Garbage collection turns into garbage processing

Edit Hook

Waste Management, with its headquarters in Houston, Texas, is a company that manages waste throughout the United States and Canada. Previously focusing on garbage collection, Waste Management has been actively moving toward a goal of net zero waste. Waste Management addresses waste from its source through its final disposal, providing recycling services and looking for more ways to reuse wastes and convert wastes into new products. To accomplish both, the company has forged partnerships with other companies. Wet waste streams lead to fermentation of organic wastes, which ultimately can produce alcohols, organic acids, biogas, diesel, and soil. Dry materials can be used in thermal chemical pathways to capture carbon, resulting in production of ethanol, ethyl acetate, methanol, Fischer-Tropsch diesel, or lube oil. The company is also looking into turning waste into chemicals.

Key Differentiators

Recycling is a common practice. Waste Management is making a serious effort to go beyond recycling to protect the environment and get the most value out of what normally would be put into landfills. By creating products from waste, the company is reducing the amount of raw materials that need to be obtained.

Biomimicry Story

Waste Management is mimicking the way that natural systems reuse all materials. In nature, there's no such thing as garbage, because every molecule goes through multiple configurations in multiple organisms. When a tree falls, a community of organisms breaks down the tree's chemical compounds into other compounds and individual molecules, which are then used in other organisms. Everything is used, and there is no waste. Waste Management is also following some other of Life's Principles besides "Recycle All Materials." The company is cultivating cooperative relationships with its customers and with other companies, its using readily available materials and energy, and using feedback loops from its customers.

Challenges Solved

Waste Management is trying to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.

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