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At Your Door Special Collection® Service
WM’s At Your Door Special Collection® service provides collection of materials including paints, household cleaners, swimming pool chemicals, garden products, automotive fluids, batteries, consumer electronics, and other items in certain states where this service is provided. In 2021, WM collected over 2,200 tons of materials through this service, with over 90% (by weight) of these materials sent to be recycled.
For commercial customers, WM Tracker Services enables businesses to dispose of universal and special wastes through a simple, safe and compliant mail-back method. This comprehensive program includes recycling kits for fluorescent lamps and bulbs, lighting ballasts, batteries, electronics, aerosol cans, thermometers, thermostats and dental amalgam, as well as safe disposal kits for sharps, medical waste, prescription and over-the-counter drugs and smoke detectors. Containers, such as the patented Mercury VaporLok® packaging for fluorescent lamps, are specifically designed for safe storage and shipping via national carriers. Customers can obtain kits through our website and receive certificates that provide proof of recycling compliance via email. WM Tracker also offers bulk or pallet pickup programs for larger volumes of universal and related waste for recycling.
WM operates two lamp recycling facilities: one in Arizona and one in South Carolina. Traditional lamp volumes continue to decrease with the increase of LED lighting in the marketplace. In 2021, over 3,700 tons of materials were collected through Tracker products and services.
Electronic waste material (e-waste), such as old or broken computers, printers and mobile devices, is a topic of significant environmental concern. It is the fastest-growing waste segment in North America, with more than 3 million tons generated annually in the U.S. alone. Revenue from the e-waste management industry is expected to grow an annualized 5% to $19 billion by 2024. WM delivers electronic recycling solutions that are convenient to use, cost-effective and environmentally responsible. Our electronics recycling services can meet an organization’s specific needs, with secure transport options from any point in the U.S. or Canada. We are supported by a comprehensive network of third-party processing centers certified and independently audited to the highest standards.
All processing partner locations are audited to meet e-Steward®, R2®/RIOS certification standards and are obliged to:
- Prevent hazardous e-waste from entering municipal incinerators or landfills.
- Prevent the exportation of e-waste to developing countries.
- Provide for visible tracking of e-waste throughout the product recycling chain.
Products can be refurbished and resold for value or managed at the end of their useful life for commodity recovery. Commodities such as gold, silver, copper, plastic and others are recovered, while byproducts such as mercury, lead, barium and cadmium—the inherently hazardous byproducts of electronics—are carefully managed. In 2021, 3,567 tons of e-waste were collected for recycling.
Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) Glass Management
CRT glass, used in “tube” televisions and monitors, was once recycled into new CRTs. Although new flat screen technology has eliminated the demand for the recycled CRT glass, older equipment containing CRTs still comprises a large percentage of electronics recovered by WM transfer, landfill and MRF operations. Because of rising costs, negative economic incentives and shifts in CRT glass markets, some CRT processors and recyclers have chosen to store the glass indefinitely, rather than send it for recycling or disposal, which increases the risk of mismanagement and/or abandonment of CRTs. WM has implemented robust management practices to track the end disposition of CRT glass, vetting all CRT processors and recyclers and tracking CRT volumes to end disposition. Some of the newer applications for recovery are non-leaded panel glass for base material and asphalt paving and funnel glass used in a glaze for tile manufacturing.
WM manages national retail and regional residential programs for the recycling of white goods. This includes refrigerators, freezers, stoves, washers, dryers, microwave ovens, ranges, water coolers, air conditioner units and other residential appliances.
WM-approved vendors use special equipment to evacuate or remove freon from refrigerators, freezers and other appliances. Oils from compressors are also evacuated and recycled. If appliances contain capacitors and/or mercury-containing devices, they are removed and recycled through approved and authorized vendors. Ferrous and non-ferrous metals are recovered and generally processed with automotive and industrial metals and delivered to end-markets for conversion into new products.
Healthcare Industry Waste
The healthcare industry generates difficult-to-treat wastes, including infectious, pathological, trace chemotherapy and wasted pharmaceuticals. WM works through special services divisions to support the healthcare industry with custom solutions. On January 6, 2021 WM divested the majority of its WM Healthcare Solutions operations to Trilogy Medical Waste in return for an equity stake in the Trilogy. WM has excluded the volumes of healthcare industry wastes now managed by Trilogy from this report. WM continues to operate a medical waste service facility that provides for the proper management and treatment of infectious waste. In addition, the Healthcare Division of WM Sustainability Services (WMSS) provides consulting and management for all wastes generated by large healthcare systems. WMSS works with customers to reduce infectious medical waste and to provide facility-specific advice on means to increase recycling and ensure protective disposal of these waste streams.
