Weekly News Bulletin: Sep. 22-28, 2009


EPA Tightens Emission Regulations for Medical Waste Incinerators

The US EPA has established new emission regulations that the agency says will affect "most existing hospital, medical and infectious waste incinerators (HMIWI)." The just-finalized strict new maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standard for medical waste incinerators retains a controversial method for setting air toxics limits that industry officials criticize as a "Frankenstein" approach. On Sept. 16, EPA released its final new source performance standard and emission guidelines saying that some facilities would not require any performance improvements to comply with the standard, even though the rule strengthens existing emission limits for all regulated pollutants emitted by the facilities. The rule is one of several that activists successfully challenged during the Bush administration to force EPA to review, charging that it was too weak and violated the Clean Air Act...Read More »



Treasury Updates Rules for Bond-Financed Waste Facilities

The Treasury Department recently released updated regulations for bond-financed solid-waste facilities, issuing updated rules for the second time after those proposed in 2004 were widely criticized. Bond attorneys generally hailed the new proposed rules for their clarity and inclusivenes of alternative processes. For example, the new regulations define solid waste more broadly as a material rather than 2004 proposed rules that attempted to define it by how it was processed.

The proposed rules still identify specific waste categories that cannot be considered solid waste. Virgin material, solids within liquids and liquid waste, certain precious metals such as gold and platinum, hazardous materials, and radioactive materials cannot qualify as solid waste. Generally, garbage, refuse, and other solid material derived from any agricultural, commercial, consumer, or industrial operation can be defined as solid waste as long as it is expected to enter a solid-waste disposal process within a reasonable time frame. The new proposed rules, however, eliminate the so-called No-Value Test, which was in the original 1972 rules and considered to be confusing and "unadministrable."...Read More »



Industry Worries about EPA Plan to Define Biosolids as Solid Waste

Wastewater utilities are concerned that EPA is moving closer to classifying biosolids as a solid waste which would make it significantly more expensive to treat and dispose of them. Classification as a solid waste would simultaneously subject biosolid incinerators to strict air toxics requirements and complicate water act rules governing land-application of the waste. It is estimated that 17 to 20 percent of biosolids are incinerated, usually in areas where it cannot be land applied. Currently, biosolid incinerators are regulated under section 112(k) of the air act, a less stringent approach, rather than section 129, which requires EPA to regulate a defined list of air pollutants, including both air toxics and criteria pollutants. Lately, the EPA has had to reconsider its stance as a result of long-running litigation in the U.S. Court of Appeals that eventually resulted in a 2007 ruling in Natural Resources Defense Council v. EPA vacating the agency's air toxics rule governing Commercial and Industrial Solid Waste Incineration Units. EPA said earlier this year that because the court also struck down a separate rule governing boilers that burn solid waste, the agency would work to clarify its definition of what non-hazardous secondary materials constitute "solid waste."

The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), representing publicly owned treatment works (POTWs), sent a recent letter to EPA arguing that "Defining solid waste to include sewage sludge will create enormous uncertainty regarding the recycling and disposal programs that fully operate in compliance with [Clean Water Act rules allowing land disposal of sewage sludge] that are protective of human health and the environment." NACWA argues that because Congress incorporated the water act definition of POTW into section 112, they intended that biosolids be regulated under that section and for the two statutes to work in tandem...Read More »



Texas Disposal Puts Southwest Airline Veteran in Captain's Seat

Texas Disposal Systems has a new president, having recruited Jim Wimberly, former chief operating officer at Southwest Airlines Co. Wimberly retired from Southwest in 2008 after more than two decades with a company that grew from $800 million to $9 billion during his tenure. "Jim is the ideal executive to help fulfill Texas Disposal Systems´ strategic growth plan, while staying true to our company values and mission," co-founder and CEO Bob Gregory said. The increasing sophistication and vertical integration of the waste business is likely to be a good fit for an airline industry veteran. "Like Southwest Airlines -- which is consistently recognized as one of the world's most admired companies -- Texas Disposal Systems believes business success is measured by more than just the bottom line," Gregory said...Read More »



Casella Opens New Single-Stream "Zero-Sort" Facility

Casella Waste Systems has opened what it calls its new "Zero-Sort" recycling center in Charlestown, MA. The new single-stream facility has the capacity to process 45 tons of material per hour and is currently processing 750 tons per day. Work began in September 2008 to transform the location into a single-stream facility. It employs eight optical sorters, 7 disk screens and 3 magnets to sort and process the material through the facility. A similar Casella facility is located in Auburn, MA to serve the central region. "Casella undertook this multi-million dollar renovation because we believe single-stream recycling is the wave of the future," said John Casella, president and CEO of Casella Waste Systems. "By going to a Zero-Sort process, municipalities can save money on trash disposal while increasing the rate of recycling among residents and local businesses."...Read More »



