the impact that COVID and the larger economy might have on the waste and recycling industry in 2021

The waste and recycling industry responded quickly to challenges brought on by the global COVID-19 pandemic. NWRA worked with federal, state and local governments to ensure that waste and recycling collection could continue. In the early days of the pandemic, as many Americans began to work from home, residential collection rose, and commercial collection declined.

COVID will continue to have a substantial impact on the waste and recycling industry in 2021, particularly during the first half of the year. Many Americans continue to work from home, and many schools and offices remain closed. This means continued elevated levels of residential waste and decreased commercial waste. Unlike spring 2020, when SWANA estimates that residential waste and recyclables were 20 percent above normal, we believe current levels are about 5 to 10 percent above normal. As more Americans get vaccinated, schools and offices will reopen, people will feel more comfortable traveling again, and waste levels in both the residential and commercial sides of the industry will normalize even further.

Some solid waste companies have been hurt by the decline in commercial volume. There may be acquisition opportunities for well-financed companies to acquire some of these smaller haulers.

We will continue to be engaged on issues surrounding COVID-19. We are also committed to safety. According to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics), we are the sixth-most dangerous occupation. Thats down from fifth. Earlier this year, we made NWRAs Safety Monday guidance, [which contains safety-related educational resources], free to those who register for it, and we will continue to work to make our industry safer

SWANA will continue to work with the EPA on finalizing its National Recycling Strategy. I expect the Biden administration EPA may be interested in a more aggressive approach to recycling, and we will be having conversations with the new appointees in the coming weeks.

I also expect activity on PFAS, including a proposed MCL under the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the possible designation of PFAS as a hazardous substance under the Superfund program.

A trend that will continue in 2021 will be a high level of mergers and acquisitions in the industry: All of the larger companies have strong acquisition pipelines, and some owners of hauling companies may be looking to exit the business.

Hoffman: M&A is likely to return to its normal course in 2021, generally. [This is more] company-specific regarding deals [that may have been] long under discussion. Price and volume should be positive, with volume starting out negative but quickly swinging positive as the year over year comparisons ease. Capital spending should be relatively normal with the mix slightly more toward rolling stock than disposal. If household formation remains strong, then new business formation could provide an added volume kicker late in 2021..

Post time: Jul-16-2021

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