The 2019 update to our 2018 Sustainability report is available here.

The following site covers subject matter through 2018.

Better Company

& Materiality

As North America’s leading provider of comprehensive waste management services, our mission is to maximize resource value while minimizing impact to further both economic and environmental sustainability for all our stakeholders.

Transparency is an important part of this mission. Accordingly, we are committed to consistent public disclosure and discussion of our own progress through the publication of a sustainability report every two years. In off years, we update key data and content to the most recent full year.

Our last comprehensive report was published in 2016 with available data and key discussion items updated in 2017. Generally, this report covers subject matter for 2017 and early 2018 for Waste Management’s wholly owned operations, all of which are located in North America. All data is for the year ended December 31, 2017, except where noted. Notes on the scope of the data, including changes to methodology from the prior reporting period, are included either with charts or in footnotes. This report has been prepared in accordance with Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards: Core Option.

In addition, this year we are piloting the use of the 2017 draft Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) metrics for the waste and recycling component of the Infrastructure sector. We provide an index cross-referencing those indicators. We also provide an index cross-referencing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG) in support of these global reporting systems attempting to increase focus on sustainable practices.


We currently do not seek external assurance for all elements of this report. Our 2017 GHG emissions inventory has been assured by Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance Ltd. The inventory includes direct (Scope 1 and 2) emissions and indirect (Scope 3) GHG emissions from the following sources:

  • Purchased goods and services
  • Capital goods
  • Fuel- and energy-related activities (not included in Scope 1 or Scope 2)
  • Business travel
  • Employee commuting
  • Downstream leased assets

The complete assurance statement is available as part of our CDP filing.


The content of this report has been compiled and organized based upon insights from a materiality assessment conducted by an internal team. This team is charged with ongoing stakeholder engagement, including participation in key business and multistakeholder organizations listed in the Appendix of this report, media relations, disclosure of sustainability information for sales and marketing purposes, and completion of sustainability survey requests. The materiality process involved four steps:

  • Identification of potential material topics by reviewing GRI aspects, benchmarking against key corporate peers and analyzing past Waste Management reports, which themselves have been amended over time to reflect feedback from customers, community representatives, employees and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
  • Inventory of aspects and topics most important to external stakeholders, primarily NGOs and customers and their supply chain vendors, based upon requests, surveys and ongoing engagement since the last reporting period.
  • Survey of internal stakeholders, which included more than 40 cross-functional directors and subject matter experts, to determine which topics impact our business most. Participants were queried about topics most likely to trigger impacts over the next five years and over which Waste Management is able to exercise control.
  • Normalization and ranking of results from internal and external stakeholders determined by breaking scores into quintiles for scoring purposes by an independent statistician.

In 2017, we supplemented our earlier materiality review and annual review of topics covered by customers and investors by surveying the sustainability goals and metrics of our top 60 customers to determine any data needs that were unaddressed. In addition, we engaged significantly with the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) as it developed consensus reporting standards for the infrastructure sector. We believe this effort to enhance the transparency and utility of our sector’s reporting was productive and have appended to this report an index cross-referencing our pilot effort incorporating the SASB metrics.

This alignment with SASB has resulted in some modification to our reporting (e.g., changing our characterization of mix of services to customers) and some supplementation of reporting (e.g., adding a characterization of our operations by location in dense populations). We find that data requests from customers and the investment community are increasing in type and scope. In an effort to balance the providing of the detail requested with the public interest in clear reporting on our business strategy and its key impacts, we are making more extensive use of our GRI Content Index for specialized audiences. In addition, we are aligning with many of our customers by including an index cross-referencing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) to increase the utility of our reporting for researchers.

The matrix below summarizes the results of the assessment:

Materiality Assessment

  • Very Important (15-12)
  • Data Reporting and Verification (15)
  • Compliance (14)
  • External Recycling Rate (14)
  • Local Engagement Plans & Programs (14)
  • Local Environmental Impact (14)
  • Public Policy Engagement (14)
  • Safety Record (14)
  • Anti-Corruption (13)
  • Green Service Sales (13)
  • Renewable Energy Generation (13)
  • Innovation (12)
  • Impact on Local Environment (12)
  • Local Impact Assessment & Improvement (12)
  • Important (11-10)
  • Business Ethics/Code (11)
  • Business Mix (11)
  • Energy Consumption (11)
  • Labor Practices & Human Rights (11)
  • Supplier Screening — Environment (11)
  • Climate Change — Financial Impact (10)
  • Diversity (10)
  • GHG Emissions — Scope 1-3 (10)
  • Risk Management (10)
  • Transportation Impacts (10)
  • Somewhat Important (9-8)
  • Corporate Governance (9)
  • Customer Satisfaction (9)
  • Customer Privacy (9)
  • Economic & Local Economic Impact (9)
  • Internal Recycling Rate (9)
  • Life Cycle Analysis (9)
  • Recycling Service Sales (9)
  • Disaster Relief (8)
  • Employee Demographics (8)
  • Water Consumption (8)
  • Less Important (7-4)
  • Alignment with International Frameworks (7)
  • Contributions (7)
  • Emissions of Ozone, NOx, SOx (7)
  • Biodiversity Impact (6)
  • Freedom of Association (6)
  • Layoffs & Turnover (6)
  • Social Media (6)
  • Supplier Screening — Labor Practices (6)
  • Supplier Screening — Social (6)
  • Local Procurement (5)
  • Political Contributions & Involvement (5)
  • Benefits (4)
  • Conflict Minerals (4)
  • Executive Compensation (4)
  • Government Financial Assistance (4)