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Climate Impact and KPIs

Mitigating climate change underlies everything we do.

With the United States’ renewed commitment to the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to no greater than 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, our focus on climate has only grown stronger. We have committed to setting a Science Based Target Initiative (SBTi)-approved goal in 2022. Reaching this goal will require big ideas, bold action and leadership across industries, and WM is proud to be part of the solution.

Technology and innovation are advancing faster than ever, providing us with new and better ways to capture landfill gas for beneficial use, measure fugitive emissions and transform our fleet. WM offers solutions to help our customers minimize their carbon footprint and lower their environmental impact alongside our own. In fact, the services we provide currently decrease and avoid three times more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than we generate in our operations. By 2038, our goal is to reduce and avoid four times the GHG emissions we generate through our operations.

Reducing Our Carbon Impact

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

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.

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. 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.

Our landfill emissions are from active and closed facilities. 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.

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.

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.

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.

Carbon Intensity

MMT CO2e per Ton of Waste Disposed

Bar chart showing our MMT CO2e per Ton of Waste Disposed from 2013 through 2021

MMT CO2e/Net Operating Revenue

Bar chart showing our MMT CO2e/Net Operating Revenue from 2013 through 2021

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.

MMT CO2e per Ton of Waste Disposed
2013 0.172
2014 0.168
2015 0.169
2016 0.151
2017 0.141
2018 0.142
2019 0.130
2020 0.143
2021 0.137
MMT CO2e/Net Operating Revenue
2013 0.0012
2014 0.0011
2015 0.0013
2016 0.0012
2017 0.0011
2018 0.0011
2019 0.0010
2020 0.0011
2021 0.0010