Top 10 Largest Waste Management and Recycling Companies

Aaron Stahl / Waste Management / March 28, 2022

Waste management and recycling companies play a vital role in serving the needs of businesses all across the country. In most cases, businesses will work with one of the major vendors that provide these services within their region.

In this article, we will take a look at the waste management industry, considerations when working with these companies, and provide a list of the largest waste management and recycling companies you can choose to work with.

Waste Management Industry Overview

Waste management and recycling companies are responsible for the proper collection, disposal, and recycling of many types of general or hazardous waste. They also need to deploy environmentally friendly practices during these processes. Without these services, there’s no way businesses and communities could manage their waste and recycling needs.

Though there is strict regulation around disposal practices and how to best maintain the environment, regulation isn’t nearly as strict when it comes to waste management billing and pricing tactics. The regulations that do exist are typically on a state level and with a government agenda as opposed to helping businesses find fair pricing for waste and recycling services.

While this lack of regulation ultimately results in lower average market prices vs regulated waste markets, sales reps have incentives for selling higher-priced services, so prices will vary drastically depending on the sales rep you talk to.

As a result, we often see pricing that is completely different, for the same type of business, in the same geographic area. Vendors are also able to write confusing contracts that benefit themselves instead of customers. So properly negotiated contracts, with terms and conditions that protect you, and not the hauler, are a must.

Considerations When Working With Waste Companies

It’s important to remember that many waste and recycling contracts are around 3 years long and often have auto-renewal clauses. Therefore, if you don’t know these clauses exist, you could get roped into another 3 years without having the chance to negotiate prices you are happy with.

Additionally, customers need to understand that the contractual language waste companies use can allow them to push additional fees for reasons that are largely profit-driven and have no real basis. What makes matters worse is that it’s incredibly difficult to file a complaint about these fees or contractual discrepancies.

For the average customer, understanding these charges and making sense of the contractual language is quite difficult, if not impossible. Waste management companies are aware of this and have gotten good at making various fees seem mandatory when they are not. Without the right knowledge and expertise, most customers simply accept these fees and don’t feel like they have any real negotiating power.

Luckily, there are things businesses can do to start taking more control of their waste and recycling spending. One of the most effective things they can do is engage in a full waste management recycling services audit, conducted by a team of professionals.

Top Waste and Recycling Companies

Though there are issues with waste and recycling billing tactics and contracts, you still need to choose a service provider to work with. There’s no denying the importance of the work they do, but customers need to be aware that billing and contract issues exist and know how to seek help from experts on these matters.

With that said, we’ve compiled a list of the largest waste and recycling companies in the USA.

1. Waste Management

  • Annual revenue: $14.5 Billion
  • Number of employees: 44,900
  • Headquarters: Houston, TX

As the largest provider of waste and recycling services in the USA, Waste Management (WM) handles the needs of over 21 million commercial, residential, and industrial customers each year. WM has an impressive waste management network including 293 landfill sites, 346 transfer stations, 146 recycling facilities, and over 26,000 active trucks in its fleet.

2. Republic Services

  • Annual revenue: $9.4 Billion
  • Number of employees: 36,000
  • Headquarters: Phoenix, AZ

As the second-largest waste management and recycling company in the USA, Republic Services provides services and other environmental solutions for commercial, industrial, municipal, and residential customers across the nation. It specializes in non-hazardous solid waste collection, recycling, and disposal services with the help of its many subsidiaries, landfills, transfer stations, and recycling centers. Republic Services is also focused on supporting the communities it works in, through in-kind donations of services, volunteer work, and other environmental initiatives.

3. Waste Connections

  • Annual revenue: $4.9 Billion
  • Number of employees: 16,000
  • Headquarters: The Woodlands, TX

Since it started in 1997, Waste Connections has become the third-largest waste management company in North America. It aims to deploy cost-effective waste management services for its commercial and residential customers. Key services include commercial recycling, yard waste removal, solid waste collection, e-waste and recycling, and dumpster rentals. Waste Connections works to provide sustainable waste management solutions for many industries that will help them become greener now and into the future.

