Uncertainty About How EPA Coal Ash Rule is to be Implemented
Uncertainty still surrounds EPA's coal ash disposal rule despite that it was finalized in December 2014 and, according to many stakeholders, explicitly regulates ash as solid waste. The problem stems from the rule being self-implementing, meaning that neither the EPA nor the states are empowered to directly enforce it. Rather, citizen groups can file lawsuits against facilities they believe are not in compliance.
The rule sets requirements for ash disposal as a solid waste under subtitle D of the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA), which was the option preferred by states, power companies and the ash reuse industry. Environmentalists argued for a subtitle C hazardous waste rule and said it would have led to stricter disposal mandates, though industry says both subtitles would be equally protective. Implementation of the rule already varies by state and region, depending on the policy preferences of state governments and advocates' litigation strategies...
Virginia's Waste Imports Rise in 2015, Still Number 2
The volume of waste imported into Virginia increased by 3.4 percent last year, maintaining its position as the second leading importer of out-of-state waste in the country. By comparison, in 2014 (the most recent year for which comparative data is available), Pennsylvania led with 7.2 million tons imported, followed by Virginia with 5.2 million tons imported, Michigan with 3.5 million tons (mostly from Canada), Ohio with 3.1 million tons, and Kentucky with 2.5 million tons.
Virginia's waste imports represent about 25 percent of all waste disposed in the state. Last year that was 5.4 million tons out of a total of 20.7 million tons disposed. Most of the out-of-state waste came from Maryland (45.4 percent), New York (22.8 percent), Washington, D.C. (20.2 percent), North Carolina (5.6 percent) and New Jersey (4.3 percent)...Read More »
California Recycling Levels Fall Below 50% for First Time in Years
California's overall recycling rate fell to 47 percent in 2015, below the 50 percent or better rates achieved since 2010, and far short of the 75 percent goal set by the legislature for 2020. That is a decrease of 3 percent from both 2014 and 2013, according to newly-released data from California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). News of the lower recycling rate comes as hundreds of recycling centers around the state have closed over the past year as the economics of recycling have been turned on its ear in California. RePlanet, which closed nearly 200 recycling centers itself earlier this year, said the state reduced fees it pays to recycling centers to handle all those plastic bottles and other containers. Teresa Bui, a legislative and policy analyst with Californians Against Waste, said "Recyclers across all industries are hurting. The low commodity prices for paper, plastic and metals are all driven by low oil prices. It's cheaper to by virgin materials to make new PET bottles than purchase recycled PET." Ironically, economic growth in the state burdens the system with more waste generation resulting in higher amounts of material heading to the landfill instead of being recycled...Read More »
Lancaster County PA Enters Contract to Harvest Metals from Incinerator Ash
The Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority (LCSWMA) in Pennsylvania, which owns two waste-to-energy (WTE) plants, a landfill and a transfer station, has entered into a long-term contract with Inashco North America to site a $14 million facility to recover metals from waste-to-energy ash otherwise destined for the landfill. It is estimated that the 100,000 square foot facility will process 165,000 tons of ash generated annually by LCSWMA's two WTE facilities from which over 8,000 tons of metal will be recovered. Under the public-private partnership, LCSWMA is loaning Inashco 80 percent of the capital costs (around $11 million) to construct the facility. Inashco will repay the principal and interest over a 10-year term. This is the Dutch company's fourth project in the US. "This project exemplifies our philosophy of transforming waste into a resource," says Jim Warner, CEO of LCSWMA. "Doing so takes innovative thinking and collaborating with world-class partners..."...Read More »
Oakland CA Landlords Sue Over City's Trash Rates
Oakland, CA landlords, emboldened by a scathing civil grand jury report, have filed a lawsuit challenging the city's $1.5 billion garbage collection contract as an unfair and improper tax that is unconstitutional under state law. Wayne Rowland, president of an association whose 1,200 members own or manage more than 20,000 properties, said the purpose of the suit was "to right the many wrongs and injustices" in Oakland's trash collection fee system. Attorney Andrew Zacks, who filed the suit in Alameda County Superior Court, said that under state law, fees for property-related services such as garbage collection aren't supposed to exceed what is required to provide the actual service. But under the 2014 contract, which several city council members now deny reading carefully before approving it, many apartment owners have seen their garbage and recycling rates increase by upward of 150 percent. To shift some of the costs from homeowners, the city structured the contract to put more of the expense on landlords, restaurants and other businesses, including nonprofits. Evidently the city council put together the deal behind closed doors. Following complaints about skyrocketing bills, the council later amended the rates to bring down the charges for restaurant recycling...Read More »
New Frontier: Waste Incineration in Space
A capsule full of International Space Station (ISS) waste was cut loose and incinerated upon re-entering Earth's atmosphere high above the Pacific. Researchers gathered data from sensors on the capsule in the hope of improving future spacecraft reentry. Also to better understand spacecraft safety, scientists deliberately ignited a large blaze in the capsule to study the spread of flames in a weightless environment. The so-called "Cygnus'' capsule was originally built and delivered to the ISS by Virginia-based Orbital ATK. Once its cargo of supplies were unloaded, the capsule was filled with more than 4,000 pounds of garbage and discarded equipment for disposal...Read More »
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