Waste Management, Inc

Waste Management, Inc
Waste Management, Inc.
Type Public
Traded as NYSEWM
Industry Waste Management
Founded 1894[1]
Headquarters Houston, Texas, U.S.
Key people David P. Steiner, CEO
Robert G. Simpson, CFO
Products Waste management
Methane recovery
Trash collection
Portable toilets
Revenue increase US$11.8 Billion (FY 2009)[2]
Operating income increase US$1.89 Billion (FY 2009)[2]
Net income increase US$994 Million (FY 2009)[2]
Total assets increase US$21.2 Billion (FY 2009)[3]
Total equity increase US$6.23 Billion (FY 2009)[3]
Employees 50,000 [4]
Website wm.com
First City Tower, which has the headquarters of Waste Management
A Waste Management trash collection truck in Toronto, Ontario.
Video clip of Waste Management trash removal operation, Ypsilanti Twp., MI
A Waste Management rolloff container in Durham, North Carolina.

Waste Management, Inc. (NYSEWM) is a waste management, comprehensive waste, and environmental services company in North America. Founded in 1894, the company is headquartered in Suite 4000 at the First City Tower in Downtown Houston, Texas, in the United States.[5]

The company's network includes 367 collection operations, 355 transfer stations, 273 active landfill disposal sites, 16 waste-to-energy plants, 134 recycling plants, 111 beneficial-use landfill gas projects and six independent power production plants. Waste Management offers environmental services to nearly 20 million residential, industrial, municipal and commercial customers in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. With 21,000 collection and transfer vehicles, the company has the largest trucking fleet in the waste industry.[6] Together with its competitor Republic Services, Inc, the two handle more than half of all garbage collection in the United States.[7]



In the 1890s, Ham Huizenga, a Dutch immigrant, began hauling garbage at $1.25/wagon in Chicago. In 1968, Wayne Huizenga, Dean Buntrock, and Larry Beck founded Waste Management, Inc. and began aggressively purchasing many of the smaller garbage collection services across the country, as the descendant firm of Ham Huizenga. In 1971, Waste Management went public, and by 1972, the company had made 133 acquisitions with $82M in revenue. It had 60,000 commercial and industrial accounts and 600,000 residential customers in 19 states and the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. In the 1980s, WM acquired Service Corporation of America (SCA) to become the largest waste hauler in the country.

In 1998, in a pivotal development point, WM merged with USA Waste and moved its headquarters from Chicago to Houston. The merged companies retained the WM brand. However, that year also brought trouble for the newly expanded company, in the form of an accounting scandal.

In November 1999, turn-around CE was brought in to help Waste Management recover. The company has since implemented new technologies, safety standards, and operational practices, and is on a steady upward climb.[8]

In 2003, the company had generated $1 billion in free cash and was returning profits to shareholders in the form of dividends. Later on, in June 2008, Waste Management was named one of the world's most ethical companies by business magazine, Ethisphere, placing in the Environmental Services and Equipment category.[9]

On July 14, 2008, Waste Management offered a $34 per share bid to acquire arch-competitor Republic Services, Inc.[10][11] On August 11, 2008, the bid was raised to $37 per share. On August 15, 2008, Republic Services, Inc. denied Waste Management's bid for a second time. On October 13, 2008, Waste Management withdrew its bid for Republic Services, citing financial market turmoil.[12]

In January 2009, a global economic crisis forced Waste Management to aggressively reduce and restructure its corporate workforce.

On February 7, 2010, CBS debuted a new TV series called Undercover Boss after the Super Bowl. WM COO Lawrence O'Donnell III participated in this first episode and got a chance to see up close the inner workings of the company he helped run. O'Donnell left WM on July 1, 2010.[13]

Corporate structure and leadership

Waste Management is structured into the following units:

  • Midwest Group
    • Jeff Harris, Senior Vice President
  • Western Group
    • Duane C. Woods, Senior Vice President
  • Eastern Group
    • Brett Frazier, Senior Vice President
  • Southern Group
    • James E. Trevathan, Senior Vice President

Current members of the board of directors of Waste Management are: John C. "Jack" Pope, David P. Steiner, Dr. Pastora San Juan Cafferty, Frank M. Clark, Jr., Pat Gross, Thomas I. Morgan, W. Robert Reum, and Steven G. Rothmeier.

