Difficulties of Achieving Zero Waste

How You Need Waste Management's Help To Do It Right

Over the past decade, Waste Management has helped thousands of companies work towards various stages of zero waste programs. From these vast and varied experiences, we know that zero waste is achievable. Yet, success is often determined by how a company defines zero waste and how high the bar is set. With the current economic uncertainty and ever increasing competition for finite resources, we foresee zero waste becoming an economic imperative for every business. Therefore, it is critical that companies develop waste strategies that pursue aggressive zero waste goals.

Consider this: every company produces two basic things – product output and non-product output. Product output is simply a company’s product, including packaging, that is sold in the marketplace. Non-product output (NPO) is the collective material, energy, and water left behind in the process of making and delivering a product. NPO may include raw materials and other inputs, processing and disposal expenses and can represent 10 to 30 percent of production costs. NPO may also include legal or health risks that could balloon to a very major cost. Increasingly, companies are paying attention to these costs. As a competitive marketplace drives more focus on efficiency and risk reduction, smart companies are using waste management strategies to advance the profitability of their operations.

The best zero waste strategies go beyond recycling and zero landfill options. They inspire employees to take on impossible challenges and drive innovation. Most importantly, they produce ever greater environmental and financial benefits. These winning strategies are not trivial to plan nor implement. There can be numerous unexpected challenges and complexities. A good strategy focuses on the entire production process - from initial material selection to uncovering new uses and value for residual material outputs. Most critically, the successful strategies cultivate a supportive business culture. Experience counts. Having a deep understanding of the keys to success, and a first hand experience of the full process can ensure that your company’s experience is positive. It can accelerate a company’s journey towards zero waste and guarantee achievement of the greatest benefit.

There are no cookie cutter approaches to zero waste. Every company is unique. Waste Management offers unparalleled expertise, programs, and tools to help companies architect and launch a zero waste strategy. We have – at your service – 50,000 employees whose collective commitment, experiences and insights are highly focused on helping our customers and our country move towards zero waste. Let us help you set and reach a high zero waste bar.

For more information or assistance in reaching your Zero Waste goals, contact Waste Management Sustainability Services at 877-441-3046 or visit our website at WMSustainabilityServices.com.

About the Author

Waste Management

Waste Management, Inc. is North America's leading provider of integrated environmental solutions. We partner with our customers and communities to manage and reduce waste from collection to disposal while recovering valuable resources and creating clean, renewable energy.

Our 45,000 employees are committed to Environmental Performance — our mission to maximize resource value, while minimizing environmental impact so that both our economy and our environment can thrive. Serving over 20 million residential, industrial, municipal and commercial customers, Waste Management posted $12.52 billion of revenues in 2010.

Drawing on our resources and experience, we actively pursue projects and initiatives that benefit the waste industry, the communities we serve and the environment.

• Waste Management uses waste to create enough energy to power more than 1 million homes every year. By 2020, we expect to double that output, creating enough energy to power more than 2 million homes.

• As North America’s largest recycler, Waste Management managed more than 7 million tons of recyclable commodities in 2009. By the year 2020, we expect to increase the amount of material we manage to more than 20 million tons per year.

• By the end of 2009, Waste Management had 119 landfill-gas-to-energy projects producing 540 megawatts of power, the equivalent of powering approximately 400,000 homes.

• At the end of 2009, we had more than 800 natural gas-powered trucks in our fleet, with plans to add 200 more in 2010. During the year, we also used technology to reduce the fuel burn of every truck in our fleet. When fully implemented, this is expected to save 9 million gallons of fuel per year.

• Our wholly owned subsidiary Wheelabrator Technologies owns or operates 16 waste-to-energy plants and five independent power production facilities in the U.S. that generate enough energy to power more than 900,000 homes.

• Through a joint venture with the Linde Group, we have built a plant that converts landfill gas into liquefied natural gas for use as fuel in our trucks. The facility is currently producing 13,000 gallons per day.

• At the end of 2009, we had a total of 73 WHC-certified sites. We also set a goal to have 25,000 acres dedicated solely to nature preservation by 2020, and we have nearly reached that goal: at year-end, we had 24,000 protected acres.

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