Weekly News Bulletin: Dec. 6-12, 2011


Veolia May Sell US Waste Business, Part of $6.7 Billion Divestiture to Pare Debt

Veolia Environnement is considering the sale of its US waste business as part of an ambitious plan to raise 5 billion Euros ($6.7 billion) from asset sales to reduce debt. Its US waste business had revenues 614 million Euros ($822 million) in 2010. The French water and waste giant, the world's largest environmental utility in terms of revenue, said it will also exit the transport sector by selling its 50 percent stake in Veolia Transdev (5.8 billion Euros in 2010), and plans to sell its regulated water business in the U.K (317 million Euros in 2010). Ultimately, the company seeks to lower debt to less than 12 billion Euros by the end of 2013 from 15 billion at the end of September. As part of the divestiture, Veolia intends to withdraw from 37 of the 77 countries in which it operates.

Veolia entered the US waste business in June 1999 when its predecessor company Vivendi S.A. bought Superior Services Inc. (Milwaukee, WI), then the fourth largest US waste company, for about $1 billion. Vivendi later split its entertainment business away from its environmental services business which it named Veolia...Read More »



End of a Dynasty, EIA President Bruce Parker to Retire after 2012

It is perhaps the end of a dynasty. Bruce Parker, President and CEO (aka Our Dear Leader) of the Environmental Industry Associations (EIA) has put the terrible rumors to rest by announcing that he will retire next year from the association where he has held a leadership role for the last 30 years. During that time, he has driven changes in an organization, which includes the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) and the Waste Equipment Technology Association (WASTEC), that has grown in sophistication along that of the evolving and increasingly complex waste and resource management industry itself.

He has waged battles on many fronts by fighting for the interests of the waste industry, municipal and government entities while building bridges across an often fractious industry and educating an apathetic public, misguided politicians, and sometimes narrowly focused activists. Among his many achievements is raising public awareness of the vital importance of the industry itself, the role it plays in environmental protection and the safety of its workers. He has argued Constitutional issues before the Supreme Court and defended again and again the right of free enterprise, especially when governments or its legislators have sought to interfere...Read More »



Republic Fires Number Two in Management Shakeup

In an apparent management shakeup, Republic Services, Inc. (Phoenix, AZ) has terminated the employment of its number two executive Kevin Walbrige, executive vice president of operations, and eliminated the position. A Nov. 28 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), indicates that his employment was terminated that day and that CEO Donald W. Slager "has assumed the responsibilities of the principal operating executive." Walbridge had been promoted to EVP of operations in Oct. 2010 as part of the transition surrounding former CEO James O'Connor's retirement. Walbridge moved to the corporate office to oversee operations replacing Mr. Slager who became chief executive officer. Company spokesman Will Flower said "I think Kevin's departure from the company was mutually agreed upon in which both the CEO and Kevin came to the realization that the best thing for the organization was if Kevin were to leave."

Walbridge previously served as our Senior Vice President of Midwestern Operations from December 2008 until then, and served as our Central Region Vice President from the time he joined us in 1997 through December 2008. Before joining Republic, he served as the Vice President Operations/Co-Owner of National Serv-All from 1996 to 1997, the President of Waste Management of Alameda County from 1993 to 1996, and the Division President of Empire Waste Management from 1985 to 1993...Read More »



Organized Crime Still in New Jersey Waste and Now Recycling, Report Finds

Prepare to be shocked. Organized crime remains entrenched in New Jersey's solid waste industry, despite efforts spanning four decades to root it out, according to a new report. "New Jersey once again has become a haven for criminally tainted garbage and recycling entrepreneurs who were kicked out of the business elsewhere," concluded the 47-page report, part of a multiyear investigation, authored by the state Commission of Investigation (SCI).