David P. Steiner is also the chief executive officer of the company (since 2004), succeeding A. Maurice Myers.


  • Wheelabrator Technologies Inc.
    • Mark A. Weidman, President
  • Waste Management Recycle America
    • Patrick J. DeRueda, President


Waste Management is North America’s largest residential recycler, currently managing more than 8.5 million tons of materials, including metal, plastic, glass, electronics and paper at 128 facilities.

One service provided by WM, single-stream recycling, allows recyclable materials to be comingled, rather than separated by the customer and handled separately by the collection provider. The company currently operates 30 single-stream recycling facilities throughout North America. Because the single-stream recycling process eliminates the need for customers to separate items before they are collected, it usually leads to higher recycling participation rates in local communities.[14]

Electronics recycling, or ecycling, is another focus for WM. This refers to the proper disposal of electronic items like televisions, computers, microwave ovens, cellular phones, VCRs and DVDs and other such products. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) encourages consumers to reuse and recycle these valuable products to keep them out of the waste stream.[15] With this in mind, Waste Management has partnered with several companies, like LG Electronics, to recycle electronics for reprocessing.[16]

The company operates approximately 150 e-cycling centers throughout the country through its subsidiary, WM Recycle America.[17] It January 2010, the company announced that WM Recycle America was implementing the Responsible Recycling (R2) Program for electronics recyclers, which establishes accepted practices to help protect the environment and workers’ health and safety while e-waste is handled.[18] In addition these practices allow third parties to monitor activity and create greater transparency in the e-cycling sector.

WM has also invested in new methods and technologies for reusing and recycling non-traditional materials, such as organic waste and construction debris. In 2010, WM announced two strategic investments to advance recycling technologies in North America:

  • In January 2010, WM announced it would fund Boston-area company Harvest Power, which specializes in turning food and yard waste into compost.[19][20] Harvest Power is also working to develop anaerobic digester technology that uses waste to create a biogas, which can produce electricity, heat or be converted to natural gas.
  • In May 2010, WM announced its investment in MicroGREEN Polymers Inc., which specializes in reducing the amount plastic required for production of consumer products, like plastic bottles.[21][22]

In June 2009, Waste Management signed an agreement with BigBelly Solar to be the sole waste company distributor of BigBelly’s technology in North America.[23] BigBelly compactors are self-powered by built-in solar panels and are capable of holding 180 gallons of waste.[23] The compactors decrease the need for trash pickup by 80 percent, which reduces production costs, fuel use, and greenhouse gas emissions.[23]

WM Solar Compactors became a staple at the Waste Management Phoenix Open; the company replaced FBR as the title sponsor of this PGA TOUR tournament in December 2009.[24] As title sponsor, Waste Management introduced a variety of technologies to make the Phoenix Open one of the most eco-friendly tournaments on the PGA TOUR.[25] Waste Management has been working with other sports and music venues across the nation to increase recycling among patrons. It teamed up with Live Nation to forward the Recycling Rocks! campaign across the U.S.[26]

Additionally, through its subsidiaries GreenOps, LLC and Greenopolis, Waste Management partnered with PepsiCo to develop the Dream Machine recycling initiative to increase beverage container recycling throughout the U.S.[27] Dream Machine kiosks are computerized recycling receptacles that include a personal reward system that allows users to accumulate and redeem points for every item they recycle at www.greenopolis.com.

