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Biggest haulers fear recycled commodity prices in 2015

Resource Recycling Magazine - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 23:47
Biggest haulers fear recycled commodity prices in 2015

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

March 3, 2015

While publicly traded waste and recycling companies had generally positive years in 2014, annual financial reports show falling commodity prices are expected to cause trouble in 2015.

Casella Waste Systems

Casella Waste Systems, which reported on the last eight months of 2014, grabbed revenues of $368.37 million. Casella's recycling business accounted for 9.2 percent of the sum, generating $33.74 million and rising from 2013's $29.31 million.

John Casella, chairman and CEO of the company, stressed recycled commodity prices were an ongoing concern.

"Since late 2014 and into early 2015, recycling commodity prices have continued to decline, with the average commodity revenue per ton down roughly 25 percent since October 2014," Casella reported. "We believe that these declines in recycling commodity prices are not short-lived, but rather reflect changing international markets for recycled commodity products, including lower demand from the Chinese markets due to slower economic growth and growth in the Chinese domestic markets."

To account for those challenges, Casella has increased tipping fees and collection costs in 2015.

The company's stock fell 30 percent in 2014, ending the year at $4.04 after closing 2013 at $5.80 per share.

Progressive Waste Solutions

Progressive Waste Solutions announced overall revenues in 2014 totaled just over $2 billion and were slightly down from 2013 revenues. For the year, Progressive notched $63.65 million in recycling revenues, up from $59.86 million in 2013 and accounting for 3.2 percent of overall revenues.

On 2015, the company's CEO and president, Joseph Quarin, noted "the current softness in recycled commodity prices" could have an impact on earnings for the year.

During 2014, Progressive's stock price rose 21.5 percent to $30.08 per share.

Republic Services

Republic Services generated $8.79 billion in revenues in 2014. That's up from 2013 totals of $8.42 billion, the company said.

Sales of recycled commodities, meanwhile, totaled $390.80 million, 4.4 percent of total revenues. In 2013, recycled commodity sales were slightly lower, coming in at $374.60 million. The company only reports on sales of recycled commodities, choosing not to break down specifics on recycling operations as a whole.

The company expects 2015 revenues to climb 2.5 to 3.5 percent, despite anticipated setbacks in the recycled commodity arena.

Republic's stock increased in value by 21.24 percent in 2014, coming in at $40.25 per share on Dec. 31, 2014.

Waste Connections

Waste Connections reported $2.08 billion in revenues for the year. Up from 2013's $1.93 billion, 2014 revenues were aided by $56.11 million in recycling revenues, making up 2.7 percent of total revenues.

Looking ahead, Waste Connections also sees recycled commodity prices as a potential issue, stating: "Fluctuations in prices for recycled commodities that we sell and rebates we offer to customers may cause our revenues and operating results to decline." The company is targeting revenues in 2015 of $2.15 billion.

Waste Connection's stock price for the year was essentially flat, increasing by less than one percentage point and finishing 2014 at $43.99 per share.

Waste Management

With nearly $14 billion in revenues for the year, Waste Management announced about $1.37 billion in revenues, or about 10 percent of the total, came from its recycling business. Recycling revenues in 2013 totaled $1.45 billion.

Recycled commodity prices were signaled as a major driver for holding recycling revenues back.

"Recycling operations improvements are not expected to keep pace with recent recycling commodity price declines," the company stated.

In 2014, WM's stock jumped 14.38 percent, reaching $51.32.

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Plastics recycling industry beats sleet in Dallas

Resource Recycling Magazine - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 23:40
Plastics recycling industry beats sleet in Dallas

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

March 3, 2015

The Plastics Recycling Conference in Texas this year marked the 10th iteration of the event and drew strong attendance.

Taking place last week at the Hyatt Regency Dallas, Plastics Recycling 2015 brought in more than 1500 attendees from 40 countries. Winter Storm Quantum, which ushered in rare snowfall to the region and icy conditions at airports, caused travel delays for many attendees but networking and education heated up quickly.

Festivities kicked off Monday, Feb. 22 with the Recycling Tech Summit from SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association and the Society of Plastics Engineers Plastics Environmental Division's "Plastics Recycling in 2015" forum. The day was capped by an opening reception, hosted by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI).

