Weekly News Bulletin: Nov. 22-28, 2011


NSWMA Sues City of Dallas over Flow Control Law

An industry group, as expected, filed suit challenging the City of Dallas' Sept. 28 decision to mandate that all waste generated in the city be taken to the city's McCommas Bluff Landfill in South Dallas. The National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA), Waste Management, Inc., Republic Services, Inc. and others filed a 28-page complaint in U.S. District Court which contends that the "flow-control" ordinance violates existing franchise agreements and imposes a burden on local private haulers and area businesses that far outweighs any public benefit, calling it "an anti-free-enterprise action by the city that is contrary to both state and federal law." NSWMA has called the flow control measure a "ghost tax" that will result in $19 million in added costs to local businesses and consumers who will see rate increases from haulers that are required to drive much further distances and pay higher tipping fees to use the city's landfill rather than any of a dozen area landfills that would likely be cheaper and closer...Read More »



Waste Management Partners with Fulcrum BioEnergy to Build Plants

Waste Management, Inc. (Houston, TX) announced that it has made an equity investment in Fulcrum BioEnergy, which is currently building a $120 million waste-to-ethanol plant near Reno, NV that will use municipal solid waste as a feedstock. In connection with the investment, Waste Management also agreed to a secured loan facility that provides up to $70 million in funding for the plant provided certain conditions are met. The parties also entered into a master project development agreement to collaborate on the joint development of Fulcrum projects in various locations throughout the United States using municipal solid waste supplied by subsidiaries of Waste Management under long-term feedstock agreements.

"This investment underpins our commitment to supporting innovative technologies that extract the value in waste and converts it into clean renewable energy," said Joe Vailancourt, managing director for Waste Management's Organic Growth Group...Read More »



EPA Considers Strict New Limits on Coal Ash Discharges from Power Plants

In a recent presentation to state and local government officials, the EPA said it is considering strict discharge limits for certain toxic metals, including arsenic and selenium, and other releases from coal ash storage sites in its pending effluent limitation guidelines (ELG) for power plants. The Clean Water Act (CWA) rulemaking could include measures addressing fly and bottom ash, in addition to leachate discharges from landfills and contaminated wastewater from emissions control technology installed at power plants. Its inclusion of first-time, zero discharge standard for liquid coal ash storage sites would likely force many facilities to shift from storing liquid coal ash to dry storage, thus limiting the likelihood of a future coal ash spill like the one in 2008 at a Tennessee Valley Authority plant in Kingston, TN. Environmental groups see the pending ELG rule as a backup for regulating coal ash in the absence of strict Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste rules that EPA has been considering for coal ash disposal, however CWA limits do not address transport, handling and storage requirements that can be regulated under RCRA hazardous waste provisions...Read More »



SWACO Settles Lawsuit with FirmGreen to Dissolve Landfill Gas Partnership

The Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) and FirmGreen Inc. (Newport Beach, CA), its contractor to build a large landfill gas-to-energy project, have ended their partnership with the settlement of a lawsuit that SWACO had brought against the renewable energy company. SWACO invested $4.4 million with the firm but agreed to abandon the deal because the company failed to build a commercial plant to convert methane from the SWACO's Franklin County landfill into clean fuel. In exchange, FirmGreen agrees to void the contract and will not be liable for any financial damages. According to the settlement agreement, SWACO will keep the facility built to house FirmGreen's gas-refining prototype, along with the gas tanks and pipelines that carry the gas from the landfill which collectively are worth about $3.3 million. The settlement clears the way for SWACO to construct a new compressed-natural-gas (CNG) operation that Ron Mills, SWACO's executive director, hopes to have operating in the next 18months. Mills said that reusing the methane produced by the landfill could net $2 million to $5 million annually...Read More »



ReCommunity Buys Two Michigan Facilities from Great Lakes Recycling

Recycling company ReCommunity (Charlotte, NC) recently acquired two single-stream recycling facilities in Huron Township and Roseville, Mich. owned by Great Lakes Recycling (GLR). ReCommunity was formed in March 2011 by investment firms Pegasus Capital Advisors LP and Intersection LLC which purchased the non-core recycling assets spun-off by Casella Waste Systems (Rutland, VT) in a $134 million deal. ReCommunity already operates recycling and recovery facilities in Ann Arbor, Saginaw and Southfield, Mich. The two new Michigan plants increase the number of ReCommunity facilities to 20 MRFs and one transfer station operating in 10 states. The Huron facility processes around 70,000 tons per year, while the Roseville facility processes around 80,000 tons per year. Sandy Rosen, CEO of GLR (Roseville, MI) said his company will continue to operate facilities in Roseville, Warren and Flint, Mich., as well as a recycling facility in North Tonawanda, NY, but that "the plan going forward is to continue to handle most commodities, but get out of the single-stream business." ReCommunity CEO James Bohlig said "we see a lot of opportunity in Michigan, and the Roseville and Huron facilities are complimentary to our existing facilities in the region."...Read More »



