Weekly News Bulletin: Dec. 15-21, 2009


IESI-BFC and Waste Services Closer to Closing $370 Million Merger

IESI-BFC Ltd. and Waste Services, Inc. said that each company completed its due diligence and received fairness opinions from financial advisors regarding their proposed $370 million merger. Until this point, the companies had rights to terminate the merger under the agreement if material issues had arisen or if either failed to obtain a fairness opinion. The transaction is still on schedule to close in the first quarter. It is expected to create the third largest player in the North American waste industry with $1.5 billion in annual revenue. Waste Services shareholders will get 0.5833 of a share of IESI-BFC for each share held, resulting in IESI-BFC issuing 27.8 million shares for about a 23% stake in the combined company.

The merger can also be seen as a direct response to a long term industry trend towards privatization and the need to control larger volumes of waste to feed ever larger but fewer more dispersed landfills. The economy is galvanizing waste companies to expand economies of scale, streamline operations and increase market share as a means to protect pricing amid declining waste volumes. Waste Business Journal data reveals that even residential waste volumes declined beginning in 2007 while commercial and especially construction waste volume declined by nearly 20% in 2008. Spending on U.S. construction projects has fallen on a year-over-year basis in every month starting in November 2007, according to Commerce Department data...Read More »



Environmentalists File Lawsuit Seeking Disclosure of EPA Coal Ash Data

Environmentalists, including Sierra Club and the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in federal district court to force EPA to release key data on coal ash "wet" disposal ponds, including information on storage capacity, inspection results and records of violations at more than 70 sites. The Dec. 2 suit (Sierra Club, et al. v. EPA), filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, says EPA failed to respond to the group's FOIA request within the statutory time frame. In a June 18 FOIA request, the environmentalists sought access to records relating to identification and assessment of the most hazardous coal waste impoundments in the country. The groups are concerned that they will not have enough time to independently review the data by the time that EPA proposes new rules for ash disposal and whether to regulate it as non-hazardous, hazardous, or some combination thereof. EPA is developing the rules in response to a massive spill last December at a Tennessee Valley Authority waste impoundment near Kingston, TN. The environmental groups note that EPA released data earlier this year to show there are almost twice as many coal ash dumps as previously identified...Read More »



Greenhouse Gas Emissions Will Not Return to 2008 Levels Until 2019

Greenhouse gas emissions from the US energy sector have fallen and are not expected to reach 2008 levels again until 2019 according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Energy-related sources currently account for about 85 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. EIA projects only 0.3 percent average annual growth without any change in US policies. That translates into only 8.7 percent increase in emissions from 2008 to 2035. The emissions deficit figures will likely loom large in Capitol Hill debates over curbs to greenhouse gas emissions. A previous EIA report said emissions had fallen 9 percent in the past two years, 3 percent in 2008 and an estimated 6 percent in 2009, which is almost half of that which is targeted by proposed climate change legislation.

The House-passed climate bill, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee bill, and a framework unveiled by Sens. John Kerry (D-MA), Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) all rely on 2005 emission levels as a base to cut emission levels. But 2005 U.S. emission levels are well above current emission levels and levels in the short term, according to EIA...Read More »



Stericycle Strikes Deal with DOJ to Proceed with MedServe Acquisition

Stericycle said that it has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and the States of Missouri and Nebraska that clears the way for its acquisition of MedServe, Inc. for $182.5 million. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter as announced earlier. The DOJ began its review as soon as the deal was announced last May but needed more time since it had not reviewed the industry since Stericyle's acquisition of BFI's medical waste division in 1999. Out of the 20 states in which the combined Stericycle-MedServe entity will operate, the DOJ deemed that only four were in danger of monopoly control (Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma). To remedy this, Stericycle agreed to divest one autoclave treatment plant in Newton, KS, and four associated transfer stations that feed this treatment facility. The company will also divest 100 customer accounts, mostly lower-margin, large-quantity generator accounts, that represent roughly $1.5 million in annualized revenue(or less than 0.14% of 2008 consolidated revenues). Further, if Stericycle moves to acquire any other medical waste company in those states within the next 10 years, it must notify both the respective state(s) and DOJ beforehand. Owing to the divestitures and the protracted consummation of the deal, MedServe agreed to lower the purchase price by $2.5 million, to $182.5 million...Read More »



