Clean Harbors earns ‘Game Changer’ award for sustainability efforts

When it comes to sustainability, Clean Harbors is changing the game.

Chairman of the NWRA Board of Trustees Don Ross, Chief Compliance Officer John Harris, who accepted the award from NWRA on behalf of Clean Harbors, and Interim CEO of the NWRA Jim Riley.

This week, the company received the “Sustainability Partnership Game Changer” award from the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) for leading recycling and waste management efforts throughout the communities it serves.

“At Clean Harbors, our business is sustainability,” said co-CEO Eric Gerstenberg. “We partner with those seeking to recover waste materials whenever possible and we’re proud to help our customers maximize recycling and reduce their carbon footprints.”

Chief Compliance Officer John Harris accepted the award during an NWRA ceremony in Asheville, North Carolina, on Oct. 4-5.

“This award affirms the environmentally friendly solutions Clean Harbors offers that are providing tangible benefits toward the improved sustainability and ecology of our shared communities,” Harris said. “Our 22,000 employees are out there every day protecting the environment, offering recycling options to customers and making the world a safer and better place.”

Applicants for the Game Changer award had to prove how their partnership or collaborations resulted in meaningful and quantifiable sustainability outcomes.

In 2022, Clean Harbors collected and processed 232 million gallons of used motor oil and returned approximately 196 million gallons of new, refined oil, lubricants and byproducts to the marketplace. In doing so, it avoided more than 1 million metric tons of greenhouse gas that would have been required to create those same products from crude oil rather than recycled content.

Clean Harbors also partnered with an independent consultant to conduct a life cycle assessment (LCA) of its KLEEN+ re-refined base oil to determine the carbon footprint of used oil recycling and re-refining compared to conventional crude oil extraction and refining processes.

“The LCA determined that closed loop used oil collection and re-refining of our KLEEN+ base oil results in a 78% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on average,” said co-CEO Mike Battles. “Key reasons for the lower carbon footprint of KLEEN+ are lack of disposal via combustion and lower total energy needed to process used motor oil into re-refined base oil compared to the energy required to process crude oil into base oil.”

To understand its broader greenhouse emissions impacts, Clean Harbors utilizes the Net Climate Benefit Factor metric to quantify the greenhouse gas avoidance contribution of sustainable services provided to customers. By using this method, the company estimates that, in 2022, it helped its customers and communities avoid more than twice of all the emissions Clean Harbors generates as a company.

In addition to these efforts, Clean Harbors gives back to the communities it serves by providing resources, emergency response and relief during natural disasters, and reclamation and remediation aimed toward addressing historically impacted lands and waters.