Taking the temperature of the industry

Departments - Editor’s Letter

August 12, 2020

At Waste Today, we’re always trying to keep our finger on the pulse of the solid waste and environmental services landscape to be able to report on the news and newsmakers making waves in the industry.

This appetite to feature the industry’s most relevant topics and organizations eventually led to the publication’s editorial team brainstorming to figure out who the biggest players in waste were.

While there have been lists cataloging and ranking waste companies by their size and revenues, much of the data we were seeing was outdated and incomplete. The desire to try to fill in the gaps of who ranked among the biggest companies led to our inaugural Largest Haulers List that was published last year.

Although reaching out to individual companies, soliciting feedback and speaking with industry analysts over the course of several months to compile this list took some effort, the information that was ultimately generated was significant.

Not only did this inaugural list prove to be an invaluable resource for our team’s staff for better understanding and categorizing the who’s who of the waste sector, it has garnered significant attention from our readers, as it quickly became one of the most trafficked items on our website and one of the sources of the most feedback we receive.

The response to last year’s list made updating it this year a no-brainer. Once again, after weeks of legwork reaching out to our reader database, sending personalized emails, researching public records, making calls and talking to sources, we’re happy to finally present this year’s iteration.

Thanks to the engagement from the industry at large, we were able to grow our list from 40 haulers last year to 50 this year. Additionally, having a second set of data to pair with last year’s list allows for better analysis of trends. One of the clear takeaways is that most companies enjoyed noticeable revenue growth year over year from 2018 to 2019 as the economy continued its decade-long climb from the depths of the Great Recession. However, there is reason to wonder whether next year’s list might not be quite so favorable for the industry.

At the time of this writing, the public haulers are in the middle of announcing their Q2 revenues. Waste Management announced revenues were $3.56 billion compared to $3.95 billion for the quarter the year prior, and noted it expects total revenue to decline between 4 and 5 percent for the year. Advanced Disposal reported its Q2 revenues were $259.9 million, down from $279.4 million the year before, and Covanta reported revenues of $454 million, down from $467 million the year prior.

While Casella’s total revenue for the quarter inched up 0.7 percent year over year, it noted that its revenue projections for the year declined from an estimate of up to $815 million in February to a projected high now of $770 million.

Although it’s too early to paint a definitive picture of how the rest of 2020 will play out for haulers both large and small, we look forward to tracking this data as the industry rides the storm out.