M-PASS Environmental Promotion and Team Member Additions

M-PASS Environmental Promotion and Team Member Additions

 Atlanta – March 29, 2018 – M-PASS Environmental, an Atlanta-based waste and recycling management company, is pleased to announce the following promotion and additions to its team.

Chris Witherspoon is now the company’s General Manager and VP – Operations/Customer Service and is responsible for waste and recycling logistics and audit assessment functions. After attending the College of Coastal GA and serving on active duty in the Marine Corps, Chris has held leadership positions with Waste Pro, Veolia ES, and Rubicon Global.

Stephanie Adams has joined the company as the Controller and VP of Administration. She is responsible for cash management/banking relationships, financial reporting, human resources, and the technology platform. Stephanie has an undergraduate degree from Northwestern University, an MBA from the University of Chicago and held positions with Merrill Lynch, KPMG, and United Road.

April Camp has joined the company to lead the web marketing functions including SEO, SEM, and retargeting initiatives. April comes with an extensive background in property management, marketing and sales. She will work closely with the executive team and be responsible for measuring performance, analyzing trends, and developing strategies to drive continuous improvement and growth.

Lorraine White the president and Co-founder of the technology-enabled waste management solution company added that, “We are very excited to continue to build out our platform by promoting and adding these talented individuals to our team.  M-PASS has a national footprint and must continue to invest in strong leaders, scalable technology, and innovative solutions for our current and potential customers to achieve our company’s goals.”

Waste Reduction and Diversion in the South. How We Doin’?

Waste Reduction and Diversion in the South

How We Doin’?

Well, not really very well, according to a March 2015 study reported by Waste360 which ranked “The 10 Best and Worst States for Waste Diversion, Reduction.” No states in the South were among the best, but you will find five Southern states listed among the worst.

So, why is the South falling short in our waste diversion and reduction efforts compared to other parts of the country? There’s one answer and it’s both simple and complicated – it’s about cost. But cost considered only in financial terms, not taking into account costs to the environment and our quality of life.

Though ever-growing numbers of people and businesses are participating in recycling programs in their communities, we still produce enormous amounts of waste. In most cases, a landfill is the easiest answer, and many of us tend to just be content with burying the problem in a landfill. If we can’t see it, we can just forget about it.

We’ve all heard the downsides of landfills: among them, soil and ground water pollution and higher transportation and energy costs (in many cases, waste has to travel a long way to find its landfill home). And P.S., after a landfill is closed, it can take thousands of years for many of the contents – such as Styrofoam – to decompose.

Even with increased interest in recycling, landfills remain the most common and economical waste management solution in many parts of the country. And since the South is a large region with lots of open land, the tipping fees (cost of waste received at landfills) have remained relatively low in the Southern states.

 “Because of this abundance of landfills and land space in certain states, it’s sometimes much
cheaper to dispose of waste rather than recycling. States with less land have greater
difficulty getting rid of their waste, which is why their prices are higher.”

–John Witherspoon, President,
Municipal Waste Consultants of Georgia

These tipping fees vary widely from region to region and even from state to state. For example, according to the Waste Business Journal, in 2017 tipping fees in the Southeast averaged $38 per ton. In the same year, the Northeast averaged $79.3 per ton – more than double the average fee charged in the Southern states.

In coming years, however, we may not be able to blame price differences for our continued landfill use. If you google “increasing landfill fees,” you’ll find news about rising fees from Paso Robles, California to Walker County, Georgia to New Zealand.

According to Waste Dive, the largest landfill fee increases in the United States most recently occurred in the Midwest (8.9%) and the Southeast (6.6%), partly due to the continued popularity of these regions as export destinations for other states. (Isn’t “export” a nice way of saying “we’re sending you our trash”?)

Many states with less land area have found exporting the most effective way to deal with their waste.  In some cases, larger states are also increasing export volumes as their landfill fees

increase or as they look to reduce the number of their landfills. A number of Southern states are receiving these “imports,” among them Alabama, Virginia, South Carolina and Kentucky.

Southern states are even exporting to each other. As an example, trash collected from cities and towns in Florida that border Georgia and Alabama will often be dumped outside the state of origin in order to receive the lower gate rates in those states.

And while we’ve primarily been talking about land mass, it’s important to remember that it’s not only the size of the area that’s an issue. For example, a large state like California today may appear to have lots of land but their greater population density can increase pressure to preserve land and environmental quality.

