The Problems with Casella’s Single Stream Plan

Casella’s Single Stream Recycling Facility in Charlestown, Massachusetts, has been investigated for major threats to worker safety.

In 2009 the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH) conducted a health and safety assessment of work performed by employees of Casella Recycling Company in response to reports by numerous workers about widespread injuries and health problems caused by unsafe and unhealthful work conditions. The report including findings of injuries resulting from scratches to eye; cuts by sharp objects such as metal and glass; respiratory problems that may be associated with exposure to dust and odors from toxic chemicals; eye, throat and skin irritations; needlestick injury – cut along with biohazard risk. The assessment also noted a lack of first aid station to treat injuries, lack of necessary training, and discriminatory firing practices.

Source: “Health and Safety Asessment of Casella Recycling,” MassCOSH, Nov 16, 2009. MassCOSHCasellaReport2009


Casella plans to bring in over 5,000 trucks a year to the proposed River Road facility.

There does not appear to be anything in the contract to address wear and tear on roads along the route or the impact on neighborhoods and businesses along the route.

Source: Lewiston City Council Meeting, December 11, 2012 . (See the video at: by clicking on Lewiston Government and clicking on the Council Meeting for 12/11/12.)


Casella has a history of using overloaded trucks at other Maine operations.

In 2003 and 2004, residents of towns surrounding the company’s Hampden and Old Town dumps sued Casella and the State BEP, after records proved that over 30% of the incoming trash trucks were over the 100,000 pound weight limit for secondary roads, with over 500 trucks weighing more than 110,000 pounds.

Source: “Overweight trucks noted at landfill Hampden data part of case concerning Old Town site,” Bangor Daily News, Nov 5, 2005


The proposed 20-year lease currently allows Casella to “temporarily” store hazardous waste at the single stream facility, with no definition for how long “temporary” lasts.

The proposed contract also contains “hold harmless” provisions for Casella’s access to the River Rd. site through city property and city access to the property through Casella, so that if a Lewiston resident gets injured and sues, Casella is not liable, and vice versa.

Source: December 11, 2012 Lewiston City Council Meeting (See the video at: by clicking on Lewiston Government and clicking on the Council Meeting for 12/11/12.)


Casella’s proposal for single stream “recycling” in Lewiston would bring more out-of-state trash to Lewiston.

Casella’s proposed single-stream recycling facility at Lewiston’s landfill would allow the company to process 90 million pounds of waste a year.

The processing facility would be allowed to take in waste from Casella’s KTI Bio Fuels operation. Last year, KTI imported over 180,000 tons of waste from southern New England, most of which ended up in the state-owned, Casella-operated JRL dump in Old Town. Now those materials could also be burned in Auburn, and end up in Lewiston’s landfill.

Sources: “Casella’s ‘Zero-Sort’ process may be coming to Lewiston,” Sun Journal, Sept 1, 2012

“Lewiston councilors plan visit to Casella plant,” Sun Journal Sep 17, 2012.


Recycling rates from Casella for its single-stream operations may be inflated.

Representatives from Casella claim that over 92% of materials processed in the single-stream facility would be recycled. That is far above figures from a national survey of 36 programs by Governmental Advisory Associates, which estimates the average recycling rate for single-stream to be 83%. One reason for the difference may be that waste companies often count any materials that are used as “daily cover” on landfills as recycling, instead of residual waste. By its own numbers, Casella’s operation is expected to produce an extra 3, 375 tons of non-recyclable waste a year. By average national rates, that number increases to 7,470 tons of waste added to Maine landfills.

Source: “Single-stream and dual-stream recycling: Comparitive impacts of commingled recyclables processing,” Tim Goodman & Associates, Jan 20, 2006.


Casella’s current contract with Lewiston primarily financially benefits Casella.

Under Lewiston’s current contract with Casella, the city only receives income from sale of its single stream recyclables if Casella receives over $75 a ton for the materials. That’s a great deal for Casella in a market where the price paid for recyclables from a single-stream facility are extremely low.

Mixed materials resulting from the single-stream recycling process sell for a much lower rate than clean, sorted materials.


Auburn recently switched Single Stream to Dual Sort recycling with All Mighty Waste in 2011 due to the extremely low market value of materials from single stream facilities.

“The problem with a single-stream program is that it renders most of the commodities recycled practically worthless,” said Dom Casavant, chairman of the city’s Solid Waste Subcommittee. Broken glass from bottles and jars gets mixed in with paper and cardboard, and that reduces their value, Casavant said.

Source: “New Lewiston recycling program begins July 1,” Sun Journal, June 23, 2011

Source: “Single-stream recycling fails in Auburn, Maine,” Waste Recycling News, Sept 22, 2011


Casella has successfully lobbied for the expansion of the Class I Renewable Energy Credit program to include trash gas, and classify dumping waste in landfills as Recycling and Renewable energy.

The company is now dependent on millions of dollars in Public subsidies paid for by Maine electric ratepayers and taxpayers. REC subsidies make it profitable for Casella to truck out-of-state waste hundreds of miles away from its source, dump it in Maine, and cushion the company from the effects of increasing fuel costs.

Sources: Renewable Energy Credit Power Point Presentation by Thomas A. Mackie at the Solid Waste Association of North America’s (SWANA) 77th Annual & Recycling & Solid Waste Conference

The Economic Impact of Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard,” Maine Heritage Policy Center, Sept 27, 2012.


Casella makes most of its profits from trash disposal.

82% of Casella’s revenue comes from solid waste operations, and only 10% from recycling.

Source: Reuters, S&P affirms Casella Waste Systems ‘B’ rating, September 25, 2012


A New York Attorney General’s Recycling Probe resulted in Casella paying settlement for putting recyclables into dumps.

The Attorney General’s investigation revealed that at various times between January 1998 and May 2000, Casella-owned waste haulers sent recyclables to Casella dumps.The customers paid for, but did not consistently receive, recycling services.

Source: Press Release from NY Attorney General Schneiderman, December 4, 2000.


One response to “The Problems with Casella’s Single Stream Plan

  1. Nancy Reynolds

    January 8, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    NO CASELLA, PLEASE !!!!!!!


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