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Garbage removal may be an unglamorous industry, but at least the demand is steady. In fact, with many economies kicking into higher gear, the world will probably generate more trash in 2015 than in any previous year. The key is to find the companies that can turn that trash into cash.

American households, stores, restaurants and other businesses generated about 270 million tons of solid waste in 2013, according to the most recent statistics available from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The amount of trash the country produces has tripled since 1960, while the U.S. population has increased only about 90 percent.

Nationwide, the number of active landfills has shrunk from nearly 8,000 in 1988 to 1,908 in 2013. The U.S. disposes enough trash every day to fill 50,000 garbage trucks with 18,000 pounds of trash in each.

The search for new methods of disposal is becoming more frantic among federal, state and municipal leaders in the US. There’s enormous variation in waste capacity among the states. For example, Arkansas reports sufficient capacity to operate more than 600 years without launching another facility, while New York State only has 25 years of capacity left.

The problem perplexes global leaders as well. The United Nations estimates worldwide annual waste production at more than 1.3 billion tons, a figure that’s growing every year in the high double digits. In particular, developing countries such as China and India face massive waste handling problems, as their middle classes rapidly expand.

Waste Management (NYSE: WM) remains the leader of the pack in this field. This giant is the world’s largest solid waste collection and disposal company. Waste Management also treats and disposes of hazardous and medical waste, as well as operating waste-to-energy and landfill gas-to-energy facilities.

The company enjoys strong fundamentals and excellent prospects for outsized price appreciation. It also sports lower valuations and higher per-share earnings growth than the typical S&P 500 stock.

Waste Management’s services generate a robust cash flow that it largely devotes to acquisitions, dividends and share buybacks. The company has consistently paid dividends since 1998.

The most recent earnings report showed another increase in profits. Net income for the quarter was $274 million, or $0.60 per share, compared with net income of $210 million, or $0.45 per share, for the second quarter of 2014.

David Steiner, CEO of Waste Management, commented, “Our strong second quarter results reflect our continued commitment to disciplined core price growth and cost controls. After adjusting for several one-time charges, each of our net income, operating income and margin, operating EBITDA and margin, and earnings per share improved when compared to the second quarter of 2014, despite year-over-year headwinds from lower recycling commodity prices and the unfavorable impact of foreign currency fluctuations.”

Net cash provided by operating activities and free cash flow were very strong at $816 million and $579 million, respectively. Combined with the proceeds from the firm’s 2014 divestitures, it is in a strong cash position to improve its business and return cash to the shareholders. The current dividend yield is almost 3 percent.

Growing revenue from acquired entities around the world, higher capital expenditures and increasing operational efficiencies should enable the company’s earnings to more than double within the next five years.

Meanwhile, new regulations from global organizations designed to boost environmentally friendly technologies are a boon for transnational players such as Waste Management. Notably, the World Trade Organization has significantly reduced tariffs on activities and products related to recycling, waste management and wastewater treatment.

The stock’s price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio is around 24, roughly in line with its sector. Waste Management is a buy up to 58.

Tom Scarlett is an investment analyst with Personal Finance.