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Schnitzer reports an increase in earnings per share for Q4 2017

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 08:10
Photo: Dreamstime

Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc., headquartered in Portland, Oregon, has announced preliminary results for its fourth quarter of fiscal 2017, ended Aug.31, 2017. The company says it expects fourth quarter earnings per share from continuing operations to be in the range of 62 cents to 65 cents. Adjusted earnings per share are expected to be in the range of 60 cents to 63 cents. The company reported earnings per share of 59 cents for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2016 and adjusted earnings per share of 60 cents, both of which included a benefit of 21 cents per share from an insurance reimbursement of $6 million.

In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2017, Schnitzer completed the previously announced integration of its steel manufacturing and metals recycling operations in Oregon into a single operating segment, Cascade Steel and Scrap (CSS). The company’s Auto and Metals Recycling (AMR) performance now excludes the Oregon metals recycling operations as a result.

The company says AMR is expected to generate operating income in the range of $23 million to $24 million and operating income per ferrous ton in the range of $27 to $28 for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2017, which compares favorably to operating income of $19 million and operating income per ferrous ton of $23 in the fourth quarter of 2016. Operating income per ferrous ton in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2017 was adversely affected by sharply higher ferrous market prices in August that led to increases in the cost of raw materials, compressing margins on shipments contracted earlier in the quarter, Schnitzer says. Average ferrous net selling prices are expected to increase approximately 25 percent compared with last year's fourth quarter, and ferrous sales volumes are expected to be approximately 7 percent higher, the company says. Average nonferrous net selling prices are expected to increase approximately 7 percent from the prior year quarter, and nonferrous sales volumes are expected to be 8 percent higher.

CSS is expected to generate operating income of approximately $8 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2017, including a gain on sale of an Oregon metals recycling joint venture investment of approximately $1 million. This compares favorably with prior-year fourth quarter operating income for CSS of $3 million, which included an asset impairment charge of $2 million in the steel manufacturing operations. Operating performance in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2017 primarily reflects the benefits from higher shipments of finished steel products, an expansion of finished steel metal spreads and productivity improvements, including initial synergies from the integration with the Oregon metals recycling operations, the company says. CSS' average finished steel selling prices are expected to increase approximately 7 percent, and finished steel sales volumes are expected to increase approximately 20 percent compared with the prior year fourth quarter.

For fiscal 2017, total ferrous volumes, including external sales by AMR and CSS, and transfers to company steel mill, are expected to increase by 10 percent compared with fiscal 2016. AMR’s operating income per ferrous ton is expected to be $29 on a reported and adjusted basis for fiscal 2017 compared with reported operating income per ton of $8 and adjusted operating income per ton of $16 in fiscal 2016.

Consolidated financial performance in the fourth quarter is expected to include corporate expense of approximately $10 million, Schnitzer says, an increase compared with the prior year quarter primarily because of the $6 million insurance reimbursement in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2016. For fiscal 2017, the company’s effective tax rate is expected to be approximately 2.7 percent.

For the fourth quarter, the company says it expects to report operating cash flow of approximately $49 million. Total debt was $145 million as of Aug. 31, 2017, which is a reduction of $39 million, or 21 percent, compared with May 31, 2017. Debt, net of cash, was $138 million as of Aug. 31, 2017, which is a reduction of $31 million, or 19 percent, compared with May 31, 2017, Schnitzer says.

The company says it will report the financial results for its fourth quarter and fiscal year Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017. The webcast of the call and the accompanying slide presentation can be accessed on Schnitzer’s website at Tamara L. Lundgren, president and chief executive officer, and Richard D. Peach, senior vice president, chief financial officer and chief of corporate operations, will be on the call.



Erema North America hosts Discovery Day

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 08:03
Erema North America Inc., Ipswich, Massachusetts, has announced the continued growth of plastics recycling in the United States and Canada was one of several topics discussed at the company’s Discovery Day, held Sept. 26, 2017, at its Ipswich tech center.

This year marks the first time the company hosted a Discovery Day at its North American facility. The “Circular Economy in Action” program featured sessions on a range of topics as well as a keynote presentation by the Plastics Industry Association (Plastics). In addition, the more than 100 attendees had the opportunity to interact with equipment demonstrations.

“Erema’s Discovery Day has already become established in Europe and the company has now held one for the first time at Erema North America in Ipswich, Massachusetts, under the title Circular Economy in Action,” Erema says in a news release. “Over 100 customers and interested attendees were given an insight into the latest technical developments emerging at Erema and discussed the current upswing of recycling in the North American plastics industry. Four Eremea recycling systems demonstrated live in action that plastic ‘waste’ has long since advanced to a secondary raw material.”

Martin Baumann, vice president of sales at Erema North America, opened the Discovery Day 2017 event, saying, “Not only the recycling industry, the entire plastics industry as a whole is experiencing drastic change.”

Erema says Baumann’s statement corresponds with the remarks made by Patty Long, executive vice president of Plastics, who, as keynote speaker, elaborated on the increasing relevance of recycling in the North American plastics industry.

Long says, “Members of the entire plastics industry are calling for more sustainable management of plastics through innovation and the creation of products that are designed for recycling, from inception to end use.”

In order to tap the full potential of recycling in the best possible way, Erema says it relies on increased and stable recyclate production quality with its systems. There are more than 650 Erema systems in operation in the U.S. and Canada, according to the company.

Baumann adds, “There is one aspect, however, which sets the USA and Canada aside from other markets, and that is their enormous growth potential. The change of thinking in the industry will without doubt be intensified by China no longer being an international customer for postconsumer waste plastic. As, unlike waste plastic, high-quality recycled pellets can still be exported to China, this represents a great opportunity for plastics recycling in North America.”

Erema adds, “The focus of the technical presentations was above all on the recycling of clean production waste and postconsumer recycling. The filter system is crucial, especially when recycling municipal postconsumer waste, to process heavily contaminated plastic to make high-quality recycled pellets. In connection with this, the new Erema business unit POWERFIL was presented for the first time. The proven melt filters are now also available as individual components for existing extrusion plants.”

