The Waste Age 100, which ranks the 100 largest waste services firms in North America based on revenue, marks a milestone this year with its 20th annual edition. Despite a still-sluggish economy and falling commodity prices in 2012, seven of the top ten companies were able to increase revenues compared with 2011 levels, and overall, industry revenues (as encompassed by the Waste Age 100) were down around 1 percent to slightly more than $39 billion.
Within the index, the number of employees rose 1 percent to more than 183,000, though that may reflect changes in the composition of the list itself, rather than an apples-to-apples comparison. In comparison, in the June 2008 Waste Age 100, industry revenues (again as encompassed by the Waste Age 100’s 2007 revenues) were roughly $37.7 billion. Thus, in the past five years the Waste Age 100 companies have increased revenues just over 4 percent. In the same timeframe, the number of employees rose just over 1 percent, likely due to headcount reduction during the course of the Great Recession and subsequent slow recovery, but also due to increased automation and productivity programs within the industry.
Editor’s Note on methodology: This ranking consists of firms that have collection or long-haul fleets, own or operate processing or disposal sites, or are in some way involved with the handling/processing of solid waste or recycling. This year we also opened the list to firms that exclusively handle compost and organics. We collected companies’ revenue by reviewing annual reports when available, and collecting financial information via an online form. The form was publicized using e-mail blasts to our subscription and promotion lists, via social media, and by other means. While we strive to make the Waste Age 100 the most comprehensive list of the industry’s largest solid waste and recycling firms, we recognize that it is not bulletproof because some privately held firms can’t be ranked, as they decline to disclose their revenue information and often no other source for those firms’ revenues exists.