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A rising industry

America has long remained one of the most wasteful countries in the world, generating 239 million metric tons of garbage every year, about 1,600 to 1,700 pounds per person. While some view it as a threat to our environment and society, the solid waste management industry sees an opportunity.

“It’s a profitable industry,” according to Debra Reinhart, a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors for the EPA. “It’s a difficult industry but it is profitable if it’s done right.”

Two private companies, Waste Management and Republic Services, lead the solid waste management sector. Together they own about 480 landfills out of the 2,627 landfills across the United States. The two companies have seen staggering performance in the market, with the stock prices of both doubling in the past five years. Both Waste Management and Republic Services declined CNBC’s request for an interview.

“They’ve learned how to be best-in-class businesses,” said Michael E. Hoffman, a managing director at Stifel Financial. “Their publicly traded stocks outperformed the market handily between 2015 and 2019 and underpinning it is a meaningful improvement in their free cash flow conversion.” The stocks have continued to outperform.

Tipping fees

Since its inception, landfills have made a majority of their revenue via tipping fees. These fees are charged to trucks that are dropping off their garbage based on their weight per ton.

In 2020, municipal solid waste landfills had an average tipping fee of $53.72 per ton. That translates to roughly $1.4 million a year in approximate average gross revenue for small landfills and $43.5 million a year for large landfills just from gate fees.

Tipping fees have seen steady growth over the past four decades. In 1982, the national average tipping fee sat at $8.07 per ton or about $23.00 when adjusted for inflation. That’s nearly a 133% increase in 35 years.

While tipping fees make landfills sound like a risk-free business, they are still quite an expensive investment. It can cost about $1.1 million to $1.7 million just to construct, operate and close a landfill. For this reason, private companies have replaced municipal governments to own and operate the majority of the landfills across the U.S.

“I think it’s because the trend has been to go larger and larger so the small neighborhood dump can’t exist because of the regulations and the sophistication of the design,” Reinhart said. “So we are tending to see large landfills, which do require a lot of investment upfront.”

Privatization of landfills

Private companies have also played an important role in discovering new ways beyond tipping fees to turn a profit out of garbage. Landfill mining and reclamation, a process of extracting and reprocessing materials from older landfills, is one of them.

In 2011, a private scrap metal company contracted with a nonprofit landfill in southern Maine to mine precious metals. In four years, they recovered more than 37,000 tons of metal worth $7.42 million.

But it isn’t always a success story. In 2017, the city of Denton, Texas, ended its landfill mining program before it could even start after realizing that the benefits weren’t worth its $4.56 million price tag. According to experts, economics is usually the biggest challenge to make landfill mining work.

“There’s virtually no way I can see how that makes money,” said Hoffman. “The commodity values would have to be at such higher levels than they are today for whatever it is you’re trying to get your hands on.”

Meanwhile, some experts argue that landfill mining can be profitable if done correctly by recovering more space for tipping fees.

“Many people are mining but they’re not reusing the space,” according to Sahadat Hossain, professor of civil engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington. “If you do the operation right, you’re never going to be involved and it will always make you money.”

Landfill gas to energy

Modern chemistry has also allowed landfills to be mined for energy, using methane gas that is produced from decaying trash. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, landfill gas generates about 10.5 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity every year. That’s enough to power roughly 810,000 homes and heat nearly 547,000 homes each year.

“The landfill gas operations that are known as low or medium DTU which are the predominant form of capturing the gas and turning it into electricity or steam and then selling it? Those are very good returns on capital projects,” Hoffman said.

While revenue from generating energy and fuel isn’t quite impressive, landfills that participate do benefit greatly from generous subsidies. The tipping fee, combined with various mining techniques and government subsidies have altogether transformed the landfill industry into a booming business.

The solid waste management industry will only continue to expand as long as there are those who view garbage as a resource rather than waste. Because when it comes to landfills, one man’s trash is quite literally another man’s treasure.

“Waste is not a waste, but it’s a resource,” emphasized Hossain. “World has limited resources. If we don’t reuse and recycle these, we cannot talk about a circular economy. That will always be a talk in the tabletop discussion.”

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CEO says Ford is ‘getting close’ to Level 3 autonomous driving that enables ‘hands and eyes off’

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CEO says Ford is 'getting close' to Level 3 autonomous driving that enables 'hands and eyes off'

In a recent interview, Ford CEO Jim Farley discussed the American automaker’s progress in autonomous driving, stating that it has achieved Level 3, which allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel and eyes off the road. However, it’ll still be a while before Ford customers get to test it out.

