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Bulk Handling Systems
3592 West 5th Avenue
Eugene, OR 97402
Cascades Inc., Kingsey Falls, Quebec, has released its third quarter of 2019 earnings results for the three-month period ended Sept. 30. The company achieved sales of about $1.26 billion in the quarter compared with $1.28 billion in the second quarter of 2019 and $1.18 billion in the third quarter of 2018.
According to a news release from Cascades, the company achieved operating income of about $135 million in the third quarter of 2019 compared with $82 million in the second quarter of 2019 and $78 million in the third quarter of 2018. Also, operating income before depreciation and amortization (OIBD) was $208 million in the third quarter of 2019.
“Cascades delivered solid consolidated third-quarter 2019 results, as demonstrated by the 24.9 percent OIBD margin realized by the Containerboard segment,” says Mario Plourde, president and chief executive officer at Cascades, regarding the company’s third-quarter earnings results.
Plourde says the company benefited this quarter from “favorable raw material pricing” and “customary seasonal demand levels” across the company’s platforms; however, he says there was some softness in containerboard and European boxboard end pricing. He adds that the company’s Tissue segment delivered strong year-over-year and sequential financial improvements with “positive raw material costs and selling price levels providing additional support for the benefits being derived from ongoing growth investments and initiatives in this segment.”
Looking ahead, Plourde says the company is well positioned to generate solid annual adjusted OIBD in 2019, with results after the first three quarters of this year about 15 percent above full-year 2017 performance and about equal to 92 percent of full-year 2018 adjusted OIBD performance.
“On a consolidated basis we expect fourth quarter results to improve year-over-year, with operational enhancements in tissue and favorable raw material pricing mitigating the usual seasonal trends across our business platforms,” Plourde says in a news release on the company’s latest earnings report. “On a segmented basis, near-term results in Containerboard are expected to decrease sequentially and be stable year-over-year reflecting a combination of usual seasonality and market dynamics.
“Tissue results are expected to show important year-over-year improvements in the fourth quarter, while sequential performance will be down reflecting the usual seasonal trends,” he continues. “European Boxboard performance is expected to slightly decrease sequentially but improve year-over-year as a result of lower raw material costs and a modest recovery in volume. Lastly, we anticipate stable results in Specialty Products year-over-year and a slight decrease sequentially, as the impact of lower recycled fiber prices on recovery operations and seasonality in packaging are expected to be offset by stable selling prices and beneficial raw material costs in packaging.”
During the company’s third-quarter 2019 earnings report conference call, the company reported that its Recovery business unit has been affected by low recovered fiber prices. The company noted that segment remains primarily focused on supplying the company’s mills with recovered fiber.
On the call, the company stated that it has noticed a “significant change” in old corrugated container (OCC) prices in particular. OCC prices dipped again at the start of November, and the company reported on the call that it expects the price of old corrugated containers (OCC) to be “close to a bottom price.”
Mergers and acquisitions, closures
During the third quarter of 2019, Cascades also concluded the acquisition of Orchids Paper Products for a total cash consideration of $237 million on Sept. 13. The assets acquired included the Barnwell, South Carolina, and Pryor, Oklahoma, operations, as well as certain other assets, including amended supply and other commercial arrangements with Fabrica de Papel San Francisco, S.A. de C.V., based in Mexicali, Mexico, and certain of its affiliates. The company reports that it expects an annual OIBD run rate of about $45 million from this asset by 2021.
In addition, the company had announced on Oct. 30 plans to close two tissue converting facilities in the U.S. by March 2020. Plourde says the closure of these two facilities is part of the company’s “strategic repositioning and optimization efforts in the Tissue segment.”
As part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) efforts to help communities address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) under the PFAS Action Plan, the agency announced it is releasing the Systematic Review Protocol for five PFAS toxicity assessments for a 45-day public comment period. The assessments are being developed under the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program. In addition to these assessments, EPA sent two regulatory proposals on PFAS for interagency review in September. By the end of the year, EPA will issue its proposed regulatory determination for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and PFAS, which is the next step in the drinking water standard setting process outlined in the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).
“EPA is following through on its commitment under the PFAS Action Plan to begin the IRIS process to identify the public health risks associated with a new set of PFAS,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler says. “Today’s action seeks the public’s input on our approach to address five individual PFAS. This is another step in EPA’s commitment to proactively, and collaboratively, tackle PFAS and provide the necessary tools to assist our communities with the tools and information they need to better monitor, detect and address PFAS.”
The Systematic Review Protocol EPA is issuing is not a toxicity assessment itself, it instead describes how the five IRIS assessments will be conducted, including specific procedures and approaches. The five PFAS EPA is focusing on under this protocol are: perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA), perfluorohexanesulfonate (PFHxS), and perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA). Though the Systematic Review Protocol summarizes the methods in one document, there will be five separate IRIS assessments.
The IRIS assessments will identify the potential human health effects from exposure to each assessed PFAS and will develop toxicity values, as supported by the available evidence. Depending on data availability, the assessments will evaluate both cancer and noncancer effects, including potential effects on the endocrine, hepatic, urinary, immune, developmental and reproductive systems. Systematic review protocols are released early in the IRIS assessment development process as an added effort to increase transparency, and to allow the public and stakeholders to understand how an assessment will be conducted. This includes defining what procedures will be used and describing any anticipated areas of scientific complexity that will be important to address in the toxicity assessment.