Erema North America Inc. is a subsidiary of Erema Engineering Recycling Maschinen und Anlagen Ges.m.b.H, Ansfelden, Austria.



Ikea introduces national mattress recycling program

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 07:42
Ikea U.S., Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, has introduced a national mattress recycling program.

The Swedish home furnishing company says the new program is keeping with its sustainability strategy of “turning waste into resources.” Ikea launched its People and Planet Positive Sustainability strategy in October 2012. The strategy outlines moves the company plans to make to reach certain sustainability goals by 2020, including using 100 percent renewable energy.

The mattress recycling program includes old mattresses of any brand that are picked up when new Ikea mattresses are delivered, as well as all returned mattresses at Ikea stores.

“The goal is zero waste to landfill, with as much recycling as possible,” says Ikea.

“In keeping with our People and Planet Positive Sustainability strategy, Ikea has decided to take a lead in turning waste into resources. We are committed to securing recycled materials while ensuring key parts of our range are easily recycled—all contributing to a closed loop society,” says Lisa Davis, Ikea U.S. sustainability manager.

An estimated 18 million mattresses with box springs are disposed in the U.S. each year, resulting in approximately 50,000 mattresses a day ending up in landfills across America, the company says. Some of these mattresses are illegally dumped adding to great landfill waste. IKEA understands mattresses need to be recycled to conserve resources such as steel, foam, and wood that is able to be used in new products.

At a minimum, 80 percent of a mattress can be recycled, Ikea says. The fabric and foam can be turned into carpet underlay and the felt and cotton can be recycled into new felt and insulation. The wood is recycled into biofuel or other recycled wood products. The plastic and steel also are recycled.

In addition to the sustainability aspect of recycling mattresses, Ikea has created a community donation program, 5,000 Dreams, that focuses on supporting newly arrived refugee families in local Ikea store communities. Through three partner refugee organizations, Ikea says it has started to donate beds and bedding—5,000 in total in the next two years—to refugee families who are making fresh starts with their families. The three established refugee organizations are the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, the International Rescue Committee and the Ethiopian Community Development Council.

Ikea says the mattress recycling service is offered for a fee of approximately $25, except in California where the service is required to be offered for free by the state due to state regulations, and is offered in all stores. The company says there will be times throughout the year when this service is offered for free if shoppers are an Ikea family member. Mattress removal service is not offered via e-commerce.

Founded in Sweden in 1943, Ikea has more than 392 stores in 48 countries, including 44 in the U.S.



PET recycling stream could accommodate up to 2 percent polyethylenefuranoate, APR says

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 07:29
The recent announcement by Amsterdam-based Synvina, a joint venture of Amsterdam-based Avantium and BASF, headquartered in Germany, regarding commercial production of polyethylenefuranoate (PEF), a new polyester condensation polymer, has led to industry discussion regarding its potential impact on traditional polyethylene terephthalate (PET) polyester used for making bottles, sheet and films for packaging.

Following the interim approval of the European PET Bottle Platform (EPBP), the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR), Washington, and North American plastic recyclers would like to verify the claim that up to 2 percent of Synvina’s PEF would be compatible in the existing PET recycling stream.

The APR recommends the following evaluations:

  • the effect on U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada compliance for blends of low levels of PEF in recycled PET;
  • the impact of beverage and food packaging made with PEF in states that have deposit legislation;
  • educational opportunities for material recovery facilities (MRFs) on strategies for sorting packaging made with PEF; and
  • creating new model bale specifications to include allowed levels of PEF.

Further testing to confirm whether low levels of PEF can be blended into recycled PET (RPET) without a negative impact on processing of RPET, as well as the leading products made from RPET, including bottles, thermoforms, strapping, sheet, textile and carpet fibers.

“We appreciate the fact that Synvina has shared their information with the industry,” says Steve Alexander, president of APR. “It is encouraging to have preliminary evidence that PEF might be included in the PET recycling stream at low levels. APR will be conducting further testing with Synvina to determine levels of compatibility with PET recycling over the next several months.”

Patrick Schiffers, CEO of Synvina, says, “We are committed to contributing to a circular economy with high-barrier packaging from Synvina's biobased PEF. The EPBP interim approval in Europe is a major milestone for us, and we will continue to work closely with our partners to further assess PEF's recyclability and the compatibility with the PET stream.”


Novelis completes joint venture with Kobe Steel

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 06:59
Aluminum rolling and recycling company Novelis, headquartered in Atlanta, has completed the transaction for its joint venture with Tokyo-based Kobe Steel Ltd., a producer of aluminum rolled products. The Ulsan Aluminum Ltd. joint venture was formed when Novelis sold Kobe Steel its ownership interest in its Ulsan, South Korea, facility for $315 million. Novelis and Kobe Steel together own the Ulsan Aluminum facility, with each company remaining responsible for its own metal supply and commercial relationships, Novelis says in a news release announcing completion of the joint venture.

The Ulsan Aluminum plant is in the industrial hub of Ulsan, South Korea. It supports increasing demand for high-strength and lightweight aluminum for automotive and specialty products, including electronics and building materials, in Asia. The plant recently completed an expansion, adding a new three-stand hot finishing mill, as well as a pusher furnace and annealing furnaces. All 600 employees at the plant are now employed by Ulsan Aluminum. In addition, the transaction will generate cash proceeds to enhance Novelis’ strategic flexibility and reduce its net debt, the company says.

“This strategic partnership further supports Novelis’ continued commitment to growth in the Asian automotive industry and creates new capabilities to meet the increasing demand for aluminum sheet,” says Sachin Satpute, president of Novelis Asia. “Through an increase in operational efficiencies and process enhancements, this partnership will provide our global customers greater access to the numerous benefits of aluminum.”

As automotive sales continue to increase in Asia, Novelis’ interest in Ulsan Aluminum will remain a key part of its current Asian portfolio, which also includes the Yeongju facility in South Korea and the Changzhou facility in China, the company says.

“Ulsan Aluminum is committed to providing first-class rolled aluminum products and services to benefit our customers in the region,” says Jerry Quick, president and CEO of Ulsan Aluminum Ltd. “We will continue to operate with a high-quality and safety-first mentality and will support the local market with innovative aluminum products.” 