The report said at least 30 felons or organized-crime associates were able to get solid-waste licenses in New Jersey after being barred from the business by better-funded, more vigilant mob-busting operations in neighboring states, most notably New York. It also details how members of the Genovese and DeCavalcante crime families, and others, use a web of deceit to conceal their identities and trick the state: phony front companies, real-estate scams, and even the use of bogus dump-truck decals allowing access to landfills. The criminals operate behind the cover of seemingly legitimate front companies; make money secondarily as real estate owners or through equipment leased to waste companies. They also may have stakes in companies owned by relatives with clean records, according to the report...Read More »



EPA Proposes Less Costly Emissions Rules for Boilers

The EPA has proposed changes to its boiler and incinerator emissions rules that it estimates will save industry $1.5 billion per year over what was originally proposed in 2010 by allowing some plants to fine tune existing equipment or burn cleaner fuels. The reconsideration was in answer to industry criticism that the final boiler air toxics rule and related emissions standards for commercial and industrial solid waste incinerators (CISWI) were impossible to achieve, would cost industry billions of dollars and would force the closure of numerous plants resulting in lost jobs. The EPA says its revised rules are more flexible in allowing some plants to do maintenance on equipment, avoiding costs from adding new controls or replacing boilers. The agency says that 99 percent of the country's boilers are either clean enough and not subject to the new rules, or would only require a tune up and maintenance to comply. The rules as revised are expected to cost industry about $2.3 billion a year, not the $3.8 billion in a previous proposal made last year. The rules set limits on mercury and other toxic emissions on about 5,500 commercial boilers at refineries, chemical plants, and heavy industry plants. About 196,000 smaller "area source" boilers would need to do annual tune ups or take other steps to minimize toxic emissions...Read More »



Casella Waste Q2 Loss Narrows on Higher Revenue

Casella Waste Systems, Inc. (Rutland, VT) said second quarter revenue grew by 5.7 percent on positive volume and pricing growth. That helped to narrow the company's net operating loss versus last year's, although last year included a charge for discontinued operations. Cost of operations grew as a percentage of revenues to 66.7 from 64.5 percent last year. Overall solid waste pricing grew 1.6 percent, primarily driven by strong collection pricing growth of 3.4 percent as a percentage of collection revenues. Consequently, revenues for the quarter grew 5.7 percent to $129.9 million from $122.9 million in the year-ago quarter. John Casella, chairman and CEO, said," The strong pricing is a reflection of the hard work by our divisional teams to move pricing from an annual event to a core process, their efforts to intelligently manage yield in their markets through the use of the customer profitability analytics, and our constant drive to create value for our customers through resource solutions."...Read More »



Economists Urge Formation of Statistics Office Within EPA

As the debate over the costs on industry of EPA rules rages on, a group of economists is renewing long-standing calls for Congress to create an independent environmental statistics agency that would give policymakers a better understanding of the cost of pollution and the benefits of control policies. Their request comes as the Obama administration is facing competing criticisms of its regulations, with many industry officials charging the administration is not adequately weighing rules' economic costs while environmentalists, including at least one former EPA official, charge they are underestimating rules' benefits and overemphasizing their costs. Republicans and industry groups are likely to oppose the creation of such an agency, as they have in the past, out of concern that its findings would be vulnerable to political interference and used as a tool to justify new regulations...Read More »



Waste Connections Sets Aside More Funds to Buy Back Shares

Waste Connections, Inc. (Folsom, CA) said its board authorized a $400 million increase to its stock repurchase program, growing the amount from $800 million to $1.2 billion. The authorization extends the term of the program through Dec. 31, 2014. As of Sept. 30, the company had up to about $65 million remaining in shares available for repurchase. The program gives management the authority to repurchase company shares pursuant to a Rule 10b5-1 plan or in open market or privately negotiated transactions at their discretion...Read More »



SWANA Asks Congress to Extend Energy Grants

The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) has sent a letter to Congress urging them to extend the 1603 grant program, which is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that gives grants and tax credits to waste-to-energy and landfill gas-to-energy projects. The program is currently scheduled to expire on December 31, 2011. "To date, twenty-six solid waste operations have taken advantage of this program, amounting to over fifty million dollars in grants---a great investment in our industry," said John H. Skinner, PhD, Executive Director and CEO of SWANA. SWANA argues that the program helps "create jobs, spur economic growth and promote private sector development of energy technologies." The letter is cosigned by 764 companies and trade groups...Read More »



Hudson Baylor Opens $17 Million Recycling Plant near Poughkeepsie, NY

Hudson Baylor Corp. (Newburgh, NY) is set to open a new $17-million, 56,000-square foot single-stream recycling facility in Beacon, NY, just south of Poughkeepsie. Once online in early January 2012, the plant will process about 20 tons per hour of mixed recyclables including glass, metals, plastic, paper and cardboard. The glass will be crushed into a fine powder, while the other materials will be compacted into bales weighing between 1,200 and 2,000 pounds. Hudson Baylor said it will pay haulers between $30 and $35 per ton for the recyclable materials which Chris Coady, director of marketing for the firm, said come from haulers in New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, and New York...Read More »



