Weekly News Bulletin: Aug. 21-27, 2012


Report Says Americans Throw Out $165 Billion in Food Each Year

A new study says that Americans are wasting nearly half of their food which represents $165 billion in lost value every year. An average family of four squanders $2,275 in food each year, or 20 pounds per person per month, according to the report: "Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm To Fork to Landfill," by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The report says that food waste is the largest single portion of solid waste filling up American landfills and that has increased by 50 percent since the 1970s. Unsold fruits and vegetables in grocery stores account for a big part of the wasted food and cost $15 billion annually. Both consumers and restaurants are also to blame as portion sizes range from two to eight times larger than what the government recommends. The wasted food is a tax on our natural resources, says the report, because of the energy, water and farmland necessary to grow, transport, and store food. NRDC estimates that 25 percent of all the freshwater consumed in this country, along with 4 percent of the oil, goes into producing food that is never eaten. Moreover, uneaten food accounts for 23 percent of all methane emissions in the US. The NRDC recommends that the government study losses in the food system and set goals for waste reduction, and that Americans learn when food goes bad and become less averse to buying scarred or otherwise imperfect produce, and eat their leftovers...Read More »



Survey Says Americans Feel Most Guilty About Food Waste

A new survey finds that Americans feel most guilty about wasting food and to a less extent about not recycling. The survey, called Eco Pulse, found 39% of 1,013 respondents felt guilty about wasting food and also felt guilty about leaving the lights on (27%), wasting water (27%), failing to unplug chargers for electronics (22%), not recycling (21%) and forgetting to bring reusable bags to the store (20%). "We know that telling people to save the planet does not work. The vast majority of Americans don't care," said Suzanne Shelton, CEO of the Shelton Group, which authored the study and consults organizations on sustainability initiatives.

Food waste in America has grown 50% since 1974, and accounts for more than one-quarter of the total freshwater used and roughly 300 million barrels of oil a year, according to a USDA study. US households typically waste 27% of food available for consumption, costing the average family of four roughly $600 a year. Those rates approach 40% to 50% in commercial establishments such as restaurants and hotels...Read More »



Environmental Groups Push EPA to Set Deadline for Coal Ash Regulations

Environmental groups including Earthjustice and others are urging a federal district court to set a deadline for EPA to review its regulations on coal ash disposal and whether to regulate the ash as a hazardous waste. The industry, including those who recycle ash into cement and other products, strongly oppose a hazardous designation and want EPA to decide within three months about how it will proceed. They argue that the EPA's delay is "has created uncertainty in the beneficial use marketplace." Both groups say EPA has failed to meet a requirement under section 2002(b) of RCRA on reviewing its regulatory policy on ash. Last week, a bipartisan group of 24 senators, seeking to head off the agency, introduced a bill giving states primary authority on ash rules. The section requires EPA to review, and if necessary revise, all rules issued under the law at least every three years. EPA has not completed a review of its coal ash rules since 2000...Read More »



California High Court Rules in Favor of Policyholders for Cleanup Claims

In what could set a national precedent, the California Supreme Court ruled that insurers can be held liable to pay cleanup claims at waste sites outside of their respective policy periods. The court ruled that "policy stacking" as it is called is the "correct" and "equitable" way to allow insureds the ability to collect up to the policy limit for continuous injury cases. The court's ruling in "The State of California v. Continental Insurance Company" said policyholders can "stack" consecutive insurance policies in order to recover up to the policy limits across multiple policy periods. At issue are cleanup costs at a California Superfund site that had been covered under comprehensive general liability insurance policies issued to the state between 1964 and 1976. The problem is that the environmental damage caused by the site is taking place over many years, if not decades, and could cost as much as $700 million to remediate, according to the state. The ruling holds insurers liable for damages even outside of the policy period under what is called the "all sums approach." This approach differs from the pro rata method favored by insurance companies, in which they are only responsible for damages that occur during the period in which the policy is in force...Read More »



Republic Services Promotes Robert Boucher to Head of Operations

Republic Services, Inc. (Phoenix, AZ) has named Robert Boucher to head of operations. He is a 21-year waste industry veteran and has been serving as head of Republic's southern region, covering eight states and Puerto Rico. Prior to joining Republic in 2010, he was CEO of Synagro Technologies Inc. "Bob is a strong leader with a passion for superior customer service and operational excellence and we look to him and the management team to continue the standard of excellence established at Republic Services," said CEO Donald Slager. Slager had also been overseeing day-to-day operations following the unexpected termination of former EVP Kevin C. Walbridge last November. Boucher's promotion paves the way for Jack Perko, previously head of the company's Midwest region, to take over the southern region. Consequently, Justin Boswell is to head the Midwest region. He most recently worked as SVP of Stanley Black & Decker Inc...Read More »



