Weekly News Bulletin: Feb. 9-15, 2010


House Bill Seeks to Block EPA from Regulating Greenhouse Gases

Lawmakers in Congress led by Agriculture Chairman Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) have introduced a bill to block the US EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases. Peterson along with Reps. Ike Skelton (D-MO), and Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), want to amend the Clean Air Act to prohibit EPA from regulating six greenhouse gases (GHGs) based on their effects on global climate change and stop EPA from penalizing corn ethanol for international indirect land use change. The EPA argues that scientific evidence demonstrates that greenhouse gases "threaten the public health and welfare of the American people" and the decision to regulate them stems from a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found greenhouse gases are air pollutants under federal clean-air laws. Although, many see EPA's move as an insurance policy in case Congress fails to pass its own climate change legislation...Read More »



Waste Connections' Q4 Revenue Higher on Acquisitions, Profit Declines

Waste Connections (Folsom, CA) reported a strong fourth quarter and full-year revenue growth despite weak waste volume in the economic downturn. Revenues for the quarter grew nearly 20% to $309.9 million from $259.6 posted last year, primarily due to recent acquisitions and may evidence that waste volumes are stabilizing. During the year, the company used its strong balance sheet to make timely acquisitions including assets divested from Republic Services and its purchase of Harold LeMay Enterprises. However, with weaker volume and without the acquisitions, revenue would have declined by about one percent. Net income attributable to shareholders for the fourth quarter declined to $23.25 million or $0.29 per share from $27.26 million or $0.34 per share in the year-ago period. Although, adjusted net income for the quarter rose to $29.31 million or $0.37 per share from $24.29 million or $0.30 per share in the year-ago period. Earnings were adjusted primarily for acquisition costs associated with the $203 million purchase of LeMay that was completed in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Management said commodity prices, especially old corrugated cardboard, have increased 55% to $101 per ton from the year-ago period. Although commodity prices increased during the quarter, they are still down almost 15% year to date from their 2008 highs.

"Our results in the quarter once again exceeded the upper end of our expectations, positioning us well for 2010," Waste Connections chairman and chief executive officer Ronald Mittelstaedt said in a news release. "Improving organic growth, recent acquisitions and continuing cost controls drove an approximate 20 percent year-over-year increase in revenue in the quarter, a 24 percent increase in adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization, and a 23 percent increase in adjusted earnings per share."

The company said it expects to see revenue growth of 7.5 percent in 2010, "excluding additional acquisitions and continuing margin expansion."

Additionally, the company said that on April 1, 2010, it intends to redeem all of its 3.75% Senior Convertible Notes due 2026. The aggregate principal amount of the Notes outstanding is $200 million...Read More »



North Carolina Reports Significantly Lower Waste Disposal in 2009

A recent North Carolina state report reveals the depth of the recession, the lowest volume of waste going into the state's landfills in almost twenty years. For its fiscal year 2008-09, waste disposal dropped by 14 percent to 9.91 million tons or 1.07 tons per capita representing a decrease of 1.37 million tons from the previous year, according to the "North Carolina Solid Waste Management Annual Report." "Our analysis indicates that the reduction in disposal is a direct result of the economic recession," said Dexter Matthews, director of the state Division of Waste Management. "Waste previously created by the housing and building markets is not being produced and, therefore, is not ending up in North Carolina landfills." Data for the report was culled from 655 local governments, 371 solid waste management facilities and 152 state agencies, institutions and schools...Read More »



Ohio Reports Decline in Out-of-State Waste Volume

The Ohio EPA released data that shows waste received from out-of-state declined in 2008 to 3.4 million tons from a high of 3.7 million tons received in 2006. Andrew Booker with the Ohio EPA attributed the decline in imports to the economy and that means less disposal fee revenue for the state. Ohio remains in fourth place among all states for waste imports, behind top ranked Pennsylvania, Virginia and Michigan. Most of Ohio's waste originates in New York which sent 1.1 million tons or 32 percent of all imports. New Jersey was second, sending 852,300 tons representing about 25 percent of imports. Average tipping fees in Ohio of $37 per ton in 2008 make it attractive to Northeastern states where fees can exceed $100 per ton. Ohio is also a large exporter of waste, sending close to 1 million tons to neighboring states, making it the 13th largest exporter among all states...Read More »



Judge Sends Parties in New York City E-Waste Lawsuit to Negotiate

A federal judge in Manhattan has suspended oral arguments in a lawsuit aimed at New York City's sweeping electronics-recycling law until May, to allow the city and industry to settle their dispute in negotiations. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC) filed the lawsuit last year, asking a judge in Manhattan federal district court to issue a preliminary injunction suspending the law, especially after City officials ignored requests for discussions. Industry argues that the City's law which would require electronics manufactures to arrange and pay for the collection and disposal of not only their own but also competitors' goods, estimated to cost $200 million a year, violates the US Constitution and common sense. "We are not waste collectors. We don't have expertise in that," said Rick Goss, vice president of environment and sustainability at ITIC in a conference call to reporters last month. New York City's sanitation workersunion filed an amicus brief in support of CEA and ITIC's lawsuit, saying that waste collection was the strict purview of its membership. For its part, the City received backing from the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Electronics TakeBack Coalition which worry that a defeat of New York City's law might invalidate similar measures in 19 other states with similar "producer responsibility laws."...Read More »



New Study Prompts Maine to Explore Limits to Landfilling Medical Waste

A new study detecting common prescription drugs in the leachate from municipal waste landfills in Maine could aid efforts by supporters of state legislation to create industry-funded drug takeback programs. The study by the Maine DEP appears to be the first to show pharmaceutical waste in landfill leachate that could turn up in wastewater treatment plants, albeit in tiny amounts and could bolster activists' claims that existing approaches to drug disposal put the environment at risk.

