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Recycling Today Staff December 9, 2013

MUNICIPAL RECYCLING

Chicago Nears Completion of Citywide Recycling Expansion

In late October, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that the city’s blue cart recycling program was in the final week of cart delivery, completing the expansion of recycling services to more than 600,000 Chicago households citywide.

“With the final phase of the blue cart recycling expansion, Chicago is no longer the tale of two cities when it comes to recycling,” says Emanuel. “Recycling is now a reality for every neighborhood in every community, and we have made Chicago a greener, more environmentally friendly city,” the mayor adds.

In 2011, Emanuel implemented a managed competition for recycling services in an effort to create efficiencies and to reduce operational costs on behalf of taxpayers. In one year, the competition decreased recycling costs by $4.7 million and paved the way for the citywide expansion.

The blue cart recycling program provides biweekly recycling collection services to residents who live in single-family homes as well as to those in two-, three- and four-flat buildings.

More than 72,000 residents who live within the boundaries of the final expansion phase began receiving carts Oct. 7, 2013, with deliveries scheduled to be completed by Oct. 26.

Recycling collection services for the city were scheduled to begin by the end of October. Service providers include the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation, Sims Municipal Recycling and Waste Management. Recyclables are to be picked up and transported in designated recycling trucks to avoid contamination with regular garbage, according to a press release issued by the city.
 

PLASTICS

CarbonLite to Open Bottle-to-Bottle Recycling Plant in Texas

CarbonLite, based in Riverside, Calif., has announced plans to build a bottle-to-bottle recycling plant in Abilene, Texas. The company says it will process used plastic beverage bottles into food-grade raw material that will be used to make new bottles. When fully operational, the $40-million facility will employ 100 people. The plant will process roughly 1.6 billion used bottles (80 million pounds) annually, according to the company.

CarbonLite says it expects to break ground before year end with production scheduled to begin in late 2014.

The company says it expects a major customer of the plant to be Stamford, Conn.-based Nestlé Waters North America, which will use the recycled plastic bottles for its Ozarka brand 100-percent-natural spring water bottled in Texas.

“Nestlé Waters’ decision to expand its recycled-content program into Texas played an important role in CarbonLite choosing Texas for our next plant in North America,” says Neville Browne, CarbonLite president. “We already supply Nestlé Waters from our flagship facility in Riverside, Calif., so the transition into Texas will be seamless. We believe other major beverage companies will follow the lead of Nestlé Waters. Ever-increasing recycled content is the only real answer to the challenges facing single-use plastic bottles. The most sustainable bottle of all is the one made from earlier generations of itself.”

CarbonLite provides the recycled plastic for Nestlé Waters North America’s half-liter Arrowhead ReBorn water bottles made with 50-percent-recycled content.

CarbonLite’s first recycling plant, a 220,000-square-foot facility operating in Riverside, processes more than 2 billion used plastic bottles annually.
 

METALS

Exide to Update California Battery Recycling Plant

Exide Technologies, headquartered in Milton, Ga., has announced plans to invest more than $7 million over the next two years to upgrade its Vernon, Calif., battery recycling plant as part of an agreement with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).

According to Exide, the capital investments are designed to improve the Vernon plant’s compliance with environmental standards and to reduce air emissions well below regulatory thresholds. The planned expenditures will bring Exide’s total investment in environmental upgrades at the Vernon plant since 2008 to more than $18 million. “We continue to strive to make our Vernon plant a premier recycling facility and consider the health and safety of the community and our workforce a top priority,” says Robert Caruso, Exide president and CEO. “Exide has taken aggressive steps to install new equipment at the plant, and those efforts have paid off in substantially reducing emissions.”

Exide says it will replace on-site underground stormwater piping with a more advanced double-walled system at a cost of more than $4 million. Construction is expected to be complete by the end of the year, the company says.

According to Exide, additional high-efficiency filters will be installed to reduce emissions. Later, a separate device to cut organic emissions will be added. Exide says it began furnace modifications early this year to reduce arsenic emissions. Preliminary tests in April showed arsenic levels below regulatory thresholds, the company says. When the remaining installation is completed next summer, at a cost of more than $2.5 million, emissions are expected to be reduced further, the company reports.

