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Climate Change

Reducing Our
Carbon Impact

Reaching our 2038 goal will require making operational improvements to decrease our own emissions.

Our fleet emissions were reduced by 16% in 2020. Since 2010, we have reduced GHG emissions from our total collection and support fleet by 43% for every 1,000 miles driven. We’ve achieved these reductions through logistical efficiencies, transitioning to natural gas vehicles, and by increasing our use of renewable fuel. To make progress in each of these areas, WM continues to develop and deploy technology solutions and programs to reduce emissions from our operations while also engaging in policy discussions at the federal and state level and supporting strategies to reduce emissions associated with our industry.

In January 2020, a novel strain of coronavirus was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and was subsequently declared a global pandemic in March 2020. COVID-19 began to impact our business in March 2020, affecting most geographies and across a variety of our customer types throughout the rest of the year. On October 30, 2020, we completed our acquisition of Advanced Disposal Services (ADS), which increased our number of employees, facilities and assets. Results of these impacts may be reflected in the 2020 data below. Further details on year-over-year changes may be found in the applicable sections of WM’s ESG Resource Hub.

Lowering Our Operational Footprint

The charts on the following page represent 100% of WM’s Scope 1 and 2 GHG inventory, which is third-party verified and reported to CDP. These emissions make up the numerator portion of our environmental goal to reduce, avoid or offset four times the emissions we generate in our operations, represented in the part of the 2020 bar chart that is above the “0” line of the How We Measure Our 4X Goal infographic. For a discussion of the protocols that govern these calculations, please see our Carbon Footprint Calculation Methodology.

We use the modified 100-year global warming potentials (GWPs) promulgated by the U.S. EPA. Pertinent to our carbon footprint, our Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions calculations use the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (FAR) GWP. However, prior to 2019 our Scope 2 emissions from purchased electricity used the IPCC Second Assessment Report (SAR) GWP.

Landfill Emissions (MMT CO2e)1

Our landfill emissions are from active and closed facilities. Even as we collected fewer tons of waste at our landfills in 2020, WM collected more landfill gas at our sites, year-over-year, compared to 2019. However, the methodology used in the U.S. to model landfill emissions, combined with the additional emissions from the ADS acquisition, resulted in WM reporting more emissions. Emissions from ADS landfills make up 30% of the increase, with the remaining increase attributed to the landfill modeling methodology used by the industry for reporting.

Bar chart showing our Landfill Emissions (MMT CO2e) from 2017 through 2020

The uncertainty associated with landfill emissions methodology has been the key driver in WM’s goal to develop more accurate methods for determining landfill emissions by 2025. We continue to expand our work with various private and government entities employing ground, aerial and satellite-based measurements of our sites. In 2021, we initiated efforts to design a centralized data management and analytics system that will allow for predictive modeling and targeted investments in operations to drive further emissions reductions. We also conducted an enterprise-wide review of best practice procedures that we are implementing as part of our daily operations of continuous improvement to manage and reduce emissions at our landfills.

Collection Fleet Emissions (MMT CO2e)2

In 2020 we reduced our emissions by 16% year-over-year, despite an additional 2,196 diesel collection trucks from the ADS acquisition.

We have reduced our fleet emissions by 43% over the last decade, and reached our 2025 goal to lower emissions from our collection fleet.

Bar chart showing our Collection Fleet Emissions (MMT CO2e) from 2017 through 2020

Electricity Emissions (MMT CO2e)3

WM’s Scope 2 emissions from purchased electricity are less than 1% of our total emissions. Overall electricity use decreased in 2020, and we are currently working with our vendor to implement renewable electricity contracts to meet our 2025 goal of using 100% renewable electricity.

Bar chart showing our Electricity Emissions (MMT CO2e) from 2017 through 2020

Other Energy Use Emissions (MMT CO2e)

This graph includes emissions from our “yellow iron” (i.e., off-road equipment such as forklifts and excavators), heating fuel, jet fuel, propane and a small amount of other fuels. Emissions increase is mainly attributed to other energy use associated with the ADS acquisition.

Total 2020 Emissions (MMT CO2e)

Bar chart showing our Total 2020 Scope 1, 2, and 3 Emissions (MMT CO2e)

Carbon Intensity

MMT CO2e per Ton of
Waste Disposed

Bar chart showing our MMT CO2e per Ton of Waste Disposed from 2013 through 2020

MMT CO2e/Net
Operating Revenue

Bar chart showing our MMT CO2e/Net Operating Revenue from 2013 through 2020

See our Data Center for details on Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions and the Supply Chain section of our ESG Resource Hub to learn how we are reducing our scope 3 emissions.

  1. The amount of landfill gas that is collected is measured; the amount of landfill gas generated and emitted to the atmosphere as fugitive emissions must be estimated using prescribed calculation methodologies. The applicable methodologies are the Solid Waste Industry for Climate Solutions (SWICS) Protocol and the U.S. EPA Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP) rules.
  2. The methodology for calculating fleet emissions conforms to U.S. EPA’s SmartWay Program. SmartWay calculations use records compiled for tax credit and fee purposes. The tax documentation reflects fuel purchased in a year, including insignificant amounts of fuel stored rather than used in a given year. The graph excludes biogenic emissions, as per The Greenhouse Protocol. Biogenic emissions are reported separately.
  3. We use the modified 100-year global warming potentials (GWPs) promulgated by the U.S. EPA. Pertinent to our carbon footprint, our Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions calculations use the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (FAR) GWP. However, prior to 2019 our Scope 2 emissions from purchased electricity used the IPCC Second Assessment Report (SAR) GWP.

Landfill Emissions (MMT CO2e)1

Collection Fleet Emissions (MMT CO2e)2

Electricity Emissions (MMT CO2e)3

Other Energy Use Emissions (MMT CO2e)

Total 2020 Emissions (MMT CO2e)

MMT CO2e per Ton of Waste Disposed

MMT CO2e/Net Operating Revenue