The weight of recyclables handled by Waste Management dropped slightly last year, largely because several MRF upgrade projects necessitated temporary shutdowns at four facilities.
WM, the largest garbage and recycling company in North America, recently published its 2022 sustainability report, which disclosed that the company recovered 14.8 million tons of material, down 3% from the year before (the tonnage figure includes construction and demolition debris/wood, fly ash and other materials not collected at the curb).
The company cited shutdowns for upgrades at four MRFs, as well as a reduction in tons from third parties and organic materials.
The following were changes in specific materials recovered in 2022, compared with 2021:
- Fiber: 7.37 million tons (down 5%)
- Mixed organics: 3.80 million tons (down 3%)
- C&D debris/wood: 1.22 million tons (flat from prior year)
- Fly ash: 915,000 tons (down 3%)
- Glass: 546,000 tons (down 7%)
- Metals: 469,000 tons (down 12%)
- Plastics: 465,000 tons (down 10%)
- Other (specialty materials such as used oil, tires, textiles): 34,000 tons (up 568%)
- Electronic waste/lamps/batteries: 7,660 tons (up 115%)
WM also reported that its total inbound contamination rate in 2022 was 16%, the same as the preceding two years.
The report also provides a detailed look at its greenhouse gas emissions, measured as carbon dioxide-equivalent metric tons.
The company’s Scope 1 emissions, which include those from its own operations, totaled 15.3 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent in 2022, down 10% from the year before. The reductions came mainly from greenhouse gases generated by landfills and the collection fleet, the company said.
WM estimated that its recycling activities reduced CO2-equivalent emissions by 26.92 million metric tons in 2022. That was down from 28.06 million metric tons the year before.
Looking at growth ahead
Overall, WM wants to increase its recyclables tons managed to 25 million tons by 2030. That number is a 60% increase over the company’s 2021 baseline number of 15.34 million tons. It also has an interim goal of a 25% increase – to just over 19 million tons – by 2025
The company is undergoing a multi-year capital project estimated at $1 billion to upgrade its MRFs around the country. Last year, WM completed four automation projects, increasing its recycling capacity by about 100,000 tons per year. The company also opened a new construction and demolition debris recycling facility in Miami-Dade County, Fla. in 2022. That C&D plant can handle about 250,000 tons per year.
“Our new recycling facilities can process a higher volume of materials, and we anticipate our material volumes will increase as new and upgraded recycling facilities come online in the near term,” according to the report.