ESAB makes donations to hurricane relief

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 20:09
Florence, South Carolina-based ESAB Welding & Cutting Products has announced that with every shipment of select products between now and Dec. 31, 2017, it will make a contribution to assist with rebuilding efforts tied to Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma relief efforts.

ESAB says it has selected sales of some of its highest volume products to tie into the donations, including Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster 60i manual plasma cutters, the Rebel 215ic and 235ic welding machines and Victor Journeyman Edge, Journeyman 450 and Performer oxy-fuel outfits.

The company says donations tied to these products can ideally help it reach its donation goal of $250,000 as quickly as possible. More details on the effort can be found here

Contributions will go to Operation USA, a privately funded agency that has delivered more than $400 million in aid for relief and development projects, according to ESAB. Founded in 1979, Operation USA has a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, including a 100 percent rating for accountability and transparency, says the firm.

In addition to the relief fund donation, ESAB says it is supporting distributors in the affected areas by “providing a core team that will manage expedited order processing, order acknowledgement and enhanced technical support.” ESAB says it also has sent teams of technical specialists to the impacted areas to support distributor efforts with their end user customers.

ESAB Welding & Cutting Products provides equipment and technology for welding, cutting and mechanized cutting and automation.


Wastecon/ISWA World Congress 2017: Bringing plastics full circle

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 11:40
Pictured above, from left: Michiel De Smet, Rachel Goldstein and Gary Crawford

“Plastics have become the ubiquitous workhorse material of the modern economy: combining unrivalled functional properties with low cost, their use has increased twentyfold in the past half-century,” according to “The New Plastics Economy: Catalysing Action, a 2017 report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. “While plastics and plastic packaging are an integral part of the global economy and deliver many benefits, their archetypically linear, take-make-dispose value chains entail significant economic and environmental drawbacks.”

Panelists during the session The New Plastics Economy at Wastecon/ISWA World Congress in Baltimore in late September looked at efforts to increase the circularity of this material and the hurdles that must be overcome.

Michiel De Smet, a project manager for the New Plastics Economy at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, London, acknowledged the many benefits associated with plastic packaging, however, he added, “the system it operates in is broken.”

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation launched the New Plastics Economy initiative in 2016. It is a three-year project that the foundation is executing with the help of the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Fund for Strategic Innovation; its philanthropic funders, MAVA Foundation, Oak Foundation and players of People’s Postcode Lottery; its core partners, Amcor, The Coca-Cola Co., Danone, Mars Inc., Novamont, Unilever and Veolia; and participating companies, cities and governments across the value chain.

He noted that $80 to $120 billion in plastic packaging material value is lost to the economy annually because plastics are not being recycled. Additionally, one-third of this material is leaking into the environment, potentially ending up in the world's oceans.

De Smet said the goal of the New Plastics Economy is to “harness the benefits of plastic with better economic and environmental outcomes.”

According to the report, without fundamental redesign and innovation, roughly 30 percent of plastic packaging will never be reused or recycled. However, for at least 20 percent of plastic packaging, reuse offers an economically attractive option, while the remaining 50 percent can be recycled economically with focused efforts to redesign packaging and the systems for managing it.

De Smet said plastics recycling cannot be improved without addressing package design as well as collection and sorting issues.

To achieve these objectives, De Smet said dialogue among stakeholders, innovation in business models and a global plastics protocol will be needed.

“No one in the supply chain can do this alone,” said Rachel Goldstein, global sustainability director, scientific and regulatory affairs, for Mars Inc., headquartered in McLean, Virginia.

She said Mars is working toward 100 percent recyclability of its packaging by 2025. She added that Mars is partnering with other companies and organizations to improve recovery of its packaging.

Mars is focused on optimizing its packaging to reduce its carbon footprint over its lifetime, Goldstein said. However, she acknowledged that reusing packaging would be difficult for the company because of food safety issues.

Mars introduced its Sustainable in a Generation Plan in early September of this year.

According to the company’s website, “Our Sustainable in a Generation plan goes further than ever before by going beyond our direct operations. We believe that if we are to deliver on the Paris Accord and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, we can only do so if we tackle a broken, extended supply chain system. By launching our new plan, we’re setting a new standard for responsible growth as a business.”

Gary Crawford, vice president of international affairs, with the French company Veolia, with U.S. corporate offices in Boston, noted that his company’s tagline is “resourcing the world.”

He added that Veolia “wants to move to being a major player in the industry” by integrating from collecting plastics for recycling through to pelletizing. This would give the company the ability to sell recycled flakes, pellets or ready-to-use recycled compounds.

Crawford noted challenges with recycled plastics that include collection capacity and feedstock insecurities. He said Veolia’s priority actions to enhance the use, quality and economics of recycled plastics are packaging design changes to improve recyclability, implementing best practices for collection and sorting systems, scaling up high-quality recycling processes, developing innovative sorting for postconsumer flexible films, boosting demand for recycled plastics and deploying adequate collection and sorting infrastructure.   

Policy measures could help to “prime the pump” for recycled content demand, Crawford added.

Wastecon/ISWA World Congress was hosted by the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), Silver Spring, Maryland, and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), Wien, Austria, Sept. 25-27, 2017.


SWANA honors 2017 Excellence Awards winners

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 10:54
The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), Silver Spring, Maryland, has awarded several SWANA Excellence Awards. The awards program recognizes outstanding solid waste programs and facilities with environmentally and economically sound solid waste management practices. Winners demonstrate effective technologies and processes in system design and operations, worker and community health and safety, and successful public education and outreach programs. Programs also must demonstrate that they are fiscally and environmentally responsible through their compliance with all applicable federal, state and local regulations, says SWANA.

The 2017 awards honor programs and facilities in 13 different categories, spanning many facets of the municipal solid waste industry. Award winners represent the most innovative and dynamic organizations throughout North America as judged by their peers, says SWANA.

"The recipients of the SWANA Excellence Awards represent the best solid waste management practices in North America today," said David Biderman, SWANA Executive Director and CEO. "Community leaders should be very proud of the valuable contributions that these projects provide to their citizens.”