The Vernon plant recycles about 25,000 lead-acid batteries daily and 8 million per year.
 

REGULATIONS

California Governor Vetoes Metal Theft Bill

California Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed Assembly Bill 841 (AB 841), which would have required recyclers to pay for scrap metal purchases by checks mailed to the sellers. The bill was enrolled in the California Senate Aug. 28, 2013.

In a letter explaining his decision, Brown acknowledges that nonferrous metal theft has reached epidemic proportions throughout the U.S., and that he signed four bills in the last year in an effort to reduce it.

“Existing law requires that a seller wait three days before receiving payment for metal materials; a written record of the transaction; the name, driver’s license number, license plate number [and] thumbprint of the seller; and a photograph or video of the seller and the material being sold. How much more do you need?” Brown asks.

Instead of passing another law, the state should focus on enforcing existing metal theft laws, he writes.

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), based in Washington, D.C., commended the governor for recognizing the need for more enforcement of current laws before additional laws that could harm the industry are added to the books.

Brown’s refusal to sign the bill followed a similar response by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to metals theft legislation, ISRI writes.

“Gov. Brown correctly pointed out that the problem is not a lack of metals theft laws but a lack of enforcement,” says Robin Wiener, president of ISRI.

METALS

Ormet Closes Ohio Aluminum Smelter

The aluminum smelting firm Ormet, Hannibal, Ohio, has announced that following an Oct. 2, 2013, ruling by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) denying the aluminum producer a request for an energy transition plan, it will close its aluminum smelter, in Hannibal. Ormet sought an arrangement that would have allowed it to operate while constructing an on-site natural-gas-based power generation facility.

Ormet says, in light of PUCO’s decision, it will not be able to emerge from bankruptcy protection and will immediately shut down operations. The company also reports that it filed for bankruptcy protection Feb. 25, 2013, in light of low metal prices and exceedingly high and uncontrollable power costs. The Ohio Power industrial rate, which establishes the base rate for Ormet to procure power, has increased from $39.66 per megawatt hour (MWh), when the unique arrangement was established in 2009, to $60.83 per MWh in September 2013, an increase of more than 53 percent. During the same period, wholesale power costs in the region have decreased by more than 10 percent, the company says.

According to Ormet, the arrangement was created as an economic incentive to maintain and create jobs, which Ormet has successfully done to date.

Mike Tanchuk, Ormet president and CEO, says, “The economic impact of PUCO’s decision is simply a restructuring of the existing economic incentives already pledged to Ormet for maintaining the jobs and does not address the continued rate increases from AEP. It is not sufficient to maintain, let alone increase, operating levels at Hannibal and begin construction of an onsite power plant.”

He continues, “The chairman and one of the commissioners went out of their way to insult Ormet’s efforts to reduce costs. I want to set the record straight and recognize that the USW (United Steel Workers) and secured creditors have coordinated in a collaborative effort with the company to reduce the company’s financial liabilities by almost $300 million. The PUCO commissioners never mentioned in their comments that Ohio’s energy policy transition to market has massively increased energy costs and is misguided.”

Countering Ormet’s assertion, PUCO Chairman Todd Snitchler says Ormet’s request was based on its assertion that with the additional requested assistance it would be able to achieve prosperity and would no longer need to be subsidized by other ratepayers.

While acknowledging Ormet’s importance to the community, the commission reached a decision that it says balanced Ormet’s needs and the fairness of other AEP-Ohio ratepayers. “While several federal, state and local elected officials from the region have urged the commission to do more, today’s order reflects what is justifiable given the above mentioned considerations. However, I encourage these officials to contemplate what can be done through their authority to do more for Ormet if they feel more is appropriate,” Snitchler says.

