WWYD Waste Management
Waste Management, Inc., is the largest waste handling company in the world. It generates 75% of its
profits from 273 landfills, which can hold 4.8 billion tons of trash. Since it only collects 110 million
tons a year, it has plenty of landfill capacity for years to come. However, corporations, cities, and
households are reducing the waste they generate—and the amount of trash that they pay Waste
Management to haul to its landfills. Subaru of America has a zero-landfill plant. Wal-Mart has also
recognized this dynamic environment and embraced the same goal. How can Waste Management take
advantage of the trend toward zero waste to grow company revenues?
Another significant change for Waste Management is its customers wanting landfill wastes to be
sorted for recycling and reuse. However, the high cost of collecting and sorting recyclable materials
means that Waste Management loses money when it recycles them. The company needs to meet
increased customer expectations while finding a way to earn a profit. Finally, advocacy groups, such
as the Sierra Club, regularly protest Waste Management’s landfill practices, deeming them
irresponsible and harmful to the environment.
How should Waste Management respond to changes in its external environment? The first step is
to recognize the trend and the impact it can or will have on your business. Waste Management
understands that societal and corporate attitudes have changed. The company cannot survive on
picking up and disposing waste, but rather on opportunities arising from the sustainability movement.
Waste Management can ensure that billions of dollars of recyclable materials don’t end up as
worthless landfill by investing in materials recovery facilities that capture valuable materials or energy
in cost-efficient ways. However, the high cost of collecting and sorting recyclable materials means that
Waste Management loses money. The challenge for Waste Management is to focus on sustainability
services and be highly profitable. The answer is using and owning waste conversion technology and
purchasing companies with these technologies to make recycling highly profitable.
Finally, groups, such as the Sierra Club, regularly protest Waste Management’s landfill practices,
but rather than just taking on critics and focus on its business, Waste Management views
environmental advocates as an opportunity.
Waste Management has taken the unique strategy of working directly with advocacy groups to
address criticisms of how it does business. It works with the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC), a
nonprofit organization, to create tailored voluntary wildlife habitat enhancement and conservation
education programs. The WHC works with corporations to independently certify that their recovered
lands are suitable and sustainable for wildlife. To achieve the WHC’s certification with waste-filled
landfills is no small task. But, in 2007, Waste Management’s goal was to achieve WHC certification at
100 sites, which it did just three years after setting its goal, protecting more than 25,000 acres,
including grasslands where two threatened species, the bay checkerspot butterfly and the California
red-legged frog, now thrive.
76. Refer to WWYD Waste Management. That Waste Management is, like the private and public
customers it serves, “going green” shows that it recognizes its_______environment.