Waste management. Two words that have in the past been little more then a euphemism for trash pickup, one step to the dump. Now, the company which bears that name has made a concerted effort to shift the perception of what it does to be far wider, and much cleaner then simply a means to convey your trash to the dump, end of story.
Their recently launched site does an admirable job quickly conveying just what it is that they’re doing. And it’s a lot. Ironically, the Flash heavy site itself is a bit of an energy hog, clocking in at 96% of my current generation Macbook’s capacity.
Ignoring this one misstep, it’s clear to see that Waste Management is putting their money where their garbage is.
They currently have sixteen waste to energy facilities in operation, capable of powering 700,000 homes with 600 megawatts of electricity, recovering 100,000 tons of iron, steel and other metals post combustion annually, which is then recycled into new steel. Each day they process a total of 22,000 tons of waste, the only remnant being a minor amount of ash.
You may have, like me, cocked your eyebrow at the thought of burning trash to create energy. Anticipating this, they have an in depth video that takes you through the process, which is rather sophisticated, cleaning out virtually all the emissions, using steam generated from the heat of the ignited, pre-sorted waste.
What else do they do? They’ve got a four point set of goals for 2020, none of which is starting from zero. As in it’s not PR friendly wishful thinking.
Increasing their waste based energy production from enough to power 1 million homes to 2 million. (Hey, where did they get the extra 300,000 there?)
Upping their recycling processing to 20 million tons annually, from 8 million now (Which makes me wonder, is this due to anticipated increasing in end user recycling, or them increasing their facility capacity?)
Investing $500 million annually for 10 years to increase fleet fuel efficiency by 15%, while reducing emissions by the same.
Adding 76 to the current 24 facilities that are Wildlife Habitat Council certified, therefore increasing wildlife habitats from 17,000 to 25,000 acres.
They also take time to make their customers aware of what they can do to play a part in retooling their thinking around what is waste, and what can be reused and conserved.
In the introduction to their site, they quickly cover ground in reframing for the average American what it’s all about, when they say:
What is waste in reverse? It is waste given renewed purpose as a resource. It is a recycled aluminum can that can power a laptop. It is a pear that turns into energy as it biodegrades. Putting the four R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Recover the resource – into action is what Waste Managagment and this site are all about. Join us and let’s Think Green.
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio School of Management in San Francisco. His overarching talent is “bottom lining” complex ideas, in a way that is understandable and accessible to a variety of audiences, internal and external to a company.