In the Spotlight

Progressive Waste Solutions: Growing to Fit an Expanding Industry

From waste collection to investing in gas-to-energy technologies and recycling, Progressive Waste Solutions continues to be an innovator by working on developing all areas of its company while aggressively pursuing new avenues of growth.

Serving the needs of commercial, industrial and residential customers, Progressive Waste Solutions Ltd. is the third largest non-hazardous solid waste management company in North America. Their history began in 2000 when they acquired some of the Canadian waste assets of Browning Ferris International, or BFI, which itself had been acquired by Allied Waste. CEO Keith Carrigan, with private equity firm Edgestone Capital, purchased some of these Canadian assets and named the company BFI Canada. BFI Canada grew organically and by way of acquisitions. In 2002, the Company did an IPO on the Toronto Stock Exchange as a Canadian income trust and became known as BFI Canada Income Fund.

In 2005, BFI Canada Income Fund acquired IESI, a company that was founded in 1995 by industry veteran Mickey Flood. IESI had started in Justin, TX with two trucks and two drivers. It grew quickly through small acquisitions and municipal franchise contracts. At the time of acquisition, IESI operated 41 collection companies, 17 landfills, including the largest in New York State, 23 transfer stations and six material recovery facilities (MRFs).

In 2008, after the Canadian Government eliminated the tax benefits of the income trust structure, the company converted into a traditional C-Corporation structure. In June 2009, they completed an offering on the New York Stock Exchange and became known as IESI-BFC Ltd. The company started trading on both the NYSE and the Toronto Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol of “BIN”.

The acquisition of Waste Services, Inc. (WSI) in July 2010 launched the company into third position, from fourth, by revenues, in North America’s solid waste management industry. WSI is a multi-regional, integrated solid waste services company that provides collection, transfer, disposal and recycling services in the U.S. and Canada. At the time of acquisition, WSI was the second largest vertically integrated solid non-hazardous waste management company in the State of Florida, where it has 10 collection operations, nine transfer stations, seven recycling facilities and four landfills.

In May 2011, to better reflect its vision and to consolidate its operating brands under a unified banner, the company changed its name to Progressive Waste Solutions Ltd. In developing the new name, extensive research and polling was done to make sure that it would be meaningful to stakeholders. From customers and communities served, they consistently heard that they want an innovative waste solutions partner, already expecting that their waste solutions provider would have great customer service and be responsive and efficient—the baseline to operate in the waste industry. “More and more customers are seeing their waste as a resource and they want to partner with a company that can create something of value from that resource. They want a progressive partner that is thinking about the future of waste and the environment,” says Keith Carrigan, Vice Chairman and CEO. “We are, and want to continue to be, that partner. The name ‘Progressive Waste Solutions’ clearly puts into words our goal of thinking innovatively about today’s waste in order to continuously deliver better waste solutions tomorrow and beyond. It encompasses our accomplishments to date and articulates our commitment to constantly moving forward.”

Focusing on operating in areas that are more densely populated and have a population growth rate that is higher than the national average, Progressive Waste Solutions has approximately 6,500 employees in 12 states and the District of Columbia in the U.S. and six provinces in Canada. In 2010, excluding administration and vehicle maintenance facilities, the company maintained operations across North America at 114 waste collection operations, 30 solid non-hazardous landfill facilities, 61 waste and recyclable transfer stations and 42 MRFs. In addition, the company collects landfill gas at several of its facilities, generates electricity at one company owned landfill gas to electricity generating plant and provides landfill gas to two third-party electricity generators.

Improvement Strategies

While the broader economic recovery will take time, Progressive Waste Solutions believes that conditions in the waste industry are conducive to ongoing growth and the company will remain focused on pursuing it through their organic improvement strategies and an ongoing acquisition strategy that seeks companies and assets that meet their disciplined criteria. “Our strategy first focuses on building critical mass with the right collection, transfer and disposal assets in the right markets. We then manage these assets through a bottom-up process to achieve the optimal combination of price, volume and productivity metrics in each market. Finally, we give our front-line management teams the tools and training they need to increase return on capital in their markets. This approach underpins our company’s organic growth and our acquisition programs and is the foundation of our success,” says Carrigan.

As the industry evolves, Progressive Waste Solutions know that they must adapt to meet customers’ changing needs and continues to grow from a provider of non-hazardous solid waste services with revenues of nearly $100 million in 2002 to one of North America’s waste industry leaders with revenues of $1.4 billion in 2010. Says Carrigan, “As we enter our next decade, we are excited by the prospect of fully capitalizing on our size and strengths and continuing to serve our communities.”

