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EBI News for May 04, 2022- Plastic-eating Enzyme Could Eliminate Billions of Tons of Landfill Waste

EBI News for May 04, 2022 – The following news section contains the latest stories for the environmental industry. Including, Plastic-eating enzyme could eliminate billions of tons of landfill waste, acquisitions, and more!

Deloitte to invest $1B in Sustainability & Climate practice

Deloitte announced a significant expansion of its global Sustainability & Climate practice, including an investment of $1 billion in client-related services, data-driven research, and assets and capabilities. The practice will “equip Deloitte’s 345,000 professionals and client network with the skillset and knowledge to further this societal imperative,” the firm stated. Deloitte is also launching the Deloitte Center for Sustainable Progress. Large advisory and audit firms have been boosting their sustainability offerings. According to an article on Consultancy.uk, Boston Consulting Group has committed to spend $400 million on climate goals before 2030; McKinsey & Company has launched a new ESG practice; Accenture has an acquisition campaign to ramp up its environmental credentials; and KPMG stated in 2021 that it would invest over $1 billion in sustainability and ESG services. 


Net zero ambitions call for eightfold increase in CCUS pipeline by 2050

Planned carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) capacity has doubled to over 800 million tonnes of CO2 per year in just six months, according to Wood Mackenzie—fast but not fast enough to support global net zero targets. Wood Mackenzie is tracking almost 600 projects, nearly 100 of which were added in Q1 2022. More than 80% of the planned project pipeline is centered around CO2 storage hubs with shared infrastructure, with most targeting start-up before the end of the decade. Over 75% of announced hub capacity is in five countries: the United States, Canada, the UK, Russia and the Netherlands. Notable hub newcomers in Q1 2022 include Norway’s Smeaheia, Canada’s Meadowbrook Hub and the UK’s Medway Hub. “There’s little doubt that 2022 will be a pivotal year for implementation,” Wood Mackenzie reported.


Jacobs to host UK research into nuclear modular manufacturing

Jacobs is providing engineering testing and workspace to support the UK’s research into modular manufacturing for the nuclear sector. The UK’s Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) is moving its modular manufacturing research group to Jacobs’ Birchwood Park facility near Warrington, UK, where Jacobs operates 12,000m² of laboratories and test rigs. Jacobs joined the Nuclear AMRC as a tier one member in August 2021 to help drive innovation in advanced nuclear technologies. The Nuclear AMRC will work closely with Jacobs’ materials and structural integrity teams.


Plastic-eating enzyme could eliminate billions of tons of landfill waste

An enzyme variant created by engineers and scientists at The University of Texas at Austin has the potential to “supercharge recycling on a large scale that would allow major industries to reduce their environmental impact by recovering and reusing plastics at the molecular level,” according to the Cockrell School of Engineering. 

Published in Nature, the project focuses on polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The enzyme was able to complete a “circular process” of depolymerization and repolymerization and in some cases can fully break down the plastics to monomers in as little as 24 hours. Research on enzymes for plastic recycling has advanced during the past 15 years, but no one has been able to make enzymes that could operate efficiently at low temperatures to make them both portable and affordable at large scale, reported Cockrell. FAST-PETase can perform the process at less than 50 degrees Celsius. Researchers are eyeing uses such as cleaning up landfills, environmental remediation, and greening high waste-producing industries.


Plastic recycling volumes highlight need for immediate solutions

Plastics recycling faced major disruptions during the pandemic, in addition to supply chain issues impacting availability of material, according to the new U.S. Post-consumer Plastic Recycling Data Report. In 2020, a total of 4,803.8 million pounds of post-consumer plastics sourced in the United States were recovered for recycling, down 5.7% compared to 2019. Despite these challenges, the trend of more U.S. sourced post-consumer plastics acquired for use by reclaimers in North America continues, the Assn. of Plastic Recyclers (APR) reported. Of the post-consumer plastics sourced in the U.S., only 8% was exported overseas. “We need to focus our efforts on technologies that are up and running today. Mechanical recyclers have the capacity to process more material but lack the supply to meet the current demand for post-consumer resin,” said Steve Alexander, APR president and CEO. “Expanding and streamlining recycling collection programs, less confusion with labelling, and reducing contamination through design for recyclability should be key priorities.” 


Brown and Caldwell to develop Vancouver’s Healthy Waters Plan

Brown and Caldwell (Walnut Creek, Calif.), in partnership with Kerr Wood Leidal (Burnaby, B.C.), has been engaged to develop the Healthy Waters Plan: Adapting and Integrating Sewage & Rainwater Management in Vancouver, B.C. The City manages over 2,000 kilometers of underground storm, sanitary, and combined pipes, 45,000 stormwater catch basins, over 100,000 service connections, and 25 pump stations. The two-part plan aims to guide policy, regulation, advocacy, and long-range investments in Vancouver’s sewer and stormwater management while supporting equity for all Vancouverites and reconciliation with Indigenous communities. It will leverage Vancouver’s Rain City Strategy to integrate rainwater and sewer infrastructure programs using a One Water approach.