The winners of the 2017 awards were honored during Wastecon/International Solid Waste Association World Congress Sept. 26 in Baltimore. The winners are:

Category: Communication, Education & Marketing Excellence Awards

Awareness Campaign

  • Gold (tie) - Western Placer Waste Management Authority, California, “One Big Bin” Campaign; Pitkin County Solid Waste Center, Colorado, “Talkin’ Trash“ Campaign
  • Silver - City of North Port Solid Waste Division, Florida, Creative Awareness Campaigns

Education Program

  • Gold - RecycleSmart — Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority, California
  • Silver - Waste Management Youth Education, Washington
  • Bronze - OC Waste and Recycling Landfill Tour Program, California

Customer Experience Management (CEM) Tools

  • Bronze -City of Greenville Solid Waste Division-Recycling, South Carolina

Innovation in Communication, Education And Marketing

  • City of Charlotte, North Carolina, Healthy Communities Education Program

Category: Waste-to-Energy Excellence Awards

  • Gold - Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County, Florida, Palm Beach Renewable Energy Facility #2

Category: Collection & Transfer Excellence Awards

Collection Systems

  • Bronze -City of Baltimore Citywide Municipal Trash Can Program, Maryland

Transfer Station

  • Gold - Valley Vista Services Pomona Valley, California

Category: Planning & Management Excellence Awards

Integrated Solid Waste Management Systems

  • Gold - City of Toronto, Ontario, Long Term Solid Waste Management Strategy
  • Silver - County of Santa Barbara, California, Resource Recovery & Waste Management Division

Category: Landfill Gas and Biogas Excellence Award

  • Silver - OC Waste and Recycling Bowerman Power Project, California

    Landfill Management Excellence Award

  • Bronze -City of Toronto, Ontario, Green Lane Landfill

Category: Landfill Redevelopment Excellence Award

  • Gold - Niagara Region, Ontario, Landfill End Use Site Development
  • Bronze - City of Los Angeles, California, Lopez Canyon Environmental Center

Category: Sustainable Materials Management Excellence Awards

Composting Systems

  • Gold (tie) - Navy Whidbey Recycle In-vessel Composting System, Washington; and Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency Compost Operations, New York
  • Silver - Republic Services Pacific Region Compost (PRC) Facility, Oregon

Recycling Systems

  • Gold - GreenWaste Recovery Inc., San Jose, California, Materials Recovery Facility
  • Silver - Emerald Coast Utilities Authority Materials Recycling Facility, Pensacola, Florida
  • Bronze - Niagara Region, Ontario, Recycling Centre Improvements

Special Waste Management

  • Gold - Niagara Region, Ontario, Household Hazardous Waste Depots
  • Bronze (tie)- Lorain County, Ohio, Collection Center; and Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority, New Jersey, EPS Recycling Program

Wastecon/ISWA World Congress 2017: Safety gets an assist from technology

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 09:32
It’s no secret that the waste and recycling industry ranks among the most dangerous industries in the United States. While some technology providers are hoping to help reduce the number of fatalities and injuries that occur, they acknowledge that technology alone cannot solve the industry’s safety issues.

Tom Loutzenheiser, vice president of Preco Electronics, Boise, Idaho; Del Lisk, vice president of safety services for Lytx, San Diego; and Gary Mosier, vice president of national accounts for 3rd Eye, Katy, Texas, participated in a panel discussion during the Safety Super Session at Wastecon/ISWA World Congress, a combined conference hosted by the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), Silver Spring, Maryland, and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), Wien, Austria, in Baltimore Sept. 25-27, 2017. David Biderman, SWANA executive director and CEO, moderated the discussion.

He began the discussion by asking the panelists why they felt the waste and recycling industry was among the most dangerous in the U.S. Loutzenheiser said he believed it was because workers are navigating urban environments in some of the biggest trucks available.

“What other industry has their employees conducting their jobs in the flow of traffic?” Lisk asked. He also pointed to the difficult hours and long days employees work, which contribute to fatigue. Add to that the heat that employees can be working in, he said, and you have many factors that contribute a higher degree of risk.

Mosier also said that drivers are working “way too many hours a day” at many companies. He added that while automation would be key to reducing accidents in the industry, it was also necessary to reduce driver hours and hire better drivers.

“Humans have limitations,” Lisk said. “Technology can help to bridge those gaps.”

The panelists agreed that culture plays a significant role in safety, with Mosier saying that culture must start at the top, with buy-in from company and city leaders being essential.

Loutzenheiser said adequate training and support also are needed.

Lisk said there is a “he-man mentality” in the industry that must be addressed, adding that employees taking on things they shouldn’t because of the attitude that there are “no babies in this industry.”

Given tight budgets, it’s important for municipalities and companies to be able to see a return on their investments in technology that is intended to improve safety in the waste and recycling industry. Loutzenheiser said Preco uses usually see a return on their investments within two years.

Lisk cited the city of Corpus Christi, Texas, which saw a 250 percent return on its investment in Lytx’s technology in two years largely in light of a reduction in liability claims.

Mosier reminded attendees they have to use collision avoidance and behavioral analytics technology to benefit from it. “The ROI is dependent on you and your managers.”

In 2018, Wastecon will be in Nashville, Tennessee, in August, while ISWA World Congress will be in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in October.


Wastecon/ISWA World Congress 2017: The global waste and recycling landscape

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 08:08
A panel of CEOs from major waste and recycling companies in the United States, Brazil and China addressed topics ranging from recycling to waste to energy during Wastecon/ISWA World Congress 2017, a combined conference hosted by the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), Silver Spring, Maryland, and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), Wien, Austria, in Baltimore Sept. 25-27, 2017.

Jim Fish, president and CEO of Houston-based Waste Management (WM); Steve Jones, CEO of Covanta Holdings Corp., Morristown, New Jersey; Sergio Pedriero, CEO of Estre Ambiental, Sao Paulo; and Chen Xiaoping, CEO of China Everbright International Ltd., Hong Kong, comprised the panel. Michael E. Hoffman of Stifle, headquartered in St. Louis, moderated.

