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Recent news and developments from the waste and environmental services industry.

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October 9, 2018
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NWRA urges FMCSA to exempt waste industry from ELD mandate

The National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA), Arlington, Virginia, has filed comments with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requesting an industry-wide exemption from the electronic logging device (ELD) rules in response to a request for public input contained in an advance notice of proposed rule-making (ANPRM) on hours of service (HOS) of drivers issued by FMCSA and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

According to FMCSA’s website, “The ELD rule … is intended to help create a safer work environment for drivers and make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage and share records of duty status (RODS) data. An ELD synchronizes with a vehicle engine to automatically record driving time for easier, more accurate HOS recording.”

In the comments by NWRA President and CEO Darrell Smith, the association acknowledges the safety benefits ELDs present for other sectors while demonstrating that such devices are actually counter-productive for the waste and recycling industry since they increase the risks associated with distracted driving.

“NWRA calls upon FMCSA to recognize the unique nature of waste and recycling collection operations and create an industry-wide exemption as it already has done for the ready-mix concrete and asphalt pavement industries,” Smith says.

The association cites those exemptions and requests the same for the waste and recycling industry based upon its similarities to these industries.

Waste and recycling companies operate local route service trucks with drivers starting and ending their days at the same location, rarely traveling beyond a 40-mile radius, NWRA says. The frequency with which waste and recycling industry drivers must interact with ELDs because of the start-and-stop nature of collection creates a hazard unlike other industries face, according to the organization.

Countries voice support for controlling plastic scrap in international trade treaty

The 11th Meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group of the Basel Convention has concluded with support for Norway’s proposal to add plastics to the list of wastes subject to the trade controls under the convention, according to a number of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that back the proposal.

The proposal is seen as a key mechanism to reduce marine debris and plastic litter, the NGOs, which include the Basel Action Network (BAN), Seattle; the Break Free From Plastic movement; and the Center for International Environmental Law (CEIL), Washington, say. It would add plastic waste to Annex II, a list of wastes for “special consideration” under the Basel Convention that requires notification by exporting countries and consent by importing countries prior to export.

Because of the growing volume of plastic waste being produced and the plastic scrap import ban in China, this material, primarily from Europe, Japan and North America, has been difficult to sell on the global market with the exception of in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia, the organizations say. “The plastic scrap is often contaminated and mixed in ways that makes it difficult or impossible to recycle, and thus, ends up being dumped or burned openly in the recipient countries, creating toxic emissions and terrestrial and marine pollution,” they add.

As of June 24, Thailand had seized 30,000 container loads of plastic scrap at its ports and began imposing an import ban.

“Southeast Asia is already being hit hard by a tsunami of plastic waste,” Von Hernandez, global coordinator of the Break Free from Plastic movement, says. “The Norwegian proposal to place plastic scrap under Basel controls will be a significant first step to protect Southeast Asia and developing countries everywhere from becoming the trash bins of the developed world.”

According to the NGOs, many countries voiced their support for the Norwegian proposal on the floor of the meeting. However, some countries hope to block, delay or water down the proposal, the organizations add.

The Washington-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries has voiced its concern regarding the proposals before the Basel Convention, saying they could reshape and harm the trade of plastic scrap.

The meeting also recommended the creation of a multistakeholder global partnership on plastic waste. Both proposals will be forwarded to the 14th Conference of the Parties of the Basel Convention for a decision in April 2019.