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2015 Waste Scorecard

361,096 tons

waste generated 6%


landfill diversion
vs. 82% in 2014

82,665 tons

To landfill 23%

Efforts to improve waste management

Norfolk Southern in 2015 completed the second year of an ongoing review to track and improve data collection and management of its business waste streams – a challenging task encompassing hundreds of work locations across 22 states.

For the year, NS reduced total waste generated by 6 percent – a desired outcome. However, data collection indicated that a higher percentage of waste than in 2014 was sent to landfills, which NS is reviewing. In particular, NS is interested in increasing “blue bin” recycling rates at offices, yard, shop, and field facilities. In 2015, only 6 percent of such trash, including cans, bottles, and paper, was recycled.

NS has formed a task force that is exploring opportunities to expand recycling, minimize waste, and reduce costs associated with waste management. The company in 2016 is evaluating third-party waste management services to apply lessons learned from data collected over the past two years.

Materials Diversion

(in tons)


Recycled trash



Recovered oil



Mixed scrap metal & steel






Batteries (includes lead-acid/



light bulbs



Solvent recovery/
Paint recycle


Recycling and reusing waste oils

In 2015, Norfolk Southern recycled 100 percent of used oil collected at 26 locomotive and rail car shops across the network. The company’s strategic sourcing group initiated this recycling program in 2013 as part of a life cycle sustainability initiative to control spending, enhance operating efficiencies, and improve stewardship of resources.

The program’s goal is to reuse the oil to heat shop facilities to reduce utility costs or sell it to third-party vendors for recycling and reuse. A third-party vendor collected 1.14 million gallons of used oil from NS in 2015. The vendor resells the oil for use in heating, manufacturing asphalt, or producing lube oil products.

1.44 million gallons

Used oil and oily water
recycled in 2015

Oil recycled through this program represents 86 percent of used oil generated by NS business operations. The remaining 14 percent includes oil recovered from track equipment in the field by NS rail gangs. NS reuses, recycles, or properly disposes of used equipment oils in accordance with environmental laws and regulations.

Proactive crosstie recycling

The wooden crossties that hold steel rails in place are a vital part of railroad track infrastructure. Norfolk Southern installed 2.4 million in 2015 alone. As part of sustainability efforts, NS works with vendors to recycle older crossties removed from rail service.

In 2015, NS stepped up those efforts, creating a service contract for a vendor to immediately collect crossties removed by timber and surfacing gangs. The T&S gangs install new crossties and stage the removed ties near the track for collection.

“It’s an organized effort to pick up the ties in a timely fashion,” said Carla Groves, senior manager purchasing. “Having the vendor follow the gangs enables us to be more proactive, which helps the environment and increases operating efficiencies.”

2015 Recycled Crossties
Energy use:






Reused internally:



Reducing NS’ environmental footprint

Norfolk Southern operates a robust environmental protection program to ensure that railroad operations meet or exceed government rules and regulations put in place to protect the environment, including air and water quality.

Following are three examples from 2015 that highlight NS’ efforts to minimize the environmental impact of business operations in communities served by the railroad.

Capital upgrades

Invested $7.9 million in railroad yard, shop, and field facilities such as wastewater treatment plants, spill containment systems, and stormwater management systems to ensure environmental compliance.

Site remediation

Completed remediation projects on 15 impaired properties in compliance with state environmental requirements. Among them is a 100-acre former rail car shop facility in Lenoir City, Tenn., that NS is helping local and state economic development officials market for industrial redevelopment, bringing new jobs and tax revenue to the community.

Tank car safety

Participated in and led industry efforts to enhance the safety of transporting flammable liquids by rail, including crude oil and ethanol. These efforts resulted in development of a new proposed tank car construction standard designed to reduce the chances of an explosion if a car derailed, leaked, and caught fire. The proposal garnered broad stakeholder support, including from the rail industry, tank car manufacturers, chemical shippers, and thermal blanket manufacturers.