Virginia's Recycling Rate Hits 40% for First Time in 2010

The state of Virginia reports that its recycling rate surpassed 40 percent for the first time in 2010, according to the state's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) annual report. Based on data submitted by 71 solid waste planning units comprised of local governments and regional authorities, the recycling rate rose to 40.5 percent from 38.6 percent a year earlier. "This significant improvement reflects the ongoing support by Virginians for recycling in their communities," said DEQ Director David K. Paylor. The DEQ attributes the improvement to the increased adoption of single-stream collection and processing of recyclables by municipalities. Virginia adopted a recycling mandate in 1989 that requires planning units of sufficient population density to achieve a recycling rate of at least 25 percent. "Recycling is one of the easiest ways for all Virginians to make a difference in conserving the environment and landfill space," said Virginia natural resources secretary Doug Domenech, in a statement. The 2% jump breaks a four-year streak of the rate hovering around 38.5%, the report said...Read More »



Cargill Invests $38 Million in 1.4 MW Waste-to-Energy Plant

US food giant Cargill plans to invest $37.8 million to construct a waste-to-energy plant at its beef processing facility in High River, Alberta, Canada. Power from the facility will meet 80 percent of the beef processing facility's needs. The project will receive $10.5 million from the Government of Canada as part of its initiative to help meat processors reduce their environmental footprint. Cargill claims that the plant is the first of its kind in North America and is the largest waste-to-energy project it has undertaken. The plant will utilize a fluidized bed boiler to incinerate organic waste normally destined for the landfill. It will work in parallel with the site's existing methane gas capture facility which uses an anaerobic treatment process to treat wastewater from its operations...Read More »



Veolia Environnement Posts Weak Q3 on "Operational Difficulties"

French utility Veolia Environnement SA said "operational difficulties," especially in Southern Europe, North Africa and the United States are being resolved but hurt current earnings in the last nine months ended September 30. Nine-month adjusted operating income declined 8.6 percent at current exchange rates to 1.25 billion euros from the restated 1.37 billion euros a year ago. Revenue, however, grew 3.7 percent to 23.96 billion euros at constant scope and exchange rates. Chairman and CEO Antoine Frérot said "The results . . . continue to be impacted by the operational difficulties in a certain number of our operations [but that] the reorganization is progressing." The company said it will continue to pursue organic growth, seek 250 million euros in costs savings, divestments of 1.3 billion euros and positive free cash flow after payment of the dividend is confirmed...Read More »



Global Renewable Energy to Double by 2020 Says New Report

The global capacity to produce renewable energy is expected to double to $395 billion in 2020 and rising to $460 billion in 2030, from $195 billion in 2010, according to a report Bloomberg New Energy Finance. That implies that nearly 16 percent of total energy production in 2030 will come from renewable sources (including large hydro), up from 12.6% last year. According to Bloomberg's Global Renewable Energy Market Outlook, Europe will remain the largest market over the short term, but its share will eventually wane in the wake of sovereign debt problems and emerging markets elsewhere. For example, renewable energy investment in the rapidly developing economies of India, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America could grow by 10-18% per year from 2010 to 2020. China is expected to overtake Europe in 2014 with annual spending of just under $50 billion.

Investment in biofuels, biomass and waste-to-energy is projected to increase from $14 billion in 2010 to $80 billion in 2020...Read More »



Kansas Supports EPA Repeal of Oil and Gas Waste Exemption

Kansas is breaking rank with other oil and gas producing states and aligning with environmental groups to urge EPA to lift a longstanding exemption for exploration and production (E&P) wastes from strict Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste rules, fearing adverse environmental and agricultural impacts from land disposal of the waste. "It's so rare that I'll ask EPA to come up with something beyond general guidelines, but whatever laws allow this to be exempted needs to re-looked at because states like ours are going be unable to proceed with the exemptions in place," Bill Bider, director of the Kansas Department of Health & Environment's (KDHE) Bureau of Waste Management, said during an Oct. 27 meeting of state waste regulators. Bider said the exemption could limit burgeoning natural gas operations because state permit writers do not know how to handle E&P wastes from the operations. Kansas' dilemma highlights a growing patchwork of discrepancies in how various oil and gas producing states across the country are electing to deal with waste management issues absent blanket EPA rules. The Kansas position is significant in that it challenges the premise of the 1988 exclusion that the states were adequately regulating the industry...Read More »