Autonomous driving remains a hot topic in the world of EV innovation, but much like the 1960s vision of a post-millennium future full of flying cars, true self-driving vehicles are taking much longer to come to reality than anticipated.

Despite its name, Tesla’s “Full-Self Driving” feature is not even close to the Level 4 standard that truly represents such capabilities. In fact, Tesla’s Autopilot is not even Level 3 by SAE standards; the only automaker to deliver vehicles with that level of autonomy is Mercedes-Benz and its Drive Pilot ADAS. Still, that feature is only authorized to operate on approved highways in the US at speeds below 40 mph.

Level 3 autonomy means the driver can take their hands off the wheel and their eyes off the road, and the car will be in control (and liable for any accidents). Most automakers, like Ford, have achieved Level 2 autonomous driving, which enables hands-free but eyes up.

In fact, Ford’s BlueCruise won Consumer Reports’ top spot for driver assistance systems in 2023, beating out GM’s Super Cruise. Tesla placed seventh. Recently, Ford CEO Jim Farley shared an update on the automaker’s progress in autonomous driving, which has already reached Level 3 at the prototype stage.

Ford autonomous
Ford’s Level 2 BlueCruise autonomous driving feature / Source: Ford Motor Company

Ford CEO: Level 3 autonomous driving coming in 2026

In a recent interview with Bloomberg TV, Ford CEO Jim Farley relayed that the company has already been testing out Level 3 autonomous driving, and the technology is about two years away from making its way to passenger EVs. Per Farley:

We’re getting really close. We can do it now pretty regularly with a prototype, but doing it in a cost-effective way is just the progress we’re going to need to make.

Level 3 autonomy will allow you to go hands and eyes off the road on the highway in a couple years so then your car becomes like an office. You could do a conference call and all sorts of stuff.

Farley didn’t share any details of how Ford intends to achieve Level 3 autonomous driving or whether the automaker is exploring LiDAR or vision camera technologies… or both. In 2022, Ford absorbed its autonomous driving arm, Argo AI, stating that full self-driving was too far off.

Given the quick success of hands-free driving through Level 2 ADAS, Level 3 feels like a natural next step for the industry and feels much more plausible than full autonomy being promised by other automakers. All eyes will be on 2026 to see if Ford can deliver a mass-market EV with Level 3 autonomous driving capabilities.

We will keep enjoying hands free driving with BlueCruise, Super Cruise, and Autopilot until then.

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Steep discounts boost EV registrations in April as Toyota, Ford, Rivian lead growth

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Steep discounts boost EV registrations in April as Toyota, Ford, Rivian lead growth

Ford, Rivian, and Toyota led the growth in April as US EV registrations perked up. The growth comes after drastic price cuts and other incentives led to over $10,000 in savings on some models.

Despite talk of cooldown, electric vehicle sales are still growing. Leading EV brands, except Tesla, saw significant growth in April 2024 registrations compared to the previous year.

According to new S&P Global Mobility vehicle data (via Automotive News), EV registrations were up 14% in April. With 102,317 electric cars registered in April, EVs accounted for 7.4% of total light-vehicle registrations.

EVs outpaced the overall light-vehicle market, which had a 7.3% gain. The report notes that the growth was driven by “bonus cash, subsidized financing and lease deals,” as many EV prices reach price parity with their comparable ICE models.

“Automakers are bringing EV prices down to the ICE level and it’s moving the merchandise,” according to Tom Libby, associate director of industry analysis at S&P Global Mobility.

April-EV-registrations
2024 Ford F-150 Lightning Flash (Source: Ford)

Significant deals charge up April EV registrations

Several electric models had double-digit registration growth in April compared to the year before. Leading the way was Toyota’s bZ4X, with 4,666 registrations, up 646% YOY.

However, to be fair, Toyota only sold 625 bZ4X models last April after a slow ramp-up following a recall in 2022 that halted production.

April-EV-registrations
Ford Mustang Mach E at a Tesla Supercharger (Source: Ford)

Ford’s Mustang Mach-E had the second-highest growth at 287%. In April, 5,538 Mach-Es were handed over, up from 1,384 last year. The growth comes after Ford slashed prices and introduced new lease incentives earlier this year.

The Ford F-150 Lightning, America’s best-selling electric pickup, had 96% more registrations (2,509 vs 1,282) in April than the year before. Ford also introduced significant incentives on the EV pickup.

