New Member Company Spotlight – USA Waste & Recycling

USA Waste & Recycling, and its affiliated companies, have been leaders in sustainable waste management for nearly 50 years.  During that time, we have adapted to the waste and recycling landscape for generations, embraced new technologies and set the bar for innovation in our industry. 

For USA Waste & Recycling, sustainability is more than a buzzword. Sustainability is deeply ingrained in every generation of our family business. We believe that treating our employees and customers like family leads to real, lasting relationships in our community. We believe that continuous research, innovation, and investment creates better efficiencies for our customers. We believe that greener practices grow healthier communities. And above all, we believe that the best way to do business is the right way.

How did USA Waste & Recycling get started on the path of sustainability? 

Recycling is an inherently “green” industry, but USA first got started on its path to increase the sustainability of our operations with a small change: switching all lighting at our facilities to LED lights, which save energy and last longer compared to traditional bulbs. We quickly doubled down on our investment in energy conservation by building out over 2,000,000 kilowatts of solar capacity to help power our facilities. 

How does the company’s sustainability efforts connect to your broader business goals and objectives? 

The goal of our operations is to not only make recycling and solid waste disposal as easy and efficient as possible, but to recycle as many of the materials as we can after collecting them.  Initiatives like the LED switch, solar installations and our conversion to a natural gas vehicle fleet are cost saving measures in the long run that allow us to continually invest in recycling and waste infrastructure in Connecticut. These investments lead to more efficient waste and recycling processes that benefit the planet in more ways than one. 

What are some of the ways in which clients and/or employees have benefited from the company’s sustainable business practices?

Customers can trust that USA is one of the cleanest running fleets in the industry, and for environmentally conscious customers, that’s a big relief.  Apart from knowing their waste and recycling is handled in an environmentally conscious manner, and that many of our facilities are powered by solar, our customers see the benefit of our Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) trucks every day. A standard diesel refuse truck emits particulates and NOx while collecting curbside waste and recycling.  CNG-powered trucks emit 90% fewer pollutants and improve local air quality, all while being much quieter than traditional trucks.  Our employees also benefit from CNG trucks because the engine requires less time to warm up and the trucks are parked under a solar array which prevents snow and ice from blocking access.  

How do you make the business case for sustainability (or explain the value proposition) to your customers, partners, and other stakeholders? 

Everyday, we strive to do things the right way, and we believe investing and operating our company in a sustainable way is the right way.  We believe that those we service and with whom we work notice the difference between how we do things as compared to others.  Specifically, CNG is better for the towns and businesses we serve because it is clean and quiet and our continued investment in recycling equipment makes recycling more efficient for communities.  

How would you describe your five-year sustainability vision?

We will continue to be leaders within this space over the next five years. We plan to continue converting our entire fleet to CNG and eventually electric power, install additional solar arrays at facilities,  build and open the most advanced recycling facility in North America, and seek innovative opportunities to reduce our carbon footprint.  Finally, we are currently retrofitting an old office building to be the new headquarters for the company.  The new office will be replete with upgrades for energy-efficient lighting, appliances, heating, and cooling.  This building will be further evidence of our commitment to sustainability, in all aspects of our operations.

In circumstances that require capital investments, how do you justify the expenditure?

Sustainability is more than a marketing tool to us, we have studied the long-term benefits of utilizing solar energy, CNG, LED lights and innovative recycling equipment for us, our communities, and the region.  LED lighting and solar installations usually have a return on investment through energy savings and production.  CNG trucks allow us to use a stable, safe, domestic fuel that is more predictable than diesel.  By utilizing available incentives, and mapping out the future return of each investment, it is easier to justify the initial costs.