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Social Impact Strategy

With a commitment to make the communities where we live and work safe, resilient and sustainable, WM is continuously working toward a sustainable tomorrow while being a good neighbor.

Thanks to the work of dedicated leaders, team and community members, we surpassed our 2038 goal to reach 1 million people through educational programs and events. With that achievement, it was time to think bigger around what’s next. As a purpose-driven brand, we decided to update our social impact strategy, developed in tandem with a new target, to ensure we improve communities and our planet. Our ambitious target to positively impact 10 million people through social impact programs by investing the equivalent of 2% of our net income by 2030 illustrates our commitment to intentional and impactful initiatives. As we continue to educate neighbors, we will further focus our efforts on additional programs that address social and environmental imperatives.

To do so, WM’s Social Impact team has been consistently developing a strategy alongside stakeholders from across the company representing our Sustainability, Brand, People, Operations and Communication teams. The varied expertise has allowed us to strategically understand how WM can move the needle. While the pandemic delayed program development, it informed our approach. Building on initial plans, the team will continue its work to launch and execute the strategy in 2023 and beyond.

Work across 2021 and 2022 included the development and implementation of initiatives, including but not limited to:

  • Collaborating with the National Forest Foundation and Tree Canada to plant 50,000 trees via employee pledges to live sustainably.
  • Working with local teams to pivot to interactive virtual learning to continuously teach students the value of recycling right.
  • Launching the WM Design Challenge, Powered by Slow Factory, an initiative to support the intersection of environment and culture within the context of waste-led design.
  • Donating $500,000 to the American Red Cross to support disaster relief efforts across our service areas.
  • Celebrating an MLK Day of Service with donations of time and funds to United Way, Habitat for Humanity, YMCA chapters and local food banks.
  • Donating clothes to Dress for Success to support women on their journey in the workforce, in honor of Women’s History Month.
  • Continuing our 30-year partnership with Wildlife Habitat Council to use WM land to create and maintain certified sites that support biodiversity and environmental education.
  • Educating stakeholders around our environmental justice efforts by participating in a panel discussion at Wildlife Habitat Council’s annual conference, where teams were nominated for project awards.
  • Running a holiday giving employee match campaign to address food insecurity across North America, supporting Feeding America and Food Banks Canada.

WM will continue to collaborate with organizations like – but not limited to - The Recycling Partnership, National League of Cities, the U.S. EPA, the African American Mayors Association and the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), to gain authentic access to supporters who educate stakeholders on environmental initiatives critical to sustaining strategic focus areas — Environmental Conservation, Sustainability Education, and Community Vitality. Moving forward, we’ll add efforts around Environmental Justice, and complementary focus areas of Workforce & Skills Development, and Supplier Diversity.

In our communities, community relations representatives work with nonprofits to develop and support programs aligned with city or county initiatives. To ensure a structured approach in determining when, how and why community engagement occurs, we turn to community giving guidelines and the eligibility criteria listed on the landing page of our giving platform.

In 2021, WM donated $12.8 million in cash and $1.5 million through in-kind giving. Overhead costs associated with having a corporate citizenship function, based on overall program coordination and communication, were $4 million in 2021.