Republic Services announces opening of Sacramento area organics preprocessing facility – Construction & Demolition Recycling

The new facility is capable of processing 40,000 pounds of food waste per hour.
Republic Services Inc., Phoenix, announced on Dec. 1 that it has opened the Sacramento area’s first organics preprocessing facility, which will help local communities divert food waste from landfills and turn it into renewable energy.
A new California state law, SB 1383, aimed at combating climate change takes effect Jan. 1, 2022, and will require the majority of California homes and businesses to recycle food and yard waste at facilities such as this one.
“Republic Services is proud to offer solutions to support California’s climate goals and the effort to recycle food waste,” Mike Caprio, Republic area president, says. “As one of the largest recyclers and composters in the state, we continue to invest in infrastructure that will help our customers reduce their impact and provide a circular solution.”
Republic’s new facility accepts food waste collected from businesses in Sacramento County. The operation removes contamination such as plastic bags and produces clean organic material that is delivered to an anaerobic digestion facility. This facility converts the organic material into renewable energy that is used to power the facility and, ultimately, could be sold to the public utility grid.
The new Sacramento facility is capable of processing 40,000 pounds of food waste per hour. This is Republic’s third organics preprocessing operation, all of which are in California. The company also owns and operates six composting facilities in the state. In 2020, Republic processed more than 2.15 billion pounds of food and yard waste.
The company, which was named 2020 Organics Recycler of the Year by the National Waste & Recycling Association, says organics recycling directly supports its sustainability goal to increase recovery and circularity of key materials from the waste stream by 40 percent by 2030.

According to data analyzed by AGC, construction employment increased in 66 percent of metro areas in the U.S. over the last year.
Nearly two out of three U.S. metro areas added construction jobs between October 2020 and October 2021, according to an Associated General Contractorsof America (AGC) analysis of government employment data released Nov. 30. Association officials noted that the job gains would likely have been larger and more widespread if firms weren’t dealing with the twin challenges of supply chain problems and labor shortages.
“While it is heartening that construction is recovering from the lows of 2020 in much of the country, the pandemic is still causing major supply chain problems and is keeping some workers from seeking employment,” Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist, says. “Those impediments threaten to limit construction employment gains in many metros.”
Construction employment increased in 236 of 358 metro areas (66 percent) over the last 12 months. Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, California, added the most construction jobs (6,800 jobs; 9 percent), followed by Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Massachusetts, (6,600 jobs; 9 percent); Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Florida, (6,400 jobs; 9 percent); Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Washington, (5,500 jobs; 5 percent); and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, (5,200 jobs; 7 percent). Worcester, Massachusetts, had the highest percentage increase (20 percent; 2,000 jobs), followed by Sioux Falls, South Dakota, (19 percent; 800 jobs); Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas, (19 percent; 3,200 jobs); Atlantic City-Hammonton, New Jersey, (16 percent; 800 jobs) and Sierra Vista-Douglas, Arizona, (15 percent, 500 jobs).
Construction employment declined from a year earlier in 72 metros and held steady in 50. Nassau County-Suffolk County, New York, lost the most jobs (-6,700; -8 percent), followed by New York City (-5,500 jobs; -3 percent); Orange-Rockland-Westchester counties, New York, (-3,600 jobs; -8 percent); Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas, (-2,800 jobs; -2 percent); and Calvert-Charles-Prince George’s counties, Maryland, (-2,600 jobs; -8 percent). The largest percentage declines were in Evansville, Indiana/Kentucky,. (-17 percent; -1,700 jobs); Altoona, Pennsylvania, (-13 percent; -400 jobs); Watertown-Fort Drum, New York, (-11 percent; -200 jobs); and Gary, Indiana, (-10 percent; -1,700 jobs).
Association officials urged the Biden administration to continue working to reduce tariffs on key construction materials and to take additional steps to ease supply chain problems at ports and other shipping facilities. They added that the association was working to recruit more people into the construction industry, and the recently enacted infrastructure bill should send a positive message to many workers about the expanding career opportunities in construction.
“Firms are struggling to source materials for projects, coping with rising prices for those materials, all while eagerly searching for workers to put those materials in place,” Stephen Sandherr, CEO at AGC, says. “We are eager to work with public officials to address supply chain challenges even as we work to recruit more people into high-paying construction careers.”
View the metro employment datarankingstop10, and new highs and lows.
Recycled-content aggregates now part of environmental services firm’s “ecoproducts” line.
Harsco Environmental, a division of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania-based Harsco Corp., is rebranding its former Applied Products line to “ecoproducts,” a trademarked name it says reflects Harsco’s “capabilities as an end-to-end solutions provider.”
