|Consolidation trend significantly affects the solid waste industry
The number of municipal landfills in the U.S. has decreased from over 8,000 in the late 1980s to about 1,600 today. By 2004, two companies – Waste Management and Republic – came to own three-quarters of permitted landfill capacity in the U.S. That consolidation trend continues, with some major assets currently in play, and the impact on solid waste and recycling is likely to be significant.
“There is always some degree of consolidation in the solid waste industry, although its reasons and pace are dependent on a variety of factors, such as the economy, company expansions, acquisition multiples and changes in the industry,” said Bruce Parker, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based National Solid Wastes Management Association.
Large national companies actively engaged in acquisition activity include Woodlands, Texas based Waste Connections, which on March 1 completed the acquisition of Alaska Waste, based in Anchorage. Toronto, Ontario based Progressive Waste Solutions acquired Waste Services, also of Toronto, in 2010. Houston headquartered Waste Management remains active as well, in February completing the acquisition of Reliable Environmental Transport (RET), which provides services to the natural gas exploration and production industry including transportation of hazardous waste. In July 2011, Waste Management made a major acquisition of Oakleaf, based in Hartford, Connecticut. ...read more
Paper use on long-term downward trend
Americans’ use of paper has been declining for years in a shift with important implications for the recycling industry, because paper is one of the most recycled materials. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows that the amount of paper and paperboard in the municipal waste stream peaked at 87.7 million tons in 2000 and fell steadily to 68.4 million tons in 2009 before rebounding slightly to 71.3 million tons in 2010.
That blip in the last year could be good news for paper producers and recyclers. According to the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), some of the falloff in recent years is due to a softer economy, which affected demand for office papers in particular. The growth, according to the Washington, D.C.-based group, is due to continued strong containerboard and paperboard markets and an increase in tissue demand.
“Although the prolonged weakened U.S. economy has affected office papers, overall demand for paper-based products is holding steady due to strong containerboard and paperboard markets as well as an increase in tissue demand,” according to AF&PA spokesperson Jessica McFaul. The forest products industry’s growth prospects are important for the overall economy. The industry accounts for about 5 percent of total U.S. manufacturing, producing $190 billion in products annually and employing nearly 900,000 – more than automotive, chemicals and plastics.
However, it’s of even more concern to recyclers. And the trends from that perspective aren’t all good. For instance, one of the few bright spots for paper right now is “human papers,” primarily tissue and specialty pulp used in baby diapers and adult incontinence and feminine hygiene products. These sectors are particularly strong in exports to emerging economies in Latin America and the Far East.
The resilience of human papers was confirmed when Nitro, a San Francisco maker of software for reading and creating digital documents surveyed 1,000 Americans about paper use. It discovered only 6.1 percent were willing to reduce toilet paper consumption in the next 5 to 10 years. ...read more