Executive Summary

The environmental services industry is undergoing a nationwide contraction, and L.A. County firms are feeling its effects. Six firms that were on last year's list either have spun off their environmental operations, merged, been acquired, moved away, or simply folded. The trend confirms a study by Minneapolis-based Environmental Information Ltd., which shows that one out of four environmental firms nationwide went out of business in the last two years.

Some say the decline reflects the declining prominence that environmental matters play in public policy. Consequently, few new government regulations have been imposed on commerce and industry. Because most industries by now have complied with existing legislation, the absence of new standards is creating a lack of demand for environmental consultants and other environmental services firms.

The survivors of the shakeout are doing well, however. In particular, firms specializing in waste management reported substantial increases in local revenues over 1996. No. 11 on the list, SCS Engineers, saw its L.A. County revenues more than double in 1997. SCS President Bob Stearns attributed his company's banner year to a federal tax program that rewards utilities and landfill operators that recover landfill gasses for generating electricity.

The Pacesetter:

Located at the Bradley Landfill and Recycling Center in Sun Valley, Waste Management of Los Angeles handles most aspects of waste collection, recycling, and disposal. Recycling is a fast-growing part of Waste Management's business, particularly because state legislation requires that 50 percent of California's waste output be recycled by the year 2000.

Waste Management, one of Los Angeles' largest city contractors, has a five-year, $100 million deal with the city to provide solid waste disposal and recycling. As part of that contract, Waste Management recycles green waste, such as tree trimmings and grass clippings. The green waste, together with wood waste from construction, manufacturing and movie studios, is made into compost and mulch for local farmers, and boiler fuel for commercial power producers, said Regional Vice President Greg Loughane. The company processes more than 6,000 tons of household and commercial waste at the 209-acre Bradley Landfill every day.

Waste Management Los Angeles is part of Illinois-based Waste Management Inc., which operates 133 landfills across the United States. Earlier this year, the company announced its intention to merge with Houston-based USA Waste Services.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.