Penn Waste sale a surprise to some York County municipalities served by company

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Penn Waste recycling center sorters work along a conveyor Friday, March 25, 2016. Penn Waste is urging customers to contain medical waste, like dirty needles, and dispose of it in their regular trash for the safety of their workers. Bill Kalina photo

York County municipalities that contract with Penn Waste are confident service won't suffer under new ownership — even though some never knew the company had been sold.

Penn Waste, a company that for two decades has touted itself as a locally owned operation, was sold in December to Waste Connections, a company based in Texas and Canada. Few other details about the sale are known.

"I spoke to (Waste Connections') general manager, who informed us there will not be any change to their current contract that they have now. Basically, they said we should not even notice any change in operation," said Kelly Kelch, West Manchester Township's manager.

More:Scott Wagner's Penn Waste sold to company with Canada, Texas ties

Penn Waste's services cover municipalities in seven southcentral Pennsylvania counties. Most of the municipalities are in York County.

Waste Connections last week confirmed the sale took place, but the company's regional office has not responded to multiple followup calls seeking answers to questions such as the price of the sale and whether local employees will remain on board.

A filing detailing the acquisition is not available on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission website. The company expects to release finances for the fourth quarter of 2019 after the stock market closes on Feb. 12, according to a company news release.

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Scott Wagner, a York County native who founded Penn Waste in 2000, also declined to comment.

On Dec. 19, Waste Connections stated it had closed deals in multiple states worth $130 million. A "solid waste collections and recycling acquisition" in southcentral Pennsylvania was cited in the news release.

As of last week, Penn Waste's Facebook page had posted job openings with direct links to Waste Connections' website. But not every area serviced by the company was aware the shift took place.

Ben Marchant, Springettsbury Township's manager, said he was never notified of the sale. However, he also said he was not concerned about a decrease in the quality of services under Waste Connections. 

Also out of the loop regarding the sale was Penn Township, said Kristina Rodgers, the township’s manager. She was not aware of the sale until informed by The York Dispatch on Monday.

Like Marchant, Rodgers said she’s confident services won’t be any different because the municipality has a contract through 2020.

State Sen. Scott Wagner officially announces his intentions to run for governor in 2018 during a press conference at Penn Waste in East Manchester Township, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. Dawn J. Sagert photo

That could change, however, after the year ends and the contract expires. Then, Waste Connections could opt for a two-year extension or attempt to make changes in a new contract, she said.

The sale of Penn Waste comes two years after the company struggled with new international trade policy and made its way into state politics.

In July 2018, Penn Waste voiced concern after China updated its laws detailing what recyclable material it would accept. The company updated its recycling guidelines in response, calling China's new contamination limits "unachievable."

From there, the company attempted to renegotiate waste contracts with municipalities to add a sustainability fee to help reduce contamination.

Wagner, a former Republican state senator, came under fire during his failed 2018 gubernatorial bid to oust Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf after refusing to place his business assets in a blind trust.

He spent more than $8 million of his own money during the campaign. Campaign finance data also showed his campaign made direct payments to Penn Waste and one of its employees. 

His campaign paid Penn Waste nearly $80,000 for reasons ranging from $75 for trash removal to more than $35,000 for cellphone, car and miscellaneous payments, according to campaign finance documents.

The campaign also paid $55,000 to company spokeswoman Amanda Davidson, who served as the assistant campaign manager.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.