4. Stericycle

  • Annual revenue: $3.6 Billion
  • Number of employees: 23,200
  • Headquarters: Bannockburn, IL

As a leader in the medical waste industry, Stericycle offers services that protect public health and the environment. Since its inception in 1989, Stericycle has provided a number of key services such as the collection and proper disposal of biohazardous medical waste, sharps waste, pharmaceutical waste, chemotherapy waste, and controlled substance waste. Stericycle also provides various compliance services and medical supplies. In 2020 alone, Stericycle disposed of over 1.5 billion pounds of medical waste, diverted 104 million pounds of plastic from landfills, and disposed of over 40 million pounds of unused pharmaceutical waste.

5. Clean Harbors

  • Annual revenue: $3.4 Billion
  • Number of employees: 14,400
  • Headquarters: Norwell, MA

Clean Harbors is a general waste provider for various levels of the US government and also specializes in hazardous waste collection and disposal for some of the biggest Fortune 500 companies. Having been founded in 1980, Clean Harbors has expanded through many acquisitions and operates at over 400 service locations.

6. GFL Environmental

  • Annual revenue: 3.35 Billion
  • Number of employees: 15,000
  • Headquarters: Raleigh, NC

With more than 135,000 industrial and commercial customers, GFL offers services such as liquid and solid waste management and a variety of environmental services. It specializes in the recycling of oil, oil filters, waste solvents, anti-freeze, and other liquid products.

7. Covanta Holdings Corporation

  • Annual revenue: $1.8 Billion
  • Number of employees: 4,000
  • Headquarters: Morristown, NJ

Covanta is known for its waste-to-energy initiates which convert trash into useable forms of energy. Many of these projects involve working with governmental agencies or utility providers and it operates over 40 of these plants across the globe.

8. Recology

  • Annual revenue: $1.2 Billion
  • Number of employees: 3,600
  • Headquarters: San Francisco, CA

As one of the oldest companies on this list, Recology was founded in 1920 and was formerly known as Norcal Waste Systems. Recology focuses on sustainability initiatives and has the biggest organic compost facility in the US. Recology also owns 40 subsidiaries that help serve the needs of its customers across the US.

9. Waste Pro USA

  • Annual revenue: $716 Million
  • Number of employees: 3,700
  • Headquarters: Longwood, FL

As a relative newcomer to the industry, Waste Pro USA was founded in 2001 and has become one of the largest waste management companies in the USA in this short amount of time. It aims to provide consistent and quality service to commercial and residential customers and to support many sustainability initiatives.

10. Casella Waste Systems

  • Annual revenue: $192 Million
  • Number of employees: 2,300
  • Headquarters: Rutland, VT

Casella started as a small homegrown business in Vermont and has grown into one of the leading waste management providers in the country since 1975. Casella manages over 10,000 customer locations and offers a wide range of environmental solutions.

How to Save Money on Waste Management Costs

As mentioned above, between inconsistent pricing tactics and confusing contracts, customers across the nation are overcharged for their waste management and recycling needs.

At P3 Cost Analysts, we are experts in the waste management industry and have the skills required to know how to look for valid and invalid charges. We specialize in waste and recycling services auditing and typically save our customers an average of 30%–40% on waste and recycling overcharges.

During an audit, we will take a thorough look at your invoices and contracts to find discrepancies and bring you the savings you deserve. We can also renegotiate your current agreements using our decades of experience and proprietary pricing data to get you the best deal possible for waste and recycling services.

Find the Right Waste Company Today

There are many waste management and recycling companies you can choose to work with. Many offer similar services so it’s important to get quotes from a number of different vendors in your region. Some vendors may also suit your industry and waste management needs better than others.

Whichever company you decide to work with, it’s recommended to work with a third party such as P3 Cost Analysts to make sure you aren’t being taken advantage of or overcharged by these companies. Doing so can save you a lot of money and headaches.

To schedule your free expense audit with P3 Cost Analysts, contact us today!

Send this to a friend