As you might imagine, transporting huge truckloads of garbage from one region of the country to another adds to the tipping fees – fuel, equipment, and personnel. Some of you may remember the infamous “garbage barge,” which left New York loaded with trash in March of 1987. The waste traveled down the East Coast and around Florida to the Gulf of Mexico. After being banned from six states and two foreign nations (Mexico and Belize), and riding around for almost two months, the waste returned to New York, and was eventually disposed of after a series of inter-borough debates.

No matter how much land we have now or how we choose to use it, we need to remember that open land is a finite resource. And as the economic justification for landfill use becomes less persuasive in the future, we must continue to look at better ways to deal with our waste.  There are things we can do in the meantime, including buying more products made from recycled material, changing our recycling and waste disposal habits, including reducing contamination in our residential recycling by separately recycling glass and ensuring only materials that are 100% recyclable are in the bins. We can also better educating individuals and businesses on the benefits – both economic and environmental – of recycling.

In 2006, M-PASS Environmental developed their Multi-Step Cost Reduction Analysis Process, which, according to President and Founder Lorraine White, “enables us to provide organizations and municipalities with significant cost savings in their waste management and recycling programs. A priority of our work with clients is to enhance sustainable initiatives, including looking for all the possible ways to reduce landfill tonnage and help our clients increase their recycling efforts.”

And finally, by not emphasizing recycling as an alternative to landfills, we are ignoring a huge economic market. According to the Southeast Recycling Development Council (SERDC), “Southeastern manufacturers rely on recycled glass, plastic, metal, and paper to make new consumer goods.” You can get a quick idea of the numbers of these manufacturing sites from SERDC’s interactive map, which highlights key manufacturers using recycled materials to make their products.

In Georgia, for example, we have a recycling market infrastructure which includes the state’s carpet industry which uses recycled plastics, and the pulp and paper mills that use recycled fiber in their production. Our landfills probably contain millions of dollars’ worth of recyclable materials. Materials that could turn into a financial benefit for both the entity dumping the waste as well as the company waiting to turn those materials back into useful products.

Let’s take a longer look at the economics of recycling and take better care of our valuable land resources – both in the South as well as the rest of the United States.

It …
Creates jobs
Saves energy
Conserves natural resources
Contributes to water conservation
Saves landfill space

FreshSense & M-PASS Environmental A Successful Partnership

FreshSense & M-PASS Environmental A Successful Partnership

Ask a dozen people for their definition of success and you will likely get a dozen different answers. The Oxford English Dictionary defines “success” as:

  1. The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.
  2. The attainment of fame, wealth, or social status

“Our timing was good”, said Austin Fleming, one of the founders of FreshSense, “largely because of the increased need for fresh-cut products in our schools.

For FreshSense Foods and M-PASS Environmental, two local Atlanta companies, success can be measured by the volume of their organic recycling material. A novel concept, but one that is important in the eyes of a sustainability-focused business.

FreshSense is an innovative company that was founded in response to a rapidly-growing demand for fresh-cut, or “zero-prep”, produce. Established in January 2013, it is owned and operated by the same families that founded its sister company—Royal Food Service—over twenty years ago.

The second generation of the founding families of Fleming and Whitehurst recognized the growing market for value-added produce, and FreshSense was their “next-generation” solution. The constant search for ways to make our diets healthier and our cooking easier has amplified the zero-prep food market due to the ease with which it allows us to incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables into our meals. Plus, according to the 2015 Men’s Journal article 9 Diet Changes You Can Make Tomorrow, “You’ll eat [fruits and vegetables] faster and more consistently if you eliminate the work of cutting them up”.

While FreshSense services customers through multiple industry sectors, a large portion of their end-users are schools and other institutional feeders. So, if you live in the Southeastern part of the U.S., your kids are probably eating healthier at school thanks to FreshSense. “Our timing was good”, said Austin Fleming, one of the founders of FreshSense, “largely because of the increased need for fresh-cut products in our schools. We are encouraged to see such an increase in the focus on nutrition in those institutions, and are happy to be a part of the initiatives that are making our kids healthier”.

FreshSense Products

Through its history, Royal Foods has always placed an emphasis on sourcing locally-grown food whenever possible, and FreshSense is continuing that philosophy. In addition to their dedication to local sourcing, FreshSense strives to provide customers with a line of fresh and convenient foods that are unmatched in terms of product quality and value.

“According to M-PASS’s Lorraine White:
Recognizing the production growth of FreshSense, M-PASS made significant changes in their waste and recycling program, primarily by diverting organic material from landfill to recycling and enhancing their cardboard recycling program to better fit their growth”

The FreshSense team holds itself to a higher standard in everything they do from product quality and customer service, to safety compliance and employee training. Whole produce enters into the production room and is manufactured to customers’ specs by a combination of automated machinery, and in some instances, manually cut by experienced workers. They work fast to produce the freshest possible product, and you’ll experience an energy in the facility that is always electric.

