Weekly News Bulletin: Nov. 7-13, 2012


Republic Services Profit Down on Weaker Volume and Recycling Prices

Republic Services, Inc. (Phoenix, AZ) said third quarter profit slipped 21 percent on charges as revenue slipped on weaker volume, especially for special wastes and lower recycled commodity prices. Net income fell to $152.7 million or $0.42 per share from $193.5 million or $0.52 per share last year. Absent certain charges, net income would have been $170.7 million, or $0.47 per share, down from $198.5 million or $0.53 per share last year. Republic took a $37 million charge to remediate a closed landfill and a $31 million charge for withdrawing from the ill-fated Central States Pension Fund.

Revenue decreased 3.3 percent to $2.046 billion from $2.116 billion a year ago despite core pricing growth of 1 percent and acquisitions owing to 2.1 percent lower volume (0.5% of which is due to one less workday), lower fuel surcharges and lower recycling commodities pricing. Commodity prices decreased nearly 33 percent per ton to an average price of $108 per ton in the third quarter from $162 per ton in the prior year's third quarter. Still, recycling facility commodity volume was up 1.3 percent over the previous year's level. Waste volumes fell 1.6 percent (adjusted for one less workday) as special waste volume fell 10 percent from last year's unusually high level. Landfill MSW volume is down 4 percent on the loss of certain municipal disposal contracts and owing to competitive pressures as the company seeks to hold the line on pricing.

Meanwhile, Cascade Investments which is controlled by Bill Gates has quietly increased its ownership interest to 24 percent of the company...Read More »



EPA Could Regulate Drilling Waste, With Congress' Approval

In a new report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is suggesting that EPA should, with Congressional approval, begin to regulate drilling wastes, which are currently exempt under the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA), under a "wastestream by wastestream" approach. In its Oct. 9 report on EPA's authority to oversee hydraulic fracturing, "Unconventional Oil and Gas Development: Key Environmental and Public Health Requirements," the GAO says EPA could address environmental groups' concerns about the increasing toxicity and volumes of drilling wastes by revisiting its 1988 finding that these wastes need not be regulated. The report says that if EPA were to repeal or narrow the current RCRA exemption for drilling wastes as environmentalists are seeking, it would not subject all drilling wastes to blanket hazardous waste regulation under RCRA subtitle C, but the agency would have to determine on a case-by-case basis which byproducts meet the characteristicsof hazardous waste, such as ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity and toxicity...Read More »



Clean Harbors' Q3 Profit Down 15 Percent

Clean Harbors, Inc. (Norwell, MA) said weather conditions in Western Canada hurt third quarter revenue which compared poorly to last year's which included an oil spill cleanup. Consequently, net income for the third quarter was also lower and because it included a one-time pre-tax refinancing charge. Net income fell to $12.4 million, or $0.23 per share, from $37.1 million, or $0.70 per share last year. Excluding the charge, net income this year would have been $28.8 million, or $0.54 per share. Third quarter revenue decreased to $533.8 million from $556.1 million last year. But, last year's revenue included $42 million in work related to cleaning up the Yellowstone River oil spill. The company's oil and gas segment, which represents 15 percent of revenue was down only because of the ongoing shift in the US from dry gas wells to liquid-rich and oil plays where the company has had to relocate its operations. That new business is expected to yield big payouts. Clean Harbors chemicals segment, which is also 15 percent of revenue, was up 18 percent from a year ago. Refineries, which provided 13 percent of the company's revenue, grew 25 percent from a year ago.

In a conference call with analysts, Clean Harbors revised its previously-announced 2012 annual revenue guidance of $2.2 billion to $2.25 billion. It now expects revenues to be in the range of $2.15 billion to $2.16 billion...Read More »



Study Shows Hospitals Could Save Big on Sustainability Efforts

A new study estimates that US hospitals could collectively save $15 billion over 10 years by making their operations more environmentally sustainable. The study, "Can Sustainable Hospitals Help Bend the Health Care Cost Curve?" by the Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI) and Health Care Without Harm examines nine hospitals/health systems that underwent such changes in their operations over the last five years. It identifies savings in a number of areas, including waste management, energy use reduction, and changes in their operating room (OR) supply procurement. Specific waste management measures include product reuse, where possible, better segregation of medical and recyclable wastes, and decreasing use of disposable products. Energy consumption can be reduced by deploying high-efficiency motors and boilers, better insulation, and upgrading lighting, etc.

"This study turns on its head the belief that introducing environmental sustainability measures increases operating costs," said Blair L. Sadler, J.D., senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, one of the study authors and former CEO of Rady Children's Hospital, San Diego, CA. The study authors said that "implementation helps meet the triple aim of health care by providing benefits to patients, by "upstream" prevention of disease in the community and through reduced healthcare costs."...Read More »



Industry Challenges California's Paint Take-Back Program

A paint manufacturers association has filed a lawsuit challenging California's used-paint recovery or "take-back" program arguing that the state waste agency's "command and control" regulations exceed its authority. At issue is the Department of Resources, Recycling & Recovery (CalRecycle) paint recovery program required by the 2010 law AB 1343. California is the first state to have a permanent paint stewardship program. It requires paint manufacturers to establish paint waste management and take-back programs and authorizes them to establish a fee on consumers to cover its costs. The regulations set criteria for the approval of stewardship plans and annual reports submitted to CalRecycle. However, the American Coatings Association filed a lawsuit on Oct. 30 in Los Angeles County Superior Court challenging the CalRecycle regulations on the grounds that they were adopted contrary to law. "CalRecycle has adopted and is imposing on manufacturers 'command and control' regulations that are inconsistent with the statutory provisions and increase unnecessarily the burden and cost on manufacturers," according to their statement...Read More »



Blue Sphere to Build Waste-to-Energy Plants in NC and RI

Waste-to-Energy and cleantech company Blue Sphere Corp. (Yehuda, Israel) announced that it has signed agreements to build a 5.2 megawatt waste-to-energy plant in North Carolina and another 3.2 MW plant in Rhode Island. The projects are expected to collectively generate $150 million in revenue over the next 15 years for which the company has already signed power purchase agreements with two large utilities. Blue Sphere has also formed a joint venture with Germany's Biogas Nord AG, a waste-to-energy engineering, procurement, and construction company, to jointly develop these two projects and another 50 megawatts of waste-to-energy projects in the US over the next few years...Read More »



Study Shows Removing Trays from Cafeterias Cuts Food Waste

A study has found a way to reduce food waste: take away the cafeteria trays. The study which examined university dining halls said food waste declined by 18 percent once trays were removed, as reported by Reuters Health. "Especially amongst sustainability-minded institutions and dining services, this was looked at as a way to reduce food waste," said Victoria Getty, from Indiana University in Bloomington, who worked on the study. However, there were trade-offs including more broken dishes, table mess and disgruntled students, according to findings published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics...Read More »


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