Tuesday and Wednesday brought a varied lineup of presentations and panel discussions on a range of trends and topics currently affecting plastics recovery. A dialogue between leading trade association executives, a deep look at the evolution of New York City's plastic recycling efforts and an analysis of the complex relationship between recycling and corporate sustainability served as some of the highlights.

The conference's trade show, which opened a day earlier than in years past, drew nearly 200 exhibitors.

Patric Pike, regional sales manager for optical sorting machine manufacturer Satake USA, said he liked the way Plastics Recycling 2015 was tied in with events from industry trade associations, bringing together customers from every corner of the industry.

"We see tons of existing customers we’d [otherwise] have to drive and spend a lot of time to see,” Pike said.

This year, company representatives were able to talk with existing and potential customers about a smaller optical sorter for plastic flake, regrind and pellets.

“It’s a great place for releasing a new product,” Pike said.

While the conference officially wrapped up mid-week with a heated discussion on the role of mixed-waste MRFs in the plastics recycling space, many attendees stayed on for Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers' membership meetings and ISRI's Paper Stock Industries Specifications Summit.

The 11th Plastics Recycling Conference, which is a sister conference to the Resource Recycling Conference, will be taking place in New Orleans next year. It's slated for Feb. 1-3, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency. Check in at plasticsrecycling.com for all the latest on next year's gathering. Sponsor and exhibitor opportunities will be available starting in spring 2015.

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Texas recycling rate is 18.9 percent, according to data effort

Resource Recycling Magazine - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 23:35
Texas recycling rate is 18.9 percent, according to data effort

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

March 3, 2015

A data collecting initiative in Texas has arrived at an elusive figure: the Lone Star State's recycling rate.

According to newly published results from the Texas Recycling Data Initiative (TRDI), the state recycled 18.9 percent of its municipal solid waste (MSW) stream in 2013. Though the figure lags the national recycling rate (roughly 34 percent), organizers say the initial data collection effort creates the opportunity to assess how that number can grow in the coming years.

"The material in our recycling bins is the next big resource boom for Texas," said Maia Corbitt, executive director of the State of Texas Alliance for Recycling (STAR), one of the co-leaders of the effort.

TRDI, under the guidance of STAR and the Lone Star Chapter of the Solid Waste Association of North America (TxSWANA), sought out statewide recycling data from processors and end users of materials. The participation of those stakeholders was voluntary.

Attention was paid to ensure double-counting of data didn't inflate the numbers and the "rigorous and conservative" recycling rate was calculated without crediting reuse, source reduction or waste-to-energy activity, according to project organizers.

According to the report, 6.1 million tons of MSW – material from residential, commercial and institutional sources – were recycled during the year, leaving 26.4 million tons headed to landfill. TRDI broke down figures for the following materials:

Glass: 137,222 tons recycled

Paper: 1,444,632 tons recycled

Plastic: 169,216 tons recycled

Food and beverage materials: 19,768 tons recycled

E-scrap: 47,271 tons recycled

Curbside programs throughout the state contributed some 555,000 tons of material toward recycling, with average annual household waste generation coming in at 503 pounds.

Large and local MRFs across the state reported a 13 percent contamination rate from curbside programs.

Not counted in the rate itself was non-MSW recycling activity. According to TRDI, nearly 7.8 million tons of non-MSW material were recycled in 2013, including 6 million tons of ferrous and non-ferrous metals.

On the workforce side, just under 12,700 Texans are employed by the industry either through direct, indirect or induced means, according to the report.

The Georgia Recycling Coalition chronicled its own data-mining project in a feature-length article appearing in March 2015 issue Resource Recycling magazine.

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Report examines changing recycling stream

Resource Recycling Magazine - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 23:31
Report examines changing recycling stream

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

March 3, 2015

The materials that end up in the curbside recycling bin have changed over the last several decades and that will have far-ranging effects on the recycling industry as a whole, according to a recently released report.

The American Chemistry Council’s Plastics Division sponsored the report, “Making Sense of the Mix: Analysis and Implications for the Changing Curbside Recycling Stream,” which describes the changes in the materials that are collected via residential curbside collection programs around the country. [Editor's note: The parent company of this publication, Resource Recycling, Inc., directed and was paid for the research developing this report along with Green Spectrum Consulting, LLC.]

The report details the changes the curbside material stream has undergone, including: less printed paper as newspaper readership flags; more corrugated cardboard as online shopping grows rapidly; and more plastics of all types as curbside programs try to keep up with changing packaging materials in the marketplace.

