The amount of garbage created each day staggers the imagination. The Clean Air Council reports that office workers in America each used, on average, approximately 500 disposable cups in 2010. Americans tossed enough disposable eating utensils in the same year to circle the globe 300 times, and shoppers in the United States disposed of more than 1 billion shopping bags that year. All this garbage adds up to vast amounts of money for companies collecting, disposing of and recycling the massive amount of waste.
Small Garbage Collection Firms
Garbage collection companies negotiate private contracts with municipal services and companies with the equipment and personnel to meet village, town or city needs. The contract uses the type of garbage collected and the related services offered, including recycling or landfill services, for fee calculations. Ray's Trash Service, Inc., a small regional firm operating in the greater Indianapolis region with headquarters in Clayton, Indiana, earned in excess of $8 million dollars in 2010 and employed more than 100 employees. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that people working in the trash industry earned an average hourly wage of $22.99 in May 2011.
Large National Garbage Firms
The average salary for workers in waste management, as reported by the job search website Indeed, was $82,000 in July 2011. Large national firms offering both commercial and residential services make millions of dollars in profits from trash collection and processing each year. The chairman of the board of Waste Management, Inc., who is a non-salaried staff member, earned $409,000 in cash and stocks in 2009. Salaried executive officers for the organization earned between $575,710 and $1 million as a base cash salary in the same year, not including annual cash bonuses. The additional cash rewards paid executives an additional 0.5 percent of the firm's pre-tax income. Hoovers, a business analyst organization, reports that Waste Management, Inc., earned $12.52 billion in 2010. Garbage companies produce large amounts of income for both owners, corporate board members and operators.
Toxic Garbage Collection
U.S. Ecology operates from a headquarters in Boise, Idaho, and recycles toxic garbage wastes. The firm opened in 1952, providing waste services for radioactive materials and then broadened its services to include hazardous wastes in 1968. The company has branches in Nevada, Texas and Washington, and reported revenues of $132.5 million in 2009, with major contracts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, General Electric, Inc., and Honeywell International, Inc. "Bloomberg Businessweek" reports that the president, director and CEO of US Ecology, Inc., earned an annual salary of $301,155 in 2010.
While the market for garbage recycling barely scratches the surface of the millions made in basic trash collection, a number of companies earn money recycling garbage. TerraCycle, Inc., for example, earns cash based on company sponsorships of goods formerly sent to landfills. Companies pay TerraCycle, Inc., to provide free shipping boxes for customers to return their trash for recycling. TerraCycle, Inc., earns cash by serving as the go-between for the arrangement between the original manufacturer and the customer. Numerous companies offered mail-in services in 2010 for inkjet and toner cartridges, including Pacific Ink. Hoovers reported Pacific Ink made $2.8 million in 2010 and TerraCycle, Inc., earned $5.6 million in the same year.
Lee Grayson has worked as a freelance writer since 2000. Her articles have appeared in publications for Oxford and Harvard University presses and research publishers, including Facts On File and ABC-CLIO. Grayson holds certificates from the University of California campuses at Irvine and San Diego.