Waste Management owns a wide range of properties — large and small, urban and rural. At our larger properties, in the substantial areas that we set aside as buffer zones, we make a concerted effort to enhance the natural value of the land by providing habitat for wildlife and offering educational opportunities and natural beauty to the surrounding community.
One of our key partners in protecting and enhancing wildlife habitat is the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC), a nonprofit organization recognized as the authoritative conservation program for businesses. Our long-standing partnership with WHC has resulted in the creation of 90 WHC-certified projects at Waste Management sites. Through project certification, the WHC recognizes commendable wildlife habitat management and community environmental education programs. Together, these properties encompass nearly 20,000 acres created, enhanced or protected for wildlife across North America. The projects often feature a community environmental education component.
Our projects are included in the WHC’s Conservation Registry, an interactive database that maps conservation, restoration and wildlife habitat-enhancement projects worldwide, allowing us to better understand the impact of our conservation programs. We continue to expand certified sites to include small urban habitats at transfer stations, recycling facilities and other smaller Waste Management facilities. Beyond the wildlife habitats certified at our active and closed facilities, we lease our unused property for productive use by farmers and ranchers. As of 2017, more than 22,300 acres in the United States and Canada were used for this purpose.
In addition to our work with WHC in certifying wildlife habitat and environmental education at our sites, Waste Management works with WHC on collaborative efforts among nonprofits, government agencies and companies to create conservation strategies. For example, the Corporate Pollinator Ecosystem Project (C-PEP) brings together companies with the United States Business Council for Sustainable Development to identify pollinator habitats on corporate land and ultimately help revive declining pollinator populations. Upon project culmination, the C-PEP Survey will be presented to the federal government as a response to President Obama’s 2014 goal to restore or enhance 7 million acres of land for pollinators.
Today, Waste Management has more than 50 programs dedicated to protecting pollinators throughout North America. We also support the Highways Bettering the Economy and Environment Pollinator Protection Act (Highways BEE Act). If passed, the law would facilitate efforts by states to use more pollinator-friendly highway landscaping practices, including reducing mowing and planting native plants and grasses that provide habitats and foliage for bees and monarch butterflies and bees.
Another dimension of our commitment to environmental preservation is demonstrating the value of biodiversity to children to instill the importance of being good environmental stewards. We incorporate STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education into most of our wildlife habitat programs. For example, our Springhill Landfill in Campbellton, Florida, hosted its 50th environmental education tour with local elementary students in November 2017. During the guided tour, students learned how a landfill operates, created edible landfills, observed stormwater ponds and visited natural forested wetlands, among other activities.
Wildlife Habitat 2017 Highlights
Bucks County, Pennsylvania
Habitat conservation at our Bucks County Landfills received Gold Certification from WHC and dual honors in 2017, capturing the Pollinators Project Award and the Landscaping Project Award. Our Bucks County team actively manages 6,000 acres for wildlife habitat, including transforming a previously open field into a sustainable pollinator habitat for bees, cabbage moths, beetles and monarch butterflies. This multigenerational project brings employees, families, seniors, students and other members of the community together to learn how to manage and promote protection of pollinators species and habitats.
Santa Clara County, California
Corporate Wildlife Habitat of the Year 2013 winner, and nominated for the WHC’s 2017 Reptiles and Amphibians Project Award and Species of Concern Project Award, our Kirby Canyon Recycling and Disposal Facility devotes 600 acres solely to habitat enhancement projects and scientific study. Projects include developing a suitable wetlands habitat for the threatened California red-legged frog.
Our Campground Natural Area, a retired facility managed in partnership with Michelin, garnered a WHC Grasslands Project Award nomination in 2017. Cub Scouts earn conservation patches here by participating in educational activities on the site’s pollinator, forest, grassland and wetland habitats.
We actively manage more than half of the City of Hamilton-Glanbrook Landfill site for wildlife habitat, including grasslands, wetlands, forests and riparian areas. Working with community partners, our teams have installed and monitored songbird and wood duck nest boxes and installed pollinator gardens designed to attract species like the monarch butterfly.
Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
Partnered with local community conservation groups to restore and maintain wildlife habitat at the Orchard Ridge Recycling and Disposal Facility site. The site has a very successful bluebird and wood duck nest box program, including 28 bluebird boxes and 12 wood duck boxes. In just one nesting season, they had 17 bluebirds fledge, 34 hooded merganser hatchlings and 32 wood duck hatchlings.
At Pine Bluff Landfill, high school seniors worked to fulfill their graduation duties for a senior project. The students started with building a modest butterfly and pollinator garden. Since the partnership started, the garden has grown to over two acres that now house a pavilion and hundreds of pollinating plants and species. Guided tours and educational presentations are given to local school students, boy and girl scout troops and home-school groups, as well as area garden clubs.