and the many advances in recycling and composting that are helping to reduce dependence on landfills and save energy required to produce virgin materials...Read More »



Waste Management Opens State-of-the-Art Detroit Recycling Center

Waste Management announced the opening of a new state-of-the-art single stream recycling center in Detroit, MI. The company invested $2 million in the 63,000 square foot facility that will manage 150 tons of recycables per day. Initially, the DRC facility will manage cardboard, office paper, shredded paper and industrial plastics from Waste Management's southeast Michigan customers. The company hopes to expand the facility's operations to accommodate additional materials, including materials from the upcoming City of Detroit pilot recycling collection program...Read More »



Oakleaf Names New President; Barnes Becomes Chairman

Oakleaf Waste is boosting its management ranks with the appointment of Steve Preston as President and eventually CEO later this year, as current CEO Jim Barnes transitions to his new role Chairman of the Board of Directors. There, Mr. Barnes hopes to focus on large clients, major vendors, and strategic acquisitions. Preston spent 9 years with ServiceMaster Company, where he was CFO during periods of growth and restructuring, and later EVP of Strategic Services where he led initiatives to improve customer experience and employee productivity. More recently, Preston served under President Bush as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from 2008 to 2009, having previously served as Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) from 2006 to 2008. "Having developed and led OAKLEAF over the past fourteen years, I am delighted to have someone of Steve's extraordinary talent join our organization to help guide it to the next level," Barnes said...Read More »



Republic Services to Announce Second Quarter Earnings on July 30

Republic Services said it will release second quarter earnings during an investor conference call on Thursday, July 30, 2009 at 8:00 a.m. ET...Read More »


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