Two developments of the past 15 years – single-stream collection of recyclable materials and the attendant switch from smaller-capacity bins to larger rollcarts – have led to an increased variety of recyclable materials, particularly plastics, found in the recycling stream. Some developments, such as the addition of mixed non-bottle rigid plastics to recycling collection programs, have increased reclamation capacity.

“Plastics makers recognize the critical role that recyclers play in the value chain and in sustainable living,” Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council, said in a press release announcing the report. “The evolving waste stream can create both challenges and opportunities for recyclers and we want to help them succeed.”

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Tentative port deal reached on West Coast

Resource Recycling Magazine - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 23:28
Tentative port deal reached on West Coast

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

March 3, 2015

West Coast port workers have agreed to a new multi-year contract, ending more than nine months of contentious negotiations. Recycling firms, however, may continue to feel the impact of the backlog of containers waiting for export.

While terms of the agreement have not been announced, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) announced on Feb. 20 a "tentative" five-year deal had been struck with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez stepped in earlier this month to push the two parties toward a resolution.

The groups had been negotiating since May 2014.

ILWU members will have to approve the new contract terms before the deal becomes official. In response to the deal, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) warned the labor stalemate might have "long-term consequences" for the recycling industry.

"Already facing a drop in prices, recyclers witnessed a decline in exports which left many forced to cut their workforce and set aside investments needed to grow their business," ISRI's president, Robin Wiener, said in a release. "There may still be long-term consequences we face such as lost overseas markets."

According to ISRI, exports from West Coast ports in 2014 were down 12 percent compared with 2013 levels, with the value of scrap exports worsening as the year went on.

"It's been hell," said Patty Moore, who runs the Plastic Recycling Corporation of California. She said buyers of material that would be bound for export began showing reservations six to seven weeks ago as previously purchased material sat on the docks.

Over the last three weeks, the situation worsened. "Buyers just kind of gave up," Moore said, noting that the port dispute ultimately hurt the paper industry more than plastics because more recovered paper is sent overseas.

As negotiations continued, PMA accused ILWU of staging slowdowns at West Coast ports. ILWU denied those allegations.

In commenting on the resolution, Labor Secretary Perez suggested the U.S. economy as a whole will be able to recover from the port dispute.

"In the grand scheme, I'm confident that we can recover quickly," Perez said.

PRCC's Moore said that if the new agreement does in fact hold and material begins to move, it could take up to two months to clear the backlog of containers.

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Walmart announces "Sustainability Leaders" shop

Resource Recycling Magazine - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 23:25
Walmart announces "Sustainability Leaders" shop

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

March 3, 2015

Walmart's website now features a shop dedicated to products sold by companies pegged as "sustainability leaders."

The Sustainability Leaders area of the site provides online shoppers with a category-by-category list of products from companies that "are leading the way in sustainability," according to Neil Ashe, president and CEO of Walmart Global eCommerce.

Company sustainability, a Walmart press release states, is measured through Walmart's Sustainability Index, which was developed in 2009 with the Sustainability Consortium. Unilever, General Mills, HP, Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive and Replenish are among the companies bearing Walmart's "sustainability badge."

While Walmart has its own aspirational goal of reaching zero waste globally and the Index does consider recycling, the recyclability of products and/or packaging is not mentioned in the announcement.

According to Walmart, products carrying the sustainability badge are "ranked highest among [their] peers within its category." The retailer also states, "In categories where there are many leading manufacturers, products made by any manufacturer that scores over 80 percent, will also qualify for a badge."

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Sustainable materials management grabs focus in May

Resource Recycling Magazine - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 23:23
Sustainable materials management grabs focus in May

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

March 3, 2015

The National Sustainable Materials Management Summit will explore issues surrounding waste reduction, reuse, recycling, composting, design for recycling and more.

The National Recycling Coalition (NRC) will hold the first-ever summit on May 12-13, 2015 at the University of Maryland, College Park, near Washington, D.C.

“Its ultimate goal will be to help develop a National SMM Action Plan to assist in the acceleration of SMM as a method of choice for managing discarded materials,” according to the NRC. “NRC will facilitate a dialogue among participants to reach deeper connections for actions and activities in the future.”

SMM is a systemic approach to using and reusing materials more productively over their entire life cycle, according to the U.S. EPA. SMM goals include using less materials, reducing environmental impacts and avoiding the depletion of natural resources.

