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Sherwin-Williams to pay for hazardous waste

BY HBSDealer Staff

Sherwin-Williams has agreed to pay $570,000 to settle alleged violations of hazardous waste regulations at its paint manufacturing facility at 2325 Hollins Ferry Rd. in Baltimore, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced. 

EPA cited Sherwin-Williams for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which governs the treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous waste.

EPA alleged the following violations:
• Storage of 55-gal. drums of waste paint for greater than 90 days;
• Failure to date and properly label hazardous waste containers;
• Failure to properly close and prevent hazardous waste containers from leaking;
• Failure to comply with certain inspection requirements for hazardous waste containers; and
• Failure to immediately respond to a release at the facility.

As part of the settlement, Sherwin-Williams has neither admitted nor denied liability for the alleged violations, but has certified its compliance with applicable RCRA requirements. 

The RCRA is designed to protect public health and the environment, and avoid costly cleanups by requiring the safe, environmentally sound storage and disposal of hazardous waste.

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Retail container traffic to rise 2.6% in October

BY HBSDEALER Staff

A report released Tuesday by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates said that import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to increase 2.6% in October over the same month last year and should reach its highest level of the year as retailers stock up for the holiday season.

“After a summer of trying to compare apples to oranges, retail cargo is back to normal,” said Jonathan Gold, NRF VP supply chain and customs policy. “October is the historic peak of the shipping cycle each year, and retailers are bringing merchandise into the country on their usual schedule and at normal levels again instead of being forced to move cargo early. Retailers are poised to succeed in maintaining the careful balance between inventory and sales that keeps customers happy while keeping retailers profitable.” 

U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.32 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in August, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was the same as July, but down 7% from August 2010. One TEU is one 20-ft. cargo container or its equivalent.

The August figures followed year-over-year declines of 5% in June and 4% in July, but the statistics were skewed because of higher-than-normal numbers in 2010, when fears of shortages in shipping capacity caused many retailers to bring holiday merchandise into the country earlier than usual. Global Port Tracker counts only the number of cargo containers imported, not the value of their contents, so cargo volume does not directly correlate with retail sales.

Year-over-year cargo growth resumed but was weak in September, which was estimated at 1.37 million TEU, up 2.7% from last year. October is forecast at 1.39 million TEU, up 2.6% from last year, and is expected to regain its historical position as the busiest month of the year after last year’s usual patterns shifted the peak to August. November is forecast at 1.28 million TEU, up 4%, and December is forecast at 1.18 million TEU, up 2.7%. January 2012 is forecast at 1.16 million TEU, down 3.6% from January 2011; and February, traditionally the slowest month of the year, is forecast at 1.1 million TEU, down 3.8%.

The total for 2011 is forecast at 15 million TEU, up 1.8% from 2010. Imports during 2010 totaled 14.7 million TEU, a 16% increase over unusually low numbers in 2009.

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At HIRI summit, the focus is on numbers and growth

BY Ken Clark

Chicago — The unofficial quote of the day came from J. Walker Smith, executive chairman of The Futures Co.: "Screw the economy; you can still be successful in your business."

With that shot over the bow of negativism, the Home Improvement Research Institute’s 30th anniversary event, the HIRI Home Improvement Industry Summit, kicked off Wednesday morning with a full slate of presentations. The event brought about 150 research and marketing experts and countless graphs, charts and PowerPoint slides to a conference room on the banks of the Chicago River.

A few minutes after the Commerce Department released a positive housing starts report early Wednesday morning, Josh Rosenbaum, director of the Global Industrial Group, sized up the numbers from the podium at the summit. The 15% increase in starts was countered by a 5% decline in permits, he said. "The housing starts numbers were good. Whether it’s real — we’ll find out next month," Rosenbaum said. "Some of it might be a release of pent-up demand."

Mixed macroeconomic signals lurked behind many of the charts. But charismatic presenter Walker Smith stressed that the fault lies in ourselves, not the economy. He pointed to several companies outside the home improvement industry that have shown amazing growth — Apple, Hyundai and Zappos, for instance. "These companies have shown unprecedented success during the third worst downturn in U.S. economic history," Smith said.

He encouraged attendees not to be intimidated by the macroeconomic trends and he described innovation as the best antidote for sustained down markets.

Relative optimism for the home improvement market continued from an unlikely source: Zelman & Associates, a firm made famous by bearish and accurate outlooks on home builders before the downturn.

"Just like we were early on the bust, the data supported the bust," said Dennis McGill, director of research for Zelman & Associates. "And we feel the data today supports something more optimistic."

The demographics and household growth support a "snap back," he said. Homes are cheap and people know it. New housing stock is going to be required for a growing population, regardless of the type of financing — rent or own, he said.

"At some point, we have to get up to 1.3 million [starts]," McGill said.

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