Providing our customers with reliable electricity requires that we responsibly and effectively manage the waste that can result from our operations, as we also find ways to minimize future waste and expand our reuse efforts. Waste streams at FirstEnergy include municipal waste, universal waste and hazardous waste. We work to reduce, reuse and recycle the waste we generate through several initiatives including the projects and programs described below.
As part of our commitment to compliance excellence, we track waste generated from our operations and submit periodic reports to regulatory agencies. Please see our ESG data table for waste and recycling metrics.
We continuously look for opportunities to minimize or eliminate waste streams, reduce our energy use and improve employees’ environmental awareness.
Wood utility poles are one of FirstEnergy’s largest waste streams, and the majority of scrap poles from our transmission and distribution operations are landfilled at the end of their useful lives, contributing thousands of tons in waste annually. In 2020, we began piloting a program at 12 Ohio Edison line shops to divert scrap poles from the landfill and instead find ways to reuse, recycle or donate them. For example, the poles can be reused in farmers’ fields, in parks or in bridge supports. In 2021, we recycled 608 tons of wood poles.
Using the lessons learned from the pilot, we expanded the Wood Pole Diversion Program to all our operating companies. By 2025, we aim to recycle or beneficially reuse 50% of our wood poles at the end of their useful lives, when they previously would have been landfilled. This initiative is part of our larger effort to reduce waste across our operations and build a more sustainable energy future.
At our Miles Service Center in Cleveland, we manage the company’s surplus assets through reuse, refurbishment, sale or disposal. Processing scrap wire and cable, and participating in like-kind exchanges, provides revenue to the company. Additionally, by repairing or processing materials and products for reuse, we create less landfill waste and mitigate our environmental impact. Each month, the Miles Service Center sorts and handles approximately 282,000 pounds of scrap material, which generated a net benefit of $3.1 million in 2021 alone. This program is part of our ongoing efforts to develop increasingly sustainable operations.
Please see our ESG data table for our investment recovery and recycling metrics.
Across our companywide operations, FirstEnergy recycles company electronic waste, such as computers and phones. In addition, we have launched a pilot program to begin recycling employees’ personal electronic waste. Using company resources, we can ensure those items are properly recycled instead of landfilled.
Recycled more than 46 tons of electronic or e-waste
Recycled 521 tons of shredded paper (excluding single stream paper)
Recycled 1,396 tons of single stream recyclables (such as papers, cardboards, plastics and aluminums)
As part of our focus on environmental compliance excellence and stewardship of natural resources, FirstEnergy is committed to the responsible disposal of coal combustion residuals (CCRs). CCRs – in the form of bottom ash, fly ash, synthetic gypsum and calcium sulfite – are the byproducts that remain after coal is burned to make electricity. These materials are transported to state-of-the-art dry disposal facilities that use liners and leachate collection systems, as well as extensive groundwater monitoring, to ensure environmental protection. We maintain a CCR management program to meet all compliance requirements of the Federal Coal Combustion Residual regulations. To read about our CCR activities and compliance reports for the facilities we manage, please visit our CCR website.
When possible, we also strive to beneficially use CCRs, which are common ingredients in concrete roads, drywall and a wide variety of other construction materials. By diverting CCRs from landfill to more beneficial uses, we reduce the need for waste disposal sites. In 2021, for instance, our continued beneficial use efforts helped us to divert about 20% of our CCR waste from landfills.