Renewable Energy

Through its subsidiary, Wheelabrator Technologies Inc., Waste Management owns and operates sixteen waste-to-energy facilities and five independent power-production facilities, which specialize in collecting municipal solid waste and transforming it into renewable electric power.[28] Some of Wheelabrator’s facilities are also capable of generating electricity from materials such as waste wood, waste coal and natural gas.

Waste Management is also involved in landfill gas utilization, including landfill-gas-to-energy (LFGTE) production. The company has over 115 LFTGE facilities, and plans to add another 60 facilities by 2012.[29] LFGTE facilities collect methane and carbon dioxide gases emitted during the natural anaerobic decomposition of organic waste in the landfill. These gases are then used to fuel engines or turbines that generate electricity to power surrounding areas.

In August 2009, Waste Management announced that it would join Valero Energy Corporation as a strategic investor in Terrabon L.L.C.’s waste-to-fuel conversion technology.[30][31] WM will also assist Terrabon in securing organic waste streams. Terrabon specializes in refining municipal solid wastes and sewage sludge into non-hazardous organic salts. The organic salts are then sent to Valero where it can be converted into gasoline, diesel or jet fuel.

Around this same time, Waste Management launched a joint venture with Oregon-based company InEnTec to form S4 Energy Solutions.[32][33][34] S4 uses a process called plasma gasification (also known as plasma arc waste disposal) to heat waste materials until they break down to produce a synthesis gas, or syngas. The syngas can be converted into transportation fuels, such as ethanol or diesel, or can be used as a substitute for natural-gas heating and electricity.

In February 2010, Waste Management announced a strategic investment agreement with Enerkem Inc., a Canadian-based company that specializes in converting waste materials that are most often landfilled, such as carbon-based feedstock, municipal solid waste, construction and demolition wood and agricultural and forest residues, into biofuels like ethanol.[35][36] The investment signifies Waste Management’s continued efforts to invest in upcoming green technologies and to double its renewable energy production.


In 2009, Waste Management purchased a 40-percent stake in Shanghai Environment Group Co Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Shanghai Chengtou Holding Co Ltd.[37] SEG sought Waste Management’s investment in order to benefit from Waste Management’s experience in the waste disposal field, as well as improve their technology for waste disposal.[38]

Corporate issues

Anti-trust allegations

In 1987 the US Government accused Waste Management of violating antitrust laws.[39] They were specifically accused of colluding with other waste haulers to allocate customers in Florida.

Accounting scandal

In 1998, an accounting scandal led to a major drop in stock price and led to the replacement of top executives, when the new CEO ordered a review of the company's accounting practices. The company had augmented the depreciation time length for their property, plant, and equipment, making their after-tax profits appear higher. The net result was $1.7B in inflated earnings. WM paid $457M to settle a shareholder class-action suit and the SEC fined WM's independent auditor, Arthur Andersen, $7 million for their role.[40][41]

ERP Implementation Failure

In 2005 Waste Management entered into a Software Licensing Agreement (SLA) with SAP AG for their Enterprise Resource Planning software. An 8 month implementation pilot program was established in Waste Management's smallest market share area, New Mexico to be followed in 2 months with a company-wide implementation from Waste Management's headquarters in Houston, Texas.[42] Under the terms of the SLA, SAP and its fully owned subsidiary Tomorrow Now would implement the ERP software. Waste Management ended their ERP implementation effort in December of 2007, due to a non-functioning ERP system and the results from a SAP sponsored "Solution Review" determined that a customized ERP, based upon an updated SAP ERP, would need to be made in order to accommodate a company-wide implementation. Waste Management sued SAP for the 100 million USD it had invested into the failed ERP implementation.[43]
In the lawsuit Waste Management accused SAP of fraud and deception, while SAP countered that Waste Management failed to present knowledgeable workers, accurate business models, and failed to migrate data from legacy systems. The suit was ended in 2010 under confidential terms and a one time payment from SAP to Waste Management disclosed to the SEC.[44]