FreshSense Products

In only four years, FreshSense has more than doubled in size – in the number of employees, the size of its facilities, and product sales. But such meteoric growth comes with operational implications and soon the challenge became disposing of a new magnitude of organic waste. “When we started out, we quickly went from producing 10,000 pounds of organic waste a week to over 100,000 pounds per week,” Fleming said. “From the beginning we were committed to finding solutions to our recycling needs, and those needs had to be in line with our company’s vision to provide long-term sustainability throughout the produce supply chain. But, of course, we also had to be concerned with our operating costs”.

The search for a solution led FreshSense to M-PASS Environmental. According to M-PASS’s Lorraine White: “When we first started doing business with FreshSense in 2014, they were generating around 49 tons of trash per month and recycling almost 5.5 tons of cardboard each month. Recognizing the production growth of FreshSense, M-PASS made significant changes in their waste and recycling program, primarily by diverting organic material from landfill to recycling and enhancing their cardboard recycling program to better fit their growth. Since we set up their organic recycling program, they now recycle 200 tons of organic waste every month. And they average about 40 tons a month in cardboard recycling. Unbelievable volumes”.

Their innate focus on effective employee training paid off and became an important part in the success of the new recycling program. The growing pains were apparent as the FreshSense team developed new procedures to accommodate the initiative, but “I think [our operators and supervisors] do care about the environmental impact of our work,” indicated Fleming.

Chris Witherspoon of M-PASS added, “It was a learning experience for all of us. The results are clear – it is possible for a business to generate large amounts of organic waste in a sustainable, cost-effective manner”.

Fleming said that the partnership with M-PASS has enabled them to refocus on what they do best—providing fresh-cut produce to its customers—by facilitating the necessary waste removal while minimizing their effects on the environment.

M-PASS Has the Answer for Business Owners — Recycling Glass, part 2

Last week we left off with the understanding that demand for glass continues to outpace the supply. How and where do we start to change glass recycling policies?
It’s not that difficult for residential areas because many places have designated recycling centers which accept glass.  (You can usually locate these through your local government).

That sounds easy enough but what about everybody else?
DIY recycling isn’t feasible for everyone due to the potential of large volumes of recycling and the time needed for busy companies to take their glass to a designated center — if there even is one in their area.

Recycled glass can be processed into products as diverse as landscaping rocks and aquarium chips

The alcoholic beverage industry uses over fifty percent of all glass containers, with the majority most likely coming from bars, restaurants, and hotels where beverages are consumed on the premises. It’s difficult to even imagine the huge volume of recyclable glass these businesses can generate.

  • As mentioned in the first part of this discussion Nashville, Tennessee can generate up to 1500 used bottles per hour on a busy night
  • And after North Carolina passed a 2008 law requiring Alcohol Beverage Permit holders to recycle their beverage containers, the number of glass bottles recovered for recycling almost doubled over only the next three years.
    (source: Glass Packaging Institute)

What a huge opportunity for the hospitality & food services industry and other companies to be leaders of a renewed, energized effort to reuse this ageless natural product.

But we’re back to how to solve the problem of separating out the good, reusable glass. The processors do want glass. One of two things must happen to get glass to the processors.  Recycling collection companies must run a dedicated glass route or manually sort what they pick up and do so without losing money in their operation. 

Even though they realized the potential obstacles, M-PASS Environmental wanted to find an answer to help businesses and property management companies recycle glass in the Atlanta metro area.

“A number of forces are still working against us,” said M-PASS General Manager Chris Witherspoon. “For example, states with higher tipping fees (fees charged per load at landfills) are more motivated to separate glass and truck it to a processor. For example, disposal rates at North Carolina’s landfills are double the rates in Georgia. And North Carolina’s collection rates of recyclable glass reflect that difference.”

Okay, now I better understand the issues. But isn’t there any good news about a solution?
Yes! For residential recycling, find out if your collection company sorts out glass and, if not, where you can drop off your glass. (My neighbors and I coordinate so we each only have to make a trip to our county recycling site every other month).

Businesses have another option – and they don’t have to take anything anywhere.

M-PASS Glass Recycling Bin

In February of this year, M-PASS took the lead in glass recycling solutions in the Atlanta area when they began offering a single stream or dual stream recycling program that includes glass.

