Our overarching sustainability goal is to reduce GHG emissions.
Currently, the services we provide avoid three times (3X) more GHG emissions than we generate in our operations. Our 2038 goal calls for avoiding even more—four times (4X) our operating emissions. To achieve this goal, we aim to reduce emissions from our landfills, fleet and electricity use, while increasing the emissions-avoidance services that we provide to our customers. The chart below illustrates our progress to date and our projection for 2038. The bar above the zero line will decrease as we reduce operational emissions. At the same time, the bar below the zero line will increase.
Generated Emissions (million MT CO2e)
Our current and targeted emissions generated are shown above the zero line below.
The emissions avoided by the services we provide are shown below the zero line.
Progress to Achieving Our 4X Goal
We calculate progress by dividing the emissions we avoid by the emissions we generate—with the goal of keeping 4x more out of the atmosphere than we put in.
In 2020, WM avoided 3.23 times more CO2e emissions through the services that we provide than we generate in our operations, a 3.3% reduction from 2019. There are several reasons for this:
- WM collected fewer tons of waste in 2020, yet we collected more landfill gas at our sites than in 2019. However, the methodology used in the U.S. to model landfill emissions, combined with the additional emissions from the ADS acquisition, resulted in WM reporting more emissions. Emissions from ADS landfills make up 30% of the increase, with the remaining increase attributed to the landfill modeling methodology used by the industry for reporting. This increased the denominator used to calculate our 4X goal. We continue to focus our efforts on measurement and operational management practices to reduce overall emissions, investing in these areas while also working to develop accurate measurement systems for landfill emissions.
- In 2020, COVID-19 also impacted our recycling volumes with the closure of commercial businesses. This particularly impacted the amount of paper and wood we recycled and lowered our avoided emissions used in the numerator of our 4X goal. We are committed to investing to grow our recycling presence.
In 2019, WM committed to a new set of shorter-term goals for 2025.
By 2025, we aim to have a fleet made up of 70% alternative fuel vehicles, of which 50% are fueled with renewable natural gas. Using renewable natural gas collected from our landfills has helped us achieve this goal ahead of schedule.
We have also set a goal to use 100% renewable energy at facilities we control. WM is working with our vendors to put new contracts in place to ensure we are purchasing 100% renewable electricity by 2025. We are on track to achieve or exceed these goals.
Another important short-term goal is reducing inbound recycling contamination at our MRFs. Reducing contamination will make our MRFs more efficient, allowing us to recycle more. This, in turn, will allow more materials to be recycled into new products, avoiding the emissions associated with mining virgin materials.
Finally, WM has a goal to develop measurement processes for fugitive emissions landfills by 2025.