NRC is putting on the summit in partnership with the Syracuse Center for Sustainable Community Solutions.


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Carton recycling access hits 53 percent

Resource Recycling Magazine - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 23:22
Carton recycling access hits 53 percent

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

March 3, 2015

Carton manufacturers are reporting more Americans have access to carton recycling.

According to a press release from the Carton Council, approximately 62.4 million households in the U.S. now have access to carton recycling. That total brings the access rate for the continental U.S. to 53 percent.

"It is clear by our continued progress that carton recycling is becoming more mainstream across the country," said Jason Pelz, the group's vice president of recycling projects. "Consumers expect to be able to recycle them."

The group says since 2009, carton recycling access has grown 194 percent. In July 2013, Carton Council reported an access rate of 44 percent.

According to Pelz, most households have gained access to carton recycling via curbside pickup.

"About 10 to 15 percent of households with carton recycling access have drop-off only access," Pelz said. "About 50 to 55 percent have curbside-only access and then 30 to 35 percent have access to both."

In January, an additional 500,000 U.S. households gained access to carton recycling – most of those came in Central Pennsylvania through a Carton Council equipment grant, Pelz said.

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Resource Recycling Conference 2015: Heading to Indianapolis

Resource Recycling Magazine - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 23:19
Resource Recycling Conference 2015: Heading to Indianapolis

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

March 3, 2015

The Resource Recycling Conference will be bringing the industry's highest level conversations and networking opportunities to America's heartland in September.

The annual conference is excited to call Indianapolis home for 2015. The city is an ideal location – it's easy to access, serves as a hub for manufacturing and offers a growing array of visitor activities.

Reserve your spot now for Resource Recycling Conference 2015, set for Sept. 28-30 at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown. Head to rrconference.com for all the latest information on attending, exhibiting and sponsoring.

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Recovered packaging processors bemoan continuing market weakness

Resource Recycling Magazine - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 23:14
Recovered packaging processors bemoan continuing market weakness

By Jerry Powell, Resource Recycling

March 3, 2015

Interviews last week at the Plastics Recycling Conference with buyers and sellers of plastic and aluminum packaging found few executives widely smiling.

These processors say that the continuing market slump is sharply affecting business margins. “The current market is very difficult to peg on a monthly basis,” said one operator of a handful of sorting plants.

Packaging processors note that pricing for all materials has softened. Aluminum can prices have dropped from more than 90 cents per pound (FOB supplier’s dock, Eastern U.S.) at the end of 2014 to under 80 cents for March.

This is similar to the quick slide in the value of recovered plastic containers, with HDPE homopolymer dropping about 25 cents per pound from late last year to March’s price of about 30 cents. For PET bottles, the value in the eastern U.S. has slid 50 percent in four months to about 12 cents per pound.

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NewsBits

Resource Recycling Magazine - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 23:12
NewsBits

March 3, 2015

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania plans to stop accepting glass containers at the curb, citing the high costs of recycling the material. A commercial program will still recycle the material garnered from restaurants and bars. At the same time, the city is planning to expand the variety of plastics and fibers it accepts at the curb for recycling, and it will spend millions of dollars replacing all 50,000 residents’ recycling bins.

Former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and his fiancee, Cylvia Hayes, aroused the suspicions of workers when the pair dropped off waste at a Central Oregon landfill shortly after Kitzhaber was forced to resign over possible ethics violations. But police officers combing through the load reportedly found nothing that could be taken as evidence by state investigators – only old campaign signs and common household materials.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is working to get businesses to provide more data on their recycling efforts. The agency is working with the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants and the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association to boost participation in surveys the solid waste management districts conduct annually to determine the types and amounts of materials being recycled.

A North America-based holding company has completed its acquisition of a major aluminum recycling business. Signature Group Holdings has acquired Global Recycling and Specification Alloys, which will now be known as Real Alloy, for $525 million, according to a company press release. Real Alloy, which has about 1,600 employees in 24 plants in North America and Europe, converts aluminum scrap for use in various industries, including food and beverage packaging.

 

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Industry and supplier news

Resource Recycling Magazine - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 23:07
Industry and supplier news

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

March 3, 2015

E-scrap recycling company 3S International is finding that partnerships with other companies are yielding benefits for all of them, according to a press release. The Michigan-based company, which processes LCD monitors, has partnered with IMS Electronics, Kuusakoski Recycling and Valley City Electronic Recycling. For more, click here.