Electronics Industry Touts 300 Million Pounds Recycled in 2010

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) praised industry efforts to increase recycling on America Recycles Day even as they called for more consumer education initiatives. CEA research shows that "58 percent of consumers know where to take their end-of-life electronics, we would very much like to see that level of awareness increase," said Walter Alcorn, CEA vice president-environmental affairs. CE makers and retailers operate more than 5,000 recycling locations in the U.S. and have "vowed to recycle one billion pounds annually by 2016," under the voluntary industry-led e-Cycle Leadership initiative unveiled in April, CEA said. That's a "sharp increase from the 300 million pounds recycled in 2010, it said...Read More »



Waste Management Buys Large Single-Stream Facility in Miami

Waste Management, Inc. (Houston, TX) bought a 100,000-square-foot single-stream recycling facility in Miami, FL that serves more than 1,000 commercial customers in the area from Southeastern Recycling. "The acquisition of Southeastern Recycling expands our capabilities of processing single-stream commercial and residential recycling materials and allows us to meet the growing needs of our customers in South Florida," said area vice president Tim Hawkins. "The move also helps us achieve our strategic business goals of knowing our customers and servicing them better than anyone in the industry, expanding recycling and extracting value from the materials we manage, and ensuring that waste no longer goes to waste." Nationally, Waste Management is the largest residential recycler having managed 8.5 million tons of material in 2010. The company's goal is to manage more than 20 million tons each year by 2020...Read More »



Six States Abandon the Western Climate Initiative

Six states have withdrawn from the Western Climate Initiative, a regional greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction organization, leaving only California and four Canadian provinces. The departure of Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington was expected as they became less likely to implement a cap-and-trade program given the changed political composition of their legislatures and the economic recession. Support dwindled along with prospects of Congress passing such legislation anytime soon. WCI was formed in 2007 with the intent of reducing regional GHG emissions to 15% below 2005 levels by 2020. The group identified cap-and-trade as a means of achieving the reductions, beginning a multi-year process of designing a regional system of tradable permits...Read More »



US Waste Industry to Grow Modestly, Says S&P

The waste collection, processing and disposal market will likely experience only modest near term growth amid uncertain economic conditions and increased price competition, according to the ratings agency Standard & Poor's. Collection and landfill volume should gradually recover during 2012 since volume in generally tracks GDP growth, which remains modest (S&P forecasts 1.6% real GDP growth for 2011 and 1.9% for 2012), while contractual price hikes drive top-line growth. Companies will use their strong cash flows to repurchase shares, raise dividends, reduce debt and make strategic acquisitions. Consequently, they will divest underperforming assets and acquire accretive niche businesses, while seeking to enhance customer services to maintain a high retention rate.

Construction & demolition (C&D) and commercial volume are expected to remain weak in the near term but gradually recover, while residential and some special waste industrial volume show more favorable trends. Although commodity prices have been dropping in recent months, we expect recycling prices to rebound again in 2012, aiding revenue growth, while fuel and energy costs stabilize.

Haulers will look to reduce other costs through improved vehicle maintenance, safety and insurance programs. Companies with landfills will continue to increase pricing even with excess capacity since the margins tend to be higher and because independent haulers have few other options. Those companies should also benefit from increasing conversion of methane gas into energy. Waste Management plans to construct waste-to-energy plants in China, and expand its medical waste business...Read More »



Swisher Hygiene's Third Quarter Revenue Jumps 29% on Acquisitions

Wayne Huizenga's industrial hygiene and sanitation company Swisher Hygiene Inc. (Charlotte, NC) posted a narrower third quarter loss on revenues that quadrupled on acquisitions. The company said it took a loss of $3.8 million, or 2 cents per share, from $4.1 million, or 7 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue rose to $67.2 million from $16.1 million. Product revenue grew to $43.2 million from $9.6 million, and service revenue rose to $23.3 million from $4.3 million. Franchise revenue decreased slightly...Read More »



Laidlaw Energy Buys 12.5 MW Biomass-Energy Facility in Calif.