Massachusetts Tightens Rules on Biomass Plants; Other States Could Follow

Massachusetts has finalized rules that are expected to disqualify many wood-fired power plants from receiving renewable energy credits, which are seen as increasingly imperative for their economic viability amid low natural gas prices and the slow economy. The move by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources could set the stage for other states. The final standards require all woody biomass plants to generate power at minimum of 50 percent efficiency to receive one half of a renewable energy credit (REC), and 60 percent efficiency to receive one full REC. Previously plants were required to operate at 25 percent efficiency. The new rules seek to ensure that biomass plants produce less net greenhouse gas than plants that burn fossil fuels. The long-debated rules are a setback for the biomass-power industry, which relies on federal and state subsidies and beneficial power-purchasing rules to operate profitably, according to the Biomass Power Association...Read More »



Clean Harbors Names James Rutledge as President, COO

Clean Harbors, Inc. (Norwell, MA) is promoting its Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer James M. Rutledge to the newly created position of President and Chief Operating Officer. He will retain his position as Vice Chairman. "Since his arrival at Clean Harbors in 2005, Jim Rutledge has played an instrumental role in managing the financial and administrative responsibilities of the Company through a period of rapid expansion," said Alan S. McKim, Chairman and CEO. To fill the CFO position, the company has hired Robert E. Gagnon as EVP, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer. Prior to joining Clean Harbors, Gagnon served as VP of Finance, Business Planning and Chief Accounting Officer at Biogen Idec Inc...Read More »



Swisher Hygiene CEO Steps Down Amid Accounting Problems

Swisher Hygiene (Charlotte, NC), which is in the midst of an investigation into improper accounting procedures, said that President Steven Berrard is stepping down, effective immediately. The company which provides commercial sanitation services as well as waste collection appointed EVP Thomas Byrne interim president and CEO. Berrard will continue as a member of the company's board of directors. Berrard is a long-time business partner of Wayne Huizenga, Swisher's chairman, who controls nearly 14 percent of the shares.

Earlier this year, Swisher fired its chief financial officer and two other employees after disclosing its investigation of improper accounting practices which could ultimately force the company to recognize millions worth of additional losses and restate financial results for past quarters, according to securities filings. Last week the company said it will not be able to file its second-quarter earnings statement on time...Read More »



Waste Management Opens Landfill Gas-to-Energy Plant in Indiana

Waste Management, Inc. (Houston, TX) has opened a new 3.2 megawatt landfill gas-to-energy plant at its Twin Bridges landfill in Danville, IN (about 20 miles west of Indianapolis). It is the fourth gas-to-energy plant at the site which now collectively generates enough electricity to power 14,000 homes. The plant is one of 14 landfill energy facilities owned by Wabash Valley Power Association throughout northern Indiana that are located at Waste Management landfills and operated by Waste Management under an exclusive partnership. "In 2007, our Board of Directors set a goal to increase our ownership of diverse fuel resources," explained Greg Wagoner, Vice President of Business Development, Wabash Valley Power.

The new plant employs two 20-cylinder Caterpillar, Inc. engines that are each capable of generating 1.6 megawatts of electricity. It is scalable to four engines as landfill gas generation increases in the future...Read More »



Progressive Names New Chief Financial Officer

Progressive Waste Solutions Ltd. (Toronto, ON) has appointed Ian Kidson as vice president and chief financial officer. He succeeds Thomas Cowee who leaving to pursue other opportunities closer to his home in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas area. Kidson most recently served as managing director and co-head TD Capital Mezzanine Partners for 10 years, leading subordinated debt and equity investments in North American businesses in sectors including waste management among others. In June 2000, he led an investment in Progressive, then called BFI Canada, when the company acquired its original assets.

"Ian's familiarity with our business and the focus he brings on capital allocation and returns makes him an ideal addition to our team," said Joseph Quarin, vice chairman and CEO of Progressive Waste...Read More »



Progressive Gets Approval to Extend its Share Repurchase Program

Progressive Waste Solutions Ltd. (Toronto, ON) said it received regulatory approval to extend its share repurchase program for 12 months, effective August 21, 2012. Last December, the company's board authorized an expansion of its share repurchase program by 3.5 million shares to 7.5 million shares, representing about 6.3% of the total public float. This allows the company to spend up to CAN$300 million to repurchase its shares through Dec. 2014. As of Aug. 13, 5.78 million shares have been repurchased under the program for a CAN$121.3 million at an average price per share of CAN$20.86...Read More »


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