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Waste Management Meets Habitat Goal, Cuts Violations

Waste Management (WM) has met its wildlife habitat goal ten years ahead of schedule, according to the company’s 2010 sustainability report.

The report says that the waste, recycling and bio-energy company has already met its target of receiving Wildlife Habitat Council certification at 100 landfills.

That is up from 24 certifications reported in the company’s 2008 sustainability report, and means that WM has already met its goal for 2020.

The company has also increased the number of acres it sets aside for conservation and wildlife habitat to 25,000, the report said.

This week’s report mostly provided data through 2009, and did not say whether the company met its 2010 emission goals, set out in the 2008 report.

WM has not met its environmental compliance goal of zero violations, but in 2009 it did have the lowest number of violations in three years, with 68. That is 28 percent down from 2008’s total of 95 violations (see chart).

”The goal of our environmental management system is to correct conditions that could lead to a violation before the violation happens,” the report said. “We have not yet achieved our goal of zero violations, but we saw in 2008 and 2009 improving trends in several key indicators. We continue to take every departure from regulations, no matter how small, very seriously.”

In 2010 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notified Waste Management that its Kettleman City landfill has violated disposal rules for polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), a banned toxin found in electrical transformers and coolants.

WM says it is North America’s largest recycler, in 2009 moving more than 8.5 million tons of material towards recycling or reuse. It aims to nearly triple the amount of recyclable materials it manages, from a 2007 baseline, to more than 20 million tons a year by 2020.

But the two years covered by the report proved difficult, WM said, with recycling commodity market prices declining in the fourth quarter of 2008. “Fortunately, commodity markets steadily recovered through 2009 and into 2010 such that those markets are at or near their pre-October 2008 levels,” the report said.

WM said it is working with customers to revise recycling contracts so customers share more of the risk in weak commodity markets, as well as more of the benefit in strong markets.

The report also said that in 2009 WM produced more than 60 prcent of the country’s renewable energy from landfill gas, and nearly 23 percent of its energy from waste-to-energy projects.

“Combined, these Waste Management renewable fuels created an order of magnitude more renewable energy than that produced by the solar industry, and more than half the amount of energy produced by geothermal sources nationwide,” the report said.

WM operates the largest network of landfills in the country and manages about 100 million tons of waste each year, providing solid waste collection services to 20 million customers.

The report meets Global Reporting Initiative guidelines at a self-checked application level of B, WM said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has notified Waste Management that its Kettleman City landfill has violated disposal rules for polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), a banned toxin found in electrical transformers and coolants and has 60 days to correct the problems,

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