This report has been prepared in accordance with Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards: Core Option as well as in alignment with the guidelines of the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB) for the infrastructure sector.
We find that data requests from customers and the investment community are increasing in type and scope. To balance the level of detail requested with public interest in reporting on our business strategy and its key impacts, we are making more targeted use of our GRI Content Index and SASB Index for specialized audiences. In addition, we have aligned our goals to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
To continually improve Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) disclosure, we review questions posed by NGOs, customer supply chain sustainability surveys and rating agencies such as the S&P Global Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) and Sustainalytics. We also respond to customers’ requests for supply chain information through CDP Supply Chain response and EcoVadis, and we have discussions with investors who are interested in evaluating our carbon footprint and the market opportunities for our low-carbon products and services. Many institutional investors also inquire about impacts from various forms of regulation and legislation addressing GHG emissions to understand potential impacts to earnings.
We have participated in CDP since 2004, which includes responding to the CDP Climate Change questionnaire, aligned with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). As a result of our commitment to robust and transparent reporting, we have been named a Commercial Services & Supplies Sector Leader by DJSI and appeared on the CDP Climate Disclosure Leadership Index and A-List for the last 15 years.
We currently do not seek external assurance for all elements of this report. Our 2019 GHG emissions inventory has been assured by Aster Global Environmental Solutions, Inc. The inventory includes direct (Scope 1 and 2) emissions and indirect (Scope 3) GHG emissions from the following sources:
- Purchased goods and services
- Capital goods
- Business travel
- Employee commuting
- Downstream leased assets
- Upstream leased assets
Our complete assurance statement is available on our ESG Resource Hub.
The content of this report has been compiled and organized based upon insights from a materiality assessment conducted by an internal team. This team is charged with ongoing stakeholder engagement, including participation in key business and multistakeholder organizations, media relations, disclosure of sustainability information for sales and marketing purposes and completion of sustainability survey requests.
In 2019, we performed a reassessment of issues, risks and opportunities that are material to our sustainability strategy in a changing global climate. This assessment helped us identify topics that are strategically important to our company and stakeholders while guiding decision-making across our value chain.
The assessment was conducted in four stages:
- Identification—Through a detailed analysis of Waste Management’s value chain and review of GRI’s definition and guidelines for materiality, we developed the overarching themes of Governance, Community, Environment and Supply Chain. These themes contain a total of 24 material topics.
- Surveys—We constructed a comprehensive survey of our identified issues, which included follow-up questions and qualitative response options to allow for in-depth understanding of the reasoning behind survey results. Both internal and external stakeholders were surveyed.
- Interviews—We selected external stakeholders that represent key partners from our supply chain, valued customers with established relationships and municipal partnerships, as well as nonprofit and industry association contributors. Internally, Waste Management interviewed employees who represent key pillars of our business at a senior level.
- Additional Input—We incorporated a variety of external media scans and reputation-based data sets to expand and complement our understanding of internal and external stakeholder perspectives.
Key Material Issues
Interconnectivity of Material Issues
External stakeholder interviews provided insight into the interconnectivity between our material issues. For example, one stakeholder selected Technology Innovations as material, justifying their choice by saying that, while topics such as Energy Efficiency and Climate Impact were key to their strategy, they felt that technology was the enabler to those goals. Multiple stakeholders shared that they selected a material topic that they believed closely related to others on the list.
Our materiality assessment confirmed a significant degree of alignment between internal and external stakeholders. We noted the rise of forward-thinking environmental topics such as climate impact and the UN SDGs as having increased importance compared with our previous materiality assessment. Climate Impact was selected by 39% of our external stakeholders during our interview process as being material to their business, demonstrating the increased attention being given to our impact on the planet. Additional analyses on this new assessment will provide further insight for strategic planning.
Among internal stakeholders, including WM’s senior leaders, we heard that topics such as Health & Safety and Business Ethics were considered to be necessary prerequisites. Therefore, many of these stakeholders focused their assessments on forward-thinking topics, such as Technology Innovation and the UN SDGs. Based on this insight, we learned that our leadership is focused on the Waste Management of the future with Health & Safety, Leadership Accountability and other People First topics ingrained into what we do every day.