WM works daily with our customers to identify ways to increase diversion of waste and ensure proper source segregation, resulting in waste being processed correctly. WM has staff dedicated to responding to service requests and completing audits of waste containers to identify waste segregation improvements. WM also helps train hospital staff on waste and disposal segregation and at some customer locations, provides sharps collection services.
Focused on protecting people and the environment from potential impacts of regulated medical wastes, in 2020, WM worked with over 3,600 health care customers representing 82 hospitals and over 3,500 smaller locations. Through service agreements, WM:
- Managed over 9.6 million pounds of difficult-to-treat healthcare wastes.
- Treated over 7.5 million pounds of infectious medical waste, sending the noninfectious residue for secure disposal at secure WM landfill facilities.
- Disinfected and securely disposed of 800,000 pounds of sharp objects, such as needles and lancets, using a reusable sharps container program.
- Used state-of-the-art high-temperature thermal technology to destroy nearly 1.3 million pounds of these highly complex waste streams.
- Achieved an industry-leading recycling diversion rate of 28.8%, and regulated medical waste generation rate of 5.32% at hospitals with WM integrated waste programs, far below the industry average of 10%.
For over 20 years, PharmEcology’s programs have diverted over 4,700 tons of pharmaceuticals from entering waterways. In addition, PharmEcology works nationally with hospital pharmacy and drug supply chain companies, associations, and professional journals to inform the industry of the U.S. EPA regulations that have mandated new requirements for the management of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals. PharmEcology also continues to publish articles on the interface between DEA, EPA, NIOSH, and USP <800> regulations and standards in the trade press and provides educational webinars for professional pharmacy-related organizations. Most recently, PharmEcology has been providing guidance to long term care provider pharmacies through seminars and journal articles to assure compliance and manage waste pharmaceuticals appropriately.
PharmEcology continues to assist clients by tracking the implementation of Subpart P, Management Standards for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceutical and Amendment to the P075 Listing for Nicotine, which took effect August 2019. Subpart P has been formally adopted or informally managed in 27 U.S. states to date. An additional three states have adopted the nicotine exclusion, and all states will be required to adopt the regulation within the next two years. PharmEcology has assisted clients in moving from Large Quantity to Small Quantity generator status as enabled by the new rule, reducing the costs of their pharmaceutical waste streams by taking advantage of the changes in the nicotine classification, and managing of empty packaging for drugs such as warfarin.
The PharmEcology Waste Wizard® is an online pharmaceutical database that is updated weekly and provides specifics on the categorization of pharmaceutical hazardous waste. It includes state-specific guidance and hazardous drug handling guidance per the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) General Chapter <800> to healthcare subscribers and consultation clients. The USP <800> hazardous drug handling standards will become effective nationally in the near future. They focus on protecting patients, healthcare personnel and the environment when handling hazardous drugs from receipt through wastage. PharmEcology clients receive guidance on personal protective equipment and engineering controls based on their specific drugs, dosage forms and types of manipulation to help minimize the risk of exposure.
Coal Ash Recycling
Air pollution regulations require particulates such as fly ash, a coal combustion byproduct, to be captured rather than emitted. Power plants use activated carbon injection (ACI) systems to remove mercury from flue gases, which is then recaptured in the electrostatic precipitators or bag houses. This process prevents mercury from escaping the smokestack into the atmosphere, resulting in fly ash with elevated carbon levels.
Fly ash can be used as a cement replacement in concrete production instead of being disposed as waste. However, increased carbon levels from the methods used to remove mercury from flue gases negatively affect the durability of concrete. Our patented Carbon Blocker fly ash treatment system is widely used by utilities to improve the quality of fly ash, making it suitable for recycling in concrete product applications. With more ACI systems in use today, fly ash recycling is a growing business for WM. Since we acquired this proprietary technology in 2012, revenues have quadrupled, and in 2021 we beneficially used 884,281 tons of fly ash, with 765,156 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) avoided.