- Fortune released its highly-anticipated Fortune 500 list today, which ranked Republic Services at 296, up from 299 in 2017. The company has been slowly climbing the rankings since 2014.
- Waste Management dropped one spot on the list this year from a year ago, falling to 202. The company has historically hovered around the 200 mark for the last decade.
- The waste management sector was also represented on the broader Fortune 1000 list by Stericycle at 650 (a drop from 642 in 2017) and Clean Harbors at 739 (an increase from 764 in 2017). Waste Connections did not make the list.
Despite an optimistic showing on the 2017 Fortune 500 list, which illustrated most of the ranking waste management companies on the rise, 2018 shows the industry is now holding steady. Last year's promising rankings were likely driven by reassessed recycling contracts and infrastructure upgrades and, while leading companies are still conducting strategic business decisions across the board, the impact of the China scrap import ban has distracted the industry from climbing up the ranks more.
And while neither Republic nor Waste Management made a huge splash on this year's list, both companies touted fairly strong Q1 earnings. Waste Management CEO Jim Fish said in its Q1 earnings call that the business is as "strong as we have ever seen," with "absolutely ridiculous" EBITDA growth, and called this one of the most positive quarters of his career — aside from struggles with recycling. Meanwhile, Republic executives hinted in their Q1 earnings call that Republic's business is in very good shape — again, outside of recycling.
As the industry struggles to keep its head above the volatile waters of the recycling market, it can potentially lean on some of the list's top companies — like Walmart, Apple, General Motors, Amazon and Target — to help raise awareness of the current recycling crisis, educate consumers on proper disposal of products and enhance targets to use recycled content in packaging and products.