Waste Management: the Largest Player in the Slow-Changing Trash Collection Industry


Founded in 1968, Waste Management (WM) owns the largest network of recycling facilities, transfer stations, landfills, and processing plants in North America. The company makes money by entering into contracts with customers to collect, transport, process, store, and dispose of their waste.

In just 30 years of operation, the company has built an impressive and diverse base of more than 22 million customers spread across municipal, residential, commercial and industrial segments in the U.S. and Canada.

During 2018, WM’s biggest customer represented just 1% of its annual revenues. The public sector (municipal customers) accounts for 21% of the firm's revenue, and the largest private industries are retail and offices at 10% each.

Waste Management’s revenues can be segregated into collection (54% of 2018 revenues), landfill (20%), transfer (10%), recycling (7%) and other services (9%). Commercial is the largest segment accounting for 41% of collection revenues, followed by industrial (29%), residential (26%), and other (4%) segments.


The commercial and industrial businesses are more lucrative customers for Waste Management because they typically have multi-year contracts in place, making cash flows more predictable and stable.

Waste Management has paid higher dividends every year since going public in 2004.



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