Republic, Waste Management recognized in 'Sustainability Yearbook'
- Republic Services was recognized in the RobecoSAM Sustainability Yearbook with a "gold" rating, one of only eight companies in North America to earn that distinction. "We take great pride in our role as responsible stewards of the nation's recycling and waste materials," CEO Don Slager said in a statement.
- Waste Management earned a "bronze" rating. No other North American waste and recycling companies were included.
- RobecoSAM, an investment firm dedicated to sustainable practices, assessed 2,479 companies and collected 2.2 million data points. The 3,500 largest global companies are invited to participate.
RobecoSAM looks at a number of factors, including supply chain management, corporate action throughout the year and human capital development, to rank and compare companies to peers in their industries. Ultimately, based on its methodology, the firm chooses the top 15% in each industry to be featured in the Sustainability Yearbook.
Republic's gold rating - the latest in a series of sustainability awards and honorifics - can be seen as a sign that the company's "Blue Planet" initiative is attracting attention. As highlighted in Republic's most recent annual sustainability report, this includes reducing fleet emissions, adding new recycling processing capacity each year and developing new renewable energy projects. Examples of this progress from last year include Republic's acquisition of ReCommunity, which substantially increased its processing capacity, and opening of multiple landfill solar projects.
The company's acquisition of ReCommunity, formerly the largest independent recycler in the U.S., in August last year. The ReCommunity facilities process an estimated 1.6 million tons of recyclable material annually, marking a substantial increase in Republic's recycling capacity, which sat at 2.5 million annual tons before the ReCommunity deal.
Sustainability is a perennial hot topic in the industry, with thought leaders and executives regularly touting accomplishments and announcing lofty goals. Recently, Waste Management CEO Jim Fish compared the industry's need to act on recycling to President Kennedy's calls for a space program "moonshot" in the 1960s. The details of what this will look like remain unclear.
Traditionally, all of the industry's largest companies have been supportive of recycling when funded by customers willing to pay for it. Republic's Slager shares that view of sustainability needing to be driven by profitability, especially in light of new market realities. More details on his current thinking, and the company's recycling trajectory, can be expected in this week's fourth quarter earnings report.
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