Waste Management Sustainablity Report: Recylables Managed up 61% from 2007
Waste Management Inc. is nearly two-thirds of the way to meeting its 2020 sustainability goal of almost tripling the amount of recyclable material it manages annually, according to the company’s 2012 sustainability report.
In 2011, the company managed 12.9 million tons of recyclable material. This is 61 percent more than its 2007 baseline year total and up from 8.5 million tons in 2009, which is the next most recent year for which the report provides data. The company’s target for 2020 is to manage 20 million tons of recyclable material, according to the report.
WM opened or acquired a net 14 new materials processing plants in 2011, including three single-stream recycling plants. The company saw significant growth in organics collection and processing, which reached 2.5 million tons in 2011 — compared to no organic material reported in 2007. In total the company purchased nearly 1 million tons of new materials processing capacity in 2011: three-quarters for recycling plants and acquisitions and one-quarter for organics recycling, the report says.
In 2012 and beyond, WM expects the amount of material handled to grow even faster as it expands its single-stream recycling capacity, builds infrastructure to collect and process organic materials, and invests in new ways to unlock more value from organic waste, the report says.
The company also made progress toward its waste-based energy production goal. In 2009, the company produced enough energy from waste to power 1.07 million households. In 2011, this figure increased nine percent to 1.17 million households – the equivalent of almost 23.5 million barrels of oil or nearly 6.1 million tons of coal. By 2020, WM hopes to power 2 million homes from its waste-based energy program.
There are two main ways WM creates energy from waste: by recovering the energy in trash through “waste-to-energy” combustion and by harvesting landfill gas as a combustible fuel. According to to the US Department of Energy, in 2011 the company produced eight times more renewable energy than the US solar industry.
WM’s wholly owned subsidiary Wheelabrator Technologies is partnering with the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority to develop a WTE facility in Frederick County, Md., that is projected to process an average of 1,500 tons per day of post-recycling solid waste. At that rate, the facility would generate about 51 MW of electricity, providing enough energy to power an estimated 45,000 homes, the report says.
Overall, the waste sector is a small contributor to total US greenhouse gas emissions, contributing 1.8 percent of the country’s total. WM reduced the emissions from its processes by 27 percent year-on-year, from around 22.5 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent in 2010 to around 16.5 million metric tons in 2011.
WM puts the reduction down to three factors. First, the severe drought that affected much of the United States in 2011 also impacted landfill gas generation. Moisture is needed for landfill gas generation, which drops profoundly when the waste is starved of water. Second, the amount of waste the company landfills is dropping, and the waste the company receives has less of the organic content that gives rise to landfill gas. Finally, WM began using a more accurate measurement system for emissions reporting in 2011.
In 2011 the company surpassed its 2020 target of a 15 percent reduction in its fleet emissions over 2007 levels. By 2011 WM had reduced this total by 20 percent. The company produced 2.14 million tons CO2e in its 2007 baseline year.
In September, the company announced that it would deploy DriveCam’s fuel management program across its entire fleet, comprising thousands of collection vehicles, for a five-year service contract term. In May, it announced plans to add 35 CNG vehicles to its Houston fleet by the end of 2012, and said it would open its CNG fueling station in Conroe, Texas to consumers. In August, WM launched a local fleet of 25 compressed natural gas trucks — the first of its kind in Kentucky — and unveiled Louisville’s first public-access, 24-hour CNG fueling station.
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