Recycle 20 million
tons annually by 2020
We have focused our goal and reporting on expansion of our recycling services in terms of the weight of recyclables we manage. That metric, however, is proving to be less informative than it could be. With the change in recyclable materials generated by our customers, as discussed in Waste Solutions, a disconnect has emerged between weight-based metrics and the broader purpose of recycling in terms of environmental stewardship. With this report and going forward, we’re leading change by transitioning our recycling metrics to the measurement of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions avoidance and energy savings.
This change is consistent with the premise of the U.S. EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) program (https://www.epa.gov/smm) and as further explored by the Sustainable Materials Management Coalition of which we have been the founding partner (https://www.michaeldbaker.com/portfolio-items/guidance-on-taking-a-life-cycle-perspective-to-sustainability/). Beginning with this report and in future ones, we will calculate GHG emissions avoided as well as energy-saving reductions associated with the commodities we handle through recycling, composting and conversion into energy or products. By evaluating recycling in the context of its impact on the environment rather than limiting it to climate change, we seek to be more transparent in communicating environmental benefits. Armed with insights on the potential for GHG reductions from specific materials management options, we have the opportunity to evaluate business strategy, community engagement and education in terms of how the greatest environmental benefit can be obtained at the most reasonable price.
On-Road Fleet Emissions Reductions1
[percent reduction in million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) emissions]
Reduce the carbon dioxide emissions and improve the efficiency of our on-road fleet vehicles by 15 percent by 2020
metric tons CO2e
Our 15 percent GHG reduction goal for our fleet has been achieved since 2011. Our reporting precision has grown over time as we joined U.S. EPA’s SmartWay Partnership, which provides a standard template to project the emissions of our waste collection fleet, including all on-road vehicles. Our on-road vehicles run on diesel, gasoline and natural gas [liquefied (LNG) and compressed (CNG)]. In reporting to SmartWay in 2015, we did not separate out our renewable natural gas (RNG) generated from our landfills or purchased and used in our on-road vehicles from our reporting on use of fossil-based natural gas. This did not highlight the GHG reductions we realized by using renewable fuel. Moving forward, we will clearly identify RNG and the GHG benefits it provides. We are pleased to report that we not only have continued to exceed our 15 percent efficiency goal, but our on-road fleet vehicle efficiency jumped to 24 percent in 2015. This performance reflects the dramatic impact that our transition to natural gas vehicles, both fossil-based and renewable, is having on our collection fleet.
Historically we have not focused attention on our progress in decreasing emissions from off-road vehicles, such as yellow iron. Starting in 2016, we will provide this information in a separate section to highlight the importance of the work we are doing to “green” these vehicles.
With the divestiture of Wheelabrator Technologies, we divested ownership of over half of our waste-based energy portfolio. We will continue to report on the number of homes powered by our renewable energy assets, chiefly landfill gas-to-energy facilities, but will reset the level to reflect our changed role in providing waste-to-energy. We are considering an additional new renewable fuel goal. Renewable natural gas (RNG) is created from biogas from landfills and anaerobic digesters. RNG used in natural gas vehicles reduces GHG emissions by 90 percent over the use of diesel fuel. Waste Management took the lead in piloting RNG production over a decade ago and is now seeing its widespread use across the country. Read more on in the Organics and Waste-Based Energy sections, Waste-Based Energy and Extracting Value From Organics, in Waste Solutions. In 2016, we are discussing adding a new goal for the use of renewable fuel in our natural gas fleet, relying on RNG generated at our own sites, as well as third-party, U.S. EPA-approved sites.