Weekly News Bulletin: Mar. 23-29, 2010


Environmentalists Push EPA to Rule On Mine Waste Disposal

Environmental groups want EPA to move quickly with planned rulemaking that would reverse a controversial Bush administration regulation that allowed waste from mountaintop mining and other activities to be considered "fill material," allowing its disposal without strict EPA discharge permits. Behind the effort is the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) which sent a Mar. 15 email to constituents pressing for immediate action. At issue is a 2002 Bush rule that expanded the regulatory definition of what constitutes "fill," which is exempted from the Clean Water Act's definition of "pollutants" subject to regulation under EPA's section 402 discharge permit requirements. Instead, the waste disposal is regulated under less strict permits issued by the Army Corps of Engineers under section 404 of the water act. The issue reached the Supreme Court which ruled in "Coeur Alaska v. Southeast Alaska Conservation Council" that gave EPA discretion to categorize mining tailings and other pollutants as "fill material" exempt from strict discharge limits.

Since the court's ruling, environmentalists worry that a regulatory fix is needed to prevent other industries including power plants, chemical and cement manufacturers, solid waste landfills, and others from disposing of their wastes under similarly lenient conditions...Read More »



Virent and Shell Start World's First Biogasoline Production Plant

Virent Energy Systems, Inc., a biofuels start-up working with Royal Dutch Shell PLC, has begun operating a demonstration plant that converts sugars into a gasoline substitute that has higher energy content than ethanol and is compatible with existing engines and pipelines. Virent's CEO Lee Edwards says that the 10,000 gallon-per-year pilot site in Madison, WI is already producing fuels that "at today's crude-oil and biomass costs . . . is competitive." The plant employs a catalytic-conversion technology to convert plant sugars from a variety of feedstocks into hydrocarbon molecules like those produced at petroleum refineries, which gives its fuel higher energy content than ethanol. It also has a big advantage over corn-based ethanol which is too corrosive to move through petroleum pipelines. Consequently, it would not be subject to 10 percent blending restrictions applied to ethanol. These advantages have attracted Cargill Inc. and Honda Motor Co., which have equity stakes in the privately held company. Shell has funded a significant portion of Virent's research over the past couple years. The U.S. government is promoting the development of biofuels, through a combination of blending mandates, grants and subsidies, as a means to create jobs and decrease dependence on imported oil...Read More »



Report Says Clean Energy Expenditures to Reach $150 Billon by 2020

Annual global expenditures on renewable energy projects will increase to $150 billion by 2020 from $90 billion in 2009, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Their model "GE2M" forecasts that by 2020 renewable energy will make up 22% of the global installed power generation base, up from the current 13%. The model predicts most of the expenditures to be applied to onshore wind projects and solar energy. Biomass technologies will continue to play an important role, particularly in the transport sector while hydropower will experience limited growth...Read More »



Covanta's CFO Resigns

Covanta Holding Corp.'s CFO and EVP, Mark A. Pytosh is resigning his post having accepted a similar position with CCS Corp. CCS is an energy and environmental services company that serves the oil and gas industry. Tom Bucks, Covanta's Chief Accounting officer will serve as interim CFO until a successor is named. Anthony Orlando, Covanta's President and CEO, said, "We appreciate Mark's significant contributions during the past three years. He helped Covanta grow while strengthening our balance sheet and enhancing our reporting. Now he has another great opportunity and we wish him continued success is his new position."...Read More »



Cycle Chem Acquires Deep Green of New York

Cycle Chem, Inc. (Elizabeth, NJ) acquired assets of Deep Green of New York, Inc. (New Windsor, NY), a provider of thermal destruction services for treating petroleum-contaminated soils. Deep Green has a facility in New Windsor that is permitted to store 11,000 tons of petroleum-contaminated soil and has a processing throughout of about 525 tons per day. The facility uses a high-temperature rotary kiln to achieve 99.99% thermal destruction efficiency, thereby meeting the standards of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, according to Cycle Chem...Read More »



Clean Harbors Enters Medical Waste Business

Environmental services company Clean Harbors (Norwell, MA) announced it entrance into customized pharma waste services. The company describes those services to include frontline collection procedures, waste removal, sorting and disposal programs. Clean Harbors Vice President Healthcare, John Kelsey said the approach will involve designing a system that revolves around each organization's specific needs and functions and removes the waste management burden from management and staff. In entering the medical waste arena, Clean Harbors is going up against an industry giant Stericycle (Lake Forest, IL) with $1.2 billion in revenue last year. It already has 113 treatment and collection centers and 135 additional transfer and collection sites in all 50 states, Canada, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Ireland, Portugal, Romania, and the United Kingdom. Stericycle, Inc. was founded in 1989 and is based in Lake Forest, Illinois...ReadMore »



Bruce Ranck elected Chairman of Liquid Environmental Solutions

Liquid Environmental Solutions (Dallas, TX) elected long-time industry veteran Bruce Ranck as non-executive Chairman of its Board of Directors. Ranck was the CEO of Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI), the second largest solid waste company in North America, with annual revenues of $6 Billion, from 1995 through its sale in 1999. He later served as CEO of Tartan Textile Services from 2002 to 2005. Ranck has also served on the Board of SITA, the largest non-North American waste services company in the world. Liquid Environmental, which claims to be the nation's leading recycler of liquid waste, collects, treats and recovers materials from a variety of waste sources, including grease traps, industrial and manufacturing processes, used cooking oil, and waste oil...Read More »