The upcoming BioCycle West Coast Conference will cover the connection between organics recycling and climate resilient communities. The conference, organized by the editors of BioCycle magazine, is scheduled for April 13-16 in Portland, Oregon. For more, click here.

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries released a video showing the contributions shredding technologies have had on the recycling industry. The 13-minute video shows shredders in action and discusses how they’ve revolutionized vehicle recycling in particular. For more, click here.

Republic Services, Inc. has purchased Iowa City-based City Carton Recycling, which contracts with the city to process recyclable materials placed in curbside bins. No changes in service or the number of employees at the former City Carton location are anticipated. For more, click here.

Waste Management is now a member of the Recycling Partnership. Run by the Curbside Value Partnership (CVP), the Recycling Partnership provides seed funding for municipalities aiming to increase curbside recycling. In announcing the news, Waste Management's Senior Public Affairs Director Susan Robinson endorsed CVP for its "ability to design solutions to overcome industry-wide problems." For more, click here.

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Industry beats sleet, gathers in Dallas

Plastics Recycling Update Magazine - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 17:00
Industry beats sleet, gathers in Dallas

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

Feb. 26, 2015

The Plastics Recycling Conference in Texas this year marked the 10th iteration of the event and drew strong attendance.

Taking place this week at the Hyatt Regency Dallas, Plastics Recycling 2015 brought in more than 1500 attendees from 40 countries. Winter Storm Quantum, which ushered in rare snowfall to the region and icy conditions at airports, caused travel delays for many attendees but networking and education heated up quickly.

Festivities kicked off on Monday with the Recycling Tech Summit from SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association and the Society of Plastics Engineers Plastics Environmental Division's "Plastics Recycling in 2015" forum. Monday evening was marked by an opening reception, hosted by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI).

Tuesday and Wednesday brought a deep lineup of presentations and panel discussions on a range of trends and topics currently affecting plastics recovery. A dialogue between leading trade association executives, a deep look at the evolution of New York City's plastic recycling efforts and an analysis of the complex relationship between recycling and corporate sustainability served as some of the highlights.

The conference's trade show, which opened a day earlier than in years past, drew nearly 200 exhibitors taking advantage of the opportunity to meet face-to-face with current and future business prospects.

Patric Pike, regional sales manager for optical sorting machine manufacturer Satake USA, said he likes the way Plastics Recycling 2015 was tied in with events from industry trade associations, bringing together customers from every corner of the industry.

"We see tons of existing customers we’d [otherwise] have to drive and spend a lot of time to see,” Pike said.

This year, company representatives were able to talk with existing and potential customers about a smaller optical sorter for plastic flake, regrind and pellets.

“It’s a great place for releasing a new product,” Pike said.

While the conference officially wrapped up Wednesday afternoon with a heated discussion on the role of mixed-waste MRFs in the plastics recycling space, many attendees are staying on for today's Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers' membership meetings and ISRI's Paper Stock Industries Specifications Summit.

The 11th Plastics Recycling Conference will be taking place in New Orleans next year. It's slated for Feb. 1-3, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency. Mark your calendars now, and check in at plasticsrecycling.com for all the latest on next year's gathering. Sponsor and exhibitor opportunities will be available starting in spring 2015.

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Trade association execs confront industry issues

Plastics Recycling Update Magazine - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 16:57
Trade association execs confront industry issues

By Dan Leif, Plastics Recycling Update

Feb. 26, 2015

Recycling professionals, it's time for you to stick up for yourselves. That was the message from one key trade association leader during the opening session at Plastics Recycling 2015.

Steve Russell, vice president of the American Chemistry Council's Plastic Department, made his rallying cry early in a 90-minute panel discussion between recycling association executives, held Tuesday morning.

After reading quotations from the New York Times and other media that voiced skepticism over the effectiveness of plastics recycling, Russell challenged the industry audience. "These are some patently false statements," he said. "But who has spoken up about it? We don't speak up enough."

The words certainly perked up many audience members recovering from long travels times and an unexpectedly icy Tuesday morning at Plastics Recycling 2015 in Dallas, and they helped set the tone for a dialogue in which Russell and the other association executives on stage did in fact speak up – on a number of issues.

The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers' Steve Alexander, for instance, on several occasions noted that packaging producers and recycling observers attach unreasonable time frames to their demands for innovation from reclaimers and other recycling players.

