Companies in this industry operate materials recovery facilities (MRFs) that separate and sort recyclables from waste streams or separate commingled recyclable materials. Major companies include the MRF divisions of vertically integrated waste management companies such as PSC, Republic Services, and Waste Management (all based in the US), as well as Remondis (Germany), Suez Environnement (France), Veolia Environnement (France), and Waste Connections (Canada).
Demand depends on the volume of waste generated, which depends on economic conditions and consumer spending, and the perceived importance of recycling. The profitability of individual companies depends on efficient operations, because the service is a commodity sold based on price. Big companies enjoy economies of scale in purchasing equipment and establishing networks of facilities. Small companies can compete successfully by offering specialized services or serving local markets. The US industry is concentrated: the 50 largest companies account for about 60% of revenue.
Products, Operations & Technology
Recyclable material recovery and preparation services account for the majority of industry revenue. Other services include material transportation services and the resale of recovered materials. Some large, vertically integrated companies may also collect, treat, and dispose of solid waste.