Chen said China’s solid waste industry is valued at $100 billion. He added that the country’s recycling rate ranges from 2 to 3 percent, with roughly 40 percent of China’s waste headed to waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities in the country. He added that he sees China increasing its use of WTE as a disposal option considering the country’s scarcity of land and growing population, which stood at 1.38 billion people in 2016.

Pedriero said, like China, Brazil’s recycling rate hovers around 2 percent. He attributed the low rate to a lack of recycling infrastructure. However, he expressed hope that this would change as school children go through recycling education programs. Pedriero noted that Brazil recently installed its first large-scale mixed waste material recovery facility (MRF) in Sao Paulo. He said the plant, which features equipment from Germany-based Stadler, can process 500 tons of material per day.

Brazil is on par with the U.S. in terms of landfill regulations and waste management services, Pedriero said. However, he said the industry is likely one-third the size of the U.S. waste industry.

Despite strong legislation, he added that enforcement is lacking because recycling and solid waste infrastructure are lacking. As that infrastructure is built up, Pedriero said, “compliance and enforcement will follow.”

Concerning recycling in the U.S., Fish said the introduction of single-stream recycling helped the country to catch up “to some degree” with recycling in Europe. However, Fish added, this collection method has delivered a great deal of trash to recycling plants in addition to recyclables. He said education was needed to address this problem, adding that diversion is not the same thing as recycling.

Hoffman pointed out that China imports a good deal of recyclables from the U.S. and Europe. He asked Chen if there was an opportunity for that country to increase its internal recovery of recyclables. Chen said, yes, as the recycling system in China improves, the country should import less recyclable material from the U.S.   

Regarding the potential growth of WTE in the U.S., Jones said the amount of land we have in this country makes landfilling a less expensive option. While he said he could envision the expansion of existing WTE facilities in the U.S., new facilities likely would not be developed in the near future.

Fish offered numbers on the various disposal options. He said the average landfill cost in the U.S. is $20 per ton, while WTE costs $45 per ton and recycling, $70 per ton.  

When it comes to using data and technology to improve efficiencies in the waste and recycling industry, Fish said there is a scarcity of current and accurate information that can hinder that process. However, he said that when it comes to maintenance, the company is capturing data to use for predictive purposes, adding that he feels there is enough information to do that effectively.

Jones said the higher degree of facility automation requires technicians with higher-level skills.

Among the technology Estre Ambiental employs are GPS and route optimization software, Pedriero said. The company also encourages competition among its drivers that is awarded with additional compensation to improve effiency. 

In 2018, Wastecon will be in Nashville, Tennessee, in August, while ISWA World Congress will be in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in October. 


Development bank approves $550 million for Argentine infrastructure

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 01:44
The Washington, D.C.-based Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has approved two loans to Argentina worth a combined $550 million to finance construction projects in that nation.

A $200 million loan will help provide upgraded water and sanitation services in 10 provinces that are part of the Belgrano Plan.

The IDB loan has been designed to benefit more than 150,000 homes by building the infrastructure to increase access to potable water and sanitation services in these northern Argentina provinces: Catamarca, Chaco, Corrientes, Formosa, Jujuy, La Rioja, Misiones, Santiago del Estero, Salta and Tucumán.

Planned construction projects include groundwater extraction, surface water collection, potabilization plants, aqueducts, distribution networks, pumping stations with their respective electromechanical equipment, sewers, main and secondary collectors, and sewage fluids treatment plants and systems along with their ancillary works.

“Argentina is giving priority to increasing access to and improving the quality of water and sewerage services in the provinces covered by the Plan Belgrano,” IDB Project Team Leader Henry Moreno says. “This program will provide sewerage services to 19,000 homes and wastewater treatment services to 130,000 homes.”

Two loans worth a combined $350 million have been designed to enhance urban integration, social inclusion and education in the city of Buenos Aires via improvements in living conditions says the IDB.

More than 150,000 people will benefit from “urban infrastructure resilient to climate change and adequate spaces to live” in the Villa 31 section of Buenos Aires, as well as access to “a more equitable education system” in parts of the city.

Construction projects tied to the two loans include three new schools in Villa 31 for 1,100 students, plus upgraded living and work spaces in 550 structures and “deploying climate change-resilient urban infrastructure that will increase soil permeability and control buildings’ temperature,” says the IDB. Of the total operation’s resources, 64.5 percent will be earmarked for construction-related climate change mitigation and adaptation activities.

The program also will finance plans to move the Buenos Aires Education Ministry to the Villa 31 area, creating a new hub designed to help integrate it with the rest of the city via the construction of a 30,000-square-meter (323,000-square foot) green building certified by the Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE) system.

Established in 1959, the IDB describes itself as a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts research and provides policy advice, technical assistance and training to public and private sector clients in the region.


Data points show Texas-Mexico ferrous friendship

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 01:07
Economic and trade data point to steady and growing steel industry-related trade between the United States and Mexico, with the state of Texas being a leading player.

Becky Hites of Pittsburgh-based steel industry consultancy Steel-Insights LLC, in a mid-2017 presentation to the to the American Institute of Steel Technology (AIST) in Monterey, Mexico remarked, “The trade relationship between Texas and Mexico is worth nearly $200 billion per year,” and that “more than one-third of Texas’ exports go to Mexico, more than three times the next leading destination.”

NAFTA as currently configured means recyclers in Texas and other states within advantageous freight range can supply ferrous scrap to Mexico’s growing steel industry, which is heavily invested in scrap-fed electric arc furnace (EAF) production. According to Hites, who cited statistics from CANACERO (a Mexican steel industry association), more than 14 million tons of the steel produced in Mexico in 2015 was via the EAF route, compared to about 6 million tons of basic oxygen furnace (BOF) output.

Trade data gathered by the Census Bureau U.S. Department of Commerce and published by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) shows the Texas-Mexico connection specific to steel and scrap is strong.

In the first five months of 2017, Mexico was behind only Turkey as a destination for ferrous scrap exported from the United States. In those five months, some 718,000 metric tons of ferrous scrap valued at $189 million was shipped from the U.S. to Mexico.