Surprise! EPA Report Says Waste Reduction and Recycling Reduces CO2 Emissions

The EPA released a report that suggests even modest efforts to reduce waste and increase recycling can significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The report estimates that the production and disposal of products and procurement of services, collectively referred to as "materials and land management," accounts for 42 percent of the nation's GHG emissions. The study examined emissions by land use, food and product production across the entire life cycle, from resource extraction such as mining, agriculture and forestry, to manufacturing, packaging, transportation and ultimately disposal. This approach is believed to offer more detail about the true impacts of our activities than more traditional sector analysis that looks at emissions from various industry segments separately. It also led to some surprising conclusions. For example, doubling the recycling of construction and demolition debris would result in an emissions savings of 150 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent per year, equal to the entire annual carbon emissions from the state of North Carolina. Or, reducing product packaging by half could save as much as 105 million tons of CO2 equivalents per year. And, increasing the lifespan of personal computers by 25 percent could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15 million tons of per year...Read More »



Waste Services Completes $50 Million Bond Financing

Canada-based Waste Services Inc. said completed its sale of an additional $50 million of its 9.5 percent senior subordinated notes due 2014. The company said the terms of the offering were the same as its current offering of $160 million of 9.5 percent senior subordinated notes due 2014. The notes were offered only to qualified institutional buyers. Net proceeds will be used for general corporate purposes, including the repayment of outstanding debt under Waste Services' revolving credit facility, and potential acquisitions...Read More »



Young Company Opens Waste Plastic to Oil Facility

Washington-based Envion Inc. recently unveiled its technology that converts waste plastics into synthetic oil. The company calls its "Envion Oil Generator" the first of its kind and says it is capable of converting 10,000 tons of waste plastic per year into high quality synthetic oil for less than $10 per barrel, at a time when crude oil sells for close to $70 a barrel. "We're creating immediate answers to today's environmental concerns," said Michael Han, the firm's chairman and chief executive. "This is an answer to environmentalists who don't want a landfill in their back yard."

The technology works by melting plastic in an oxygen-starved environment to separate the hydrocarbons for conversion to oil from everything else which is rendered into a nonhazardous ash byproduct...Read More »



American Ecology Names Company Veteran CEO

American Ecology Corp. (Boise, ID) announced that James R. Baumgardner will become CEO. Baumgardner, who previously worked for the company from 1999 to 2006 as senior vice president and chief financial officer, rejoined the firm in January 2009 as president. He succeeds Stephen Romano, who will serve as chairman. "Our board of directors has great confidence in Jim's ability to lead the company in its next stage of growth," Romano said. "Jim is an exceptional leader with extensive business management experience, and detailed knowledge of our company and our industry." American Ecology provides radioactive, polychlorinated biphenyl, hazardous and non-hazardous waste services...Read More »



New Landfill Gas to Energy Project Sponsored by Colorado Carbon Fund

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter announced that the first clean-energy project sponsored by the Colorado Carbon Fund will produce electricity from methane gas at the Larimer County Landfill. The 1.4-megawatt project a joint effort of Colorado-based Timberline Energy LLC, Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association, Portland, OR-based Bonneville Environmental Foundation and the Colorado Carbon Fund is expected to produce enough electricity to power about 900 homes. The project is expected to cost about $3 million...Read More »



Pratt Industries Opens New Paper Mill and MRF in Shreveport

Paper company Pratt Industries (Conyers, GA) opened a new paper mill and materials recovery facility in Shreveport, LA that will produce 360,000 tons of 100 percent recycled containerboard a year. With that and other mills in New York and Conyers, Pratt's paper mills recycle nearly 1 million tons of paper a year, which avoids the emission of some 1.2 million tons of greenhouse gases and saves 13 million trees...Read More »



Cascades Buys Two Recycling Businesses

Cascades Inc., a Quebec-based packaging and tissue maker, said it is buying the Canadian assets of Sonoco Recycling and the recovery assets of Yorkshire Paper Corp., both of which are in the paper and plastic recycling business. Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed. Yorkshire Paper operates in New England and in upstate New York, and Sonoco Recycling, which is being sold by Sonoco Products Co., operates across Canada, said Cascades, which trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Upon completion of the deals, Cascades unit Metro Waste Paper Recovery will have expanded its collection capacity by 1.4 million metric tons per year, or by about 20 percent...Read More »



Maine Opens Second Landfill Gas to Energy Facility

The Governor of Maine and officials with the town of Norridgewock were on hand to celebrate the opening of the state's second landfill gas to energy (LFGTE) plant at the site of Waste Management's Crossroads Landfill. The facility is expected to meet the energy needs of nearly 3,500 homes for two decades. Maine's other LFGTE plant is located at the Pine Tree Landfill in Hampden. Maine has several other candidate sites...Read More »



TerraCycle to Enter UK Market; Establishes Beachhead in London

TerraCycle (Trenton, NJ), which specializes in making eco-friendly products from a range of non-recyclable waste materials, is expanding to the UK, establishing a beachhead in London. "It is with great excitement that we're announcing our expansion. Having grown rapidly in the U.S., we wanted to come to London and use the city as a launch pad to build our business across the UK and Europe," said Tom Szaky, founder and CEO. The move, was aided by foreign direct investment agency Think London, which pledged to invest $100 million in new waste technologies...Read More »


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