Waste Management will aim to reduce emissions primarily by growing its natural gas fleet of trucks and collecting 2 million more tons of recycled materials. The drop in transportation emissions from 2016 to 2017 was primarily due to the transition towards compressed natural gas or CNG trucks, said Sue Briggum, vice president of federal affairs for Waste Management. “With natural gas you really get an enormous carbon reduction,” Briggum said.
Waste Management produced slightly more carbon emissions in 2017 than in 2016, according to a sustainability report, and set a new goal to increase emissions-saving efforts for 2038. The company measures its greenhouse gas targets by comparing its carbon emissions to the carbon emissions it avoids through recycling, renewable energy generation and carbon sequestration, a process of capturing carbon emitted from waste.
In 2017, Waste Management’s greenhouse gas emissions from landfills were up 0.6 percent from 2016, emissions from transportation were down 5.8 percent and emissions from energy use were up 11 percent. In total, Waste Management emitted 15.93 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2017, up 0.3 percent from 2016. It avoided 54.5 metric tons — over three times what it generated. The company’s goal for the next 20 years is to avoid four times what it generates.
The sustainability report includes updates on the company’s previous goals, set in 2007. The company consumed over 7.6 million megawatts of energy in 2017, about 20,900 megawatts per day — equivalent to powering about 4.2 million Texas homes on a hot summer day. Less than 1 percent of the company’s energy consumption was from a renewable fuel.
Waste Management has 6,535 alternative fuel vehicles and 107 natural gas fueling stations. In an interview Wednesday, CEO Jim Fish said he anticipates many more additions to the CNG fleet, but that it can be difficult to replace 100 percent of retired diesel trucks with CNG trucks in areas without adequate fueling stations. “As we think about our sustainability plan, CNG is a big piece,” Fish said.
The company is also investing heavily in new recycling infrastructure, spending $22 million in 2017, $13 million more than the year prior.