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NYC considers pay-as-you-throw program

New York City is considering a pay-as-you-throw program to reduce waste disposal costs, a report by CBS New York says. The proposed plan’s goal is to mitigate the $300 million-per-year cost of shipping waste from the Hamilton Avenue Transfer Station in Brooklyn out of state.

The New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) has hired a consultant for $1 million to design the program. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) website, a pay-as-you-throw program charges residents for municipal solid waste (MSW) collection based on the amount they place on the curb for pickup, creating an economic incentive to divert recyclables and generate less waste.

According to the report, the city would charge single-family homeowners, renters and co-op and condo owners a price to dispose of their MSW. While the city has yet to determine a price, there are currently 1,200 other cities that charge residents $40 to $50 per month using different strategies.

Katheryn Garcia, the city’s sanitation commissioner, says in the report that some municipalities use cans, bags, tags or measure the amount of waste collected by a resident by weight. Garcia says in the report that, if the program is implemented, she could not promise a reduction in resident’s property taxes.

The consultant is expected to release a more formal proposal for the program within a year.

Baltimore uses smart trash compactors to cut down on waste

The city of Baltimore is planning on making waste collection easier and more efficient for sanitation workers through the deployment of 4,000 smart waste bins throughout the city, a report by Government Technology says.

The city’s board of estimates approved a $15 million deal with Seoul, South Korea-based Ecube Labs Co., Jan. 24 that will see the sensor-enabled, solar-powered CleanCUBE bins placed in strategic locations around Baltimore in three phases.

According to Ecube Labs, the CleanCUBE is a solar-powered trash compactor that can hold up to eight times more waste than a traditional bin, reducing collection frequency up to 80 percent. The bins also communicate wirelessly through cloud-based monitoring software, designed for more intuitive servicing.

In the first phase of deployment, Ecube Labs is installing 150 bins in the city’s Baltimore Gateway area during the first quarter of 2018. The second stage, occurring in the second half of 2018, will introduce double the bins. In the second and third stages, the bins will be introduced to the city’s business districts and at bus stops.

The coverage is expected to make a noticeable impact in how area waste bins are monitored and serviced.

“The cans come with Wi-Fi. We will utilize this capability to allow the can to transmit information, including how full it is, so we can offer as-needed servicing of the cans,” Jeffrey Raymond, chief communications spokesman for the Baltimore Department of Public Works, tells Government Technology.

“We are very pleased to receive the contract from the city of Baltimore,” Michael Son, chief financial officer, Ecube Labs says. “We strongly believe that Ecube Labs’ technology will increase the city’s waste collection efficiency tremendously, as one CleanCUBE is just as effective as six traditional trash receptacles that are already out on Baltimore’s streets. The contract will also allow Ecube Labs to grow in the United States and set up a new office along the East Coast.”

In a release, Ecube Labs called the deal “the largest smart waste bin deployment in global history.”

Commercial glass recycling program kicks off in Nashville, Tennessee

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The Department of Public Works in Nashville, Tennessee, has kicked off a new glass bottle recycling program that has partnered with 20 restaurants and bars in the Lower Broadway district, according to a Fox 17 report.

The first phase of the program started in January 2018. The project is aimed at combating what Nashville Mayor Megan Barry identified as “significant glass bottle waste” after she toured local restaurants, the report says.

Public Works predicts about two-thirds of the more than 6,600 tons of trash collected in downtown Nashville in 2017 was glass.

“Lower Broadway has become an international tourist destination, and long-neck bottles are now synonymous with the honky-tonk experience,” Barry says in the report. “For too long, we’ve had to throw away glass that could have been recycled and repurposed. This program is like no other, and we are excited to lead the charge toward a more sustainable city.”

Barry says Nashville’s record tourism has contributed to the accumulation.

Sharon Smith, assistant director at Metro Public Works, told Fox 17, “Last fiscal year, a record of more than 6,600 tons of trash was produced downtown, and we estimate that about two-thirds of that was glass. This will take a significant amount of glass out of the waste stream, where we’re not sending it all to the landfill anymore.”

Public Works is using two new trucks to pick up glass bottles twice a day, seven days a week, Fox 17 reports. The department says it is researching ways to reuse and recycle the glass locally.

Train carrying members of Congress kills waste collection worker

An Amtrak train carrying dozens of members of Congress crashed into a garbage truck stuck on the tracks the morning of Jan. 31 while traveling in Virginia. The crash resulted in the death of one collection worker, CNN reports.

The train was taking the members of Congress to a legislative retreat in West Virginia when the crash occurred. One collection worker was killed, and six other patients were transported to UVA Medical Center in Charlottesville, Virginia.

There were three workers in the truck at the time of the collision. The driver, who was in serious condition, was among the six taken to the hospital, CNN reports. The third worker sustained minor injuries. Two train crew members and three train passengers sustained minor injuries as well.

According to CNN’s reports, eyewitnesses told National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators that the driver was seen trying to snake the truck through the crossing gates before it was struck. The gates were reportedly working and flashing warning lights at the time of the incident.

David Biderman, executive director and CEO of the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), Silver Spring, Maryland, released the following statement concerning the accident:

“SWANA sends its deepest sympathy to the victims involved in today’s tragic incident in Virginia. The investigation is ongoing as to how the crash occurred and we owe it to all involved not to assume causes. However, there are several incidents each year in which garbage trucks and trains collide, sometimes because of a malfunction, other times because of poor judgement. Too often, these incidents have tragic consequences. Because this incident involved a train carrying members of Congress, it is a national and international story. The identity of the train’s passengers must not overshadow that incidents where solid waste workers are killed on the job occur far too frequently; this is the sixth occurrence in the United States in the month of January. SWANA is committed to improving the waste industry’s safety record and preventing tragic incidents like today’s through education, communication and training. Nothing we do is more important.”

Meridian Waste Solutions sells solid waste group assets

Meridian Waste Solutions Inc., Atlanta, has announced its execution of a definitive agreement to sell the equity interest of its wholly owned subsidiaries that house its solid waste group to Warren Equity Partners Fund II in exchange for approximately $87 million in debt assumption and $3 million in cash.

Meridian’s business has historically been comprised of its solid waste collection, transfer and disposal services. However, the company recently began to shift its focus to the growth of its technology units, including biomass and health care technology services. Meridian says it has identified several additional acquisition opportunities for value creation at rates that are greater than its solid waste business.

While the solid waste business has driven much of the company’s growth to date, Meridian says the associated debt burden of $95 million, the liquidity required to service that debt at $11 million per year and the substantial capital expenditure needs of the business restrict its ability to allocate capital to new and more profitable initiatives.

“We were able to scale and grow our solid waste unit very rapidly, but the associated debt burden and cash needs were a bottleneck in restricting our access to cost-effective sources of growth capital,” Jeff Cosman, Meridian’s CEO, says. “Thus, we developed a strategic plan to reduce debt and improve margins and liquidity in ways that are accretive to the company’s value, thereby enabling the company to access and use more growth capital at improved rates of return. The removal of this debt and capital needs provides us the flexibility to pursue higher growth opportunities to grow at a much faster pace in our innovative technology, biomass and technology groups.

Cosman says Meridian plans to rebrand as Attis Industries Inc., and its remaining assets can generate $3 million in pretax earnings in 2018, or 15 cents per common share.

“We also believe that reducing our debt load by more than 90 percent paves the way for us to aggressively pursue several acquisitions that we’re currently evaluating,” he says. “We believe that by removing this debt bottleneck, we are placing ourselves in a much stronger position for all of our stakeholders.”