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The Greening of Waste Management

By: Steve Johnson

2/15/2008 - 44 Comments

Higher energy and metal prices are driving waste management businesses to higher profits.

Waste Management, the nation's largest waste disposal company, has adopted "Think Green" as its slogan.  The firm is managing waste for a $14-billion-a-year. The industry has long been labeled a tough job that nobody wants.  But, as the price of natural resources continues to climb, the huge pills of garage they manage are starting to resemble a treasure chest. 

Processing the waste to extract its valuables is a labor intense job, which is good for jobs seekers.  The company also makes money from landfills by capturing and burning methane, a potent greenhouse gas created when garbage decomposes.  This is good business for Waste Management, who generated an estimated $850 million in revenue last year just from burning garbage and methane.  The company owns or operates 16 waste-to-energy plants and wants to build more.  They operate under strict limits to control pollutants, while generating electricity 24 hours a day, powering 50,000 homes.


Recycling is more labor-intense. People are needed to hand pick out materials that can’t be recycled, things like plastic containers and plastic bags. Waste Management generated more than $1 billion in revenues from recycling, primarily from selling commodities.

Reference Article: The greening of Waste Management

Aluminum gets the highest price, which has jumped 4% just yesterday because of the increase cost of coal - used to create aluminum.  The rising cost of aluminum is only going to add to the proficts of aluminum recycling over the next few years.

New Businesses Entering The Market

1-800-got-junk started in 1989 by a university student looking for a summer job. With the average American creating 4.6 pounds of solid waste per day, Brian Scudamore had what seemed to be an endless amount of work to do.  Since 1997, the company has enjoyed exponential growth and widespread recognition for its business achievements, growing from a presence in one city to over 300 locations across four countries.

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