Waste Connections, a solid waste services company, is using a variety of technology solutions to reach significant sustainability goals: optical sorting machines improve the purity and resulting value of recycled materials, additional anaerobic digesters increase composting efforts, and gas recovery systems collect methane that is then used to generate electricity for local households and to fuel local industrial plants.
The company released its 2018 sustainability report which covers its efforts over the last two years, touting goals that include recycling or diverting over 50% of its collected waste volumes “in many markets” (and in some cases, over 70%), and sequestering more than 7.5 million metric tons of carbon in its landfills in 2017.
The company has also improved safety performance, reducing the frequency of incidents by more than 60% within 12 months.
Carbon Emissions Reductions
Solid waste landfills over time generate a greenhouse gas, methane, which can be collected and converted into a valuable source of clean energy, Waste Connections points out. The company deploys gas recovery systems, including one of the largest such recovery plants in North America, to collect methane that is then used to generate electricity for local households, fuel local industrial plants, power alternative fueled vehicles, or qualify for carbon emission and renewable fuel credits, the company says.
The majority of the company’s carbon footprint is linked to its fleet. Waste Connections has deployed vehicles that use alternative fuels (electric, CNG, LNG, and bio-diesel) in many markets that are helping reduce fleet emissions, and plans to direct funds to acquiring such vehicles.
Other fleet improvements:
- Replacing older trucks with more efficient trucks;
- Deploying tablets and route optimization software to minimize driving time;
- Utilizing a network of transfer stations to consolidate waste onto fewer trucks and minimize drive time;
- Installing controls to minimize idling time;
- Switching to synthetic motor oils with longer replacement intervals;
- Reducing emissions by installing more advanced engine filters;
- Working with partners to improve local fueling infrastructures.
Recycling & Diverting Efforts
In addition to improving the purity and value of recycled materials with new technology like optical sorting machines, Waste Connections works to educate customers to improve separation at the originating source.
The composting and reuse of green or yard waste and food waste is also critical to the company’s waste reduction efforts, and Waste Connections is expanding capacity by acquiring new facilities. The company also works with its industrial customers to achieve zero-waste-to-landfill facilities, which reduces their own waste disposal costs and emissions. It can also lead to increased income from recovered waste streams, Waste Connections points out. The company’s reporting and analytics tool, Recycle 360°, lets customers develop waste management plans and track ongoing performance against waste reduction and recycling targets.
Waste Connections has developed a program based on “servant leadership,” which trains managers to help employees become more successful and ensures they place customers and employees first. The leadership development efforts include multi-day servant leadership development sessions, district management training, dozens of varying leadership webinar topics, and other safety, maintenance, productivity, and financial training courses.
This behavior-based approach to management and safety, when applied throughout larger acquisitions completed in 2016 and 2017, drove a more than 60% reduction in incident frequency within 12 months, Waste Connections says.