The chief executive officer of Waste Management Inc, the No. 1 U.S. trash hauler, said on Wednesday that he expects to announce a partnership to build refuse-fired power plants in China within the next 20 days.

Speaking on the sidelines of the National Summit here, David Steiner said the venture would probably be with Shanghai Environmental and would ultimately build two to three trash-to-energy plants in China a year.

Steiner said Waste Management, which tried unsuccessfully last year to buy rival Republic Services Inc (RSG.N), was still in the hunt for acquisitions in the United States but said any deals would be smaller transactions.

Steiner said Houston-based Waste Management had seen its business stabilize in February, after seeing a sharp drop in recycling revenues as commodity prices dropped last fall. But he said the seasonal upturn the company sees every spring was not as dramatic as in years past.

Steiner is a panelist at the third and final day of the National Summit, an event organized by the Detroit Economic Club and billed as a gathering to define America's future that has drawn dozens of executives, academics and policy-makers to this city.

(Reporting by James B. Kelleher, editing by Dave Zimmerman)