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GFL's 2021 Sustainability Report Places Focus on RNG, Recycling Recovery Rates

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GFL detailed its progress on building a platform of sustainability environmental solutions over the past year in its 2021 Sustainability Report. As the fourth largest diversified environmental services company in North America, the company first touted its significant expansion efforts, stating that it will continue to "leverage strategic, accretive acquisitions alongside organic growth to create long-term and sustainable value for our stakeholders." GFL completed 46 acquisitions in 2021, with the addition of Terrapure Environmental.

GFL detailed its progress on building a platform of sustainability environmental solutions over the past year in its 2021 Sustainability Report.

As the fourth largest diversified environmental services company in North America, the company first touted its significant expansion efforts, stating that it will continue to "leverage strategic, accretive acquisitions alongside organic growth to create long-term and sustainable value for our stakeholders." GFL completed 46 acquisitions in 2021, with the addition of Terrapure Environmental.

"This year's Sustainability Report marks an important milestone in meeting our commitment to our customers, employees and stakeholders," founder and CEO Patrick Dovigi said. "Since our inception, GFL's growth has been driven by our entrepreneurial culture in providing innovative solutions to our customers in an environmentally responsible and sustainable way. Our Sustainability Action Plan formalizes our goals and commitments but the key concepts that are the foundation of our Plan have long been central to our strategy."

GFL's Sustainability Action Plan, first published in 2020, provided a mechanism for the company to:

  • Increase avoided GHG emissions through greater resource recovery, recycling solutions and beneficial use of landfill gas.
  • Reduce the direct GHG emissions from operations through increased gas capture at landfills and the use of alternative fuel vehicles in its fleet.
  • Increase the sustainability innovations that come from within the business by continuing to invest in GFL employees and an entrepreneurial and innovative culture

With a fleet of more than 10,000 trucks, the company provided an update on its efforts to convert its trucks from diesel to CNG or other alternative fuels. More than 15 percent of its solid waste fleet operates on CNG. The company noted that it is "committed to doubling the beneficial use of biogas from our landfills and having renewable natural gas power at least 85 percent of our compressed natural gas solid waste fleet in the United States by 2030."

From fleets to the landfill, GFL also provided updates on landfill gas recovery.

"In 2021, we formed GFL Renewables, our platform to develop landfill gas to renewable natural gas projects at our landfills, as well as solar and wind opportunities," Dovigi said. "We currently have 22 RNG projects at various stages in our pipeline. We expect these projects to generate significant returns on our investment, with the first 2 projects expected to come on-line in mid to late 2023. Our RNG projects will also help us achieve our greenhouse gas reduction targets and help our customers realize their own sustainability goals by providing a renewable fuel source to displace their use of virgin fuels. With our significant investment in RNG, we have set a goal to double our beneficial use of biogas by 2030"

More than 5.7 million MMBtu of landfill gas was recovered in 2021, which supplied electricity to local markets, for operational purposes or was converted to pipeline renewable natural gas (RNG) for use as an alternative fuel. GFL's goal is to double the amount of biogas used for beneficial purposes such as RNG projects.

As of the report publication GFL has five RNG projects in active developments, with the first expected to be operational in mid to late 2023. The company noted seven addition sites under negotiation or in the beginning stages.

The company's Sustainability Action Plan outlined its goal of on increasing the recovery rate of recyclables at its facilities by 40 percent.

"The pathway to meeting our goal of increasing our recyclables recovered by 40 percent by 2030 is through increasing the volume of recyclables received at our facilities, continuing to make investments in sophisticated sorting technologies and expanding our sorting capacity to meet increasing customer demand at existing and to-be-constructed facilities," the report stated.

As of the end of 2021, GFL had more than 15 artificial intelligence (AI) supported vision systems and 59 optical sorting units in its MRFs. Its latest MRF facility in Pontiac, Mich., which is expected to begin operations by the end of 2022, will be able to process more than 110,000 tonnes of recyclables per year.

"Our ESG journey is just getting started, but the concepts that drive our Plan are deeply rooted in our culture," Dovigi said. "Having the context of where we came from and where we are going is important given, we have tripled the size of our business since 2018. While we aspire to setting targets that will be accepted by organizations like the Science Based Targets initiative, given our significant growth and our recent investments in RNG, we have set a short-term goal to reduce our combined scope 1 and scope 2 GHG emissions by 15 percent by 2030 from a 2021 baseline."

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