Recycling market needs tinkering, according to industry heavy hitters
For the average person, the act of recycling represents one of the most useful things he can do to conserve the environment. How useful it actually is in the bigger picture is up for debate, but putting out a full recycling bin on trash pick-up day can feel good. By contrast, the major waste disposal companies are not so enthusiastic about it because, apparently, it’s bad for business. This appeared to be the consensus at the annual Waste Expo, in Las Vegas, Nev., earlier in June.
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Speaking to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Waste Management CEO David Steiner said, “When you sell the output for less than what your output costs are, you don’t make money… You’ve got to have a contract that guarantees a return.”
According to the Review-Journal, Waste Connections CEO Ron Mittelstaedt said that recycling leaves companies with an excess amount of materials with a limited market for the final product.
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“Recycling is what customers want and demand, but we’re bringing in an unburdened amount of raw material,” Mittlestaedt said, according to the Review-Journal.
Mittelstaedt and Steiner represent two of the top 10 waste companies in the world. Two others, also present at the expo, are Waste Solutions and Advanced Disposal.
Steve Carr, government affairs representative for Republic Service, echoed his competitors’ sentiments.
One ton of recycled material can cost anywhere from $65 to $100 to process, compared with $20 to $40 to dispose the same material in a landfill, Carr said, speaking to the Review-Journal. The product of the recycled material is often given away for free because there is a small market for certain recycled items such as glass and paper.
“You pay the money to take it through the process, then there’s nothing to do with it. You basically have a product that’s worthless and you have to give it away,” said Carr, according to the Review-Journal.
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Based on the Review-Journal’s report, the “heavy hitters” did not comment on alternatives.
Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition
The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.
The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).
This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.
In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.
The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.