Weekly News Bulletin: Aug. 10-16, 2011


White House Unveils First-Ever Efficiency Standards for Heavy Trucks

The White House introduced first-ever fuel-efficiency rules for heavy-duty trucks and buses aimed at cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and fuel consumption over the next several years. The regulations require fuel-efficiency improvements of as much as 23 percent by model year 2018, compared with the industry's 2010 baseline. The administration estimates that the rules will save a total of $50 billion in fuel costs and 530 million barrels of oil during that period. It is estimated that heavy-duty trucks and buses account for 20 percent of the nation's annual greenhouse gas emissions. This latest regulation closes the gap and now all classes of U.S. vehicles now must meet some fuel efficiency standard. Federal officials said the stricter limits will increase the cost of a tractor-trailer by $6,220 while saving $73,000 in fuel costs over its operating life...Read More »



EPA Considering Changes to Its Municipal Waste Characterization Report

The EPA is seeking public comment on ways to improve its biennial report on municipal solid waste (MSW) in the US. It is a move supported by industry and others who are pushing the agency to offer a more complete picture of the nation's solid waste stream to support activities ranging from product design to facility permitting. In an Aug. 2 Federal Register notice, EPA asks for comment on the efficacy and scope of its "Municipal Solid Waste in the United States" report. The agency says it will use the input to develop "new measurement definitions and protocols for measurement of these materials" and possibly address construction and demolition (C&D) and non-hazardous industrial materials in future reports. EPA says that one reason for expanding the scope of the report is that industry and academia are using the report in unexpected ways, such as designing products around materials that are being collected for recycling at high rates. However, the current report lacks the detail to support such in-depth design considerations, particularly since the structure, content and methodology of the MSW report has remained unchanged since the 1970s when EPA first began gathering the data, and much has changed since then...Read More »



Bill Aims to Encourage Recovery of Rare Earths and Bar E-Waste Exports

New legislation aims to enhance the recycling and recovery of rare earth metals from disposed electronics in the U.S. while also barring the export of so-called "e-waste" to countries like China. The Responsible Electronics Recycling Act (H.R. 2284) and its companion bill in the Senate (S. 1270) seek to stop the flow of these materials oversees as collectors seek to save money by exporting e-waste to countries with little environmental regulation. It would also boost domestic electronics recycling which has been operating under capacity and accordingly has been reluctant to invest in new equipment. The legislation comes amid a U.S. outcry over China's continued imposition of export quotas on rare earth minerals, which are needed for a variety of high-tech products. According to Jim Puckett, executive director of the Basel Action Network, a Seattle-based environmental group, China technically bars the import of e-waste but roughly 50 to 100 containers full are smuggled into the country via Hong Kong per day to support an underground recycling industry...Read More »



Clean Harbors Beats Expectations for Second Quarter

Clean Harbors, Inc. (Norwell, MA) posted better-than-expected second quarter profit and revenue despite being lower than last year when it benefited from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill cleanup. Consequently, the company raised its outlook for the full year. Clean Harbors said it earned $29.2 million, or $0.55 per share, for the quarter compared with $57.9 million or $1.10 per share last year. Revenue was $447.2 million, versus $471.6 million in the prior year. However, analysts had only been expecting net income of $0.40 per share on revenue of $416.1 million. "The second quarter of 2011 was another period of solid financial performance and achievement for Clean Harbors," CEO Alan S. McKim said. The company's oil and gas field services segment grew 40 percent during the period as oil and gas companies begin to invest in domestic drilling. In April the company moved to advance its presence there with its purchase of Peak Energy Services Ltd. In May, McKim said that the company will lookat deals in the waste disposal business in North America and expects to seal more deals by the third quarter. With its success the company revised its full-year revenue outlook to $1.84-$1.88 billion, up from $1.62-$1.67 billion earlier...Read More »



Waste Management is Building Single-Stream Facility in Houston

Waste Management, Inc. (Houston, TX) unveiled its new $15 million, 40,000-square-foot single-stream recycling facility in its home town of Houston. The sophisticated new facility will employ sorting machines, which use magnets, screens and scanners to separate and sort recyclables. It will also include two new and unique pieces of technology: a "paper magnet" for removing small paper and recyclable residue and a "paper spike" that mechanically removes boxboard/chipboard from newspaper. It will also include magnets and eddy currents to capture the remaining metals. Two large balers bind the finished products into bales weighing as much as 1.5 tons. It currently has a capacity to handle more than 9,000 tons of recyclables each month. Single-stream recycling is credited with boosting recycling rates by streamlining collection and encouraging more customer participation by simplifying the process. "The less work the customer has to do to get these materials to the curb themore it helps participation," said Alan Bachrach, director of recycling for Waste Management in south Texas...Read More »



