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Climate Change

GHG Emissions

WM’s low-carbon products and services reduce, avoid or offset several times the emissions we generate in our operations.

We report this data to inform our stakeholders of the potential GHG reduction benefits associated with our renewable energy production and the value of the recyclable and compostable materials we collect and process. We are not presuming to characterize how emerging regulatory programs will allocate credit for these avoided emissions, and we do not deduct these reductions from our carbon footprint.

Renewable Energy Generation (MMT CO2e)

Landfill gas is captured, converted and used as a renewable energy resource in the form of electricity or fuel at 146 WM landfills.

Customers purchase our renewable energy in lieu of using electricity from the grid, thereby reducing their use of fossil fuel. We record the total megawatt hours of renewable energy sold, then use the appropriate conversion using eGRID emission factors to arrive at the total emissions avoided.

Emissions represented here are avoided by our customers; they are not included in our carbon footprint.

Bar chart showing our renewable energy generation (MMT CO2e) from 2017 through 2020

Recycling of Materials (MMT CO2e)

Bar chart showing our recycling of materials (MMT CO2e) from 2017 through 2020

The U.S. EPA’s Waste Reduction Model (WARM) is used to calculate the life cycle GHG emission benefits from recycling. Note that instead of using the WARM “national average landfill” defaults, WM uses company-specific settings to account for our own landfill gas-to-energy capacity. Additionally, the increase in emissions reductions realized by recycling does not correspond arithmetically to the increase in total tons recycled. That is because, for example, paper recycling achieves very high emissions reductions, while the emissions reduction potential associated with glass recycling is nominal on a per ton basis. COVID-19 impacted the volume of material collected and the associated avoided emissions. Emissions represented here are avoided; they are not included in our carbon footprint.

Carbon Permanently Sequestered (MMT CO2e)

U.S. EPA recognizes the value of carbon sequestered at landfills. This number is not included in our carbon footprint.

Bar chart showing our carbon permanently sequestered (MMT CO2e) from 2017 through 2020

Powering a Renewable
Energy Revolution

Across North America, renewable energy use is on the rise. Thirty U.S. states, as well as Washington, D.C. and three territories, have adopted a renewable portfolio standard, and one in three Americans now live in a state that has achieved, or is committed to achieving, 100% clean electricity.

As a user and generator of renewable energy, as well as the owner of land used to host renewable energy projects, WM is at the center of our country’s evolving energy transition. Here are a few of the ways we play a part.

At facilities across North America, WM treats thousands of standard cubic feet per minute of landfill gas. We process increasing amounts of this gas for use as renewable electricity or renewable fuel.

WM has the largest compressed natural gas truck fleet of its kind in North America. The fuel for our trucks includes renewable natural gas from our own landfills as well as other biogas sources.

Through WM’s proprietary organics recycling process, known as CORe®, commercial food waste is injected into treatment facility digesters in a wastewater treatment plant. The process increases biogas production, which can then be used as a renewable source of energy.

We are working toward a 2025 goal to power our facilities with 100% renewable electricity, including from wind, solar, waste heat and landfill gas.

Wide-open spaces and remote locations make closed landfills ideal sites for solar and wind installations. WM hosts 100 MW of wind power and 53.9 MW of solar capacity at our closed landfills.

Renewable Energy Generation (MMT CO2e)

Recycling of Materials (MMT CO2e)

Carbon Permanently Sequestered (MMT CO2e)