He said finding solutions for new materials such as flexible film pouches will come as markets progress naturally. "Society wants a silver bullet, but we don't have a 24 hour turn on that," he said. "We're the good guys. We're trying to do the right things in plastic."

Another member of the panel, Kim Holmes of SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association, made the point that if the industry can find ways to collect more robust sets of data about specific resins that will be in demand, firms can feel more comfortable putting major financial commitments behind the research and development necessary to tackle challenging streams.

The notion was in line with Alexander's point that developing effective solutions for processing takes times and resources.

"What is the demand for recycled material now, and five years from now?" she said. "Getting that back to recyclers is important so they feel comfortable making investments."

Robin Wiener, who leads the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, added that in an industry where companies are increasingly heeding the call of customers to offer a variety of recycling services, no single material should be prioritized at the expense of another.

That strategy is becoming particularly relevant as the industry confronts the recent evolution of mixed waste processing, in which recyclables and trash are all tossed in one bin and separated at a tech-reliant facility.

Wiener indicated the need for cooperation extends beyond curbside, however.

"We need to talk across commodities," Wiener said. "When we talk about increasing volumes, the volumes will come from industrial scrap, electronic scrap and other more complex streams."

In several different contexts during the conversation, the executives noted that their collective voice is becoming more about cooperation than competition.

"The organizations and leading companies in various sectors have started to work together and we're seeing a real evolution in how trust is built," ACC's Russell said. "I think maybe we've turned an important corner."

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Port agreement reached after months of deadlock

Plastics Recycling Update Magazine - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 16:54
Port agreement reached after months of deadlock

By Bobby Elliott, Plastics Recycling Update

Feb. 26, 2015

West Coast port workers have agreed to a new multi-year contract, ending more than nine months of contentious negotiations and, at least on paper, freeing up the flow of scrap recyclables for export.

While terms of the agreement have not been announced, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) announced on Feb. 20 a "tentative" five-year deal had been struck with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez stepped in earlier this month to push the two parties, who had been negotiating since May 2014, toward a resolution.

ILWU members will have to approve the new contract terms before the deal becomes official.

In response to the new deal, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) warned the labor stalemate might have "long-term consequences" for the recycling industry.

"Already facing a drop in prices, recyclers witnessed a decline in exports which left many forced to cut their workforce and set aside investments needed to grow their business," ISRI's president, Robin Wiener, said in a release. "There may still be long-term consequences we face such as lost overseas markets."

According to ISRI, exports from West Coast ports in 2014 were down 12 percent compared with 2013 levels, with the value of scrap exports worsening as the year went on.

"It's been hell," said Patty Moore, who runs the Plastic Recycling Corp. of California. She said buyers of material that would be bound for export began showing reservations six weeks ago as previously purchased material sat on the docks.

Over the last three weeks, the situation worsened. "Buyers just kind of gave up," Moore said, noting that the port dispute ultimately hurt the paper industry more than plastics because more recovered paper is sent overseas.

As negotiations continued into late October, PMA accused ILWU of staging "devastating slowdowns up and down the coast." ILWU denied those allegations.

In commenting on the resolution, Labor Secretary Perez suggested the U.S. economy as a whole will be able to recover from the port dispute.

"I think in the grand scheme, I'm confident that we can recover quickly," Perez said.

PRCC's Moore said that if the new agreement does in fact hold and material begins to move, it could take up to two months to clear the backlog of containers.

To return to the Plastics Recycling Update newsletter, click here

 

ACC: Film recycling up, non-bottle rigid plastics flat in 2013

Plastics Recycling Update Magazine - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 16:52
ACC: Film recycling up, non-bottle rigid plastics flat in 2013

By Bobby Elliott, Plastics Recycling Update

Feb. 26, 2015

Recovery of post-consumer film in 2013 rose to new heights, while China's Green Fence largely kept non-bottle rigid plastics at home, according to a pair of reports from the American Chemistry Council.

Released at the 2015 Plastics Recycling Conference in Dallas this week, ACC's seventh annual "National Postconsumer Plastics Bag & Film Recycling Report" points to an 11 percent increase in film recycling during 2013. The report was authored by Moore Recycling Associates.

"We are pleased to see such strong growth in the recycling of polyethylene wraps," Steve Russell, vice president of ACC's Plastics Department said in a release. "These increases highlight the critical role that grocers, retailers and other businesses play in collecting this valuable material."

