About This Report

As North America’s leading provider of comprehensive waste management services, our mission is to maximize resource value while minimizing impact in order to further both economic and environmental sustainability for all of our stakeholders1. Transparency is an important part of this mission. Accordingly, we are committed to consistent public disclosure and discussion of our own progress through the publication of a sustainability report every two years. In off years, we update key data and content to the most recent full year.

Our last comprehensive report was published in 2013 with available data and key discussion items updated in 2014. This report generally covers subject matter for 2015 and early 2016 for Waste Management’s wholly owned operations, all of which are located in North America. All data is for the year ended December 31, 2015, except where noted1. Notes on the scope of the data, including changes to methodology from the prior reporting period, are included either with charts or in footnotes. This report has been prepared in accordance with Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G4 Core guidelines.

For more about our reporting, please see Forward-Looking Information at the end of this section.


We currently do not seek external assurance for this report. Our 2015 GHG emissions inventory has been assured by Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance Ltd. The inventory includes direct emissions and indirect (Scope 3) GHG emissions from the following sources:

  • Purchased goods and services
  • Capital goods
  • Fuel- and energy-related activities (not included in Scope 1 or Scope 2)
  • Business travel
  • Employee commuting
  • Downstream leased assets

The complete assurance statement is available as part of our CDP filing here.


The content of this report has been compiled and organized based upon insights from a materiality assessment conducted by an internal team. This team is charged with ongoing stakeholder engagement, including participation in key business and multistakeholder organizations listed in the Appendix of this report, media relations, disclosure of sustainability information for sales and marketing purposes, and completion of sustainability survey requests. The materiality process involved four steps:

  • Identification of potential material topics by reviewing GRI aspects, benchmarking against key corporate peers and analyzing past Waste Management reports, which themselves have been amended over time to reflect feedback from customers, community representatives, employees and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
  • Inventory of aspects and topics most important to external stakeholders, primarily NGOs and customers and their supply chain vendors, based upon requests, surveys and ongoing engagement since the last reporting period.
  • Survey of internal stakeholders, which included more than 40 cross-functional directors and subject matter experts, to determine which topics impact our business most. Participants were queried about topics most likely to trigger impacts over the next five years and over which Waste Management is able to exercise control.
  • Normalization and ranking of results from internal and external stakeholders determined by breaking scores into quintiles for scoring purposes by an independent statistician.

Forward-Looking Information

This report contains forward-looking statements, including statements concerning the company’s outlook, performance, or results in the future, as well as statements of beliefs about the future, plans and strategies or anticipated events. You should view these statements with caution. They are based on the facts and circumstances known to the company as of the date the statements are made and are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to be materially different. Such risks include but are not limited to, increased competition; pricing actions; failure to effectively implement our business strategy; environmental and other regulations; commodity price fluctuations; disposal alternatives and waste diversion; declining waste volumes; failure to develop and protect new technology; significant environmental or other incidents resulting in liabilities and brand damage; weakness in economic conditions; failure to obtain and maintain necessary permits; labor disruptions; impairment charges; and negative outcomes of litigation or governmental proceedings. Please also see Part I, Item 1A of the company’s most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K filed with the SEC for additional information regarding these and other risks and uncertainties applicable to our business. The company assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statement, including financial estimates and forecasts, whether as a result of future events, circumstances or developments or otherwise.

The matrix below summarizes the results of the assessment:

Materiality Assessment

Very Important (15-12)

  • Data Reporting and Verification (15)
  • Compliance (14)
  • External Recycling Rate (14)
  • Local Engagement Plans & Programs (14)
  • Local Environmental Impact (14)
  • Public Policy Engagement (14)
  • Safety Record (14)
  • Anti-Corruption (13)
  • Green Service Sales (13)
  • Renewable Energy Generation (13)
  • Innovation (12)
  • Impact on Local Environment (12)
  • Local Impact Assessment & Improvement (12)

Important (11-10)

  • Business Ethics/Code (11)
  • Business Mix (11)
  • Energy Consumption (11)
  • Labor Practices & Human Rights (11)
  • Supplier Screening – Environment (11)
  • Climate Change – Financial Impact (10)
  • Diversity (10)
  • GHG Emissions – Scope 1-3 (10)
  • Risk Management (10)
  • Transportation Impacts (10)

Somewhat Important (9-8)

  • Corporate Governance (9)
  • Customer Satisfaction (9)
  • Customer Privacy (9)
  • Economic & Local Economic Impact (9)
  • Internal Recycling Rate (9)
  • Lifecycle Analysis (9)
  • Recycling Service Sales (9)
  • Disaster Relief (8)
  • Employee Demographics (8)
  • Water Consumption (8)

Less Important (7-4)

  • Alignment with International Frameworks (7)
  • Contributions (7)
  • Emissions of Ozone, NOx, SOx(7)
  • Biodiversity Impact (6)
  • Freedom of Association (6)
  • Layoffs & Turnover (6)
  • Social Media (6)
  • Supplier Screening – Labor Practices (6)
  • Supplier Screening – Social (6)
  • Local Procurement (5)
  • Political Contributions & Involvement (5)
  • Benefits (4)
  • Conflict Minerals (4)
  • Executive Compensation (4)
  • Government Financial Assistance (4)

1 All references to “Waste Management,” “WM,” “the company,” “we,” “us,” and “our” are terms of convenience used to refer collectively to Waste Management, Inc. and its subsidiaries. Waste Management, Inc. is a holding company and all operations are conducted by its subsidiaries.