This Systematic Review Protocol will be available for a 45-day public comment period. Public input received on the protocol is considered during preparation of the draft assessments and any adjustments made to the protocol will be reflected in an updated version released in conjunction with the public release of the draft assessments.
Additional information is available online.
The Virginia Recycling Association (VRA) honored several waste reduction and recycling programs at its annual luncheon meeting Oct. 30 in Charlottesville.
Awards were given in three categories:
This year’s award winners were selected from nine nominations and represented the best of recycling innovation, education and community engagement from across Virginia, according to a VRA news release.
Recycle Right Alexandria, Show Me the Way award winner
Alexandria, Virginia, developed an online, interactive game that teaches children ages seven and up to properly sort their recyclables, yard waste and trash using city services. Players match discarded household items, including paint, food waste and aluminum cans, with the appropriate city service and build their own digital Alexandria park in the process.
After completing all five levels of the game, players can print out a certificate of achievement. Residents who snapped a picture of themselves with their certificate and shared it on social media were entered into a contest to win items to help them reduce and divert waste, including a reusable tote bag, reusable water bottle or a compost caddy.
Implementing this sorting game was also a short-term goal that was identified as part of the city’s newly adopted WasteSmart strategic plan. The sorting game provides the city analytics, including the number of game plays, number of completed games, number of certificates printed and a list of the most misunderstood materials.
The city found that one of the most misunderstood materials that was incorrectly sorted in the game was loose shredded paper. The analytics showed 33 percent of players thought this material could be recycled, when in fact, it should go into the trash bin. This type of data helps the city target specific outreach messages on contamination and how residents can recycle right in Alexandria.
Page County, Lemonade winner
Page County Solid Waste Department took a hard look at its recycling program when recycling markets began to deteriorate in 2018.
The department was spending $34,000 per year to deliver recyclables collected at four county drop-off locations to the nearest material recovery facility (MRF).
In 2018, staff decided to change the program from a small recycling program with large transportation costs to a large revenue generator with minimal costs. By purchasing and installing a used baler in their maintenance garage, the county was able to eliminate all transportation and delivery costs.
Since Page County started baling its own cardboard, commingled plastic, mixed paper and aluminum cans, the county increased the amount of materials recycled, reduced costs and increased revenue.
Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia, Best in Show winner
Goodwill, which was paying to have 250,000 pounds of books recycled each month, knew there was a better way to process and distribute such a large volume of books, and that there was value in the marketplace for these books.
In early 2017, Goodwill established a partnership with Henrico County public schools to supply books to students and families after seeing a news story requesting the donation of new and gently used books to support the school division’s new Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum Challenge in secondary schools.
Henrico County and Goodwill established a weekly opportunity for school personnel to visit the Goodwill headquarters and “dive for books.” School staff sort through thousands of books, selecting those that will be utilized.
This free program supplies a reliable source of books to the families in most need and to teachers who have limited budgets for books. As of September 2019, this initiative has placed 148,931 free books into the hands of teachers, librarians, students and families. This is the best kind of recycling result, VRA says.
Asker, Norway-based Tomra Sorting Recycling has launched Gain, a deep learning-based sorting technology to further enhance the performance of its sensor-based sorting machines, according to a Tomra news release.
The gain technology will be made available as an add-on option for the company’s autosort machines. By classifying objects from sensor data, gain enables the sorting of objects, which could previously not be separated with high levels of purity and without compromising the throughput speed of the autosort.
Tomra’s gain technology officially launched at Ecomondo Nov. 5 in Rimini, Italy.
“By bringing deep learning to our sorting technologies, Tomra is adding further sophistication and effectiveness to its market-leading autosort sorting machines,” says Alessandro Granziera, sales manager for Tomra Sorting Recycling in Italy. “The gain technology will also help sorting machines adapt to new waste streams, which will be increasingly important as we move towards a circular economy.”
Deep learning, as a method of artificial intelligence (AI), enables computers to imitate human learning. Humans make associations with what they have seen before and what they are seeing now to identify various objects or materials. Machines are taught to do the same, but much faster. Tomra machines have deployed AI since the early days of sorting, but this technology has continually evolved and now Gain Technology takes it to a new level with algorithms out of the area of deep learning, Tomra says.
Classical machine learning requires features engineered by a domain expert, whereas deep learning, which is a subset of machine learning, does not. It learns from thousands of images that particular types, which should be separated in the sorting task. Deep learning mimics the activity of large numbers of layers of neurons in the human brain to learn complex tasks. This way, during machine learning, gain learns how to connect the artificial neurons to classify objects.
The first version of the gain technology to be released by Tomra is specifically developed to eject silicon cartridges from a polyethylene (PE) stream by using camera information. On grounds of silicon remaining in the cartridges, separating those cartridges from the wanted PE material is necessary in order to purify the sorting result.
In addition to detecting common forms of silicon cartridges, gain can also detect smaller double cartridges, mostly used for two-component adhesives, as well as deformed or partly destroyed cartridges.
The new technology was trained for this task with thousands of images and achieves an overall ejection of 99 percent of the cartridges using two systems in a sequence.