“Today’s order grants Ormet some of what is requested in the June 14 Motion to Amend, or as it would be more appropriately captioned, an application for a new unique rate arrangement,” he continues. “In its request, Ormet requested substantially greater assistance from ratepayers, and, based on the record, that additional assistance was valued at between $56 and $119 million. This additional assistance is over and above the $308 million already awarded to Ormet in 2009, of which $232 million in rate subsidies and an additional $27 million in deferrals granted in 2012, and up to another $10.5 million in deferrals granted this summer to ensure continued operations during the pendency of this proceeding have already been consumed. In total, the commission has already approved $346 million in financial support to Ormet over the past four years,” Snitchler says. “This rate keeps Ormet’s pricing in line with the other large industrial customers and strikes the right balance of support and maintaining jobs without unduly burdening other ratepayers.”

Steve Lesser, another PUCO commissioner, expressed disappointment that Ormet failed to meet its corporate responsibility as promised and testified to in prior proceedings before the commission. Despite this, Lesser says, “Ormet returns with a new set of promises and scenarios that require new and accelerated financial support to keep the company afloat.”

Further, he says, despite various expressions of support from federal, local and even West Virginia officials, there have been no offers to share the financial burden of subsidizing Ormet’s electric rate.
 

ELECTRONICS

WeRecycle! Rebrands as Hugo Neu Recycling

New York-based Hugo Neu Corp. has announced that its electronics recycling subsidiary, WeRecycle!, has changed its name to Hugo Neu Recycling, effective immediately.

WeRecycle!, based in Westchester County, N.Y., is an electronics recycling company with expertise that ranges from statewide legislative collections and downstream recycling for other asset managers to enterprise-wide electronics recycling. Hugo Neu Corp. acquired WeRecycle! in July 2009.

Wendy Kelman Neu, chairman and CEO of Hugo Neu Corp., says, “Over time, WeRecycle! has become a closer part of the Hugo Neu family, so it made perfect sense to rebrand the company.”

Alan Ratner, president of Hugo Neu Recycling, says, “Our new name reinforces the strength, security and commitment to best practices that are the hallmark of the Hugo Neu brand. We look forward to continuing to serve our current customers, and many new customers, as Hugo Neu Recycling.”

Hugo Neu Recycling says it was among the leaders in the effort to create the e-Stewards certification standards and principles, and its management serves on the e-Stewards leadership council. It is a founding member of the Coalition for American Electronics Recycling (CAER) and has been working to pass the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act (RERA) of 2013. The company’s operations also are certified to ISO 14001 and by the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID), Phoenix.
 

MUNICIPAL

WasteZero to Expand in South Carolina

WasteZero, a firm that provides solid waste reduction programs to municipalities, has announced plans to expand its Hemingway, S.C., operations. WasteZero says it expects to invest $3.1 million and to add 27 new jobs when the expansion is completed. South Carolina’s Coordinating Council for Economic Development approved a rural infrastructure grant of $125,000 for the project.

Mark Dancy, president of WasteZero, says, “We are excited about the opportunity to expand our operations at our Hemingway plant. South Carolina’s pro-business environment and skilled and dependable workforce has enabled us to grow.”

The expansion will include the addition of 10,000 square feet of manufacturing space. WasteZero says it expects to complete the expansion in early 2014.
 

PLASTICS

PET Container Recycling Rate Tops 30 Percent in 2012

The National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR), Sonoma, Calif., and the Association of Postconsumer Plastics Recyclers (APR), Washington, D.C., have released their “Report on Postconsumer PET Container Recycling Activity in 2012,” which cites a 2012 U.S. recycling rate of 30.8 percent for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic containers.

NAPCOR and APR report the total volume of postconsumer PET bottles collected was the highest reported to date at 1.72 billion pounds, as were the total amount of recycled PET (rPET) produced by U.S. reclaimers at 930 million pounds and the amount used across major domestic end market segments at 1.3 billion pounds.

“The increase in the PET recycling rate is clear evidence of continued strong, domestic end-market demand for recycled PET, and we believe there’s considerable scope for the U.S. industry to readily absorb more recycled PET material if available. This strong demand continues to drive domestic investment, and it fuels jobs and related economic growth,” says Tom Busard, chairman of NAPCOR and APR and chief procurement officer for Plastipak Packaging Inc. and president of Clean Tech, Plastipak’s recycling affiliate. “In 2012, we saw significant increases in recycled PET use in fiber, sheet and film, food and beverage bottles and strapping end-market categories in the United States.”