Pertinent to Texas, Census Bureau data also shows the Laredo and Houston-Galveston customs districts as the busiest in the USGS Gulf Coast region for ferrous scrap shipped across the border in those five months. Those two customs districts shipped out 308,000 of the 479,000 metric tons that left the region, or 64.3 percent.


Brazilian app aims to modernize scavenging sector

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 00:47
The creators of a new app being tested in São Paulo, Brazil, are hopeful the service it provides can help peddlers and scavengers seeking recyclable materials increase their incomes.

According to a September 2017 online article by London-based The Economist, the app called Cataki was introduced in July 2017 with the intention of “matching people who have [discarded materials or items] with catadores operating in their neighborhoods.” Catadore is the Portuguese term for small peddlers who collect metal, old corrugated containers (OCC) and other recyclable materials for resale to scrap dealers.

A peddler named Gabriel Cazuza is described by The Economist as having a “two-wheeled, metal-framed” cart that he pushes through the streets of São Paulo on a nightly basis. The publication describes him as “one of tens of thousands of catadores” in São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, and as part of a collective of nearly 400,000 poorer Brazilians who have been engaged in the practice since the 19th century.

In the newly developed Cataki app, peddlers and their carts are tracked as purple icons in a manner similar to how Uber customers see that app’s drivers. The Economist quotes Thiago Mundano, a street artist who helped create Cataki, says a future version of the app will allow people will to photos of their discarded, and catadores will accept or reject it by swiping right or left—similar to the Tinder dating app.

The article cites a report from earlier this decade by the Brasília-based Insituto de Pesquisa Economico Aplicada (IPEA) which estimated the government of São Paulo itself recycles just 300 metric tons out of each 12,000 metric tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) generated each day (2.5 percent).

Catadores, meanwhile, help ensure that some 98 percent of Brazil’s aluminum used beverage containers (UBCs) are recycled, and as a group may collect as much as 80 percent of São Paulo’s recycled materials.

Cataki founder Mundano tells The Economist he has high hopes for the app, although so far “just 1,000 householders and 300 catadores have downloaded” it, according to the publication. Potentially, though Mundano believes the app could help the estimated 1 percent of the world’s urban population who act as peddlers or scavengers connect to a broader market more efficiently.


Turkish mills reportedly scale back scrap purchases

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 22:14
Demand and pricing for ferrous scrap exported to Turkey is heading down in September, according to tracking performed by Metal Bulletin.

In late September, the United Kingdom-based publication reported that its daily index for exported European scrap had fallen by more than $10 per metric ton during the final week of the month.

The publication says prices dropped because steel mills in Turkey were attempting to “protect their profit margins from any threat of lower finished steel prices.”

The trigger for the $10 price drop, added the publication, was the lower bid accepted for a mixed cargo from North America to Turkey. Metal Bulletin says its sources are indicating, however, that the price drop could be short-lived because of underlying fundamental demand for Turkish steel and the scrap used to make it.


ArcelorMittal to expand Mexican mill complex

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 21:14
Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal has announced a $1 billion, three-year investment program at its Lázaro Cárdenas steelmaking complex in Mexico. The company says the investments will be focused on the mill’s downstream capabilities, plus “sustaining the competitiveness” of ArcelorMittal’s mining operations and “modernizing its existing asset base.”

The main investment will be the construction of a new hot strip mill. Construction will take approximately three years and, upon completion, will enable ArcelorMittal Mexico to produce about 2.5 million metric tons per year of flat-rolled steel. Coils from the new hot strip mill will be supplied to domestic, non-auto, general industry customers, says ArcelorMittal. The company says further investments will be made at Lázaro Cárdenas “to improve the quality and productivity of the asset base, with additional investment in the group's Mexican mining operations.”

The investments have been designed to enable ArcelorMittal Mexico to meet the anticipated increased demand requirements from domestic customers and to “realize in full ArcelorMittal Mexico's productive capacity of 5.3 million metric tons and significantly enhance the proportion of higher-value added products in its product mix, in-line with the company’s Action 2020 strategic plan,” the company comments.

The announcement follows confirmation that the Mexican government has established five Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in southern Mexico to attract infrastructure investment in areas considered to be of undeveloped economic potential. Lázaro Cárdenas, home to ArcelorMittal Mexico's primary steelmaking operations, was named as an SEZ.

“In order to make investment decisions of the scale we have announced today, we need both a favorable investment environment and confidence in long-term domestic growth prospects,” says Lakshmi Mittal, chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal. “I therefore warmly welcome the confirmation of the Special Economic Zones by the Mexican government, which establishes a positive regulatory investment framework aimed at facilitating economic and infrastructure development in the south of the country. Our investment program is aligned with the Mexican government’s objectives, and will enable us to benefit from the anticipated increased demand for higher-added value steel products from domestic Mexican customers. It reinforces our long-standing presence in Mexico, will support the creation of approximately 800 new jobs and play an important role in bolstering economic activity in the region.”

Adds Victor Cairo, CEO of ArcelorMittal Mexico, “Construction of the new hot strip mill, alongside the other projects in our investment program that are geared toward enhancing the efficiency and quality of our operations, will enable us to optimize our asset base and increase the proportion of finished steel products for our domestic customers.”

ArcelorMittal Mexico currently produces about 4 million metric tons of steel per year. Following completion of the investment program, production could grow to about 5.3 million metric tons per year, with the proportion of finished steel for the domestic Mexican market significantly expanded. Flat-rolled steel production would total about 2.5 million metric tons, long steel about 1.8 million metric tons, with the remaining 1 million metric tons made up of semi-finished slabs.

Lazaro Cardenas is Mexico’s largest steel mill and slab exporter. On its website, ArcelorMittal refers to the site as “the only dedicated slab producer in the world using the DRI-EAF (direct reduced iron-electric arc furnace) continuous casting method for its entire production.” While the four EAF production lines are fed with some scrap, the facility uses DRI as its primary metallic input for steelmaking.


Wastecon/ISWA World Congress 2017: Baltimore transitions to municipal trash cans

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 15:41
By introducing municipal garbage carts, the city of Baltimore has addressed its problems with rats and trash in the city while also increasing its recycling rate.

