Homes and businesses are filled with ordinary items and materials that require extraordinary disposal handling and recycling methods, due largely to their chemical composition. Think paint, automotive products, swimming pool chemicals, household cleaners, flammable and combustible items, garden chemicals, batteries, consumer electronics and items containing mercury, such as fluorescent lamps, to name a few — all items that should not be placed into regular solid waste bins. We’ve developed several programs to help our residential and business customers dispose of these materials properly.
At Your Door Special CollectionSM Service
At Your Door Special CollectionSM service provides easy and convenient collection of home-generated special materials for single and multiunit homes in several states where logistics and customer preference support the service. As part of our home collection service, each participating household with qualifying materials receives a collection kit with a containment bag and instruction sheet. In 2017, Waste Management collected 3,590,733 pounds of materials through the At Your Door Collection service. Materials collected include consumer electronics, latex paint, hazardous materials and universal waste items, such as batteries.
In addition to at-home collection services, we also collect fluorescent lamps, batteries, sharps and noncontrolled pharmaceuticals through containers placed at public locations, such as libraries, municipal buildings, pharmacies and community centers. Residents can simply place items in the collection containers, which are managed by a special collections team.
For commercial customers, we offer our Tracker service, which enables businesses to dispose of universal and special wastes through a simple, safe and compliant mail-back method. This comprehensive program includes recycling kits for fluorescent lamps and bulbs, lighting ballasts, batteries, electronics, aerosol cans, thermometers, thermostats and dental amalgam, as well as safe disposal kits for sharps, medical waste and prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Containers, such as the patented Mercury VaporLok® packaging for fluorescent lamps, are specifically designed for safe storage and shipping via national carriers. Customers can obtain kits through our website and receive certificates that provide proof of recycling compliance via email.
Electronic waste material (e-waste) — such as old or broken computers, printers, copiers, etc. — is a topic of significant environmental concern and remains the fastest-growing waste segment in North America, with more than 3 million tons* generated annually in the U.S. alone. Waste Management delivers electronic recycling solutions that are convenient to use, cost-effective and environmentally responsible. Supported by a comprehensive network of third-party processing centers certified and independently audited to the highest standards across the U.S. and Canada, our eCycling services can meet an organization’s specific needs, with secure transport options from any point in the U.S. or Canada.
All processing partner locations are audited to meet e-Steward®, R2®/RIOS certification standards and are obliged to:
- Prevent hazardous e-waste from entering municipal incinerators or landfills.
- Prevent the exportation of e-waste to developing countries.
- Provide for visible tracking of e-waste throughout the product recycling chain.
Products can be refurbished and resold for value or managed at the end of their useful life for commodity recovery. Commodities such as gold, silver, copper, plastics and more are recovered, while byproducts such as mercury, lead, barium and cadmium, the inherently hazardous byproducts of electronics, are carefully managed. Waste Management satisfies customer compliance with consumer take-back programs in the 25 states mandating these eCycling programs and provides the same comprehensive management in nonlegislated states as well.
Coal Ash Recycling
Air pollution regulations require particulates such as fly ash, a byproduct that can be used as a cement replacement in concrete production, to be captured rather than emitted. However, the methods used to capture fly ash lead to increased carbon levels in the fly ash. Power plants use activated carbon injection (ACI) systems to remove mercury from flue gases, which is then recaptured in the electrostatic precipitators or bag houses.
This process prevents mercury from escaping the smokestack into the atmosphere, but the resulting fly ash contains elevated carbon levels that negatively affect the durability of concrete. Our patented Carbon Blocker fly ash treatment system is widely used by utilities to improve the quality of fly ash, making it suitable for recycling in concrete product applications.
With more ACI systems in use today, fly ash recycling is a growing business for us. Since we acquired this proprietary technology in 2012, revenues have quadrupled, and in 2017 we beneficially utilized 972,894 tons of fly ash, with 863,763 metric tons of carbon dioxide (MTCO2e) avoided.
Healthcare Industry Waste
Two divisions of Waste Management work with the healthcare industry to reduce infectious medical waste and to provide facility-specific advice on means to reduce waste, recycle and assure protective disposal of the diverse streams of waste coming from hospitals and other healthcare providers. Waste Management Healthcare Solutions (WMHS) focuses on protecting the environment from potential impacts of infectious medical waste. In 2017, WMHS treated over 12.8 million pounds of infectious medical waste, then sent the noninfectious residue for secure disposal at secure landfill facilities. Healthcare Integrated Customer Solutions (ICS) works with healthcare customers, including 80 hospitals and more than 500 smaller locations, to manage their entire waste generation. In 2017, WMHS — ICS hospitals collectively achieved a total waste-to-recycling diversion rate of 20.4 percent and regulated medical waste generation rate of 7.7 percent. Our PharmEcology business unit works with over 300 healthcare customers and has implemented pharmaceutical waste programs at these institutions that have diverted over 2,500 tons of pharmaceuticals from entering our national waters through proper disposal management.
Simi Valley Hospital in Southern California serves the surrounding communities with a full range of medical services. Following a large-scale renovation nearly 10 years ago, the hospital found that it was producing more solid, liquid and biomedical waste. The medical center’s leadership partnered with Waste Management Sustainability Services (WMSS) to both divert waste from landfill and strengthen their relationship with the community through environmental stewardship. Since then, the WMSS team has developed recycling, safety and analysis programs that have delivered strong results:
- Recycling: Successfully planned and implemented a hospital-wide, single-stream recycling program that resulted in a 63 percent increase in recycling in one year
- Construction & Demolition Recycling: Identified 80 percent of material as recyclable and diverted from landfill
- Compliance: Designed a universal waste program for regulatory compliance and safety
- Diversion: Increased waste diversion rate from 21 percent to 47 percent in six years
- Data Tracking: Collected and monitored various waste stream data for document diversion programs