Waste Management Services

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 19,200 waste management companies in the US provide hazardous and nonhazardous waste collection, hauling, and treatment; operation of transfer stations and landfills; septic system pumping; and remediation including specialized cleanup of contaminated buildings, mine sites, soil, or ground water. About 66% of industry sales receipts come from services to businesses, organizations, and farms; 19% to residences; and 15% to government.

Worker Injury

Workers are exposed to a wide variety of risks including contact with contaminated and hazardous materials in trash and remediation sites, working with heavy machinery, and handling curbside trash bins near traffic.

Vertical Integration

Waste management companies are using vertical integration to control their waste streams, broaden services, cut costs, and improve profitability.

Industry size & Structure

The average waste management company operates out of a single location, employs 23-24 workers, and generates about $5-6 million annually.

    • The waste management industry consists of about 19,200 firms that employ about 476,700 workers and generate about $140 billion annually.
    • Average revenue per employee is about $246,000.
    • The industry is concentrated at the top with the four largest firms controlling 29% of revenue. Otherwise, the industry is fragmented with many companies offering one or a few types of waste services.
    • Major US companies include Waste Management, Republic Services, Clean Harbors, and Stericycle.
                                      Industry Forecast
                                      Waste Management Services Industry Growth
                                      Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                                      Recent Developments

                                      Feb 23, 2024 - Pricing, Wages Move Higher
                                      • In Q4 2023, producer prices for waste collection services increased significantly compared to a year earlier. Industry wage growth in Q4 was slightly above growth in pricing, and employment moved marginally higher. Waste management firms have had to increase wages to attract workers, but impacts on margins may be minimal if rising labor costs can be passed on to customers in the form of higher prices.
                                      • Three of the largest waste-hauling firms saw moderate revenue growth in the fourth quarter of 2023, and for the full year, primarily driven by pricing gains. Waste Management saw its total revenue rise 5.7% in Q4 2023 compared to Q4 2022, and 2023 revenue increased 3.7% over 2022. The firm said strong waste volume and pricing gains in 2023 were partially offset by weaker pricing for recyclable commodities. Waste Connections’ revenue grew by 8.9% in the fourth quarter over the same period in 2022, and full-year revenue improved by 11.2% over 2022 amid pricing gains and improving commodity pricing. In addition to pricing gains, acquisitions helped Casella Waste Systems’ Q4 revenue grow by 32.1% in the fourth quarter of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022; the firm’s 2023 revenue increased 16.5% over 2022.
                                      • About half of potentially recoverable fiber went to landfills in 2019, according to a recent report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The report found that of 110 million metric tons of fiber that entered the waste stream in 2019, 56% went to landfills, 8% was burned, and 38% was recycled. The NREL figures on fiber recovery and recycling differ significantly from those of the EPA, whose most recent estimate in 2018 suggests that 68% of fiber entering US waste streams is recycled. The NREL study estimates that the value of recoverable fiber that went to landfills in 2019 was about $4 billion, based on a three-year average of recovered commodity pricing. When factoring in the $4 billion in estimated tipping fees to landfill the recoverable fiber, the total economic gain of recycling the landfilled fiber would have been $8 billion.
                                      • A recent report by Eunomia Research and Consulting and Ball Corporation showed that nine of the 10 states with the highest recycling rates are so-called “bottle bill” states with deposit return systems (DRS). The report found that states with DRS are home to 27% of the US population but account for 47% of all packaging recycling, 51% of glass bottle and aluminum can recycling, and 61% of PET plastic bottle recycling. Excluding fiber and flexible plastics, the top 10 states with the highest recycling rates are Maine (65%), Vermont (51%), Massachusetts (48%), Iowa (45%), Oregon (45%), New York (44%), California (41%), Michigan (40%), New Jersey (39%), and Connecticut (39%).
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