Baltimore served as the host city for the combined Silver Spring, Maryland-based Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) Wastecon and Wien, Austria-based International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) World Congress. The event was held at the Baltimore Convention Center Sept. 25-27. Representatives from the city’s Department of Public Works Bureau of Solid Waste addressed attendees of the session Welcome to Baltimore: Exploring Charm City’s Waste Programs, which took place Sept. 25.

Yvonne Moore-Jackson, solid waste chief with Baltimore’s Department of Public Works Bureau of Solid Waste, said rats have been a problem in the city for years, with the rodents’ population estimated to be at 8 million. The city’s Rat Rubout program was introduced in 2014 to address this problem in a proactive rather than a reactive manner.

With the introduction of the program, staffing was increased from eight people to 16 so that the various districts of Baltimore could be treated on a 30-day cycle, Moore-Jackson said. The teams also check for other sanitation issues while they are treating the rats.

They can treat alleys and public spaces on the spot if a complaint is called in, she said. However, if the rodents are on private property, a right of entry form must be completed by the resident so the property can be treated if the resident is not home when the crew arrives.

Moore-Jackson said that citizen complaints regarding rats have declined from 8,500 to 4,300 since the program was introduced. Rat burrows also declined from 51,284 in fiscal 205 to 40,257 in fiscal 2017.

“The rat population was one of the driving reasons we went to municipal trash cans,” said Tanya Simmons, division chief, Baltimore Southeast Quadrant, Department of Public Works Bureau of Solid Waste. Another objective of the program was reducing calls to the department for dirty streets and alleys. 

The department piloted the trash can program in two neighborhoods on the east and west sides of the city in 2014. At the same time the trash carts were delivered, so was a free recycling bin, Simmons said. The objective was to stop residents from putting out bags of trash, which can attract rodents.

During the pilot, Simmons said calls requesting rat eradication and cleanup of dirty alleys increased originally. She attributed this to increased education, saying that prior to the pilot, residents didn’t know they should be calling in these issues to the city.

In the pilot areas—Belair Edison and Mondawin—recycling increased as a result of the trash can program, Simmons said. Belair Edison saw a 32 percent increase, while Mondawin saw an 11.6 percent increase.

The municipal trash cart program expanded citywide by the end of 2016. Simmons said residents are not obligated to use the city-supplied trash carts as long as they used a cart with a tight-fitting lid. Residents don’t have to pay for the carts, which are city property, that are assigned to their homes. They are allowed one free replacement cart and two complimentary repairs, she added.

Bob Murrow, acting chief of the Baltimore Bureau of Solid Waste, said the city, which covers 80 square miles and is not part of the surrounding county, had a recycling rate of 17.8 percent in 2015 and a waste diversion rate of nearly 22 percent. He added that the areas north of the city tend to do a better job of recycling than the Inner Harbor area does.

Challenges to recycling in the city include lack of space, pests, poverty and education. Murrow said the lack of discretionary income forces residents to by single-use items, which creates more waste, while other residents are overwhelmed by the list of what can and cannot be recycled.

However, he added that even in the most recycling challenged areas of the city, residents are still recycling, which Murrow said gave him hope. “Kids will lead the way,” he said. 


Wastecon/ISWA World Congress 2017: A huge shift is coming

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 14:59
The findings of a global survey into the future of waste management were presented during the Silver Spring, Maryland-based Solid Waste Association of North America’s (SWANA’s) and the Wien, Austria-based International Solid Waste Association’s (ISWA’s) combined Wastecon/ISWA World Congress event Sept. 25-27 in Baltimore.

During a keynote session titled, Smart Technologies and Their Impact on Collection & Transportation of Waste, speakers from technology firms weighed in on the study titled,” The Impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on the Waste Management Sector” available for download at and their impressions of the waste industry’s embracing of technology.

The survey heard over 1,000 of the industry's leading CEOs, scientists, professionals and decision-makers. ISWA President Antonis Mavropoulos, shared that 97 percent of the participants believe that the waste industry will be affected by technology and 50 percent of these believe that the impact will already be significant by 2030, reflecting the feeling that changes are already on the way.

“We wanted to make the industry aware that a huge shift is coming,” said Mavropoulos. “If waste management industry thinks it will be kept out. They are making a big mistake.”

The results show that there is also an opportunity in emerging and developing economies to develop waste management infrastructure which is fit for the future; and the investment opportunities are also manifold.

"The survey highlights the hope that the 4th Industrial Revolution will deliver solutions to several challenges related to waste management, from eco-design to waste prevention and circular economy around the world" said ISWA President Antonis Mavropoulos, considering the positives and potential of this broad change.

ISWA's survey anticipates that the largest impacts will be on fully robotic waste sorting and recycling plants and digitalized consulting and engineering, amongst many others.

For more than 80 percent of the respondents the 4th Industrial Revolution will make circular economy a reality for most of consumer goods and for around 50 percent Mobile Apps, New Sensors, Social Media and Big Data will attract most of the investments during the coming years.

“The 4th Industrial Revolution will impact upon all industries and waste management won't escape this, ISWA said in a news release. “It made clear that the industry must respond in an integrated and comprehensive manner, involving all stakeholders of the global policy.”

Among the speakers, Vivek Agrawal, advisor, Kanak Resources Management Ltd., and trustee, Centre for Development Communicaiton, India, noted whether technology is positive or negative remains to be seen. He acknowledged that efficiency may improve but that it may “displace people of their lively hood,” which he said was “a bit chilling for companies like ours.”

Don Diego Padilla, vice president of FleetMind, Canada, said the industry “hasn’t been a high-tech market for a very long time.”

Wastecon/ISWA World Congress was Sept. 25-27 at the Baltimore Convention Center.


The ReWall Co. to double its manufacturing

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 08:59
The ReWall Co., Des Moines, Iowa, has announced it is doubling its manufacturing capacity of roofing products and other construction materials made from recycled food and beverage cartons.

The manufacturer of green building materials, which are 100 percent recyclable, says this move is in response to growing demand for its products.