Marines Test Waste Gasification System for Front Lines

According to a recent article in ScienceDaily, Marines at Camp Smith, Hawaii, in partnership with the Office of Naval Research (ONR), are testing a small-scale waste gasification system that can reduce a 50 gallon container of garbage into a pint of inert ash. The so-called Micro Auto Gasification System (MAGS) system is currently undergoing evaluation by U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific (MARFORPAC) to address the waste disposal needs of its forward operating bases (FOBs). Developed under the Environmental Quality, Discovery and Invention program at ONR and in collaboration with the Canada's Department of National Defense, MAGS was designed to meet the need for a compact, solid-waste disposal system for both ships and shore facilities. "Decades ago, the idea of harvesting energy from trash was just a side show in the environmental movement," said Steve McElvany, the MAGS program officer at ONR. "Now, the technology is mature enough to where the Department of the Navy is seriously evaluating its practical and tactical benefits." The energy-efficient and clean-burning properties of MAGS make it attractive to expeditionary units. It meets the security needs of total destruction of the waste while producing only a small amount of emissions while meeting the environmental goal of having a small carbon footprint. Testing of MAGS will continue through March 2012...Read More »



Advanced Disposal Buys Alabama Waste Company

Advanced Disposal Services, Inc. (Jacksonville, FL) is expanding its footprint in Alabama with the purchase of Lowndes Garbage Service, LLC, together with two residential contracts covering about 700 new homes in Mosses and Hayneville. "Advanced Disposal is looking to grow our operations in the Montgomery marketplace, and Lowndes Garbage Service provided us with the opportunity to strengthen the density and efficiencies of our residential collection operations," said Advanced Disposal's Regional Vice President Dave Lavender...Read More »



Sims Opens Electronics Recycling Facility in Dallas

Sims Recycling Solutions (Chicago, IL), a division of Australian-based Sims Metal Management, is opening a 31,584-square-foot electronics recycling facility in Dallas, Texas. Operations at the plant will involve hand-dismantling of electronics, hard drive destruction, baling and asset management. Further processing of electronics will take place at other Sims Recycling Solutions locations, the company said...Read More »



Fulcrum Bioenergy Raises $100 Million

Fulcrum BioEnergy (Pleasanton, CA) said it has raised $100 million in a venture capital financing round, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The company is currently building a $120 million waste-to-ethanol plant called Sierra BioFuels near Reno, NV that will use municipal solid waste as a feedstock. Last month Waste Management closed an equity investment with Fulcrum for $70 million which will be invested into the Reno plant. 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...Read More »



DTE Biomass Begins 3.2 MW Landfill Gas-to-Energy Project in Mich.

DTE Biomass Energy said its subsidiary Blue Water Renewables Inc. has begun operating a 3.2 megawatt landfill gas-to-energy project at the Smiths Creek Landfill in St. Clair County Michigan. The Smith's Creek Landfill, owned and operated by St. Clair County, operates one of the first commercial-scale septage injection (bioreactor) landfill gas systems in the US, whereby material extracted from septic tanks is applied to the landfill to speed the decomposition of organic waste. Studies indicate that this process increases the life of the landfill by decreasing its volume through accelerated decomposition. It also accelerates the rate of landfill gas generation and thus the profitability of energy projects...Read More »



San Bernardino County Explores Solar Power atop Old Landfill

A developer of solar energy projects on old landfills and other environmentally impacted lands has entered an agreement with the County of San Bernardino to explore building a 5 megawatt photovoltaic solar facility atop the now closed Milliken Sanitary Landfill in Ontario, CA. Power from the project would be sold to Southern California Edison and/or the Ontario Airport to assist the utility and the airport in meeting their renewable energy portfolio goals. The 14-year old company, Project Navigator, Ltd. (Brea, CA), develops renewable, solar energy solutions on brownfields and urban-located closed landfills that are otherwise deemed as unusable land...Read More »


Sign up to receive our free Weekly News Bulletin