Water Tower welcomes Carollo as a Sustaining Partner

Carollo Engineers (Walnut Creek, Calif.) has become a Sustaining Partner at The Water Tower Innovation Center, a 55,000-square-foot research collective on The Water Tower Global Innovation Hub Campus in Gwinnett County, Georgia. The campus will serve as an accelerator for water innovation by bringing together utilities, technology providers, educational institutions, and other industry partners to conduct applied research, technology innovation, workforce development, and community engagement. Carollo is an environmental engineering firm specializing in water and wastewater facilities.


Republic Services completes acquisition of US Ecology

Republic Services Inc. (Phoenix, Ariz.) has completed its acquisition of US Ecology Inc. (Boise, Idaho) for a total value of $2.2 billion including debt net of cash acquired. The transaction expands Republic’s environmental solutions footprint across the United States and Canada and provides vertically integrated capabilities for Republic’s environmental solutions business. It also provides a platform for accelerated growth, including cross-selling revenue opportunity estimated at $75 million to $100 million, and cost synergies of $40 million within the first three years.


GFL Environmental adds to southern U.S. footprint

GFL Environmental Inc. (Vaughan, Ontario) announced the acquisition of Sprint Waste Services (Houston), a vertically integrated network of solid waste assets with 14 sites in Texas and two in Louisiana, including two C&D landfills in Houston. Sprint Waste has a fleet of over 400 vehicles and more than 500 employees. Including Sprint Waste, since the start of the year GFL has completed 20 mostly small tuck-in acquisitions, which are expected to contribute approximately $300 million in aggregate annualized revenue.


WM to invest $825M in renewable natural gas infrastructure

WM (Houston) plans to invest $825 million in its renewable energy footprint from 2022-2025 by expanding its renewable natural gas (RNG) infrastructure. WM’s network of RNG plants, landfill gas-to-electricity plants and other beneficial use projects are estimated to enable the company to provide enough renewable energy to supply the equivalent of 1 million homes across North America and help WM fuel its entire natural gas fleet with RNG by 2026. According to WM, its accelerated RNG investment positions the company to outpace its original goal of fueling 50% of its natural gas fleet by 2025. 


TRC pledges Net Zero GHG emissions by 2040

TRC Companies (Windsor, Conn.) announced a commitment to achieve Net Zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across its full value chain by 2040. To drive progress, TRC has set 2030 targets for a 6% reduction in company-wide Scope 1 and 2 emissions (offices and fleet vehicles) from 2019 levels, and a 25% reduction in company-wide Scope 3 emissions (business travel, employee commuting, and purchased goods) from 2021 levels. “We must lead the way in establishing sustainable business practices and support our clients in efforts to reduce their impact on the environment as well,” said Christopher Vincze, TRC chairman and CEO.


Tetra Tech receives patent for sustainable aviation assessment 

Tetra Tech Inc. (Pasadena, Calif.) has been awarded a U.S. patent for its proprietary Volans 3D animation and visualization software. The software provides a platform to assess environmental impacts of air traffic activity, and is used for environmental analysis and visualization by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and air navigation organizations in Canada, Australia, South America, and Europe. “Volans saves the aviation industry significant time and money in meeting their sustainability goals of building a net zero sustainable aviation system,” Tetra Tech stated.


Sentinel Capital acquires SPL testing labs

Sentinel Capital Partners has acquired SPL (Houston), a provider of testing, inspection, and certification services for the energy and environmental markets. Terms were not disclosed. SPL serves more than 1,700 customers, including some of the largest global energy companies, operates 22 lab testing and service centers, and has more than 250 technicians that analyze hundreds of thousands of samples annually. “SPL’s senior leadership team, with nearly 200 years of combined experience, has driven an impressive organic growth plan, including completion of five acquisitions since 2017,” said Scott Perry, partner at Sentinel.


EA awarded Kent County DPW architectural and engineering contract

EA Engineering, Science, and Technology Inc. PBC (Hunt Valley, Md.), has been awarded an Open Master Contract for Architectural and Engineering Services by Kent County, Maryland’s Department of Public Works (DPW). The contract, which has multiple awardees, has a base period of performance of one year, with three

one-year options for a total duration of four years. EA will provide architectural and engineering services for the renovation of existing facilities and the construction of new ones. This will include all facilities for which the DPW is responsible such as stormwater, water, and wastewater management systems; roads and bridges; and public parks.


Accenture to boost sustainability services with Greenfish

Accenture (Dublin, Ireland) has announced its intent to acquire Greenfish (Brussels, Belgium), an engineering and advisory company specializing in sustainability consultancy services. Founded in 2010, Greenfish has offices in Belgium, France, and the Netherlands; the company’s more than 270 professionals would join Accenture Sustainability Services.


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