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US Waste Management Industry Overview
By Themedica on February 23, 2009 10:15 AM |
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A majority of the waste management industry in the US is engaged in the collection, transport, and disposal of solid and non-hazardous waste products in landfills. However, some companies are also equipped to manage hazardous wastes including liquid and low-grade radioactive wastes.waste-management-landfills.jpg


Each year a large quantity of waste is produced by households and as a result of industrial activities in the US. Statistics reveal that annual waste products amount to over 200 million tons of solid waste, that translates into generation of about 4.4 pounds of waste per person per day.

Traditionally, the process of waste management involved just collection, transfer and disposal of waste in landfills. However, with time, and increased public knowledge and concern over environmental protection, waste management companies are required to take on a more technologically demanding approach to managing wastes. For instance, requiring ever more sophisticated medical waste treatment equipment.

US Waste Management Industry Highlights

Waste Quantities

Around the year 2000, an estimated 544 million tons of waste were processed throughout the country. Of the total waste processed, 370 million (68 percent) tons were disposed of in landfills, while 146 million tons (27 percent) were recycled, and 29 million tons (5 percent) were subjected to incinerators.

Number of Organizations

About 27,000 organizations were engaged in waste management nationwide. The number includes private sector companies, public sector and quasi-governmental organizations. Of the total organization, there are about 10,000 private sector firms operating waste management businesses.

There are three major waste management companies in the US, namely Allied Waste Industries, Waste Management, and Republic Services, they manage over 50 percent of the total waste. The remaining market is highly fragmented, made up of small and mid-sized companies with annual revenues of about $10 million. On the other hand the combined annual revenue of private sector firms is $50 billion.

Demand & Profits

The demand within the waste management market varies with the levels of economic activity and consumer spending. While the GDP growth rates of the US hovered around 3 percent in 2006, GDP growth rates at the beginning of 2009 were close to zero percent.

The more efficient the operations of the waste management companies, better the profits they can expect. Large companies benefit from economies of scale. For large firms the annual revenue per employee stands at $200,000 on an average, while smaller companies make about $125,000.

Equipment & Machinery

In 2001, the solid waste industry made use of about 206,000 units motorized equipment in the U.S., of which, about 148,000 vehicles were used in the collection and transfer of solid waste. Rest of the waste treatment equipment comprised stationary, mobile compaction equipment, and mobile equipment, and processing equipment.

Waste Management Plants & Facilities

Close to 11,500 organizations owned an estimated 15,700 facilities that dispose, recycle, incinerate, or processed waste around 2001. More than half (53 percent) of these facilities had private ownership.

In addition to the traditional waste management operations including wastes requiring waste water treatment equipment, the need for remediation services has grown over the years. These services entail processes such as crude oil spill clean ups, asbestos or lead paint removal, or cleaning up of strip-mined areas. Even though the 2009 financial crises may have affected the waste arrangement industry too, the demand for remediation services has opened up new vistas for even smaller enterprises to venture in to.

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