WCA Waste Buys Landfill, Transfer and Rail Haul for $43 Million

WCA Waste Corp. agreed to buy some assets from Live Earth LLC, including a landfill and transfer station, in a cash-and-stock deal worth up to $43.4 million. The two companies had signed a letter of intent on Oct. 30. At that time, WCA Chairman Tom Fatjo said a purchase would increase the company's presence in the Midwest and East Coast, "which we believe will increase our acquisition pipeline beyond the current focus area." The company would get the 457-acre Sunny Farms Landfill in Ohio and the Champion City Recovery Transfer Station and related rail-haul operation just south of Boston. Under the deal, WCA will pay Live Earth $18.75 million and 3.6 million WCA shares upon closing. It may issue Live Earth an additional 2 million shares depending on Live Earth's business performance. The deal is still subject to customary regulatory and shareholder approval as well as approval from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency...Read More »



Industry Will Likely Oppose California Plan to Mandate Recycling

Waste industry groups are worried about draft rules in California to mandate commercial waste recycling as a means to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. They are especially concerned that the rules would be enforced by the state's Air Resources Board (ARB) rather than the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB) and its successor waste department under Cal EPA. Cal EPA is considered to be better suited to the task with greater waste and recycling expertise. The problem is that the rules to mandate recycling originate under state law AB 32 as a means to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As such, authority rests with ARB. The draft rule aims for GHG reductions of 5 million metric tons by 2020, which will require recycling 2 to 3 million tons of materials by then. So far, CIWMB is in charge of developing the regulation in collaboration with ARB staff, but ARB will then be responsible for adopting the regulation through its rulemaking authority under AB 32...Read More »



Union Argues E-Waste Collection is 'Exclusive Province' of NYC Sanitation Workers

In the closely watched battle over New York City's waste electronics (e-waste) recycling laws, the union for the city's 6,200 sanitation workers filed a supporting amicus brief in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Consumer Electronics companies argue that New York City's e-waste program will cause them "irreparable harm" and cost them more than $200 million a year in compliance costs, according to a filing in their lawsuit that asks the U.S. District Court, Manhattan, for a preliminary injunction to prevent the program from taking effect. The Uniformed Sanitationmen's Association is concerned that e-waste collection under the new law would be given over to private contractors. Collecting residential waste, including e-waste, "is the exclusive province" of sanitation workers, the brief said. They further argue that if the law's purpose "is to reduce the risk to workers and the public of potential exposure to hazardous materials contained within e-waste, there is no morequalified or appropriate work force to handle such items than they very men and women that have been handling it for years."...Read More »



Casella Wins Court Opinion to Double Waste into a Landfill

Casella Waste Systems said a state court rejected opposition to its plans to expand its Southbridge Massachusetts landfill. A Massachusetts superior court judge rejected an appeal by several citizens groups that challenged a local health board decision to allow the landfill to increase its annual volume to 405,000 tons from its current maximum of 180,960 tons that it receives. "For the past three years we have worked closely with the Town of Southbridge to develop this important long-term project that will create substantial value for the community and for our stakeholders," said CEO John W. Casella...Read More »



Covanta Begins Construction of WTE Facility in Ireland

Covanta Holding Corp. has begun construction of a new municipal waste-to-energy facility in Dublin, Ireland. The EUR$350 million Dublin project is the result of a public-private partnership between Dublin City Council and Dublin Waste to Energy Limited, which is majority-owned by Covanta. Covanta will design, build, and operate the facility that will process up to 600,000 tons of waste per year. The city has entered a 25-year tip fee contract for disposal of a minimum 320,000 tons annually, representing over half of the facility's capacity. The company expects other communities across Ireland to eagerly contract for the remaining capacity as they seek to reduce dependence on landfills as required by the EU Landfill Directive. When complete, the state of the art facility will generate enough electricity to power between 50,000 and 60,000 homes. "After several years of diligent planning and preparation by many people within Covanta and Dublin City Council, we're thrilled to put shovels in the ground and put people to work on this vital public private partnership," said Anthony Orlando, Covanta's President and CEO. "The new Energy-from-Waste facility will handle post-recycled waste to complement Dublin's recycling efforts and provide a key component of an environmentally and economically sustainable waste management program."...Read More »



