1.17

Million Tonnes

of materials diverted from landfills in 2019

3.35

Billion Dollars

in annual revenue

3.15

Tonnes of Avoided Emissions

GFL's services avoided 3.15 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2019


The Path to Drawdown: Recycling

Project Drawdown considers recycling as the recovery of recyclable post-consumer waste (like glass, plastic, metals, etc.) from the industrial and residential sectors of the economy. Recycling replaces the disposal of recyclable materials in landfills and alleviates the need to use virgin material for production.

Up to half of all waste comes from households, and in some high-income countries, more than 50% of that waste is recyclable material.

Household recycling can reduce emissions because producing new products from recovered materials often saves energy. For example, forging recycled aluminum products requires 95% less energy than creating them from virgin materials. 

Project Drawdown estimates that by 2050, a serious commitment to recycling can help avoid 6.02 gigatons of GHG emissions. To get there, recycling practices need to be adopted much more widely that they are now:

  • In 2014, 27% of recyclable waste was recycled
  • By 2050, 68% of recyclable materials need to be recycled
  • That’s 2.6% CAGR between 2014 and 2050

If we can achieve that 68% recycling scenario, we can avoid up to 6.02 gigatons of GHG emissions.

About

GFL Environmental, Ltd. (stock ticker: GFL) offers solid and liquid waste management and infrastructure and soil remediation services, including collection, transportation, transfer, recycling and disposal services for municipal, residential, and commercial and industrial customers. Headquartered in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada, they operate throughout Canada and in 27 states in the United States. GFL Environmental went public on March 5, 2020.

GFL’s Role in Drawdown

As part of their solid waste segment, GFL Environmental owns or manages (p. 40-43) 150 solid waste transfer stations, 88 landfills, 28 materials recovery facilities, and 15 organic facilities. They also have 11 soil remediation facilities and 75 liquid waste collection, processing or storage facilities.

Their material recovery and organic processing services recycle a wide range of materials, including fiber/old corrugated cardboard, mixed papers, glass bottles as well as certain plastics and ferrous/non-ferrous metal. 

GFL Environmental uses various artificial intelligence (p. 41), optical sorting technologies, robotics and elliptical fiber separation to extract items that are recyclable. Using these technologies, their Winnipeg material recovery facility is one of the few in service across North America that’s fully automated and has the capacity to learn, collect data and establish recycling patterns.

In addition to their solid waste and recycling operations, GFL Environmental engages in two other business operations. In their infrastructure and solid remediation segment, they excavate and transport clean and contaminated soils and remediate and dispose of contaminated and remediated soils. In their liquid waste operation, they collect, manage, transport, process and dispose of industrial and commercial liquid wastes. They resell some of the liquid waste they recycle. 

GFL Environmental has a large and diverse customer base, predominated by municipalities such as the City of Toronto, City of Hamilton and the City of Vancouver.

GFL: What We Like

GFL Environmental has taken initial steps (p. 2) to reduce their environmental and carbon footprint, and promises to establish further targets in the next couple of years:

  • They’ve helped avoid 3.15 million tonnes of CO2e through solid and liquid waste recycling, composting and energy generation from landfill gas.
  • They are committing to disclose goals and strategies to reduce their GHG emissions
  • Recovered 732,077 tonnes of materials, recycled 3.7 million tonnes of soil, processed 437,293 tonnes of organic material, and recycled 64.5 gallons of used motor oil and antifreeze
  • 14% of GFL Environmental’s solid waste collection fleet was powered by compressed natural gas, reducing GHG emissions by up to 25% compared to a completely diesel-powered fleet
  • 79% of GFL-owned and operated solid municipal landfills had gas collection and treatment systems by the end of 2019. These helped avoid 39,751 tonnes of GHG emissions that year

GFL: What We Want to See Improve

Electrify the Fleet


GFL owns 5,546 solid and liquid waste collection trucks (p. 1). We applaud them for taking steps to lower emissions - such as switching some of their vehicles to compressed natural gas - but these steps are far from satisfactory. In particular, compressed natural gas is lower-emitting than gasoline, but still emits significant greenhouse gases from the extracting, procession, distributing and burning processes. We urge GFL to electrify their fleet, or transition to green hydrogen, so that their fleet achieves zero emissions as soon as possible.

Track Scope 2 and 3 Emissions


We applaud GFL for publishing their inaugural SASB Report in 2019, in which they disclose their scope 1 emissions. But for most companies, scope 2 and 3 account for the vast majority of emissions. We would like their next round of reports to include these metrics so that investors and other stakeholders can evaluate the full scope of GFL’s carbon footprint.

Switch to a Clean Bank


GFL has repeatedly entered into credit agreements with Barclays Bank (p. 10). But unfortunately Barclays is one of the largest funders of fossil fuels, and the largest UK bank that invests in coal power (p. 9). We urge GFL to seek out banks that, on principle, do not fund carbon-emitting industries for their loans in the future.

Other Recycling Stocks in the Climate Index

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