At WasteExpo 2021, held June 28–30 in Las Vegas, executives from the waste management industry met to discuss key trends and challenges facing the industry. Sustainability issues have taken increasing prominence on the strategic agendas of waste management companies. Companies also continue to focus on ways to incorporate leading-edge technology to improve safety, operate more efficiently, and improve digital engagement with customers. Using insights from this year’s conference as well as our ongoing M&A processes and sector conversations, we examine the trends that are shaping the waste management industry.

Key takeaways:

  • Environmental sustainability issues took center stage at this year’s WasteExpo. It is important to realize that sustainability in waste management isn’t a binary proposition and there are meaningful steps that waste management companies are taking to reduce their environmental impact. Eco-initiatives that companies are implementing include improving the carbon footprint of their fleets; harnessing waste for conversion to renewable energy, waste-to-energy and beneficial reuse; and other creative solutions.
  • The digitalization of the waste management industry and the adoption of automation, electric vehicles, and other cutting-edge technology continue to advance. Continued progress in these areas is essential because it has the potential to make meaningful gains in addressing some of the biggest pain points facing the industry, including safety, environmental impact, and labor pressures.
  • Several forces have led to a recent increase in dealmaking activity in the waste management industry. Many small mom-and-pop local operators have been looking to exit due to labor pressures, anticipated tax changes, and the increasingly complex regulatory backdrop. Companies that embrace sustainability and technology, and as a result are able to adapt to shifting demands, are best equipped to rise above these headwinds and continue to garner premium valuations.

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