Waste Management (WM), based in Houston, Texas, is the biggest solid waste management company in the United States. The company operates 146 recycling plants, 16 waste-to-energy plants, 111 landfill gasification projects, and six independent power plants. It handles 8.5 million tons of waste annually, over four times the amount that Covanta Holding Corporation (CVA) handles. The company generated $14 billion in revenues in fiscal 2014.
Republic Services (RSG), based in Phoenix, Arizona, is the second largest player in the solid waste management space. WM and RSG together handle half of America’s solid waste. Microsoft (MSFT) founder Bill Gates is the company’s largest shareholder.
RSG serves more than 2,700 municipalities and communities in the United States. The company handles 5 million tons of waste annually, with 2.4 million tons of that used internally for material recovery. The remaining is sold to third parties for further processing. The company also operates 189 landfills. In 2014, RSG acquired Tervita, LLC, a company that specializes in oilfield waste management.
Stericycle (SRCL) is a specialized waste management company that collects, transports, processes, and disposes of medical waste, pharmaceuticals, regulated waste, and other hazardous waste. SRCL is the most international American waste management company, deriving around 20% of its $2.55 billion revenues from foreign markets. SRCL has a 0.22% share in the PowerShares QQQ Trust, Series 1 ETF (QQQ).
Waste Connections (WCN) provides solid waste collection, transfer, disposal, and recycling of solid waste in 31 states. The company targets secondary markets such as smaller communities and towns in order to avoid competition in large urban markets. The company also provides oilfield waste disposal services and rail cargo services in the Pacific Northwest. The company reported $2.1 billion in revenues in fiscal 2014.