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Environmental Justice

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The U.S. EPA defines environmental justice as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.”

WM continues to engage on this important issue, as it pertains to our industry, by utilizing tools and data, including the 2010 US Census (most recent at the time of publication), U.S EPA’s Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping (EJSCREEN) tool and ESRI Business Analyst data, to produce a scatter plot and complementary table showing the distribution of WM’s operations, excluding office space, in the communities that we service.

Methodology

WM’s review of our Environmental Justice impact on the communities where we have facilities began in 2010, plotting the income and minority population data within a 5-mile radius, using the tools and data available at the time. For our 2021 reporting, we produced a refined view of the impact our facilities have on local households and populations through an Environmental Justice lens. To do so, we used the most recent data at the time of publication (September 2021), updated WM facility numbers and types, and used the most up-to-date tools available, such as EPA EJSCREEN.

Facilities and Neighborhoods

In 2021, we changed our approach to reflect feedback from investors and environmental justice experts, including changing the radius of households surrounding our facilities from 5 miles, as reported from 2010-2020, to 1 kilometer. This provides a more localized view of those most impacted by WM operations in the neighborhoods surrounding our facilities. We also improved the accuracy of our facility representation by eliminating facilities that were counted more than once. Multiple facility types are often located in the same place and in our last mapping exercise, each facility type was counted once instead of being considered a co-location. For example, landfill-gas-to-energy (GTE) facilities are part of our landfills; a GTE facility cannot exist without a landfill. In our last mapping exercise, GTE and landfills were counted as two separate facilities, and the households and/or population within a certain radius of these facilities were counted twice.

Income by Household

For reporting year 2021, we changed our methodology to align with the EPA definition of “low-income,” as used in the EJSCREEN tool. Previously, we used the American Community Survey (ACS) “supplemental 2018 household income above or below poverty level” as compared to the State’s “percentage below poverty level,” resulting in data that did not reflect “low-income,” as defined by the EPA. Changing our methodology to reflect the EPA EJSCREEN tool improves accuracy, transparency and alignment with the most widely used Environmental Justice tool available at the time of publication (September 2021).

Race by Population

For reporting year 2021, we expanded our review of the makeup of populations surrounding our facilities, with more detail that aligns with the EPA EJSCREEN tool. We are also taking into account feedback from investors and environmental justice experts requesting more detail in our reporting. This includes a national and by-facility-type breakdown of populations within 1 kilometer of our facilities according to race (White, Hispanic, Black, Asian, American Indian, Pacific Islander and those who identify as another race). The population by race data is based on 2010 Census data with 2018 ACS supplemental data as used in the EPA EJSCREEN tool. We have also summarized the percent of populations considered to be a minority as defined by the EPA EJSCREEN Tool. We will continue to monitor new tools and data at a national and state level to provide the most current Environmental Justice review possible. To learn more about the EPA EJSCREEN definitions and methodology, please visit their FAQ site.

Households within 1 km radius of WM facilities as compared to EPA EJ Screen defined low-income (exterior circle) with percent minority population within 1 km of WM facilities as defined by EPA EJ Screen (interior circle)

Landfills

18.1% of All WM
Facilities
  • 44% Minority
  • 56% Non-Minority
  • 87% Households with
    incomes above EPA’s
    definition of low income
  • 13% Households with
    incomes below EPA’s
    definition of low income

MRFs

7.2% of All WM
Facilities
  • 58% Minority
  • 42% Non-Minority
  • 95% Households with
    incomes above EPA’s
    definition of low income
  • 5% Households with
    incomes below EPA’s
    definition of low income

Organics

2.9% of All WM
Facilities
  • 57% Minority
  • 43% Non-Minority
  • 90% Households with
    incomes above EPA’s
    definition of low income
  • 10% Households with
    incomes below EPA’s
    definition of low income

Transfer Stations

22.8% of All WM
Facilities
  • 54% Minority
  • 46% Non-Minority
  • 95% Households with
    incomes above EPA’s
    definition of low income
  • 5% Households with
    incomes below EPA’s
    definition of low income

Hauling

35.2% of All WM
Facilities
  • 51% Minority
  • 49% Non-Minority
  • 94% Households with
    incomes above EPA’s
    definition of low income
  • 6% Households with
    incomes below EPA’s
    definition of low income

Offices

12.8% of All WM
Facilities
  • 52% Minority
  • 48% Non-Minority
  • 93% Households with
    incomes above EPA’s
    definition of low income
  • 7% Households with
    incomes below EPA’s
    definition of low income

Other* Facilities

0.6% of All WM
Facilities
  • 69% Minority
  • 31% Non-Minority
  • 89% Households with
    incomes above EPA’s
    definition of low income
  • 11% Households with
    incomes below EPA’s
    definition of low income

*Other represents autoclave and LampTracker® facilities

Hazardous Waste Facilities

0.4% of All WM
Facilities
  • 9% Minority
  • 91% Non-Minority
  • 100%   Households with
    incomes above EPA’s
    definition of low income
  • 0% Households with
    incomes below EPA’s
    definition of low income

The population surrounding these facilities is made up of 11 people, according to the US EPA EJ Screen

Population by race as defined by EPA within 1 km of all WM facilities broken down by facility type

*Other represents autoclave and LampTracker® facilities

**The population surrounding these facilities is made up
of 11 people, according to the US EPA EJ Screen

Environmental Justice Mapping Tool

WM created a tool that consolidates available public information with WM site locations to map the Environmental Justice impact of each of our sites. The WM Environmental Justice Mapping Tool allows users to input the location that they would like to review along with a radius surrounding that location. Any WM site that is within that radius will be populated on the map, along with a site listing. The site listing contains critical information about that WM location including the site name, address, available services and technology at that location, and links to EPA EJScreen reports for that site.

Access our mapping tool.

Areas of Dense Population

WM engaged with the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) on consensus reporting standards for waste facilities, and on using GIS-based systems to understand community concerns and potential impacts. SASB determined that the most useful measure across sectors would be mapping potential air impacts from facilities in urban areas. The below map provides the locations of active and closed landfills that WM owns or operates, with urbanized areas shaded in green. Urbanized areas are defined as areas with a population of at least 50,000 people. The table shows the number of active and closed landfills within an urbanized area, within 5 kilometers (km) of an urbanized area, and outside a 5-km perimeter of an urbanized area.

Landfills in Urbanized Areas
Urbanization Status Total
Within an urbanized area 38 active, 84 closed 122
Within 5 km of an urbanized area 85 active, 61 closed 146
Outside a 5 km perimeter of an urbanized area 134 active, 47 closed 181
This map provides the locations of active and closed landfills that WM owns or operates and highlights urbanized areas.

Scatter plot showing the distribution of all of WM’s operations, excluding office space, in the communities that we service.