Waste Management Plans Single-Stream Facility in Detroit

Close on the heels of opening a single-stream recycling facility (SSRF) in Houston (see related story), Waste Management, Inc. (Houston, TX) announced plans to open another in the Detroit metropolitan area. The new site, the company's 36th SSRF, will be designed to process recyclables from residential and commercial customers throughout seven counties in southeast Michigan giving the company control over a segment of its operations it has traditionally outsourced. Adding the SSRF solves two of Waste Management's objectives of better serving its customers while further integrating its operations. "Recycling facilities must consistently produce clean, uniform material to secure long-term contracts at the best rates," said Denise Gretz, vice president for Waste Management's Michigan and Ohio operations. "By operating our own facility, we can control each stage of the processing cycle and continue to build on our reputation for quality products." Single-stream recycling is credited with boosting recycling rates by streamlining collection and encouraging more customer participation by simplifying the process...Read More »



Industry Endorses Senate Bill to Encourage Recycling

A group of industry trade associations is widely supportive of U.S. Senate Resolution 251, which seeks to improve the collection, processing and consumption of recyclable materials throughout the country. The resolution was introduced by U.S. Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), co-founders and co-chairs of the Senate Recycling Caucus. The purpose of the Caucus is to educate Senate members and staff on the need for and benefits of recycling to the U.S. economy and the environment and about energy savings generated through recycling, as well as to support public policies aimed at increasing recycling across the country. Groups supporting the measure include the Solid Waste Association of North America, the National Solid Wastes Management Association, the National Recycling Coalition, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, and the American Forest & Paper Association, among others...Read More »



Georgia Power Says Compliance with Stricter Pollution Rules to Cost $7 Billion

Georgia Power said that the cost of upgrading or replacing its power plants to meet stricter environmental rules could cost $5 billion to $7 billion through 2020. The Southern Company subsidiary also said that it will have to purchase power from outside suppliers to meet the electricity needs of its nearly 2.4 million customers in the coming years because pending anti-pollution rules may force the company to close or upgrade some of its existing plants. The company is currently asking regulators for permission to retire two of its coal-fired plants rather than incur he prohibitively high cost to upgrade them. The EPA published a suite of rules setting stricter maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards for boilers ("Boiler MACT") as well as a new source performance standard (NSPS) to cut emissions from commercial and industrial solid waste incineration (CISWI) units and a waste definition rule that determines to which of the air rules combustion units are subject. After issuing the rules, EPA exercised its discretion to stay portions of the CISWI and boiler rules, to reconsider certain aspects of them after receiving an overwhelming response from industry, lawmakers and others. Georgia Power officials said they must see a final version of the multiple rules before deciding the long-term fate of six of its power plants. Currently, the company is said to be leaning toward converting some coal plants to natural gas, which burns cleaner and would not require as many regulations. The pending rules have the greatest impact and coal- and oil-fired plants...Read More »



U.S. Energy Subsidies, Especially for Renewables Doubles between 2007 and 2010

A new report indicates that US government subsidies for energy have doubled between 2007 and 2010. According to a report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the value of the subsidies and "direct financial interventions" in energy markets rose from $17.9 billion to $37.2 billion in 2010, much of which was attributable to stimulus spending. Support for renewable energy sources, including biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind and "other," rose from $5.1 billion to $14.6 billion. Support for biofuels rose from $3.9 billion to $6.6 billion. Natural gas and petroleum liquids support rose from $2 billion to $2.8 billion. The snapshot study was requested by U.S. Reps. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). Not all subsidies affecting the energy sector were included...Read More »



CA Air Board Reversing Exemption for Waste-To-Energy Under Cap & Trade

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) could reverse a proposed exemption for municipal solid waste-to-energy plants under the state's greenhouse gas (GHG) cap-and-trade program in response to recent complaints by environmental groups. Ironically, the ARB said they decided to exempt the state's three MSW-to-energy facilities because the increased costs of operating the facilities under cap-and-trade could lead to more waste being deposited in landfills, which would lead to greater GHG emissions. Nevertheless, reversing the exemption will likely cause a backlash from industry already frustrated with an overly burdensome permitting environment in the state. The California debate over how to regulate GHGs from waste-to-energy plants could affect climate change programs in other states, and possibly the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), a proposed regional cap-and-trade system that includes California and several Canadian provinces. ARB is currently seeking comment on its proposal to reverse theexemption. Environmentalists claim that incineration of the waste increases overall emissions of GHGs because plastics, for example, do not decompose in landfills and therefore do not release GHGs into the atmosphere. They further argued that exempting MSW-to-energy plants from cap-and-trade will reduce beneficial recycling and composting efforts...Read More »



WCA Posts 2Q Loss despite Higher Revenue

WCA Waste Corp. (Houston, TX) posted a slight second quarter loss despite a 21.5 percent jump in revenue as the company benefited from its recent acquisition of Emerald Waste and positive pricing. It posted a net loss of $3 million, or $0.13 per share for the quarter, compared to a profit of $210,000, or $0.01 per share, a year ago. This quarter's earnings suffered from $4.4 million associated with refinancing the company's senior secured notes and extending its revolving senior credit facility, the benefits of which are to be received in future quarters and will amount to annual savings of $1.2 million. Also hurting performance was continued bad weather in the Ohio/Massachusetts region and higher fuel costs across all regions and integration costs associated with the Stoughton and Emerald Waste -- Central Florida transactions. The company reaffirmed its 2011 revenue and adjusted EBITDA goals of $270 million and $61 million, respectively...Read More »



