Waste Management owns a wide range of properties—large and small, urban and rural. At our larger properties, 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.
Waste Management partners with nonprofits, government agencies and other companies to create conservation strategies, including taking action to protect a specific animal or plant. One of the most important roles our land can play is being transformed into a home for wildlife, particularly endangered species that have experienced loss of native habitat.
WM teams across North America partner with Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC), the authoritative conservation program for businesses, to convert nearly 18,000 acres of land to promote sustainability, wildlife preservation, biodiversity and environmental education.
Through this longtime partnership, we transform land—primarily closed landfills, and smaller buffer zones at transfer stations, recycling facilities and other facilities—into certified wildlife habitat. 79 WHC-certified programs vary in scope from individual species management to large-scale habitat restoration.
All projects are included in WHC’s Conservation Registry, an interactive database that maps conservation projects worldwide.
These sites are more than just habitat. They are vital educational spaces that bring science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to life to teach the next generation about good environmental stewardship. All acres are overseen by Waste Management employees who dedicate their time and expertise to ongoing management and education.
Grand Central Landfill, for example, has five employees who dedicate their free time to the habitat, volunteering an average of 300 hours a year. This team recently worked with a local federal bird identification group and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to install a new monarch garden. At Fairless Landfill, employees work closely with the Falls Township Senior Center to maintain their pollinator garden. As a result of teamwork across North America, our employees were recognized with WHC’s 2019 Employee Engagement Award, which is presented to a company whose commitment to conservation is evident through the involvement of its employees. We’re proud to report that our employees put in over 2,600 hours on 25 certified programs in 2019.
Through these sites, we teach the fundamentals of protecting habitat, natural ecosystems and biodiversity to neighbors who visit and spread the word about the importance of environmental responsibility. The programs also show visitors that landfills are safe, can be beautiful, and support their surrounding natural ecosystems.
Wildlife Habitat 2019 Site Highlights
The Bronx and Brooklyn, New York
For more than six years, frontline employees have maintained pollinator gardens at our Harlem River Yard and Varick transfer stations. While these areas have long served as peaceful refuges for native wildlife and insect species, they were recently opened up to nearby communities. In fact, the Harlem River Yard garden was expanded to include a new pollinator garden located by the main entrance to the facility on the South Bronx waterfront. This expansion was completed by Waste Management employees with help from Alive Structures, a Brooklyn-based minority- and women-owned landscape design firm, and workers from the HOPE Program, an environmental and social justice-focused workforce development organization, who planted a variety of native perennials, shrubs and grasses.
Through the project, the previously underutilized area was transformed into a thriving garden adjacent to a popular community gathering area on the South Bronx waterfront. The team is also evaluating the feasibility of installing a community meeting center and green roof at the Varick facility. In the East Williamsburg Industrial Zone where Varick is located, no such gathering place currently exists, so this project would meet an important community need.