Another positive trend noted in the report is the increase in domestic reclaiming of PET bottles, with fewer bottles being exported. The report shows that export volumes have been declining since reaching a peak in 2008, with 2012 data reflecting the lowest volume sold to export markets since 2005; and at 34 percent, the lowest percentage since 2001 relative to the total volume of PET collected.

Despite the positive developments, NAPCOR and APR acknowledge industry challenges. While volumes were up in 2012, the supply of rPET failed to keep pace with demand. The U.S. reclamation infrastructure has seen significant investment in recent years, with total 2012 capacity estimated at more than 2 billion pounds, but it continues to be underused. Domestic PET reclamation plants collectively are operating at only an estimated 63 percent of capacity.

Continuing a trend noted in the joint report titled “2011 Report of Postconsumer PET Container Recycling Activity,” declining bale yield—the amount of usable PET at the end of the reclaiming process—remained another critical issue for reclaimers, particularly related to baled PET bottles collected at curbside. Packaging innovations not compatible with PET recycling, such as full-wrap shrink labels, also continued to contribute to yield loss.

This is the eighth year that NAPCOR and the APR have partnered to produce this report and the 18th year that it has been issued by NAPCOR in its current format. The “Report on Postconsumer PET Container Recycling Activity in 2012” can be found on the NAPCOR and APR websites, www.napcor.com and www.plasticsrecycling.org.

Photo © Jonas Marcos San Luis | Dreamstime.com
 

TRANSPORTATION

Shipping Lines Call for Rate Hikes

Shipping lines in the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement (TSA) Westbound section are calling for rate increases in a number of commodity categories, citing recent rate erosion as the reason.

To compensate for rate declines, the TSA Westbound section has adopted minimum guideline increases of $100 per 40-foot container (FEU) via U.S. West Coast ports, $200 per FEU via East and Gulf Coast ports and $100 per FEU for intermodal shipments for six commodities: recovered fiber, scrap metal, plastic scrap and resin, lumber and logs, hay and agricultural products. The increases were to go into effect by Nov. 15, 2013.

In the case of recovered fiber, shipping lines also have adopted guideline minimum rate levels via California ports that may lead to increases.

Brian Conrad, TSA executive administrator, says the guideline is intended to be flexible. “At the end of the day, member lines are looking for increases of at least the levels in the guideline GRI (general rate increase),” he says.
 

PLASTICS

Plastics Recycler Expands South Carolina Plant

Palmetto Synthetics, a producer of staple fiber, has announced plans to invest about $1.1 million to expand its existing plastics recycling operations in Kingstree, S.C. The company, which is based in Kingstree and handles polyester, nylon and other specialty polymers, expanded the facility previously in 2008 and in 2010.

The company says the expansion includes the addition of a second recycling facility and the construction of a 25,000-square-foot warehouse and is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Henry Poston, president of Palmetto Synthetics, says, “We are pleased with the opportunity to expand our operations here in Williamsburg County. South Carolina has provided us with an excellent business environment and a talented workforce.”

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley says, “We celebrate Palmetto Synthetics’ decision to invest $1.1 million and add 20 new jobs.”

The S.C. Coordinating Council for Economic Development approved a rural infrastructure grant of $100,000 for improvements.
 

METALS

Pritzker Organization Completes Deal for TMS International

Pittsburgh-based TMS International Corp. and The Pritzker Organization LLC, Chicago, have announced the completion of the acquisition of TMS by business interests of Thomas Pritzker and Gigi Pritzker in an all-cash transaction with an enterprise value of about $1 billion.

TMS International, through its subsidiaries, including Tube City IMS Corp., says it is the largest provider of outsourced industrial services to steel mills in North America as measured by revenue. The company provides mill services at 81 customer sites in 12 countries and operates 36 brokerage offices.

When the deal was announced in August, Raymond Kalouche, president and CEO of TMS, said, “We have built a world-class, outsourced industrial services company over the past six years during our partnership with Onex. With this transaction, we are pleased to be able to maximize stockholder returns while positioning ourselves to continue to deliver exceptional value for our customers and expand our global operations.”

