Through our partnership with Keep America Beautiful (KAB) and other environmental organizations, Waste Management supports thousands of community environmental education and beautification initiatives that highlight our desire to help create and maintain vibrant communities.
We have supported KAB’s annual America Recycles Day for 28 years. In 2017, we were a national sponsor of this initiative, which drew 1.9 million attendees to more than 1,200 events dedicated to promoting, encouraging and celebrating recycling.
Our Think Green® Grants are part of an initiative through which we provided 55 grants totaling $170,000 in 2017. Grants went to nonprofit organizations and KAB affiliates for programs focused on community beautification and recycling education such as:
- Improving public education on what can be recycled to reduce contamination in the curbside collection program in Akron, Ohio.
- Helping students at a school for the blind in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, develop job skills as they deliver recycling bins to classrooms, maintain the bins and collect and sort recycled materials.
- Supporting the development of a new community park in Norwood, Massachusetts. Before the new park, the area was an unused, overgrown eyesore in the middle of town. Now there are trees and benches for use of town residents.
- Planting 50 trees along a city parkway in Berwyn, Illinois, to replace trees damaged by an insect infestation.
- Protecting waterways in Tampa, Florida, by educating the public about recovery and recycling options for monofilament fishing line and installing collection tubes in targeted areas.
- Supporting scholarships that give low-income students free field trips to Hershey Gardens to learn about sustainable gardening.
- Creating an educational recycling decal for the inside lid of recycling bins in Sandy, Utah, to reduce contamination.
- Providing a park bench for a newly developed butterfly garden planted by community volunteers in the Village of Chicago Ridge in Illinois.
Waste Management also sponsors environmental education and beautification initiatives run by community-based organizations. For example, our Hoot Landfill, a closed site in Fouke, Arkansas, welcomes about 100 sixth-graders each year to an outdoor school led by the Sulphur River Waterfowl Association. The three-day event teaches students about the natural environment as they rotate through stations on topics that correlate with their classroom curriculum, such as plant and wildlife identification, nature sounds and a creek study.
We also lend our expertise in recycling education to special events, such as our ongoing partnership with the Houston Marathon Committee to reduce waste at its annual marathon and half-marathon. This event received gold certification from the Council for Responsible Sport for the fifth consecutive year in 2017 after achieving a waste diversion rate of 77, aided by our focus on educating volunteers and vendors about recycling. Prior to the race weekend, marathon staff toured our Gasmer Road material recovery facility, where we also spent time training lead volunteers on the proper use of different types of recyclable boxes. At our booth promoting recycling at the marathon EXPO, members of our team collected 543 pairs of tennis shoes from runners, then donated them to SEARCH Homeless Services in Houston, Texas.