“This means we can accept glass from our clients because our glass is manually separated and sorted, enabling it to skip the MRF recycling step and go directly to a glass recycling company instead. We are able to do this by partnering with a company that does the manual separation and then sells the product directly to the glass processor,” explained President and Founder Lorraine White. “It has already had a financial benefit for our clients because it means they have less trash to dispose of. Of course, the financial benefit can be greater for companies that generate a greater amount of recyclable materials.”

Here’s the equation: recycling glass = more jobs + energy savings +
greater financial benefit to companies who recycle glass

“It’s no surprise that M-PASS has worked to be at the front of this issue in Georgia,” White continued. “We are recognized in our industry for our ability to analyze a situation, find solutions, and reduce operating expenses. We are also eager to cooperate, and often provide consulting services for other companies in the industry.”

Glass is not going away … neither is M-PASS



It’s Very Clear … We Should Be Recycling Glass

We all most likely handle some type of glass several times a day without thinking about what this material actually is. Glass has been around for thousands of years and from its beginnings has been made primarily with natural elements – sand, limestone, soda ash, and various additives, including those used to color brown, green or blue bottles.

The basic recipe for glass is still the same, but one thing in the mix has changed – the percentage of cullet (crushed recycled glass) used in glass production today. Glass can be recycled endlessly with no loss in quality or purity and can be substituted for up to 95% of raw materials.

While a glass bottle may have been the first thing many of us put in a recycling bin (or took back to the store to get our deposit back), the process of recycling glass has changed over the last few years. It’s really simple: we have glass and there are companies who want glass to process into new containers. Then why does it seem like it’s gotten so complicated? I decided to see if I could simplify things – for myself as well as others.

Processed recycled glass

Why should we recycle glass?
In addition to the fact that glass can live on and on and easily be re-made for different purposes, recycling glass has many other benefits, including

  • Saving natural resources (over a ton of natural resources are saved for every ton of glass recycled)
  • Reducing energy costs
  • Reducing carbon dioxide production
  • Providing opportunities for employment at glass processing facilities

 So what happens to the recycled glass? Who uses it?
An estimated 80% of all glass containers recovered for recycling are re-melted and find new life primarily in new glass containers and fiberglass. According to the Glass Packaging Institute, these two industries collectively purchase 3 million tons of recycled glass annually, which becomes the new containers or fiberglass products.

 Why can’t I put glass in my recycling bin any longer?
This answer depends on who is collecting the recycling. Most of us have Single-Stream Collection at our homes and businesses (all recyclable material are put into the same bin). The responsibility of the collection company is to collect and deliver the single-stream recycling to a Material Recovery Facility (MRF) where everything is processed together by automated sorting equipment. When that happens, the unseparated glass breaks and degrades, losing its value to a glass recycling processor.

It is not because glass can no longer be recycled. In fact the
demand for recycled glass continues to outpace the supply.

Glass recycling is further complicated because guidelines differ from state to state and city to city. In the Atlanta area, for example, glass recycling has essentially become non-existent. Hauling companies and cart service collection companies began eliminating glass from their acceptable materials lists in late 2015 and 2016 because recycling processing facilities stopped accepting glass due to complications in processing glass as a component of a mixed stream.

In contrast, in July of this year, DeKalb County discontinued the placement of glass in curbside single-stream recycling, instead offering its residents county-operated glass recycling drop-off locations featuring a glass separation process. By doing this, DeKalb became the first county in Georgia to offer an official glass recycling drop-off program in an urban area. This program is ideal for residential glass but not necessarily for commercial businesses.

Glass in the landfill

High costs also complicate things, at least in the initial stages of investment. For example, Nashville just announced it will spend $400,000 to start collecting glass bottles for recycling from downtown bars. They are making a big investment, but a worthwhile one. According to Nashville Public Radio, it’s estimated that one of the larger bars in Nashville may go through up to 1,500 glass bottles an hour on busy nights. That’s right: 1,500 AN HOUR.

Where do all the unrecycled bottles end up?
In landfills, of course – where it can take one million years for a glass bottle to decompose. Glass is a hardy material – haven’t you ever wondered how it’s possible we still have glass artifacts from Egypt and other ancient civilizations?

As Atlanta’s population continues to grow, the city is looking for cost-effective solutions to the challenges of recycling glass, including equipment upgrades as well as the development of drop off sites.

 “Georgia is home to eight manufacturing locations that use recycled glass as a material,
providing employment to more than 1300 people. A city the size of Atlanta
can influence all the cities around it.”
—-Bill Clark of Strategic Materials,
the premier supplier of glass cullet to the container industry

The market and the product are here; how can we do more in Georgia and the Atlanta area – whether through government or private companies?

Watch for Part Two next week…

Contact us about Glass Recycling