Waste Management

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Current language: English
Waste Management industry entities collect, store, dispose of, recycle or treat various forms of waste from residential, commercial and industrial clients. Types of waste include municipal solid waste, hazardous waste, recyclable materials, and compostable or organic materials. Major entities commonly are integrated vertically, providing a range of services from waste collection to landfilling and recycling, while others provide specialised services such as treating medical and industrial waste. Waste-to-energy operations are a distinct industry segment. Some industry players also provide environmental engineering and consulting services, mostly to large industrial clients.

Relevant Issues (6 of 26)

Why are some issues greyed out? The SASB Standards vary by industry based on the different sustainability-related risks and opportunities within an industry. The issues in grey were not identified during the standard-setting process as the most likely to be useful to investors, so they are not included in the Standard. Over time, as the ISSB continues to receive market feedback, some issues may be added or removed from the Standard. Each company determines which sustainability-related risks and opportunities are relevant to its business. The Standard is designed for the typical company in an industry, but individual companies may choose to report on different sustainability-related risks and opportunities based on their unique business model.

Disclosure Topics

What is the relationship between General Issue Category and Disclosure Topics? The General Issue Category is an industry-agnostic version of the Disclosure Topics that appear in each SASB Standard. Disclosure topics represent the industry-specific impacts of General Issue Categories. The industry-specific Disclosure Topics ensure each SASB Standard is tailored to the industry, while the General Issue Categories enable comparability across industries. For example, Health & Nutrition is a disclosure topic in the Non-Alcoholic Beverages industry, representing an industry-specific measure of the general issue of Customer Welfare. The issue of Customer Welfare, however, manifests as the Counterfeit Drugs disclosure topic in the Biotechnology & Pharmaceuticals industry.
General Issue Category
(Industry agnostic)

Disclosure Topics (Industry specific) for: Waste Management

GHG Emissions
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    Landfills are a significant anthropogenic contributor to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions because they generate methane. As a result, regulators frequently require entities to limit landfill gas emissions. Entities can reduce these emissions through a variety of control technologies that require significant capital investments such as landfill gas collection efficiency improvements, control devices and increased methane oxidisation. Entities can capture and combust methane using a flare, an engine or a turbine to reduce the overall toxicity and potency of raw emissions dramatically. Landfill gas capture is particularly important for owners and operators of large landfills that have been the focus of regulation. Entities that operate in the waste-to-energy industry segment may reduce waste lifecycle emissions through decreased future emissions from landfills and displaced energy generation, but they face increased Scope 1 emissions from waste-to-energy facilities operations. Overall, GHG emissions pose regulatory risks for the industry, with potential effects on operational costs and capital expenditures. Entities also may generate revenue through the sale of natural gas and energy from waste-to-energy facilities, as well as reduce fuel purchases by using processed landfill gas to power operations. Performance on this issue may affect an entity’s ability to secure new permits or renew existing ones, which can affect revenue.
  • Fleet Fuel Management

    Many entities in the Waste Management industry own and operate large vehicle fleets for waste collection and transfer. The fuel consumption of vehicle fleets is a significant industry cost, both in terms of operating expenses and associated capital expenditures. Fossil fuel consumption can contribute to environmental impacts, including climate change and pollution. These environmental impacts may affect waste management entities through increased regulatory exposure and reduced competitiveness of new contract proposals. Hedging fuel purchases is a common tool used to manage fleet-fuel risks; however, increasingly, waste management entities are upgrading to more fuel-efficient fleets or switching to natural gas vehicles. A cleaner-burning fleet also may be perceived favourably by communities living near waste management facilities with heavy traffic.
Air Quality
  • Air Quality

    Air pollution is the presence of air contaminants in such quantities and duration that they may be injurious to humans, animals, plants or property. It also includes contaminants that interfere with enjoyment of life or property. Therefore, odours and toxic gases, such as those emitted from landfills, landfill fires, waste incinerators and waste treatment plants, are considered air pollution. The financial consequences from excessive air emissions vary depending on the specific location of operations and the prevailing air emissions regulations, but they may include capital expenditures, increased operating costs, fines, and lawsuits from affected communities. Human health impacts and financial consequences of poor air quality management may be exacerbated by the proximity of waste management facilities to communities. Active management of air pollutants and odours—through technological and process improvements—therefore may mitigate regulatory exposure and associated future compliance costs from increasingly stringent air quality regulations, help entities secure and maintain permits, and protect their licence to operate.
Waste & Hazardous Materials Management
  • Management of Leachate & Hazardous Waste

    Entities operating landfills must manage and reduce the risks of potential ecological impacts, including those caused by leachate and hazardous waste. Poor management of landfills and other disposal sites may contaminate soil, groundwater and nearby water bodies. To mitigate environmental and health risks to local communities, entities must effectively contain and manage leachate, as well as hazardous waste. Entities unable to manage these risks may suffer regulatory penalties, lose brand value, impair future business prospects and face lawsuits.
Labour Practices
  • Labour Practices

    Organised labour is important in the Waste Management industry. Covering many workers, collective bargaining agreements protect workers’ rights and establish wages. Waste management entities may be vulnerable to strikes, shutdowns and delays if labour concerns are managed ineffectively. Proper management of, and communication around, labour issues such as worker pay and working conditions may prevent conflicts with workers that may result in extended strikes, which can slow or stop operations and create reputational risk. Waste management entities need a long-term perspective on managing workers—including their pay and benefits—in a way that protects workers’ rights and enhances productivity while ensuring the financial sustainability of an entity’s operations.
Employee Health & Safety
  • Workforce Health & Safety

    The industry’s hazardous working conditions make safety a critical issue for waste management operations, and accidents can have a significant impact on workers. The Waste Management industry has higher fatality rates than most industries. Fatalities and other injuries are caused primarily by transportation incidents, contact with hazardous objects and equipment, and exposure to harmful substances. Additionally, temporary workers may be at increased risk because of a lack of training or industry experience. Poor health and safety records may result in fines and penalties, increased regulatory compliance costs and more stringent oversight. Waste management entities must ensure facilities and vehicles are operated with the highest safety standards and that the number of injuries and accidents is minimised through a strong safety culture. Entities that develop proactive safety management plans and training requirements for employees and contractors, including conducting regular audits, may improve workforce safety and minimise the chance of safety-related financial repercussions.
Business Model Resilience
  • Recycling & Resource Recovery

    Recycling, reuse, composting and incineration are general methods of diverting waste from landfills. Landfill diversion can mitigate some of the environmental impacts of landfills and reduce the need for landfill expansion. Additionally, waste management entities play a critical role in the circular economy by separating and recovering reusable materials such as paper, glass, metal, organic materials and electronic waste. New regulations, customer demand and the increasing costs of extracting virgin materials are encouraging the development of a circular economy. As a result, waste management entities are facing a decrease in landfilled waste and an expanding recycling market. Cradle-to-cradle approaches initiated by other industries may fail if the recovery and recycling infrastructure or technologies do not exist. Entities that provide recycling and other resource recovery services will address changing consumer needs better, thereby positioning themselves for revenue growth while playing a critical role in reducing the environmental impact of the wider economy.

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