Senate Panel Approves E-Waste Bill

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved legislation that will fund research and recycling of electronics wastes. The Electronic Device Recycling Research and Development Act is intended to provide research grants to address e-wastes. Many electronic devices contain hazardous substances such as lead, chromium, cadmium, mercury, beryllium, nickel, and zinc. The idea is to create strategies to recycle these often valuable substances and avoid landfilling these items where they would potentially threaten the environment.

The EPA estimates Americans generated 2.9 tons of e-waste in 2006 and that nearly 250 million computers will become obsolete in the next five years. Currently we only recycle about 11 percent of them. The transition to digital televisions on top of the transition to plasma and LCD technology has escalated the volume of these wastes. But computers aren't the only culprit. The EPA estimates that mobile phones will be dumped at a rate of 130 million per year...Read More »



Steel Recycling Rates Hit Record High of 83% in 2008

The Steel Recycling Institute (SRI) said that steel recycling rates have reached a record high of 83.3 percent for 2008. That translates into more than 82 million tons of domestic steel scrap being used to make new products in the US and abroad. "All new steel made in the North America contains a minimum of 28 percent steel scrap with some processes using upwards of 90 percent steel scrap to make new steel," said SRI president Bill Heenan. "Steel continues to be recycled at a higher volume than paper, plastic, glass, copper and aluminum combined, and the steel can still holds the distinction of being food's and beverage's most recycled container." 65.2 percent of steel containers were recycled, representing 1.5 million tons. Over 100 percent of the steel from old automobiles was recycled, representing 14.8 million tons. Older cars contain more steel. Appliance recycling rates remained stable at 90 percent as did structural steel at 97.5 percent, while construction reinforcement steel (i.e. rebar) increased slightly to 70 percent.

The SRI estimates that for every ton of steel recycled, 2500 pounds of iron ore, 1400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone are conserved...Read More »



Caterpillar Forms Joint Venture with Chinese Company

Caterpillar Inc. said that it signed a $20 million joint venture deal with a Chinese company to create a remanufacturing business there. Caterpillar is the world's largest maker of construction and mining equipment and has been working over the last few years to better establish itself in one of the world's largest and fastest growing economies. Caterpillar (China) Investment Co. Ltd. and China Yuchai International Ltd.'s Guangxi Yuchai Machinery Co., Ltd. (Yuchai) will jointly own and collaborate in the venture, which will provide remanufacturing services for Yuchai diesel engines and components and some of Caterpillar's diesel engines and components. Diesel engine maker Yuchai is the largest producer of internal combustion engines in China. The company will be 51 percent owned by Guangxi Yuchai with the remainder held by Caterpillar. Other terms of the deal were not disclosed and it still must be approved by Chinese regulators...Read More »



Federal Judge Rules Poultry Litter is Not Solid Waste

In an ongoing case that has drawn national attention because of its wide ranging implications, a federal judge ruled in favor of 12 poultry companies by throwing out a claim by the state of Oklahoma that poultry litter is solid waste. Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson is suing 12 poultry companies, claiming that they are legally responsible for the handling and disposal of poultry waste that has damaged portions of the Illinois River watershed in Oklahoma. The 1 million-acre watershed spans parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas and has 1,800 poultry houses, which produce an estimated 345,000 tons of chicken waste each year.

The state claims that poultry waste is a solid waste and thus subject to federal law barring illegal disposal. On the other hand, attorneys for the poultry industry claim that "Poultry litter is a widely utilized fertilizer, which provides soil nutrients, increases crop yields and outperforms commercial fertilizers," according to a court filing.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell in the Northern District of U.S. District Court ruled that the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act was not applicable to chicken litter as solid waste, as the state had alleged...Read More »


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