The renamed line of products includes more than 60 products serving seven industries, including iron and steel, road building and abrasives, roofing, construction and cement.
States Harsco, “ecoproducts strives to provide a sustainable alternative to virgin material by being more cost-effective and offering higher performance than raw materials such as mined or processed metals.”
Comments Russ Mitchell, vice president and chief operating officer for Harsco Environmental. “Where most see waste, we see unimagined value. Since our inception, Harsco Environmental has been renowned for its vast service offerings and has remained at the front lines for our customers. As we evolve into an environmental solutions provider, we are committed to increasing our sustainable offerings.”
Adds Mitchell, “Our rebranding to ecoproducts better represents what this product line offers to all stakeholders, the industry and our customers.” Stakeholders include steel mill operators who generate the slag that Harsco processes and construction and road building contractors who are end users of recycled-content aggregates containing slag.
Harsco Environmental says it also has adjusted aspects of its internal structure and launched a new website focused on ecoproducts.  Adds the company, “As the most comprehensive provider of onsite material processing and environmental services to the global metals industry, Harsco Environmental has operations at more than 130 customer sites across more than 30 countries.”
European Commission says stainless producer can acquire global stainless scrap supplier.
Luxembourg-based stainless steel producer Aperam S.A. says its pending acquisition of ELG, a Germany-based stainless steel and alloys scrap processor and trader with global operations, has been approved by the European Commission. Aperam says it expects the acquisition to be completed before the end of the year.
On its website, ELG says it is being “sold as a complete group and [will] continue to operate as a fully separate and independent company.”
Outgoing ELG shareholder Franz Haniel & Cie GmbH says, “ELG will continue to serve all of its customers in their best interests. We are looking forward to continuing our business with you in these new circumstances and striving to develop our relationship further.”
On its website, ELG refers to itself as having some 1,270 employees globally who help handle approximately “1.12 million metric tons of recycled raw materials per year.”
In the United States, ELG’s acquisition of Utica, New York-based Utica Alloys Group in 2008 gave it an increased presence in aerospace alloys recycling. It had previously acquired Pittsburgh-based stainless processor Steelmet Inc. in 1985.
Aperam has stainless and electrical steel production capacity of 2.5 million metric tons in Europe and Brazil.
“The acquisition of ELG’s recycling business will further transform and strengthen Aperam,” said Aperam CEO Timoteo Di Maulo when the purchase was proposed in May. “The combination will benefit our stakeholders by creating value in the recycling industry. It will also accelerate Aperam’s expansion into geographies and industries that are complementary to its current portfolio.”
Since the start of the pandemic, the pool of prospective candidates for waste and recycling industry jobs has dwindled.
Last year, it is estimated that the United States lost 10 million jobs during the height of the pandemic, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. However, as the economy began to rebound from the effects of social distancing and state and local stay-at-home orders that were enacted to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, “Help wanted” signs began decorating a spectrum of businesses across the country, including recyclers and waste haulers.
While life seems to be returning to normal with the availability of the vaccines, a labor shortage is in full force in many places. Recyclers and waste haulers are now competing among themselves and other industries to hire candidates to fill open positions.
“Hiring has grown and changed during the pandemic,” says Patrick Hudson, vice president of customer experience for Phoenix-based Leadpoint Business Services, a provider of work teams and operations support services to the recycling industry. “Due to several reasons, we’ve seen a reduced interest in applying for these kinds of jobs for both passive and active applicants.”
This has disrupted the collection of waste and recyclables and scrap processing, creating cash flow issues and slowing processing times.
To understand how to solve the hiring problem, it is important to understand how it began and its impacts.
Hudson says several factors contributed to the initial slowdown in hiring and the labor shortage that persists today.
Before the pandemic began, companies such as Houston-based Waste Management (WM) had felt hiring pressures related to the aging workforce. WM’s COO John Morris says because of the increased number of retirements and a shrinking pool of younger applicants, the company was struggling.
In March of 2020, when the country began to shut down because of the pandemic, companies halted hiring and reduced staffing to save money. This led to an historic unemployment rate of 13 percent during the height of the pandemic, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The rising rate of unemployment led the federal government to launch enhanced benefits, which some industry leaders say they believe led to a decrease in interested applicants. Bill Keegan, president of Dem-Con Cos., a waste and recycling company based in Shakopee, Minnesota, says the increased unemployment benefits demotivated the labor force from seeking jobs.
“I can really only speculate on this, but I think the enhanced unemployment packages that we have federally could be contributing to the crisis based on what I’m hearing from some people,” he says.
