Holding company Waste Management tops the heap in the US solid-waste industry. Through subsidiaries, the company serves more than 20 million residential, industrial, municipal, and commercial customers in the US and Canada. Waste Management, along with subsidiary Wheelabrator Technologies, provides waste collection, transfer, recycling and resource recovery, and disposal services. Its sites include about 270 owned or operated landfills (the industry's largest network), 290 transfer stations, around 110 material recovery facilities, and nearly 20 waste-to-energy plants. Collection and landfill services account for about three-quarters of sales.
Waste Management operates one of the largest trucking fleets in the industry for its collection services. At its hazardous waste sites, the group accepts hazardous waste primarily in a stable, solid form. Some of its secure sites accept hazardous waste that has been treated before disposal. The group operates one facility that isolates treated hazardous waste in liquid form and injects it into deep wells.
Other company operations include the rental and servicing of portable restroom facilities to municipalities and commercial customers (Port-O-Let), fluorescent lamp recycling, portable self-storage, healthcare operations, and oil and gas producing properties. Wheelabrator also owns or operates five independent power producers (IPPs) that convert waste and conventional fuels into electricity and produce steam. During 2011, the company's waste-to-energy facilities processed 8 million tons of solid waste, or an average of 22,000 tons per day.
That year the company's revenue growth reflected the payoff for implementing some of those strategy initiatives. Waste Management posted $13.4 billion in revenues, a hike of nearly 7% from its 2010 revenues of $12.5 billion. The company attributed the increase to internal growth from its collection and disposal business, increases from its recyclable commodity prices, and increases from its acquired businesses (including $251 million from its latest purchase, Oakleaf Waste Management.)
Waste Management's strategy for growth includes making key acquisitions, managing commodity pricing, growing customer loyalty, and increasing the amount of recyclable materials the company handles each year. The company also wants to enter new markets by investing in greener technologies and to make improvements to its operations and cost structure. Information technology is an important part of Waste Management's ongoing improvements. In 2011 it racked up $9 million in costs for IT systems improvements.
In 2011 Waste Management picked up Connecticut-based Oakleaf and its operations for $425 million. The unit manages a North American network of some 2,500 operators who provide hauling, disposal, waste diversion, and recycling services.
The company has been growing its healthcare operations, and its WM Healthcare Solutions subsidiary provides medical waste services for hospitals and pharmacies. In 2009 the company acquired PharmEcology Associates, a national pharmaceutical waste management consulting services firm, and Mountain High Medical Disposal Services. In 2010 it added some medical waste assets from MedServe, following that company's acquisition by Stericycle. It also acquired a medical waste processing facility and other assets from Milum Textile Services in Phoenix.
In 2010 it invested in Canadian waste-to-biofuels company Enerkem. Further expanding its "green" businesses, the company acquired control of Garick LLC, a leading maker and distributor of organic lawn and garden products. The deal helped grow Waste Management's organics recycling services business.