Protecting the Environment

Progressive Waste Solutions has also aggressively invested in waste-to-energy technologies which convert methane gas produced in a landfill to electricity. ”Conversion of methane reduces greenhouse emissions while making a positive contribution to energy production,” stresses Carrigan. The company’s Seneca Meadows Landfill in Seneca Meadows, NY, has created a 200-acre ‘Renewable Resource Park’ that builds on the resources created by the landfill’s 17 megawatt landfill gas-to-energy facility. In addition to Seneca Meadows, it has landfill gas-to-energy facilities at their landfill in Lachenaie, Quebec and at their Bethlehem landfill in Pennsylvania. Together the three operations produce more electrical power annually than the energy contained in 130,000 barrels of oil. Progressive Waste Solutions plans to build more gas-to-energy facilities as its landfills continue to develop.

Keeping in the mind the importance of nature and the environment, the company recently built a state-of-the art LEED certified gold educational learning facility on the premises of their Seneca Meadows site and formed a partnership with the Audubon Society. They reconstructed wetlands adjacent to Seneca Meadows that made it possible for wildlife to thrive that had been previously endangered. The reconstruction also included seven miles of walking trails so the community could enjoy the wildlife.

In November 2009 Progressive Waste Solutions was selected by Mack, because of the company’s record of innovation, to start testing a new waste collection vehicle equipped with both the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) and the new Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) processes. This new system is designed to reduce the NOX emissions by 83 percent, meeting new 2010 vehicle emissions regulations. Commencing in 2010/2011, all new trucks purchased by the company will be equipped with this new system. Further, they have worked closely with the vehicle manufacturer to build and deliver a 2011 Mack waste collection vehicle powered by a natural gas engine. This vehicle represents the first and only natural gas collection truck in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas marketplace and it will be a pioneer for clean burning, domestically sourced, alternative energy, meeting the extremely stringent 2010 EPA Emissions requirements for a non-attainment zone, resulting in exhaust emissions that are cleaner than the engine intake air.

And the innovations don’t stop there. In 2010, Progressive Waste Solutions opened a LEED certified gold single stream recycling facility in McKinney, TX. “We strive to find new and innovative methods to use at our facilities to further benefit the community,” says Carrigan. Its waste management and recycling facilities encourage economic vitality and growth in their communities through more than contributions. Throughout the U.S. and Canada, the company purchases goods and services locally, employs local people, and contributes to the local tax base. It also belongs to local chambers of commerce, sponsors chamber events that promote the economy, and offer educational tours and classes. Some facilities provide host community benefits packages for their municipalities, as well, that lower residential taxes and provide for municipal capital improvements.

Recycling Growth

More of an opportunity than a challenge, Progressive Waste Solutions expects that while more waste is being generated, the amount of waste going to traditional disposal methods such as landfills will not grow as a percentage of total waste volumes. Industry research firm Freedonia Group recently reported that in the future, more waste will be directed to recycling and organics treatment programs with less going to landfills and to incinerators. This results in recycling and material recovery being the fastest growing segment of the waste industry, according to Freedonia Group, with an annual revenue growth rate of 7.3 percent. This trend is being driven by higher adoption of recycling programs and new material recovery revenue streams.

Says Carrigan, “The industry research suggests that waste collection will remain the largest contributor to industry revenues, growing at an annual rate of 4.1 percent a year. This reflects increasing waste generation volumes, rising fuel and labor costs and core price increases. But the below average growth rate of waste treatment and disposal, at 3 percent annually clearly reflects an increasing emphasis on waste diversion. We believe these trends are going to create more revenue opportunities for our company.”

Carrigan goes on to point out that recycling collection has been growing as a percentage of the company’s total collection revenue and it already generates one of their highest returns on capital. “We charge for collecting recyclable materials the same way we charge for waste collection, as the costs of the providing service are the same. However, we believe there is an opportunity to create more value, and an even higher return, from the materials we collect. Increasingly, our customers are seeing their waste as a resource and so do we.”

Looking Ahead

Progressing Waste Solutions is always thinking ahead and envisioning how the company will look a decade or more in the future, believing that waste is a resource and that tremendous value can be mined by taking an innovative approach to its management. Says Carrigan, “We continue to look at how alternative technologies for waste diversion will shape our industry and how we should be positioned for future realities.”

For more information about Progressive Waste Solutions, e-mail [email protected] or visit

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