Minimizing operational waste

Everyone at ExxonMobil plays a role in reducing operational waste. Our use of a “waste mitigation hierarchy” prioritizes waste avoidance when feasible, and when waste is unavoidable, we work to reduce, recover, or reuse it whenever possible.

We aim to dispose of waste only if other options have been exhausted, and we have robust processes to select waste sites that meet our high standards and expectations. Our global network of lubricants blending and packaging plants have a Zero Waste to Landfill Silver validation from Underwriters Laboratories. We were the first petroleum products company to receive this status by diverting from local landfills over 90% of waste produced in our global plant network.

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Minimizing operational waste
Image United Nations Sustainable Development Goals related to this content.
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals related to this content.


We are committed to the management and treatment of waste in a manner that incorporates industry best practices. We work to avoid generating waste and take a broad range of measures to mitigate and eliminate waste that is generated. These measures include source reduction, reuse, recycling, reclamation, handling, storage, transportation, as well as treatment and/or disposal of any remaining waste in compliance with applicable regulations.


Our objective is to continuously look for ways to minimize waste through practices like process changes; raw material changes; material handling, storage, and transportation; as well as treatment and/or disposal of any remaining waste in compliance with applicable regulations. To do that, we utilize a waste mitigation hierarchy that starts with waste avoidance.

Reduce / Recover / Reuse

Reduce / Recover / Reuse Systems are in place to separate oil from water and solids, so oil is recovered and water is reused. Where practical, waste materials are collected and sent for beneficial reuse where they can be used to generate other sources of fuel. Systems are in place to separate oil from water and solids, so oil is recovered and water is reused. Where practical, waste materials are collected and sent for beneficial reuse where they can be used to generate other sources of fuel.

Avoid waste

Facilities designed and operated to be efficient, and optimize materials and feedstocks.


Waste segregation processes in place to collect recyclable materials including paper, plastic, electronics, aluminum, used oil, oil filters, glycols, scrap metal, tires, batteries, and aerosol cans.


Where appropriate, impacted soil and groundwater at our operating and surplus sites are treated to reduce waste volume or eliminate contaminants.


In an environmentally responsible manner.

Management and application

We regularly review and improve methods for managing waste at our facilities and the third-party waste management facilities we use. On-site waste personnel are trained on effective waste controls, applicable regulations, and ExxonMobil environmental practices. Corporate and regional staff provide technical guidance on waste minimization and recycling opportunities and assess the environmental risks of third-party waste facilities through a centralized program.

Project Waste Management Standard

Our Project Waste Management Standard informs project concept selection and facility design to:

  • Ensure that proper management, treatment, and disposal infrastructure is available for all waste from project construction and operations.
  • Reduce the quantity of and hazards associated with the waste generated during the operation of new facilities.
  • Promote enhanced waste minimization and recycling/reuse throughout the asset life cycle.

Waste site audit program

ExxonMobil is committed to using third-party waste facilities that employ industry best practices for waste management and environmental protection. To do this, we have an audit program for evaluating those facilities for compliance with our program requirements. This program identifies waste facilities in most countries where ExxonMobil operates, and these facilities are reviewed by internal experts or assessed by independent contractors. Areas of evaluation include the waste facility’s design and operations, regulatory compliance history, management systems, site geology and groundwater, safety, community relations, security, and financial capacity. In 2022, 75% of the waste from our operated assets and remediation activities were managed by third-party facilities assessed by independent evaluators, and we expect this number to increase.

Zero Waste to Landfill

In 2018, ExxonMobil’s global network of lubricants blending and packaging plants, which manufacture all Mobil-branded lubricant products, earned a Zero Waste to Landfill Silver validation from Underwriters Laboratories. ExxonMobil is the first petroleum products company to achieve this validation, renewed annually through 2022.

More than 90% of the waste produced in this global plant network is diverted from landfill through our efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Solutions as simple as repair and reuse of container pallets and as complex as an advanced distillation process to recover laboratory solvent have enabled us to redeploy to new, productive uses more than 50,000 tons of waste produced per year.

Supply chain waste management

We aim to work with our suppliers to identify ways to reduce environmental impacts throughout the supply chain. Our global sourcing strategy development process encourages the consideration of environmental performance, including identification and reduction of waste and inefficiency in the supply chain.

Decommissioning and rehabilitation

Decommissioning is the process of dismantling, removing and/or finding alternative uses for facilities. Each site is unique, and our approach varies by location, type of asset, and local environmental and socioeconomic characteristics.

The process of decommissioning and rehabilitation can be complex, so detailed planning and preparation for decommissioning assets can start up to 10 years before execution. The decommissioning process can include a range of activities such as local habitat restoration, emptying and cleaning of production systems, plugging wells, dismantling structures, and transporting, recycling, or disposing of materials.

We incorporate applicable regulatory requirements and globally accepted practices into our decommissioning plans. These include processes to reduce personnel safety risks, such as favoring the use of heavy machinery for dismantling our sites. In addition, we engage with stakeholders to incorporate into our efforts insights from environmental organizations, recycling experts, academia, and others.

In 2022, nearly 50% of the material generated from decommissioning our significant onshore projects was diverted from landfills by reclaiming scrap metal and concrete, reusing treated soil, and recycling residual hydrocarbons as feedstock.

The process of decommissioning an offshore asset can be complex and present unique challenges. Our plans consider each asset’s specific marine ecosystems and facility characteristics, including complexity, size, and weight. ExxonMobil has a dedicated offshore decommissioning center of expertise that supports and assists our affiliates around the world with the decommissioning process, from asset management through end-of-field-life planning and, ultimately, to legacy obligation management. Our offshore decommissioning project management system includes dozens of factors, from lease management to cessation of production and project closeout.

The Sable energy project in Canada, for example, started its life in late 1959, when exploration near Nova Scotia began. As Canada’s first offshore natural gas project, Sable provided decades of strategic benefits and billions of dollars of economic benefits to the region. By 2020, wells were plugged and abandoned, onshore processing plants were dismantled, and offshore and onshore pipelines were cleaned and flushed. That same year, all seven of Sable’s offshore platforms were removed, and about 99% of the materials were recycled.

Instead of decommissioning an asset, the company may choose to rehabilitate it. Rehabilitation is the process of safely repurposing assets that no longer support our operations. We consider the interests of various stakeholders when selecting site-specific approaches to repurpose properties. Our goal is to prevent legacy impacts on the environment while creating opportunities for beneficial reuse.


When divesting real property, we work to identify opportunities to return properties to beneficial reuse. ExxonMobil Environmental and Property Solutions (E&PS) is our global organization that supports the remediation and stewardship of surplus onshore sites. From the group’s creation in 2008 through 2022, E&PS has managed more than $8.5 billion of onshore remediation work and returned 3,100 properties to beneficial end uses. In 2022, E&PS managed approximately 3,800 active remediation onshore sites in 22 countries.

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