The 2019 update to our 2018 Sustainability report is available here.

The following site covers subject matter through 2018.


Capitalizing on change through
new technologies and new thinking.

As the leading environmental service and solutions company in North America, Waste Management works with our customers to meet their unique service needs. From residential customers, to small businesses, large corporations, manufacturing and even large public venues — we are tasked with providing comprehensive waste solutions to our varied customer base.

We leverage this expertise in a variety of ways:

  • Public Sector Solutions: A team of 215 professionals is dedicated to our work with municipalities across the country. With over 5,000 municipal contracts, Waste Management provides a comprehensive suite of environmental solutions. Our services range from waste collection and disposal, recycling and organics collection, processing market and providing necessary infrastructure to manage waste collection and disposal; recycling and organics collection, processing and marketing; and providing necessary infrastructure to manage waste systems effectively and efficiently. We take our responsibility seriously, engaging as partners with our municipal customers to innovate, protect the environment, and leverage data and technology to drive lasting change. We pride ourselves on being involved in the fabric of the community, ensuring that we understand the unique values of local government.

  • Direct Support of Our Commercial Customers: Our commercial customers have unique service support needs depending on state and local requirements, cost or a desire for programs designed around specific type of customer base. Waste Management understands that our customers’ sustainability needs are varied, and we work with them to meet service needs — whether it involves managing a range of materials for recycling, or providing specially designed containers or staff education.

  • Sustainability Solutions: Waste Management’s Sustainability Services (WMSS) experts provide creative and comprehensive waste solutions across a wide range of industries, events and customer types. We leverage this expertise by dedicating nearly 400 trained consultants and service professionals who evaluate service options and manage customers’ programs on site. WMSS ensures efficient operations, minimizes environmental impact and instills a culture of safety, while accelerating performance. In the process, customers gain access to Waste Management’s resources, technologies and innovations, which comprise the leading portfolio of environmental solutions in North America.

The complexity of our services is seen in the breadth of the waste solutions that we provide. This includes our policy work to identify the areas of greatest environmental impact associated with our industry. An example is our focus on using life cycle assessment to prioritize areas of focus for the greatest environmental impacts.

Life Cycle Assessment Approach
to Recycling

The idea of what successful recycling means has evolved significantly in recent years as the waste stream has shifted. Where goals were once focused on weight and volume, Waste Management — along with many other companies, cities, states and even academic institutions — has turned to goals based on environmental attributes, most notably reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through a life cycle approach to assessing recycling.

In recent years, Waste Management has aligned with the concept of sustainable materials management (SMM), a framework that encourages everyone in the recycling value chain to explore the impact of materials across their life cycle. This helps us understand that impacts can occur at all stages — from design and manufacturing, to inputs and outputs of the product, to how people will use and dispose of the product.

The life cycle approach considers the entire life of products from mineral extraction through end of life, and the impacts at each point along the way.

Material Life Circle

Life cycle thinking quantifies materials, energy consumption and emissions associated with those processes. Evaluating GHG emissions with a goal of reducing them can provide insight into trouble spots or changes that may need to occur to ensure resources are optimized across a product’s life cycle.

For our part, we have been closely studying the waste stream to improve our environmental impact, while using more data and marrying the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SMM model with Waste Management’s cost model to determine cost per ton of GHG emissions reduction in our industry. In doing so, we can prioritize waste management strategies to optimize the environmental benefits from materials across the waste stream.

In 2017, we avoided 32,586,647 MTCO2e of life cycle emissions through recycling, renewable energy generation and organic material composting.

While we constantly seek to make a positive impact on the environment through a variety of measures, our greatest contribution undoubtedly comes from waste reduction services and recycling. Fully 60 percent of our emissions reduction contribution is tied to our recycling activities alone. And by recycling the right things well, we have the opportunity to reduce GHG emissions by over 80 percent. Significantly reducing GHG emissions is both achievable and essential to ensure our operations have a positive and lasting impact on the environment and the communities we serve.

Establishing New Goals

With this in mind, we’ve taken a close look at our goals over the past two years. In recent years, the GHG reduction services we offer our customers — recycling, landfill gas-to-energy projects, renewable natural gas projects and carbon sequestration in landfill — helped them avoid over three times the GHG emissions generated by Waste Management’s own operations. Recently, we announced our goal to increase those avoided emissions to four times the GHG emissions generated by our operations. Additionally, we’ve set a science-based goal to increase avoided emissions from recycling by 38 percent by 2028 against a 2010 baseline. This goal aligns with our campaign to improve the quality and quantity of recycling, while reducing its volatility.