All told, 1.14 billion pounds of film was reported recycled in 2013, with 58 percent sent abroad and the remaining 42 percent of that total sent to end users in the U.S. and Canada. While China's Green Fence "had a dramatic effect on the demand for contaminated film," the report states demand for higher value film "continued to see strong demand from both domestic and export buyers" in 2013.

Recycling of commercial clear film accounted for just about half of U.S. film recycling – 516 million pounds – and grew over 2012 levels by 10 percent. Recycling of commercial mixed color film also grew, reaching 236 million pounds (up 51 percent).

Mixed film recycling, a category that includes plastic carryout and grocery bags collected at retail and grocery locations, accounted for about a quarter of the overall recovery activity, reaching nearly 248 million pounds and increasing by 37 percent. Recycling of curbside film fell by 71 percent in 2013 and totaled just over 8 million pounds, the report states.

Nina Butler, managing director at Moore Recycling Associates, says more research needs to be done before assuming there's a correlation between increased mixed film recycling and falling curbside film recycling.

"Project plans are underway to study the impact of education on, not only the retail stream, but the curbside stream in two communities," Butler told Plastics Recycling Update. "While it's likely that instructing consumers to recycle their film packaging through retail programs is leading to less in the curbside stream, we need data to support such conclusions."

The Moore-conducted and authored "National Postconsumer Non-Bottle Rigid Plastic Recycling Report," meanwhile, suggests China's crackdown on the quality of imported material kept non-bottle rigid recycling figures from growing.

According to the report, recycling of non-bottle rigid plastics fell by 1 percent in 2013, coming in at just over 1 billion pounds.

"The slight year-over-year decrease is most likely attributable to China's Green Fence effort," the report reads. Exports were down 25 percent for the year.

The silver lining, however, is that domestic reclamation continued to grow. In 2013, 67 percent of recycled non-bottle rigid plastics was purchased for use by the U.S. or Canada, compared with 57 percent in 2012 and just 37 percent in 2007, the first year ACC began publishing its annual report.

PP accounted for the most readily recycled resin in 2013. A total of 396 million pounds of non-bottle rigid PP was reported as recycled during the year. HDPE, with 357 million pounds recycled, and PET, with 85 million pounds recycled, were the second and third most recycled resins, respectively.

Moore points out estimates for film and non-bottle rigid plastics recycling represent "minimum" figures due to the voluntary nature of the group's annual data-gathering efforts. All told, 600 companies were contacted for each study, with 175 providing data.

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Data effort in Texas leads to recycling rate, plastics info

Plastics Recycling Update Magazine - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 16:49
Data effort in Texas leads to recycling rate, plastics info

By Bobby Elliott, Plastics Recycling Update

Feb. 26, 2015

A data collecting initiative in Texas has arrived at a historically elusive figure: the Lone Star State's recycling rate. It's also led to some fresh data on plastics in Texas.

According to newly published results from the Texas Recycling Data Initiative (TRDI), the state recycled 18.9 percent of its municipal solid waste stream in 2013. Though the figure is below the national average recycling rate of roughly 34 percent, organizers say developing the number offers a starting point for future development.

"The material in our recycling bins is the next big resource boom for Texas," said Maia Corbitt, executive director of the State of Texas Alliance for Recycling (STAR), one of the co-leaders of the effort.

A voluntary but expansive effort, TRDI, under the guidance of STAR and the Lone Star Chapter of the Solid Waste Association of North America, sought out statewide recycling data from processors and end users of materials. Attention was paid to ensure double-counting of data didn't inflate the numbers and the "rigorous and conservative" recycling rate was calculated without crediting reuse, source reduction or waste-to-energy activity.

According to the report, 6.1 million tons of municipal materials were recycled during the year, leaving 26.4 million tons going to landfill. A total of 169,216 tons of plastics were reported recycled.

To arrive at that number, TRDI crunched numbers it received from 36 facilities across the state, including 25 commercial MRFs and two plastics reclaimers. Eight reclaimers did not respond to the survey.

According to the report, most plastics flow through local and commercial MRFs in the state.

On the workforce side, the report found just under 12,700 Texans are employed by the industry either through direct, indirect or induced means.

The Georgia Recycling Coalition chronicled its own data-mining project in a feature-length article that is in the March 2015 issue of Resource Recycling magazine.