Founded in 2008, ReWall converts cartons into sustainable building materials through its low-energy, ecofriendly recycling technology. In July 2017, ReWall installed new equipment to expand the capacity of its manufacturing facility in Des Moines. This increases its need for recycled cartons from about 200 tons a month to approximately 600 tons a month, “and likely to even higher,” says the company.

“We have discovered that the unique properties of cartons—such as strength, durability and resistance to mold and moisture—make cartons an ideal material for creating high-quality building materials,” says Jan Rayman, CEO of The ReWall Co. “With demand growing for our products, our focus is on expansion and identifying additional North American locations for our next facility.”

Sharing a joint interest to increase carton recycling, the Carton Council of North America says it has been a longtime supporter of ReWall with the goal to expand carton recycling nationwide by growing infrastructure for recycling aseptic and gable-top cartons. The Carton Council has worked with ReWall to provide financial and technical support to help expand this innovative end market for cartons used for many common food and beverage products, the organization says.

Through innovative technology developed specifically for ReWall’s needs, the company says the process uses no water, formaldehyde glues or hazardous chemicals. No waste is generated, and every part of the carton is incorporated into the finished products, which include roof cover board, exterior sheathing, wallboard and floor underlayment. The life cycle of the cartons will continue as the building materials also can be recycled, ReWall says.

“ReWall’s success clearly demonstrates that the use of recovered cartons has evolved,” says Jason Pelz, vice president of recycling projects for the Carton Council of North America and vice president, environment, for Tetra Pak Cluster Americas. “We are excited about the growth of this innovative end market for food and beverage cartons.” 

There are 800 half-pint cartons in each 4-inch-by-8-and-a-half-inch roof cover board. This means that each truckload of finished ReWall products prevents nearly 600,000 cartons from going to landfills, according to the company.

The Carton Council is composed of four leading carton manufacturers, Elopak, SIG Combibloc, Evergreen Packaging and Tetra Pak, as well as an associate member, Nippon Dynawave Packaging. Formed in 2009, the Carton Council works to deliver long-term collaborative solutions in order to divert cartons from the landfill. Through a united effort, the Carton Council says it is committed to building a sustainable infrastructure for carton recycling nationwide and works toward its continued goal of adding access to carton recycling throughout the U.S.


Galfab announces employee stock ownership plan

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 08:49
Charlotte, North Carolina-based Mosaic Capital Partners LLC, has announced that it has led the structuring and funding of the employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) buyout of Galfab, a manufacturing company with locations in Indiana and Arizona that was previously owned by Wastebuilt Environmental Solutions LLC, Bolingbrook, Illinois.

Mosaic Managing Partner Keith Butcher says, “Our team at Mosaic was honored to be selected to partner with Jerry Samson, the management and employees in Galfab’s transition to employee ownership. Galfab is recognized throughout the industry as a premier designer and manufacturer of waste equipment of all types.”

Samson, Galfab CEO, says, “We were very thorough in our process to choose the right partner. It became evident that Mosaic offered our employees, our customers and our growth strategy the best opportunity. The desire to create an ownership opportunity in Galfab for our over 150 employees was always the top priority for us. Our employees are the heart and soul of Galfab. We feel our corporate philosophy respects their individual skills, cooperative spirit and dedication to exceptional quality and service. This company was founded by Don Galbreath and built on his reputation in the industry. Taking care of all the employees was foremost on our mind. Galfab is well-known as an industry innovator and this new structure will position Galfab as a leading-edge manufacturing employer.”

Dave McKeon, COO of Wastebuilt Environmental Solutions, says, “We are very proud of Galfab’s growth and success under Wastebuilt’s ownership, and we look forward to partnering with Jerry and his team as Galfab becomes an independent, employee-owned company. Wastebuilt will continue to focus on its core business of providing parts, service and equipment to the refuse industry, with Galfab as an important partner for our company.”

Galfab is based in Winamac, Indiana, and in Phoenix. The company manufactures cable roll-off hoists, single-axle hook hoists, open-top roll-off containers, packer-receiver containers, front- and rear-load containers, self-contained compactors, self-dumping hoppers and various other products for transportation in the garbage and scrap industry. 


NWRA releases position on China’s proposed ban on recyclables

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 08:34
The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA), Arlington, Virginia, has announced its position on China’s proposed ban on recyclables.

The positions states: “On July 18, 2017, the Chinese government notified the World Trade Organization of their plans to ban 24 ‘solid waste’ materials by the end of 2017. These materials include various types of plastic and unsorted paper. According to the Chinese, the ban is being enacted to protect its environment and reduce pollution resulting from managing these materials.

“The National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA) supports the efforts of the Chinese government to improve environmental protection and standards within its recycling infrastructure. However, the decision to ban the import of recyclable materials would have a significant impact on the waste and recycling industry. Not only will the ban impact the recycling industry in the U.S. but also the Chinese manufacturing industry that relies on those materials.”

Although the ban has identified a number of different materials, the NWRA says confusion remains about which products will be affected. At this point, mixed paper and postconsumer plastics appear to be included in the ban. In the U.S., a significant amount of those materials is exported to China.

In 2016, approximately 41 percent of paper recovered in the North Americas was exported, with about one-quarter being exported to Chinese mills. Similarly, more than 20 percent of postconsumer bottles and 33 percent of nonbottle rigid plastics from the U.S. were exported in 2015. 

“With the amount of recyclables currently transported to China, the ability of the American markets to absorb the banned materials would be strained,” NWRA says. “At a minimum, this is anticipated to affect the costs of these materials. However, it could result in the lack of markets for some of the materials altogether, forcing material to be landfilled.”

The NWRA adds, “The U.S. recycling industry relies on the mostly volunteer efforts of the public to separate their recyclables from their waste. Should banned materials end up landfilled, the public confidence could be shaken creating long-term consequences in material quality and segregation efforts.”

The association says it has been working with its members and other associations to raise awareness in the U.S. and Chinese governments. The NWRA has encouraged the Chinese government to reconsider the implementation and to discuss using strict international standards to control the quality of recyclable materials rather than pursue an outright ban these materials.