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November 16, 2020


365 days a year. That’s how committed Waste Management (WM) team members are to improving our planet. From the driver who picks up the recycling to the teammate who prepares the bale to be sent off to be turned into a new product, our team of environmental stewards are always working for a sustainable tomorrow.

While waste reduction and recycling right are always vital, the months of October and November historically place a larger focus on sustainable initiatives across North America.

Let’s start with reduction.

The best way to avoid waste and associated environmental impacts is by generating less waste from the start. While waste reduction is a function of consumer and business behavior – largely out of WM’s control – we work with customers and communities to reduce waste at the source. One way is through education.

From October 19-25, Canada’s Waste Reduction Week highlighted best practices to reduce waste impact by centering each day around a theme, providing insights on how to work toward living a zero-waste lifestyle.

When you can’t reduce, recycle right.

In 2019, WM worked with community members to recycle 15,510,697 total tons, including paper, mixed organics, fly ash, glass, plastic and more. In addition, we recycled 3,577,122 tons organic material.

For America Recycles Day, let’s keep the momentum going with extended education efforts and amplified year-round investments. We’ve invested over $100M per year for the past few years, resulting in five new MRFs since 2018, 20 upgraded MRFs, and $42M spent installing 96 new and upgraded optical sorters and robotics. 

How is WM making a difference?

By managing more post-consumer recyclables than any other company in North America. We also set a record in 2019, with over 15.5 million tons of material processed for beneficial use.

“Our investments in new facilities and improved technology set us up to successfully handle an increase in volumes from our great customers that are recycling right,” said Brent Bell, Waste Management’s Vice President, Recycling Operations. “The technology and behind-the-scenes insight allow us to process the highest quality material through an efficient process.”

  • Our 150,000 square foot Chicago facility opened in early 2020 and is expected to process more than 20,000 tons/month. This facility is one of our latest R&D facilities with heavy automation and intelligent sorting. This facility can achieve 66 tons per hour, so we’ve got to make sure it’s fed on a continuous basis. A volumetric scanner indicates whether we’re overfeeding, underfeeding, or feeding just right.
  • Our Salt Lake City MRF opened a few months ago as a 50,000 square-foot facility located by a WM transfer station. Once it’s fully running, it’ll be capable of processing 6,000 to 7,000 tons/month.
  • Our Raleigh MRF is slated to open by the end of the year with the 40,000 square foot, brand new building expected to process 5,000 to 6,000 tons a month.

How can you make a difference?

While advanced sorting and monitoring technology at recycling facilities helps us prepare items for a second life with high levels of frequency, when it comes down to it, small everyday actions make a big impact. That’s why we are proud to partner with our neighbors to help raise awareness and educate around the importance of reducing waste, recycling right and buying wisely. Check out these easy-to-share tips:

  • Reducing and Reusing.
    • More time at home can lead to more meals at home and therefore the perfect opportunity to opt for reusable dishware.
    • Upcycling materials or donating unused items such as sweaters, blankets or clothing your children may have outgrown to a local organization is a great way to do good for others and the planet.
  • Recycling the Right items, the Right Way.
    • Empty plastic water, soda and juice bottles, along with detergent and hand sanitizing containers, belong in the recycling cart. And yes, caps can stay on. 
    • With more online orders comes lots of cardboard. Make sure to flatten boxes before placing them in the recycling, remembering to keep foam peanuts and paper-bubble wrap envelopes out of your bin.
    • When ordering take out or delivery, say “yes” to placing empty pizza boxes in the recycling and keep food-soiled and plastic lined take-out containers out.
  • Close the Loop, Buy Recycled.
    • Recycling allows materials like paper, metal, glass and some plastics to be transformed into new goods.
    • Purchasing items made from recycled content helps create demand while creating jobs and conserving natural resources.

By making a conscious effort to reduce, recycling the right items the right way, and by choosing to purchase items made from post-consumer content, we can all contribute to a more sustainable future.

Make your contributions for the betterment of the planet known this season by showcasing how you and your family #recycleright! Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and share one thing you are doing to conserve precious resources for a more sustainable tomorrow.