Stockholders are entitled to receive $17.50 in cash, without interest, less applicable taxes, for each share of TMS common stock they own. As a result of the merger, TMS shares will no longer be listed for trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
 

AUTO RECYCLING

Pull-A-Part Acquires Texas Auto Recycler

Atlanta-based Pull-A-Part LLC has acquired the El Paso, Texas, location of Mega U Pull, a self-service auto recycling yard, giving the company its second operation in Texas. The company also operates a facility in Brownsville, Texas. The acquisition increases Pull-A-Part’s holdings to 26 used auto parts facilities in 12 states.

“The addition of Mega U Pull in El Paso to the Pull-A-Part growing network of stores expands our presence in the southwestern market and supports the Pull-A-Part strategy of acquiring outstanding existing operations or selectively developing greenfield locations across the country,” says Ross Kogon, president and CEO of Pull-A-Part.
 

ELECTRONICS

Ingram Micro Acquires CloudBlue

Ingram Micro, a Santa Ana, Calif.-based technology firm, has acquired CloudBlue Technologies Inc., an electronics recycling firm based in Norcross, Ga. CloudBlue, founded in 2008, serves more than 1,000 customers.

Ingram Micro says CloudBlue will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary. Ken Beyer, former CEO and co-founder of CloudBlue, has been named vice president of Ingram Micro and president of CloudBlue.

“Today, data security and environmental responsibility are at the forefront of corporate priorities,” says Alain Monié, Ingram Micro president and CEO. “The addition of CloudBlue to Ingram Micro allows us to meaningfully expand our supply chain solutions portfolio with a full suite of in-demand services that reduce the risk, cost and complexity associated with securely managing IT assets and consumer electronics throughout their life cycle.”

“In addition to cross-sell opportunities into Ingram Micro’s OEM partners and existing base of more than 200,000 customers, we expect to benefit from new revenue opportunities within CloudBlue’s existing blue-chip customer base,” Monié adds.

“We are excited to join Ingram Micro and believe this combination will benefit CloudBlue employees, customers and partners alike,” says Beyer. “Ingram Micro recognizes the importance of cultivating a welcoming and dynamic workplace.”
 

METALS

United Milwaukee Scrap and Schulz’s Recycling Merge Operations

United Milwaukee Scrap LLC (UMS), based in Milwaukee, has merged operations with Schulz’s Recycling Inc., Merrill, Wis., to create a new company with eight locations across Wisconsin as well as additional offices in Minneapolis and Boston. The companies will retain their respective names. Jeff Isroff, president of Schulz’s Recycling, serves as CEO of the company.

“This merger provides us with an extraordinary opportunity to better serve the expanding needs of our customers and provide further opportunity to our employees,” says Isroff. “This new, larger organization will allow us to attract new talent, broaden our products and commodities and expand our geographical reach.
 

METALS

TJN Enterprises Breaks Ground in South Dakota

TJN Enterprises, a joint venture between Shine Bros. Corp. of Spencer, Iowa, and Sioux City Compressed Steel, Sioux City, Iowa, has broken ground on its newest scrap metal recycling facility, a 20-acre site in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The company presently has a small scrap metal yard in the city but is planning to build a second scrap metal facility because of population growth in the area.

TJN says its original 5-acre site in Sioux Falls has been hampered by its relatively small size. The new facility will give the company about five times more space for handling ferrous and nonferrous scrap.

TJN presently operates scrap yards in Sioux Falls, Watertown, Aberdeen and Yankton, S.D.; Worthington, Minn.; and Estherville, Iowa.

David Bernstein, a spokesman for TJN, says construction at the new facility, which is expected to be completed by the third quarter of next year, will include an 80,000-square-foot building for nonferrous processing, a two-story office building and outdoor space where storage and processing will take place. The company says it expects to invest from $10 million to $15 million on the project.

TJN reports that the site has direct rail access and will offer car flatting services. The location will accept scrap metal from industrial and retail sources. A shear and baling equipment also are expected to be installed at the facility. When operational, the location will employ about 60 people, the company says.

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