Maine lawmakers are considering a first-of-its-kind bill that would force drug makers to create and pay for a program to collect unused prescription and over-the-counter drugs from consumers and dispose of them as hazardous waste, as is done in Europe and several Canadian provinces. "People need a way to properly dispose of their drugs, and they're not getting it right now," Mark Hyland, director of the state Department of Environmental Quality's Bureau of Remediation and Waste Management, told the AP. The state bill, LD 821, passed out of committee Jan. 20 and is awaiting further action. Maine is among more than a half a dozen states considering a "take-back" bill for medications. Not surprisingly, the bill is opposed by the drug industry lobby group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), which acknowledges the test results but points out that the amounts are too miniscule to warrant the expense of such a program...Read More »



US Air Force Looks to Certify Two Types of Biofuels for Its Aircraft

The Air Force is in the process of certifying two types of biofuels as it looks to expand its use of alternative and renewable fuels. The two under consideration are camelina, an oil-based plant fuel, and tallow, an animal fat-based fuel. Although the cost benefits have yet to be determined, the Air Force gave the order to move forward with the certification last month. The Air Force has a goal of acquiring half of its domestic aviation fuel via an alternative fuel blend that is greener than conventional petroleum fuel. Advances in this arena are expected to pave the way for the much larger commercial aviation sector to follow...Read More »



Stericycle Reports Higher 4th Quarter Revenue and Profits

Medical waste company Stericycle, Inc. (Lake Forest, IL) said fourth quarter profits increased on higher revenues that were helped by acquisitions less than a year old adding higher margin business. Net income increased to $44.6 million or $0.52 per share from $39.1 million or $0.45 per share in the same quarter a year ago. The quarterly results included the effect of a $0.3 million of charge related to a foreign investment write-down, and the effects of $1.8 million of after-tax transactional expenses related to acquisitions and $1.0 million of after-tax restructuring costs for regulated returns management services business. Excluding charges, non-GAAP earnings would have been $0.55 per share, up from $0.45 per share in the year-earlier quarter. Revenues, which exceeded expectations, increased 14.4% to $313.5 million from $274.0 million in the year-ago quarter. Recent acquisitions over the year contributed approximately $25.9 million to the growth in revenues for the quarter...Read More »



Advanced Disposal Buys Nashville Waste Company

Furthering its push northward, Advanced Disposal Services (Jacksonville, FL) announced its acquisition of a waste hauling and disposal company in Nashville, TN. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The acquired company, Waste Removal Services LLC, services 170 mostly commercial customers in the Middle Tennessee area. Berl Mayfield, former owner and operator of that company will join Advanced Disposal. "Our goal is to build upon Waste Removal Services' great reputation and carry on both companies' strong tradition of quality service and commitment to the community," said Advanced Disposal's Mid-South Area President Gerald Greene. This is the company's second acquisition this year. In January, Advanced Disposal acquired the multi-material recycler Sumrall Recycling Services Inc...Read More »



Republic Services to Take $52 Million Charge to Redeem Notes Due 2014

Republic Services said it is redeeming senior notes due 2014 at 102 percent of the principal amount plus interest for which it expects to incur a $52 million charge. The company said it will redeem the 6.125 percent notes outstanding on March 8, and recognize the charge in its first quarter 2010 financial results. Republic will use incremental borrowing under its revolving credit facility and cash on hand to fund the redemption but may explore options in the capital markets if conditions are favorable...Read More »



Industrial Services of America Realizes Profits on Acquisitions

Industrial Services of America Inc. reported that the company expects to post fourth-quarter profit in the range of 31 cents to 36 cents per share, compared with a loss of 69 cents per share a year ago. The company attributed much of its success to its strategic acquisition of Venture Metals in early 2009 and an expansion of its recycling facility that helped steer the company into higher-margin segments of the metals-recycling business. However, the loss in the fourth quarter of 2008 included one-time charges of 37 cents per share on top of an operating loss of 32 cents per share. For the full year, Industrial Services expects to report earnings in the range of $1.32 to $1.37 on revenue of about $181 million, compared with earnings of 43 cents per share on revenue of about $100 million in 2008...Read More »



McNeilus Sells First CNG Refuse Vehicle in Texas

McNeilus Companies (Dodge Center, MN), a division of Oshkosh Corp., said it sold its first CNG automated refuse truck in Texas, oil country of all places. The city of El Paso was its first customer there. El Paso Environmental Services Department Director Ellen Smyth said "One of the biggest reasons for this purchase was the increase in fuel costs that we saw two years ago. My opinion was and still is that we need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. As diesel fuel prices go higher, the more attractive CNG is to us." McNeilus also sold four CNG-powered rear loaders to a private hauler, Royal Disposal and Recycling of Fulshear, TX...Read More »



Television Pilot "Trashmen" to Debut on TLC

The waste business is getting a lot of air time as anyone who watched Undercover Boss which recently debuted after the Superbowl can tell you. Now, New Orleans waste man and bon vivant Sidney Torres, known as the "Rembrandt of Refuse" and president of SDT Waste and Debris, is to be featured on a new show on television. The show, Trashmen, is a pilot that will premier on Thursday, February 11 on The Learning Channel (TLC), and just in time for Mardi Gras weekend. Torres, who was recently featured on National Public Radio (NPR), is as close to celebrity status as one can get in the garbage business. He is a hotel developer that expanded into waste collection after Hurricane Katrina ravaged his city. Through aggressive bidding for new business and by judicious attention to customer service on high profile contracts, he has grown his business to over 150 trucks and 180 employees in only four years...Read More »


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