RethinkWaste issues $50M in Green Bonds
Shoreway Environmental Center in San Carlos, California
RethinkWaste

RethinkWaste issues $50M in Green Bonds

The bonds go toward environmental upgrades to reduce waste, improve recycling revenue.

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RethinkWaste, San Carlos, California, issued Green Bonds consisting of $48,775,000 in Solid Waste Enterprise Refunding Revenue Bonds Series 2019A and Solid Waste Enterprise Revenue Bonds Series 2019B (for new projects) to make various environmental upgrades at its agency-owned, Shoreway Environmental Center. The Green Bonds, approved by the agency’s 12 city/county board of directors, will be used to develop a program to divert organic waste from landfill (where it generates methane) and convert it into natural biogas. The Green Bonds will also be used to improve the sorting of paper so that the facility can meet stringent global recycling standards. 

The agency reports that these investments are expected to lower total annual debt payments for RethinkWaste and its ratepayers as well as help the agency to capture more items for profitable recycling. The bonds were underwritten by Raymond James, the agency reports in a news release.

“By refinancing our old facility bonds at today’s competitive interest rates and extending the maturity by six years, we were able to pull $20 million in capital into RethinkWaste to support our innovative investment program while also reducing annual debt payments by almost $500,000 a year,” says RethinkWaste Chairman Jay Benton. “We are all extremely proud of our team and our financial advisors for helping us do so much for our residents without adding even one dollar to current garbage rates.”

The refunding component generated $10 million in present value savings on the cost of the prior bonds. The refunded bonds were issued in 2009 and financed the initial construction of the Shoreway Environmental Center, including a new material recovery facility (MRF) and 2,700 solar panels that opened in 2010.

The Series 2019 A and Series 2019 B Green Bonds financing follows the guidelines of the International Capital Markets Association Green Bond Principles, providing investors with assurance of the deal’s “green” or pro-environment credentials. A second opinion against the Green Bond Principles was done by Kestrel Verifiers, an approved verifier by the Climate Bonds Initiative, a U.S.-based company. These are the first Green Bonds floated in San Mateo County for green infrastructure and waste reduction.

“Our investment will divert millions of pounds of methane-producing food waste from landfill and convert it into biogas which, we hope, will one day fuel our Recology garbage trucks,” says Michael Brownrigg, chairman of the RethinkWaste Zero Waste Work Group. “We’ll also be able to sort waste paper better, yielding much higher recycling value to our residents. Being part of the Green Bond movement, helping investors put their money into projects that will improve the environment, is especially satisfying.”

Executive Director Joe La Mariana expresses the same sentiments of the board in praising his team.

“These programs are a cornerstone of RethinkWaste’s ambitious ‘triple-zero’ goal—zero recyclables to landfill, zero organics to the landfill and zero net greenhouse gas emissions in the agency’s operations,” La Mariana says. “Our team is 100 percent committed to these goals and appreciates that our board gives us the strong support we need to move forward aggressively to put San Mateo County at the forefront of the industry’s waste reduction innovation.”

For more on RethinkWaste, check out Recycling Today's profile on the agency in the April digital edition.