U.S. Environmental Contracting Business Grows to $24.5 Billion in Revenues

Remediation, Industrial Services and Hazardous Waste companies focus on efficiency, diversification, and technology in flat U.S. market

The U.S. Environmental Contracting* business generated $24.5 billion in revenues in 2015, with Remediation & Industrial Services contributing $13.6-billion and Hazardous Waste Management contributing $10.9-billion, according to new research by Environmental Business International Inc., publisher of Environmental Business Journal (EBJ).

Remediation/Industrial Services and Hazardous Waste Management (aka Environmental Contracting) are two of the 14 business segments tracked by EBJ that collectively represent the $371-billion U.S. Environmental Industry. While the Environmental Industry grew over 4% in 2015, growth in Environmental Contracting remained flat as positive momentum in the construction and manufacturing sectors was balanced by declines in government spending and the oil & gas industry, according to EBJ.

“Negative pressures of govern­ment budgets and the slowdown of oil & gas exploration and production have counteracted the positives,” said Grant Ferrier, publisher of EBJ. “As the volatility of these patterns persist, Environmental Contracting firms are taking steps to diversify across multi­ple sectors and to im­prove efficiencies and standardize best practices.”

The Environmental Contracting business represents the proverbial ‘dirty work’ of the environmental industry and includes such activities as remedial construction, clean up, and the physical handling or treatment of waste and by-products from contaminated sites or operating facilities, in addition to on-site and off-site management of hazardous or special waste streams. Environmental Contracting also covers maintenance and environmental cleaning of industrial and refinery assets, in addition to spills and emer­gency response.

In the $6.46 billion Industrial Services segment (industrial cleaning, spill response, oil & gas field services, tank cleaning, safety, etc.) the top three U.S. industrial service firms in 2015 garnered 33% share of revenues led by Clean Harbors, Veolia, and Hydrochem. EBJ’s next 11 largest ranked Industrial Services firms represented another approximately one third of business.

Commercial Nuclear Waste Manage­ment services continued to grow modestly last year, with segment leaders EnergySolutions, US Ecology and Perma-Fix Environmen­tal Services positive about prospects.

Medical Waste remained one of the steadier markets within Hazardous Waste, with revenues up 2%. Market leader Stericycle kept up its acquisition pace by adding 43 companies in 2015 as it diversified out its core medical waste business into commercial hazardous waste and document shredding.

The $5.22 billion U.S. Site Remediation contracting business was virtually flat at 1% growth in 2015. Historically, remediation of contaminated sites has been driven by regulation and dominated by legacy sites. In the coming decade, however, executives of remediation companies told EBJ that they expect regulatory developments governing emerging contaminants (ECs) to drive growth. ECs are a large group of contaminants that occur widely in water resources and posing environmental or public health risk, most notably ‘endocrine disruptors’ derived from drugs and personal care products, but also including some traditional contaminants being reevaluated, like MTBE and others like perfluorinated com­pounds that have been detected in water supply systems across the United States.

“Although EPA recorded double digit declines in volumes of hazardous waste in the United States from 2005-2013, indicating a gradual de-coupling of economic growth from the rate of hazardous waste generation, contaminants of emerging concern are expected to take up the slack and to exert a signifi­cant influence on the growth of the reme­diation industry over the next decade,” noted Ferrier.

Despite the slowdown in public sector spending, U.S. Government markets still represent close to half of the U.S. remediation business, and executives interviewed by EBJ cited the Department of Defense as one of the more responsive customers due to contracts related to the Military Mu­nitions Response Program and others that have survived budget sequestration.

Other responsive customer types last year included private com­mercial customers that are continuing to address changing regulatory programs, with the chemical industry expected to be one of the better customer markets for Environmental Contractors in 2016.

Another increasingly important driver for the Environmental Contracting business will be the emphasis on infrastructure in cities and states, because improvements in transportation, water and power infrastructure generate activity in remediation, demolition, dredging and waste management, EBJ reported.


  • Size and growth estimates for the U.S. Remediation and Industrial Services Industry broken down into Site Remediation and Construction, Abatement, and Industrial Services

  • Size and growth estimates for the Hazardous Waste Management Industry broken down into the management of Federal Waste, Nuclear Waste, Medical Waste, Industrial/Commercial Hazardous Waste and Solvent Recovery and Parts Cleaning

  • Private equity activity and M&A in Environmental Contracting

  • Profiles of segment leaders in Environmental Contracting, including: Entact, Envirocon, Clean Earth, Sevenson Environmental Services, NRC, Heritage Environmental Services, Ross Environmental, and Clean Harbors

  • Q&A interviews with top executives from National Response Corporation, Arcadis, EA Engineering Science & Technology, AECOM, and RSK Group

*Note: Environmental Contracting is not to be confused with the $30-billion Environmental Consulting & Engineering (C&E) industry, also tracked by EBI, although there are companies with operations in both.

See TOC and Purchase EBJ’s 2016 Environmental Contracting edition for $250

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