Waste Management fined by DNREC for recycling violations

One of Delaware’s major waste haulers hasn’t completely done its job, according to Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control officials.

Waste Management of Delaware Inc. was recently fined nearly $44,000 for multiple recycling violations, including failure to separate recyclables from regular solid waste on garbage trucks, and for not providing curbside recycling service, as required by law.

On April 25, DNREC Secretary David S. Small issued a Notice of Administrative Penalty Assessment and Secretary’s Order.

Waste Management is licensed to transport solid waste in Delaware, operating out of offices in Georgetown and Wilmington. It processes Delaware recyclables at both public and privately operated recycling centers.

Representatives of the company did not respond this week to the Coastal Point’s questions about why Waste Management didn’t separate trash and recyclables, why the company didn’t provide curbside recycling, or why violations may have continued if upper management personally knew that the company wasn’t performing up to snuff in 2014, as has been alleged.

Under the Universal Recycling Law, Delaware requires regular residential trash haulers to also collect “recyclable materials in a manner to ensure that the … materials enter the marketplace and are otherwise not disposed via a landfill or by incineration,” DNREC officials stated.

Since 2011 and 2013, Delaware State Code has required trash haulers to provide door-to-door residential recycling services to their household customers. That includes “delivery of a container … that is adequately sized for the customer’s use, such that recycling is encouraged and disposal of recyclables is discouraged.”

In the notice, Waste Management was cited five violations of the law. They had three additional violations for not separating recyclables from the waste stream properly.

DNREC had previously issued several notices of violation to Waste Management, in June and October of 2014, and in January of 2016, for failure to provide adequate single-stream recycling collection services to the residential customers in certain areas.

In 2015, the Bayside community east of Selbyville only had large central containers for recyclables, although they received individual curbside trash collection. Waste Management had not delivered recycling containers to collect curbside recycling.

In 2014, a Smyrna mobile home park made that same complaint, with neighbors sharing only shared one recycling container, although they had individual curbside trash collection. In New Castle, an apartment complex had no single-stream recyclables collection, although there was trash collection via 20 large central containers.

“It is important to note that on multiple occasions … [DNREC] staff had phone conversations and exchanged emails with Mr. Kurt Pilarski [senior district manager] and other upper management employees of Waste Management regarding the violations,” according to DNREC. “[They] expressed their understanding of the violations and their confidence in Waste Management’s ability to achieve and maintain compliance.”

In addition to not providing individual curbside recycling, according to the notice, recyclables were mixed with regular garbage. Observant residents complained about that in Lewes and Wilmington neighborhoods in 2015.

“We take very seriously our obligation to comply with all statutes, rules and regulations that govern our operations in Delaware. We responded promptly and took immediate action to satisfy the previous notice of violations,” read a company-issued statement, sent by John Hambrose, communications manager for Waste Management’s Greater Mid-Atlantic Area, based in Taylor, Pa.

The company has 20 days to remedy all of the problems and pay a $40,000 fine, plus $3,660.76 for DNREC’s investigation costs.

“We continue to work within the State-mandated universal recycling laws as we service our customers across the state. We are reviewing the department’s order and will respond appropriately,” the Waste Management statement continued.

Headquartered in Texas, Waste Management is a publicly-traded company, serving residential, commercial, industrial and municipal customers throughout North America.

DNREC has the right to enact further penalties, including suspending or terminating Waste Management’s hauling permit, or a temporary restraining order or an injunction. Within 30 days, Waste Management could also request a public hearing. Otherwise, the April order becomes permanent.

The Secretary’s Order can be found online at http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/Info/Pages/SecOrders_Enforcement.aspx.