Haulers continued to enjoy markets in the second quarter

Waste Management and other North American waste and recycling haulers saw rising revenues in the most recent quarter. | Dan Leif/Resource Recycling, Inc.

North America’s largest haulers all reported substantial year-over-year recycling boosts during the second quarter, although revenue numbers cooled somewhat from earlier in the year.

Waste Management (WM), Republic Services, GFL Environmental, Waste Connections and Casella Waste Systems reported their recycling operations enjoyed year-over-year revenue increases of 18%, 10%, 10%, 63% and 46%, respectively.

That growth was generally less than during the first quarter, when high commodity prices drove revenues and profits for the companies. As the Northeast Recycling Council (NERC) found in its second-quarter survey of MRFs, the blended average value of a ton of recyclables was up in the second quarter but, on a year-over-year basis, the increase wasn’t as dramatic as during the first quarter of 2022.

“The year-over-year favorable trend moderated in the second quarter of 2022 as compared with the first quarter of 2022,” according to a quarterly financial report from WM, the largest garbage and recycling company on the continent. “We currently expect the year-over-year pricing comparison to be slightly lower for the remainder of 2022 due to the strong pricing we experienced in the second half of 2021 when we saw demand for recycled materials outpacing supply.”

More recently, the August pricing survey from RecyclingMarkets.net showed a huge collapse in prices for some key recyclables, including mixed paper, PET and other plastics.

The following are recycling-related financial results for the top five publicly traded garbage and recycling companies in the second quarter of 2022:

Waste Management

The company’s recycling business brought in $468 million in revenue during the second quarter, up 18% year over year.

According to its quarterly report, WM attributed the increase in recycling revenue mostly to higher prices for recyclables. During the second quarter, average market prices for recovered commodities at WM MRFs were 30% higher than the year-prior period, the report notes.

During a July 27 conference call with investors, John Morris, WM’s chief operating officer, said the company’s blended average commodity price was $131 per ton in the second quarter. The company is anticipating a full-year average of about $125 per ton.

According to a press release, WM’s recycling profits were also higher during the second quarter. The recycling business operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) increased by $5 million year over year.

In the press release, Jim Fish, WM’s president and CEO, also noted that the company completed upgrades at its Houston MRF during the second quarter. WM is upgrading its MRFs with sorting technologies, allowing the facilities to operate with fewer employees and generate cleaner commodities.

It was the sixth MRF that WM has redesigned recently, Fish said during the conference call.

“Our advanced technology MRFs are yielding tangible benefits, resulting in about a 30% labor cost savings per ton compared to the rest of the single-stream network,” he said, later adding that the rebuild of WM’s Salt Lake City MRF resulted in about the 50% reduction in lab. “In the second half of the year, we expect to open two additional advanced technology recycling facilities and enter a new recycling market, keeping us on track to meet our recycling investment goals.”

Recycling now brings in 9% of WM’s operating revenue. Overall, WM tallied revenue of $5.03 billion during the second quarter, up 12% year over year.

Republic Services

The company’s recycling business tallied nearly $114 million in revenue during the second quarter, up 10% year over year.

According to the company’s quarterly report, the average price of recovered commodities (excluding glass and organics) was $218 per ton during the second quarter, up from $170 during the second quarter of 2021. It was also up from $201 during the first quarter of 2022 , according to a press release.

Republic also recently published its 2021 sustainability report, which noted the company’s 9% reduction in operational greenhouse gas emissions compared with a 2017 baseline figure. Last year, the company’s 71 MRFs processed 5 million tons of recyclables. By weight, 84% of the recyclables sold by Republic last year were fiber.

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