We engage our communities to maximize our impact and build lasting relationships with our neighbors. We strive to listen carefully, so that we can learn, share, and respond thoughtfully to concerns. Through our engagement efforts, we improve our internal tools and operational processes, which, in turn, enhance our ability to be more responsive. Ultimately, the goal of our community engagement strategy is to create better environmental, social and economic outcomes for all.

Covanta employees clean up Branch Brook Park in Newark.

Our environmental justice and community outreach policy

The foundation of our community engagement strategy rests on our commitment to environmental justice. As outlined in our Community Outreach and Environmental Justice Policy, Covanta is committed to engaging with and supporting the communities we serve, now and in the future. Covanta believes in the meaningful opportunity for all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, color, income, national origin or education level, to be knowledgeable and have the right to participate in public decisions and actions that have an impact on their environment and neighborhoods.

Our continued commitment

To implement our Community Outreach and Environmental Justice Policy, consistent with our sustainability objectives, we commit to:

  • Reduce discharges and minimize emissions from our facilities and to reduce other potential impacts of our operations, taking into account cumulative impacts.
  • Identify and engage with individuals and organizations in the communities in which we operate, or in which we may operate, that are interested in our operations.
  • Have open, two-way communication with communities on issues that may be of interest or concern to them, including environmental and quality of life issues in the community. Such communication shall include participation in meetings with community members or affected groups.
  • Have an enhanced public participation strategy with communities on major facility permit actions and engage in substantive conversations with community members during the early stages of the permitting process.
  • Work diligently to respond to issues identified by communities in which we operate.
  • Promptly and effectively notify the community in the event of situations that may adversely impact the environment or their health.

Our progress

To address environmental stressors more directly affecting disadvantaged neighborhoods, legislative and/or regulatory actions are taking shape in multiple states, including areas home to Covanta facilities. As the current owners and/or operators of these facilities, we have a responsibility to listen and act on our recognition that, for too long, some communities have been disproportionately burdened with industrial processes.

Our ongoing investments to reduce emissions have been increasingly guided by environmental justice priorities. For example:

  • We began publishing our continuous emissions monitoring results online for the WTE facility in Chester, Pennsylvania, an environmental justice community where both environmental and socioeconomic stressors are present.
  • We began publishing data for all our New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia plants in 2021.

Reducing Emissions in New Jersey

Located in Newark, New Jersey, the Essex County Resource Recovery Facility is an award-winning WTE Facility that serves 22 municipalities in Essex County and the surrounding region with reliable and sustainable waste management.

The project is our first major retrofit focused on improving environmental justice by reducing emissions that affect nearby disadvantaged communities. The upgrade resulted in substantial, ongoing reductions of metals and particulate emissions to well below permit levels.

The result of a collaborative agreement, the project included Covanta, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the City of New York Sanitation Department and three New Jersey entities: the City of Newark, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Governor’s Office.

Estimated Emission Reduction After Baghouse Retrofit 

Future efforts

We are proud of our facilities and welcome stakeholders to see the great strides we are making in sustainable waste management. We are committed to furthering these efforts in reducing emissions and impact on local communities. We make a point to participate in collaborative opportunities for community dialogue, and we engage routinely with our municipal clients and customers often.

Recently, we announced our inaugural Green Star Outreach Awards, designed to recognize Covanta facilities and employees for exemplary efforts to educate and support local communities and organizations.

The awards honor efforts that show innovation and build relationships while supporting the company’s business objectives.

Covanta Essex: Led by Asset Manager Jack Bernardino, the facility partnered with the Go Green Initiative and Newark Public Schools to help every public school in the city earn Sustainable Jersey for Schools Bronze Certification status.