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Solving Waste Together Organics

Food and yard debris make up over a third of the material, by weight, that we manage for our customers, and wasted food is a major economic and environmental problem across the globe.

In the U.S. alone, more than 75 billion pounds of food is wasted each year, and displaced food carries a price tag of well over $161 billion. The U.S. EPA estimates that more food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in our everyday trash, making up 15% of the disposed waste stream. And when factoring in the energy used to grow, process and ship food, as well as the emissions released when it decomposes, food waste adds billions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere.

Given the enormous environmental, social and economic impacts associated with wasted food, it makes sense that Waste Management would play a growing role in managing this material. Even when food is no longer safe for human consumption, it still has tremendous value as a source of compost and energy.

While the concept of a circular economy is most often applied to manufactured goods, it also applies to organics, including food. The benefits of developing solutions for managing food and yard debris at end of life are significant, and Waste Management continues to invest in new organics processing facilities and programs across North America to meet our customers’ needs.

Where possible, we help prevent food from being wasted and instead allow for its redistribution. For other organic material, we continue to invest in new or expanded programs to handle at end of life via composting, grinding and mulching, and our proprietary organics recycling process known as CORe®.

The Environmental and Social Benefits
of Managing Organic Waste

Donation

  • When possible, we work with companies and municipalities to donate unused food to food banks before it gets thrown away.

Energy

  • Our CORe® recycling process converts food waste from restaurants, schools, food processing plants and grocery stores into EBS®, an organic slurry product used to generate green energy.
  • CORe® facilities enable municipal customers to produce heat and power from local residential, commercial and industrial food waste.

Soil Amendment

  • Our portfolio includes 40 facilities that produce compost and mulch products, used to improve soil structure and quality, providing value for landscapers and home gardeners.
  • Compost also provides valuable nutrients to soil used to produce food and boost crop production, closing the organics loop.

Composting

Composting and mulching are proven, low-cost solutions for managing large volumes of organic materials. Waste Management has 40 facilities that produce compost and mulch products, as well as new composting solutions developed in collaboration with customers. In 2019, Waste Management purchased three new compost facilities—two in the Central Valley of California and one outside of Calgary, Alberta.

We also began selling finished compost out of our new Altamont facility and started commissioning our new Davis Street Organics MRF in Northern California. By the end of the year, we were processing residual trash through this one-of-a-kind recycling facility, extracting recyclables and preparing to move separated organics to beneficial use projects from the facility. Between acquisitions and facility construction, we added almost 500,000 tons of new composting capacity in 2019. The compost produced by these facilities serves several important agricultural and landscaping end-markets.

Waste Management also continues to collect food and organic material generated at the Waste Management Phoenix Open to prevent it from being wasted. Working with our local partners, 14 tons of food were donated to local food banks for distribution, and 123 tons of organics were composted locally in 2019.

CORe® Organics Processing

CORe® is Waste Management’s proprietary organics recycling process that converts food waste into EBS®, an organic slurry product used to generate green energy. Through CORe®, we collect commercial food waste from restaurants, schools, food processing plants and grocery stores, screen it to remove contaminants such as plastic, packaging and bones, and blend the waste into an engineered slurry. The slurry is injected into treatment facility digesters in existing wastewater treatment infrastructure. This process increases the biogas produced by the digester by as much as 90% without notably increasing its residual digestate. This gas can then be used as a renewable power source.

Adding to our growing inventory of CORe® units, our Elizabeth, New Jersey, facility came online in 2018 to serve the needs of a large base of industrial food manufacturers and grocery distributors. It was so successful that the facility soon added a municipal customer base and now accepts both industrial waste and food waste from the community.

Waste Management CORe® Process

Adding additional organic material in the form of engineered slurry to a water treatment plant’s anaerobic digesters typically increases energy output from 50% to 100% or more. Watch a video on our CORe process.

Infographic detailing Waste Management's CORe Process

Waste Management’s CORe® process is a local, urban solution that converts food material into our EBS® product through our proprietary process.

EBS® is a high quality consistent product, removing more than 99% of the physical contaminants found in urban waste.

The EBS® product is used to create renewable, sustainable energy in partnership with long-term local partnerships, helping them approach zero waste.

Waste Management Organics Processing Sites

Hover over each number to reveal more information

Waste Management is continually growing our capacity for processing organic material and making compost products available to local customers who can put them to good use. By partnering with stakeholders across the communities where our processing sites are located, we’re all helping to maximize the value of organics.

Map of North America showing the location of Waste Management's Organics Processing Sites

3,577,122
tons organic
material recycled

1 Alameda County Food Donation Program

Given a recent California initiative to reduce food waste, the Alameda County Community Food Bank was looking to expand its operations. Waste Management helped secure a grant to purchase a new truck—the first hybrid vehicle in the Food Bank’s fleet—which will allow the Food Bank to expand its collection capacity by 1 million pounds annually. This new hybrid truck will also decrease GHG emissions, equivalent to removing 1,000 cars from the road for a year.

2 Redwood Compost Facility

Our Redwood facility uses aerated static pile composting, an approach that has allowed us to increase processing capacity while reducing air emissions. Yard waste and residential food scraps from the nearby community truly stay local when they are turned into compost used by organic wine growers in Sonoma and Napa, ranchers in Marin County, landscapers and home gardeners alike.

3 Boston CORe® Facility

To help the state of Massachusetts meet its organics recycling goals, the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District entered a partnership with Waste Management to process additional organic material at our CORe® facility. The resulting agreement increased the district’s production of renewable energy. Since 2017, we have tripled GLSD’s biogas production to approximately 1 million cubic feet per day, and the district is well on its way to being a net energy exporter to the local grid.

4 New Jersey CORe® Facility

The CORe® process is a great solution for residential and municipal organic programs located near a facility. For example, Woodbridge Township now collects food waste from schools with a special organics collection vehicle, which is delivered to CORe® every day of the week. The nearby Westfield Township provides its residents with a food waste drop-off program. The centralized location of this CORe® facility allowed for a cost-effective solution requiring minimal transportation.

5 Okeechobee Compost Facility

In Okeechobee, Florida, high-quality compost is in demand from the region’s citrus groves. Compost from Waste Management’s facility there, which opened in 2012, is used exclusively in agricultural production, turf and other applications. The compost’s high-organic matter helps boost crop production and reduces the impact of citrus greening disease. The facility can produce up to 10,000 cubic yards of mature compost each year.

Organics Processing Facilities

44
Total

  • 31 Compost
  • 9 Grinding/Beneficial Reuse
  • 4 CORe®

Waste Management Organics Processing Sites

CORe®

Composting/Mulch