Now that the country is opening back up, Hudson says the biggest factor contributing to the ongoing labor issues in the waste and recycling industry is outside competition for the same labor force. Hudson describes it as the “Amazon effect,” in which companies in other industries, such as technology and retail, are offering more competitive salaries as well as benefits. This means potential workers are switching industries for better opportunities.
“It’s really a hypercompetitive market to get workers right now,” Hudson says. “Our industry is losing out to companies in other industries like Amazon because there has been a failure to meet the growing demands of this post-pandemic labor force,” he adds.
As a result of the hyper competitive landscape for hiring, Keegan says turnover rates also have increased dramatically. This is because municipalities and companies in the waste and recycling industry are speeding up their hiring processes to ensure that certain positions are filled only to have new hires leave shortly afterward for different jobs.
Hudson says it is hard to pinpoint one specific region of the country that has been most affected.
“Every time we put a fire out in one region, a fire brushes up in a different area,” he says. “It’s not necessarily been one area that has been hit the hardest. It kind of jumps around.”
Hudson says recyclers and waste haulers in the South have not been as hurt by the situation. He says this is because a majority of the industry in the South adapted quickly to the pandemic by improving hiring practices.
Morris says WM’s operating costs have increased because when the country opened up earlier this year, processing volumes spiked, and fewer workers were available to handle it. However, he says the company overcame this issue by offsetting a portion of its workforce using new route optimization tools for trucks and artificial intelligence to help with sorting at material recovery facilities.
Still, Morris says this is the first time he has seen a crisis like this during his time at WM.
“Never in history have we seen massive demographic shifts combined with social change and ongoing generational transitions,” Morris says.
The crisis isn’t just affecting private waste haulers. In Portage County, Ohio, the Portage County Solid Waste District, which provides service to 16 communities, has reduced collection services from weekly to every-other week. It also has considered closing drop-off sites.
“It’s come down to a safety concern for our drivers,” says Bill Steiner, director of the Portage County Solid Waste District. “We have five workers, and they’d be driving 70 hours a week each. You can’t have that happen.”
As a result, some of the cities the district serves, such as Streetsboro, Ohio, have hired private collection companies to handle waste management.
Other communities, such as Chattanooga, Tennessee, temporarily shut down recycling collection services. The city’s curbside recycling program was halted for one month because it struggled to fill 32 open positions in its collections program. The program was plagued by a mix of sudden resignations, high turnover and poor pay that contributed to the decline in workers, New York-based Business Insider reports.
According to Business Insider, drivers working for the city were being paid $29,865, which is 118 percent less than what drivers in the private sector are paid. Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly says the city will increase pay by 45 percent to attract more drivers.
While there isn’t a definitive way to overcome the current crisis, that hasn’t stopped companies from trying. Dem-Con and WM have been working to improve the work experience for new and current employees.
Keegan says his company is trying to find a solution to labor shortages by placing a heavier focus on employees. Dem-Con has raised wages for its workers by 7 percent and also has improved its benefits package. The company is spending about three times more on recruitment efforts, as well.
“What’s really been important to us is that we put our people first,” he says. “What that means to us is offering competitive wages and extremely competitive benefit packages so that our employees know they matter to us.”
WM also has placed a heavier focus on overcoming the reduced labor pool. Morris says the company has been hosting events throughout the country to attract more workers. Additionally, WM is offering signing bonuses for essential positions, such as drivers and technicians. The company is considering increasing wages for certain full-time frontline workers, as well.
“In April, we launched ‘WM Your Tomorrow,’ an education and upskilling program for team members,” Morris says. “This program provides an opportunity for benefit-eligible team members to earn a GED or college degree at no cost to them,” he adds.
Morris says that the hardest part about the pandemic and the crisis has been making sure his workers are safe and taken care of.
Morris says it is unclear when the industry will bounce back from the hiring crisis. However, companies are finding new ways to keep up with outside competition and attract a labor force dedicated to working in the industry.
Hudson says the waste and recycling sector never will return to what it was before the pandemic.
“One of the things that I keep hearing is that there’s a belief that things will return to normal after a while,” Hudson says. “We are going to come out of this with a new normal. Nobody really knows what that is going to be. We need to be as nimble as we can and focus on adapting quickly and creating a workplace that folks want to work for.”
Some sources say the current hiring crisis permanently will change the ways the private and public waste and recycling sector hires employees and the ways the industry manages its turnover rates. Steiner suggests that the crisis also will change organizational work environments and how employees interact with employers.
Industry leaders do not have clear answers to what needs to change for the hiring difficulty to end. Until definitive answers can be found, industry leaders such as Hudson, Keegan and Morris say they will continue to find ways to understand and meet the labor shortage head-on.
This article originally appeared in the September issue of Recycling Today. The author is the digital editor for the Recycling Today Media Group and can be reached at