Labor relations

In 2007, Waste Management locked out Teamsters at its largest hauling operation in Alameda County, CA. The lockout lasted a little less than a month and put 900 members of the Teamsters, ILWU and Machinists Union on picket lines and raised concerns over sanitary impact on the affected communities.[45] The lockout was stopped when affected communities started legal actions against Waste Management. According to Waste Management officials, the company worked over the past three months to negotiate an agreement fair to both Waste Management and the union. The union did not want to negotiate over the company's proposals and refused to offer their own proposal unless Waste Management agreed to withdraw all proposals from the table.[46] Oakland's City Council reached a settlement with Waste Management over the dispute in March, 2008. The company rebated more than $3 million to customers and Oakland customers will receive additional services over the next five years.[47]

Environmental record

Waste Management's operations consist of environmental protection, groundwater protection, environmental engineering, and air and gas management. Waste Management currently operates ten full-scale waste treatment landfill projects in the U.S. and Canada. As a member of the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), Waste Management made a commitment during the pilot phase to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by four percent below the average of its 1998–2001 baseline by 2006.[48] They have also replaced nearly 500 diesel-fueled trucks with vehicles that run on 100 percent natural gas. These new garbage and recycling trucks comprise one of the nation’s largest fleets of heavy-duty trucks powered exclusively by natural gas.[49]

In November, 2009, at WM's Altamont Landfill, a new plant began producing 13,000 gallons a day of clean-burning LNG fuel from methane gas from the landfill that had fueled an electric power plant since 1969. WM has said that the plant, announced in April 2008, and built and operated by The Linde Group with state funding, is the world’s largest facility to convert landfill gas into vehicle fuel.[50] [51][52]

Waste Management works with environmental groups in the U.S. to set aside land to create and manage wetlands and wildlife habitats. The company’s landfills currently provide approximately 21,000 acres (85 km2) of protected land for wildlife; 73 landfills are certified[53] by the Wildlife Habitat Council.

In November 2010, some residents of Kettleman City, California complained to the EPA about Waste Management's plan to double the size of its Kettleman Hills Hazardous Waste Facility, a local dump that has been connected to hazardous waste such as asbestos, pesticides, and PCBs.[54]

In May 2011, Waste Management's Wheelabrator division agreed to pay a record $7.5 million settlement with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for a host of environmental violations at its plants in North Andover, Saugus, and Millbury, Massachusetts. The settlement was announced on May 2, 2011 by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and Attorney General Martha Coakley's office.[55]


WMI used aggressive marketing to try to turn the company around in the 1990s, with slogans like: “What business do we have saying we help the environment? That is our business.“[citation needed] and "Waste Management, helping the world dispose of its problems."[citation needed] The current slogan is “From everyday collection, to environmental protection, think green. Think Waste Management.“ They also are featured in a Walt Disney World Epcot attraction, Innoventions.

WMI has also tried to soften its impact on communities through public relations, such as its 2011 renaming of Mount Trashmore in northern Broward County, Florida, from the "North Broward County Resource Recovery and Central Disposal Sanitary Landfill" to the "Monarch Hill Renewable Energy Park."[56]

Pop culture

Waste Management was the first company showcased on CBS series Undercover Boss. COO Lawrence (Larry) O'Donnell, III learned of many policies he introduced but wished to change to improve the working environment of his employees. For example, as part of his goal to increase productivity, route supervisors sometimes observed garbage collecting. This is seen by garbage collectors as spying, and disturbed O'Donnell. He also opted to end the deduction of pay for the failure to clock-in policy during the lunch hour and promoted an administrative assistant (who was doing multiple jobs but had put her family's house up for sale due to lack of sufficient income) to supervisor and placed her on salary and bonus eligibility (thus allowing her to keep the house).

A WM trash collector can be seen in the recent film, The Spy Next Door starring Jackie Chan.

A WM garbage truck also played a role in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. One of the evil Decepticons transforms into a WM truck.


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