Keeping Neighbors Safe
When Waste Management drivers are working their routes in the wee hours of the morning, they have a unique opportunity to be the eyes and ears of the neighborhoods they serve. For more than a decade, our Waste Watch® community program has leveraged this advantage by training our drivers to recognize and handle situations that just don’t seem right. The program teaches drivers how to observe and report suspicious activities and emergencies to local public safety and law enforcement agencies. Introduced in Forest Grove, Oregon, Waste Watch has trained thousands of employees to keep an eye out in more than half the U.S. communities we serve.
To become recognized as a Waste Watch Certified Driver, an employee participates in a formal training program, which includes instruction from Waste Management corporate security and local law enforcement personnel, and then passes a written examination.
We also partner with other safety-related organizations and programs, including AMBER Alert, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Community Crime Stoppers and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Over the years, the Waste Watch program has received widespread national acclaim, earning recognition from local municipalities and the National Sheriffs’ Association’s Award of Excellence in Neighborhood Watch. Our drivers have been lauded for reporting suspicious activity ranging from thefts to vandalism. Drivers have also helped save lives by calling in emergency medical assistance for individuals in physical distress.
Here are a few examples of helpful or just plain heroic actions by our Waste Watch Certified Drivers:
- At our Atlantic Waste Disposal Landfill in Sussex County, Virginia, Waste Management employees James Clary and Nelson Laine worked with the Sussex County of Public Works to design and install a helipad at the landfill. The helipad provides aviation crews a dedicated site to land unaided and the rescue squad to deliver the patient during an emergency in a rural part of the county.
- Driver Juan Aguilar ran to the rescue of a customer in Denver, Colorado, who had fallen and hit his head on a curb. He followed emergency dispatch instructions until paramedics arrived, then stayed on to place the customer’s lawnmower and shovels safely in the garage.
- When a boy and girl flagged down his truck and told him a 14-year-old girl had fallen into a frigid river in Timmins, Ontario, Armand (Sam) L’heureux helped her from the water, then called 911 and his local office. His district operations manager turned up with blankets and a jacket to help the girl avoid hypothermia.
- In Lewisville, Texas, driver Larry Bowery saw a car get rear-ended by a gravel truck and pushed over a bridge into a lake. Bowery used a crowbar to smash a window so he could pull the injured driver free and stayed with him until emergency crews arrived.
- Driver James Thomas received thanks from the fire department in Seattle, Washington, for helping to save the life of a customer on his route who was experiencing a medical emergency.
In addition to Waste Watch, our drivers and helpers are always on the lookout for ways to connect with their communities and our customers. Here just a few of our “fan favorites”:
- Driver Bryan Deets has a special bond with a 6-year-old customer with multiple sclerosis in Calgary, Alberta. Whenever Deets empties the bin under the boy’s window, he gives the bin a couple of extra dumps to brighten the boy’s day. He also gave his super fan a toy Waste Management truck to enjoy even when it’s not trash day.
- A Montgomery, Minnesota, high school student with autism who is fascinated by Waste Management trucks received a thrill when driver Jim Hahn presented him with a miniature Waste Management truck, official hat and water bottle.
- A heartfelt card along with a bag of holiday goodies was sent to our Eastern Canada team in Mount Forest, Ontario, from a neighbor who lives near the site. The neighbor’s children walk to school down Sligo Road each day where there are no sidewalks and find that they often have to run into the ditch to avoid trucks that haven’t slowed down or given them enough space. The children noticed that this is never the case when it comes to Waste Management trucks and that our drivers always take the time to slow way down or come to a complete stop if there is traffic, to allow space for the children to walk. When the Mount Forest team discussed this at a meeting, one of the drivers came up with a slogan that they continue to use at meetings and huddles — We Are Guardians of the Road.
Local Economic Impact
Our day-to-day operations — from $3.5 billion in wages and benefits to the $562.4 million in income taxes paid in the U.S. and Canada — boost economic growth in the communities in which we live and work. In 2015, we spent $6.5 billion on supplies, one-third of which involved purchase of collection and operating fleet. Supporting small businesses through the materials and supplies we purchase also contributes to local and national economic growth: In 2017, we spent $191 million with diverse suppliers as part of our commitment to diversity and inclusion.