Place Top 10 EV models in April April 2024 Registrations April 2023 Registrations % Change YOY
1 Tesla Model Y 32,922 34,542 -4.7%
2 Tesla Model 3 8,912 19,844 -55.1%
3 Ford Mustang Mach-E 5,358 1,384 +287.1%
4 Toyota bZ4X 4,666 625 +646.6%
5 Hyundai IONIQ 5 4,078 2,117 +92.6%
6 Rivian R1S 2,855 1,259 +126.8%
7 Ford F-150 Lightning 2,509 1,282 +95.7%
8 Tesla Cybertruck 2,181 0 N/A
9 Kia EV6 2,178 1,124 +93.8%
10 Tesla Model X 2,094 1,883 +5.8%
Top ten EV models by registrations in April 2024 (Source: S&P Global Mobility)

Rivian’s R1S also saw triple-digit year-over-year growth in registrations. The R1S had 2,855 registrations, up 127% from the 1,259 in April 2023.

Kia’s EV6 had 94% more registrations, with 2,178, compared to 1,124 in April 2023. Meanwhile, the Hyundai IONIQ 5 continued its hot streak with 4,078 registrations, up 93% YOY.

Rivian-R1S-EV-registrations-April
Rivian R1S (Source: Rivian)

Tesla was the only automaker in the top ten, with EV registrations slipping in April. The Model Y had 32,922 registrations, down 4.7% from 35,542. Tesla’s Model 3 registrations were down 55% YOY with 8,912.

Although many reports suggest Tesla is dragging down the sector, several events, like the new Model 3 launch, contributed to fewer registrations.

Hyundai-new-IONIQ-model
Hyundai IONIQ 5 (Source: Hyundai)

The momentum is expected to continue, with several automakers introducing even more discounts and savings opportunities this month.

Ford slashed Mustang Mach-E lease prices in June with an up to 400% discount. Hyundai is offering a $7,500 cash bonus on all EV models, including the IONIQ 5, IONIQ 6, and new Kona Electric.

Several new EVs are already hitting the market with significant discounts. Chevy Equinox EV lease prices fell to as low as $379 per month, while the Blazer EV is listed as low as $369 per month.

If you’re looking for a new EV, now is the perfect time to start shopping. We can help you get started today. You can use our links below to find deals on popular EV models in your area.

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Tesloid’s Model Y Camping Tent Gen 2 released – here are all the new features

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Tesloid’s Model Y Camping Tent Gen 2 released – here are all the new features

Drive a Tesla Model Y? Love the outdoors? Then you’re going to love Tesloid’s Model Y Camping Tent – Gen 2! Keep reading to learn more about all its terrific new features, plus get free expedited shipping US-wide!

Model Y Camping Tent – Gen 2

Popular US accessory maker Tesloid‘s “big, tiny home” for your Model Y lets you have outdoor fun without the hassle – no leaky pup tents, no sleeping on the cold ground. It’s 100% waterproof, and you sleep on a mattress in the back of the car. (Model Y Camping Tent – Gen 2 fits all model years of the Model Y.)

Teslas are perfect for camping – no toxic tailpipe emissions! – so you can back your Model Y right into the tent. Suppose it gets too chilly or hot when you’re ready to sleep. In that case, Model Ys have the Camp Mode feature that maintains cabin temperature and powers electronics using the USB ports and low-voltage outlet without draining the car’s battery. 

When you want to go out in your Model Y, you can close off and seal the tent, even on the side that connects to the car.

What’s new with Gen 2

Tesloid has taken a great Model Y Camping Tent and made it even better. Gen 2 is more robust – it has a dome-shaped exoskeleton that can withstand stronger winds, plus three sets of straps to mount it to the car. And like Gen 1, it’s bug-proof.

Model Y Camping Tent – Gen 2 only takes 15 minutes to set up and 10 minutes to take down – nearly half the time of setting up Gen 1. Plus, when folded up, it fits inside the frunk, leaving the trunk wide open for all your other gear.

Gen 2 has a tighter seal around the Model Y, and it comes with lightweight fiberglass poles and sturdy ripstop fabric.

Model Y Camping Tent – Gen 2 has 40% more floor space, with a 7-foot ceiling, 9.5 ft x 9.5 ft floor space, and 25 square feet of awning. And that’s not including the sleeping area inside the car. It also now features skylights and a flap that lets you easily access your charge port.

Photo: Tesloid

Let’s go camping, Tesla-style

You can order the Model Y Camping Tent – Gen 2 from the Tesloid website today for $499.99, and Tesloid offers free expedited shipping US-wide.

Tesloid also offers a Model Y Camping Bundle for a discounted price of $549.98 that includes an inflatable mattress specially designed to fit the back of the Model Y. Get ready to enjoy the outdoors without sacrificing comfort.

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