Laidlaw Energy Group, Inc. (New York, NY) bought a 12.5 megawatt biomass-energy power plant located in Susanville, CA, which is in the northeastern part of the state. Laidlaw Energy acquired all of the equity interest of Henri Susanville for cash and stock consideration from Renegy Susanville, LLC and Nature Energies. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The company, which is engaged in the development of independent power plants that generate electricity from renewable and other clean resources, said it is evaluating other potential acquisitions of biomass energy facilities in the US, including California...Read More »



Wilco Recycling Opens $6 million Single-Stream Facility in Texas

Wilco Recycling announced the opening of a new $6 million, 40,000-square-foot single-stream recycling facility in Taylor, Texas that will also serve the surrounding cities of Pflugerville, Round Rock and Cedar Park. "This project is part of the wholesale-trades sector, which diversifies Taylor's existing employment base by creating new commodities-based jobs," said Jason Ford, Taylor EDC president and CEO...Read More »



Republic Services Buys West Virginia Hauler

Republic Services, Inc. (Phoenix, AZ) has expanded its West Virginia operations with the purchase of Suburban Sanitation, a private waste and recycling collection company that has served the Fairmont and Morgantown markets for 30 years. As part of the deal, Republic acquired Suburban's transfer station certificate which it used to construct a new facility that opened on Nov. 11. The new facility was needed to handle the increased volume and improve collection efficiency. This adds to another company-owned transfer station in Fairmont and three municipal solid waste landfills in the region to which it can internalize the volumes. "We are committed to investing to develop facilities and services that will benefit our customers," said Jeff Harvey, general manager for Allied Waste / Republic Services...Read More »



Casella Opens $4 Million Single-Stream "Zero-Sort Recycling Center"

Casella Waste Systems, Inc. has opened a $3.75 million single-stream or what it calls a "Zero-Sort recycling center," in its hometown of Rutland, VT. The 57,000-square-foot facility is designed to handle all manner of commingled recyclable commodities including glass, newspaper, cardboard, mixed paper, and all types of plastic containers. It is expected to process about 58,000 tons of material per year. This is Casella's fifth Zero-Sort facility. Others are in Charlestown, MA, Auburn, MA, Ontario County, NY, Tompkins County, NY and the Chittenden Solid Waste District in Williston, VT...Read More »



Industrial Services of America Posts Q3 Loss on Weak Steel Prices

Industrial Services of America, Inc. (Louisville, KY) reported a third quarter net loss of $4.5 million, or $0.65 per share on revenue that dropped to $55.8 million from $76.6 million, largely as a result of "unusually steep" declines in nickel and stainless steel prices. A year earlier, the company posted net income of $1.9 million, or $0.28 per share. The company buys, process and market metals and other recyclable commodities and offers waste-management programs and equipment. Separately, the company announced the appointment of Robert D. Coleman as CFO. Coleman is a CPA who most recently held various financial leadership roles with Healthland Inc. a private-equity-backed software company...Read More »



Avalon Holdings Posts Strong Q3 on Improved Volume and Pricing

Avalon Holdings Corp. (Warren, OH) reported a 33 percent jump in third quarter revenue, its fourth consecutive quarter of improved financial performance, on improved pricing and volumes. Revenue rose to $15.8 million compared with $11.8 million in the third quarter of 2010. Net income rose to $.3 million or $.08 per share for the third quarter of 2011 compared with a net loss of $2,000 or breakeven on a per share basis for the third quarter of 2010. Avalon provides waste management services in the Midwest and also owns the Avalon Golf and Country Club, which operates golf courses and related facilities...Read More »



Waste Connections and LES Commence New Denver-Area LFGTE Facility

Waste Connections, Inc. (Folsom, CA) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its new landfill gas-to-energy plant that will utilize gas from its two landfills in Erie, Colo. to generate 4.8 megawatts of electricity, which is enough to power 3,300 area homes. The company has teamed with Landfill Energy Services (LES) to build the gas-to-energy facility which has signed a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Brighton, Colo.-based electric cooperative United Power to buy the electricity. LES (Novi, MI) is owned by various funds managed by Energy Investors Funds. The plant will employ two Caterpillar 3516 engines to convert about 1,200 cubic feet of methane per minute into electric power. Erie spokesman Fred Diehl said capturing the methane at both landfills is the equivalent of offsetting 30,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide that might otherwise be released into the atmosphere...Read More »



US Senate Unanimously Passes Recycling Resolution

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution (251) supporting the recycling industry and recognizing the industry's contributions to the economy and the environment. 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 (ISRI), and the American Forest & Paper Association, among others...Read More »



Casella to Report Fiscal Second Quarter Earnings on November 30

Casella Waste Systems, Inc. (Rutland, VT) plans to release its fiscal second quarter financial results after the close of the market on Wednesday, November 30. The company will host a conference call the following day at 10 a.m. (Eastern) to discuss those results and answer investor questions...Read More »


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