Waste Management steps up on Recycling due to shareholder pressure

We wanted to share an update from Trillium’s progressive work with Waste & Recycling within their funds. Trillium manages the Portfolio 21 fund which is used in some Blue Summit models.

Trillium has announced significant progress with Waste Management, Inc. (WM), the largest collector of recyclable materials in the U.S. The lack of export markets will put new strains on the domestic recycling market, where unfortunately only 8-9% of plastic waste is currently recycled. Following an in-depth engagement by Trillium and As You Sow, Waste Management has committed to publishing a new report that will help identify the gaps in plastic recycling infrastructure in the U.S. This report will provide deeper insight into plastic material flows once they leave consumers hands and should be an invaluable resource to many stakeholders working to increase recycling rates.

Another factor in low recycling rates are inefficient or dated Materials Recovery Facilities, where collected recyclables are separated for processing. Trillium expects Waste Management will disclose a categorical breakdown of its facilities that are equipped with the latest processing equipment and which need upgrades that can improve recycling outputs and yields.

Waste Management has also indicated it will provide an updated statement on its position on extended producer responsibility (EPR), a strategy that requires consumer goods producers to finance collection and recycling of their packaging, which is currently paid for by taxpayers. Trillium and As You Sow believe EPR policies are essential to provide adequate funding to collectors and processors to be able to take a range of actions needed to improve recycling rates.

Given this suite of new commitments, Trillium and As You Sow, have withdrawn a shareholder proposal on this issue.

“We’re pleased to have been a driving force behind this new action from Waste Management and we hope these new reports will provide a meaningful addition to the industry’s understanding of plastic recycling challenges in the U.S.,” said Allan Pearce, a Shareholder Advocate at Trillium. “We view Waste Management as an integral part of the recycling value chain, so we’re glad to see WM will be using its size, expertise, and positioning to add to its efforts to address this global problem."

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