Mobile Phone CEO's Form New Company to Recycle Cell Phones

Two veteran mobile phone company executives have formed a new company to refurbish and recycle old cell phones. Ron LeMay, once Chief Executive for Sprint's wireless business and David Edmonson, former CEO of electronics retailer RadioShack presented their new company eRecyclingCorps, a Dallas-based venture aimed at recycling the estimated 65,000 tons of old cell phones abandoned each year in the US and named Sprint as its first customer. They noted that only 1 percent of the world's 4 billion mobile subscribers recycle their old phones. In the US alone, 130 million phones are retired each year. The new company will deploy a web-based platform that will integrate directly into the point of sale system at carrier retail stores, where 60 percent of all US phones are sold. Customers will receive credit for the value of their trade-ins applicable to a new phone. The company will also provide efficient in-store collection and strict privacy controls as part of every new phone purchase. By partnering with eRecyclingCorps, carriers can reclaim subsidies, increase customer loyalty, and significantly reduce downstream e-waste.

Sprint, the first carrier to use eRecyclingCorps, has deployed the system in 1,100 company owned Sprint stores and 1,400 Sprint Preferred Dealers and through its online channels. Sprint hopes to ultimately achieve a reuse and recycling rate of 90 percent of its device sales by 2017...Read More »



Paper Recovery in the US Reached 63% Last Year

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) reports that in 2009, a record high 63.4 percent of the paper consumed in the U.S. was recovered for recycling. That shows that consumers, communities, companies and industry are still making great strides despite a difficult economy. Even in 2008 paper recycling reached a then record high of 57.4 percent, up from 56 percent in 2007 and 53 percent in 2006. "Recycling is one of America's great environmental success stories and the paper industry is proud of our ongoing leadership role in this arena," said Donna Harman, president and CEO of the AF&PA. "Today's announcement is a testament to the work of the industry and the commitment of millions of Americans who recycle at home, school and work on a daily basis." The 63.4% recovery rate exceeds the industry's goal of achieving 60% by 2012, the AF&PA said...Read More »



New York Flirts With Product Stewardship As Long-Term Solution

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has issued a draft report that calls for increased use of product stewardship in funding waste disposal programs. Product stewardship laws require product manufacturers to bear disposal costs for excess packaging or difficult-to-recycle items. Resa Dimino, a special assistant to DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis, who helped prepare the report, told the Albany Times Union that "Product stewardship is a trend that is sweeping the globe, in Europe, Canada and Asia." The state report identifies several products as potential targets for the initiative, including electronics, automobiles, household hazardous waste, paint, carpets, office furniture, batteries, pharmaceuticals, mercury-containing thermostats, and roofing shingles. States including California, Washington, Oregon and Minnesota introduced product stewardship legislation last year, but have not yet adopted it. The DEC draft calls for the state to consider such legislation by 2011 and adopt it by 2012. "The unanticipated increase in waste from consumer products and packaging . . . is undermining and has essentially nullified all waste reduction efforts to date," according to the DEC report. "The problem must be confronted head on by engaging product manufacturers."...Read More »



Greenstar North America Names New CEO

Recycling company Greenstar North America (Houston, TX) named Matt Delnick its new CEO. Delnick, who joined the company in 2008 as CFO, was promoted to CEO by Greenstar's parent company, NTR plc. He replaces interim CEO Michael Simmons who had assumed the job in January upon the resignation of its former chief Mike Wynne. Greenstar is owned by NTR plc which has operations in the USA, UK, and Ireland. Greenstar entered the US market in 2007 and since that time has established a network of 16 material recovery facilities processing about two million tons of recyclables per year...Read More »



Avalon Holdings Incurs 4Q Loss; Appoints New CEO

Waste management and golf club owner Avalon Holdings Corp. (Warren, OH) said fourth quarter revenues declined to $10.1 million from $12.6 million a year ago. Consequently, the company incurred a loss of $107 thousand, or ($0.03) per share compared to net income a year earlier of $62 thousand or $0.02 per share. Earlier in the month the company announced the appointment of waste industry veteran Steven M. Berry as its new CEO. He replaces Ron Klingle who will continue in his role as the Chairman of the Board and assist in the transition...Read More »



AERT to Host Call to Discuss 4Q Loss and Revenue Decline

Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies Inc. (AERT), which recycles plastics into building materials, said a challenging economy led to a decline in sales for 2009. Yearly sales fell to $71.1 million from $87.4 million in 2008. Net losses narrowed to $5 million, or $0.10 per share, in 2009 from a net loss of $35.9 million, or $0.75 per share, in 2008. Excluding class action charges in 2009 and 2008, AERT would have earned a profit of $0.1 million in 2009 compared to a net loss of $31.1 million in 2008. The company will release its 10-K on Friday, March 26 and host a conference call on March 30 at 4 pm to discuss these results...Read More »


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