Miss. PSC Approves 1 MW Landfill Gas Project

Mississippi's Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved the Three Rivers Solid Waste Authority's request to build a 1 megawatt landfill gas-to-energy plant at its landfill in Pontotoc County. Power generated by the $2 million plant will be sold to the Tennessee Valley Authority through Pontotoc County Electric Power Association's distribution system. "This is the second project of its kind in Mississippi and will be a major benefit to the North Mississippi region," said PSC Commissioner Brandon Presley. In December, the Golden Triangle Regional Solid Waste Authority in West Point, MS announced it would be the site of a similar 1 megawatt project. David Sparks, TVA's energy efficiency manager in Mississippi, said TVA is working on some 30 similar projects across its footprint. He said they are part of TVA's plan to meet its efficiency goals by using more renewable energy sources...Read More »



Boom or Bust? Bra Recycling is Gaining Support

Those looking to for the next hot new material segment of the waste stream, look no further. A Gilbert, Arizona textile recycling company wants women's used bras for recycling and reuse, particularly to women in disadvantaged communities around the globe. It is called "the BRAvolution." The company recently formed a partnership with a Canadian lingerie company called The Bra Lounge that will allow Alberta women to support the cause. The Bra Lounge owner, Sheena Johnson said "We know the life changing affects, the confidence boost, and the comfort women get when wearing proper, high quality garments."...Read More »



EnergySolutions Reports Rise in 2Q Earnings on Higher Volume

EnergySolutions, Inc. (Salt Lake City, UT) posted improved second quarter revenue and earnings on modestly higher volume at its hazardous waste landfill in Tooele County. Net income for the quarter was $500,000, or 1 cent per share compared to a loss of $28.5 million, or 32 cents per share a year ago. Revenue rose slightly to $403.7 million from $398.3 in last year's second quarter. EnergySolutions CEO Val Christensen said that the company's second-quarter performance was slightly better than forecast. "We anticipated that it would be a comparatively weak quarter, as mentioned during our first-quarter conference call," he said. Instead, second-quarter revenue showed "modest year-over-year growth." Growth in the company's commercial business segment grew to $349.3 million, up from $305.3 million a year ago, offsetting declining revenue from its government segment, whose revenue declined to $54.4 million from $93 million a year ago...Read More »



Industrial Services of America 2Q Profit Down on Weak Demand for Stainless

Industrial Services of America, Inc. (Louisville, KY) said second quarter revenue and profit fell from last year's level on waning global demand for stainless steel. Net income fell to $312,576, or 5 cents per share, from $2.3 million, or 36 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue for the quarter fell to $65 million from $92.8 million. With the decline in demand for stainless steel, the company was forced to pay a $500,000 fee to cancel purchase contracts with its suppliers. Brian Donaghy, president and chief operating officer of ISA, stated, "We saw a dramatic change in stainless market conditions during the second quarter of 2011. Virtually every stainless scrap provider, including ISA, saw demand dwindle as a result of the worldwide decrease in demand for stainless steel and other nickel-based scrap. We believe that consumers have worked down their inventory levels, and we are optimistic that demand will soon rebound."...Read More »



U.S. Navy Looking to Expand Use of Waste-to-Energy

The U.S. Navy recently held its first Waste to Energy Forum to discuss ways to use solid waste to generate renewable energy on and off Naval sites. More than 160 government and industry representatives attended the forum which was hosted by Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment Jackalyne Pfannenstiel with help from Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC). Renewable energy goals and opportunities were discussed along with industry recommendations on how to approach the delivery of renewable energy from waste.

This initiative is one of many throughout the Navy and Marine Corps that will enable the Department of the Navy to achieve Secretary Ray Mabus' energy goals to improve our energy security and efficiency afloat and ashore, increase our energy independence, and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy...Read More »



Perma-Fix Posts Record 2Q Revenue and Earnings

Perma-Fix Environmental Services, Inc. (Atlanta, GA) reported record second quarter earnings and revenue that benefitted from "strong waste receipts" at its treatment facilities. Revenue for the quarter increased 11.9% to $28.9 million from $25.8 million for the same period last year. Net income increased 74.3% to $2.5 million, or $0.05 per share from $1.4 million or $0.03 per share, in the same period last year. "We attribute our year-over-year improvement to strong waste receipts in the quarter at our treatment facilities, the impact of our recent expense reductions and the continued performance of our onsite services group," CEO Louis F. Centofanti said. "Heading into the third quarter, our sales pipeline is robust." Perma-Fix provides radioactive, hazardous and industrial waste services...Read More »



Senate Passes Bill to Bring Haz. Waste Shipments into Electronic Age

The U.S. Senate passed a bill that finally brings the computer age to the way the federal government and states track the shipment of hazardous waste. The Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act (S.710) was introduced by Senator John Thune (R-SD) and cosponsored by Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Barbara Boxer (D-CA). The U.S. EPA currently requires carbon copy paper manifests to accompany waste materials when they are transported for ultimate storage or disposal, which is commonly referred to as "cradle to grave" documentation. A similar measure was passed by the Senate in 2008 but was never taken up by the House...Read More »


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