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ISRI adds plastics specs

Plastics Recycling Update Magazine - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 16:47
ISRI adds plastics specs

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

Feb. 26, 2015

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries has added nine new plastics specs to its "Scraps Specifications Circular" document.

The additions were unveiled by ISRI during Plastics Recycling 2015 in Dallas.

"The nine new plastics specs were designed to give definition and clarity in the plastics film market," Robin Wiener, president of ISRI, said in the announcement. “As the market for recycled plastics film evolved, ISRI members recognized the need for our specification to reflect their needs and were the driving force behind their adoption."

The new specs are as follows:

  • Premium Film: This grade consists of 100 percent clean, clear, dry, post-industrial film consisting of LLDPE film or LDPE film;
  • A+ Grade Film: This grade consists of 99 percent clean, clear, dry, post-commercial and/or post-industrial film consisting of LLDPE pallet stretch film. May contain small amount of LDPE film;
  • A Grade Film: This grade consists of 95 percent clean, dry, clear, natural LDPE or LLDPE film. Any mix of post commercial or post-industrial film. Minimal amount of HDPE allowed;
  • B Grade Film: This grade consists of 80 percent clear, up to 20 percent color, clean, natural LDPE and/or LLDPE films. Any mix of post-commercial or post-industrial film is allowed. Minimal amounts HDPE or strapping allowed;
  • C Grade Film: This grade consists of 50 percent clear, 50 percent color, dry, LDPE or LLDPE films. Can be any mix of post-commercial or post-industrial film. HDPE or PP films are allowed;
  • MRF Film: Film collected and sorted at a MRF, typically generated from curbside collections consisting of HDPE grocery/retail bags, LDPE, or LLDPE films;
  • Grocery Film: Any mix of clean, dry, grocery, retail, packaging film or dry cleaner bags collected from store return programs. Bales may contain HDPE, LLDPE or LDPE films combined;
  • Agricultural Greenhouse Film: Films not used on the ground for agriculture or farming. Examples of which may be bale wrap, greenhouse films, dairy bags and bunker silo films which are polyethylene based; and
  • Agricultural Ground Cover Film: Any film collected after in field use. Examples of which may be mulch film and irrigation (drip) tubing which is polyethylene based.

ISRI's "Scraps Specifications Circular" is aimed at providing guidance for buyers of scrap materials. It can be viewed here.

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PetroChem Wire: Prime PET producers eye March rise, rPET Price Holds

Plastics Recycling Update Magazine - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 16:42
PetroChem Wire: Prime PET producers eye March rise, rPET Price Holds

Feb. 26, 2015

Prime PET prices notched up during the third week in February, with spot business done at 57.5 to 58.5 cents per pound delivered Midwest. Prime PET producers announced an increase of as much as 4 cents per pound for March deliveries.

Recycled PET FDA sanctioned clear pellets, assessed FOB US East Coast, were holding at 68 to 69 cents per pound mid-month, at least a 10 cents per pound premium over prime material.

On the West Coast, the work slowdown at ports disrupted loadings of PET bales for export in recent weeks and drove PET bale prices lower. Southern California PET bale prices fell 0.5 to 1.0 cents per pound last week to 18.5 to 19.75 cents per pound FOB LA/Long Beach.

For a free trial to the Repro/Regrind Resin Report or to see sample issues of all PCW reports visit the PetroChem Wire website at www.petrochemwire.com. You can also contact Cindy Bryan at cindy@petrochemwire.com or (713) 385-1407.

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NewsBits

Plastics Recycling Update Magazine - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 16:39
NewsBits

Feb. 26, 2015

Voters in California will now decide the fate of the nation's first statewide plastic bag ban. After being signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2014, the American Progressive Bag Alliance successfully gathered and qualified more than 500,000 signatures to suspend the law from going into effect later this year and include the issue on the November 2016 ballot. Supporters of the ban have expressed confidence that Californians will go ahead with the ban anyway.

The National Plastics Center has awarded the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) $200,000 to put toward its PlastiVan education effort. SPE's mobile program visits schools across North America to explain the chemistry behind plastics, the nuts and bolts behind making resin and the value and importance of sustainability for the industry.

Austrian equipment maker Erema has launched a sister company called Pure Loop. Erema says Pure Loop will "specialize exclusively in the recycling of clean production wastes using shredder/extruder technology."

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