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Community Engagement

Community
Vitality

Beyond providing an essential service to neighborhoods and businesses, WM is committed to making our hometowns safe, resilient and sustainable places to live by contributing to communities in a number of valuable ways.

Focusing on Hunger Relief

In 2020, the issue of food insecurity became more dire than ever as business closures and layoffs led millions of people to wonder where their next meal would come from. WM and our employees responded to this crisis by making hunger relief a priority throughout the year. At the onset of the pandemic, we launched our Million Meals Campaign, which helped our partners, Feeding America and Food Banks Canada, provide meals to communities across North America through employee contributions and a company match.

As the year went on and the pandemic continued to impact individuals and families across our service areas, we launched a second program, A Can if You Can. Over two weeks, WM matched $1 per can and $1 for each dollar donated by employees, up to $50,000. These programs represent our team members’ ongoing efforts to put People First. Combined, the WM family provided over 3 million meals for people experiencing food insecurity in 2020.

Helping Hungry Neighbors

In addition, local WM teams organized hunger relief campaigns in their own backyards. For example, teams in Brevard, Martin, Pinellas and Collier counties, Florida; and the South Bronx, New York; collected canned goods and produce for distribution to local food banks and nonprofits. WM facilities, including Grand Central Hauling in Pennsylvania and Varick Transfer Station in Brooklyn, New York, provided space for food collection events and distribution. In Northern California, WM donated a 40-yard cardboard-only bin to the local Salvation Army, which was struggling to dispose of the packaging it was generating from an increased number of food donations. Because of WM’s partnership, the charity was able to focus its resources on serving more people.

In our Four Corners market area, many operating sites adopted nonprofits for the holidays, collecting in-kind items and monetary donations. By coming together, the team purchased or collected 4,226 pounds of food and provided 49,650 meals.

WM’s Waste Watch Heroes

When WM drivers are on their routes, they become trusted eyes and ears on the streets. For more than a decade, our Waste Watch® program has trained thousands of drivers to recognize and handle situations that don’t seem right. Program participants learn to properly observe and report suspicious activities and emergencies to local public safety and law enforcement agencies.

To become a Waste Watch-certified driver, an employee must complete a formal training program, which includes instruction from WM corporate security and local law enforcement personnel, and a written exam. The Waste Watch program has received 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.

Recent Waste Watch heroes include:

Robert Riley of Tampa, Florida, noticed a toddler wandering alone in a park a short distance from his truck and waited to see if a parent or guardian would appear. When none did, he checked on the boy and called 911, allowing him to be reunited with his family. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement named Riley its “Florida Missing Children’s Day Citizen of the Year” for his actions. Later that month, Riley helped an elderly man who had fallen on a sidewalk. He was recognized by the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners for his acts of kindness.

Drivers Sam Vaughan and Andrew Hubar noticed a man bleeding on the sidewalk in an Edmonton, Alberta, neighborhood they serve and stopped to help deliver first aid. They then waited with the man until further assistance arrived. A neighbor wrote to thank the drivers: “I wanted to make sure WM became aware to properly recognize these men—they did a great job and deserve praise for their professionalism.”

Alex Keys, a driver and veteran volunteer firefighter, detected smoke while traveling back to the Green Ridge Landfill in Fort Edward, New York. He spotted a house with flames shooting out of the upstairs window and immediately pulled his truck over. After pounding on the door, he and another truck driver called 911 and got all of the occupants out while the fire department was on the way.

In addition to Waste Watch, we partner with 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.

Employee Volunteerism

We pride ourselves on having an employee base that gives back to communities through volunteerism. In 2020, WM employees documented nearly 962 volunteer hours during paid working hours, while many others gave of their free time. Here are a few of the hundreds of examples of WM employees supporting their communities, even during a pandemic:

Providing drivers and roll-off containers to pick up 267,000 wreaths delivered to Arlington National Cemetery after the annual Wreath Laying Ceremony. This was WM’s 15th year participating in this event.

Delivering more than 3,000 meals to seniors and first responders who were treating COVID-19 patients.

Purchasing and assembling bikes for local children in Pinellas County, Florida.

Partnering with the Perkiomen Creek Watershed Association on cleanup projects that removed 150 cubic yards of litter and debris.

Cleaning out damaged homes and neighborhoods after a flood.

Donating new toys to support Marine Corps Toys for Tots.

Repairing and rehabilitating houses for homeowners in need.

The WM Employees Care Fund

The WM Employees Care Fund, Inc. is a public, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that provides short-term financial assistance to WM employees during unexpected financial hardships and emergencies.

In 2020, the Fund assisted employees impacted by natural disasters and other circumstances, as well as making disbursements to families of employees who passed away. In general, the Fund disburses 100% of contributions to meet needs, pays no administrative expenses and carries limited reserves. The vast majority of the fund is supported directly by WM employees and is one example of how we support and take care of each other in times of need.

Bar chart showing our charitable donations ($ in millions) from 2017 through 2020
Bar chart showing our in-kind services donated ($ in millions) from 2017 through 2020

Corporate Charitable Donations

Whenever possible, WM engages with local stakeholders to understand how to support specific community needs. We give back to communities throughout the U.S. and Canada through financial contributions, in-kind giving, participation on organization boards and by sharing our expertise. After the extraordinary devastation caused by hurricanes in the fall of 2017, WM donated $3 million to Hurricane Harvey aid relief and $1 million to Hurricane Irma recovery efforts. In 2020, our giving decreased slightly due to COVID-19-related restrictions.

Local Economic Impact

Our day-to-day operations—from the wages and benefits we provide, to the income taxes we pay in the U.S. and Canada—boost economic growth in the communities in which we operate. Supporting small and diverse businesses through the materials and services we purchase also contributes to local and national economic growth. In 2020, we spent $244.2 million with diverse suppliers, and we have set a goal to achieve 10% growth in diverse suppliers by 2038.

  1. The number of people we were able to reach through community events and educational activities was lower in 2020 than in years past due to COVID-19.

Charitable Donations ($ in millions)

In-Kind Services Donated ($ in millions)1