The waste sector's role in delivering carbon savings and net zero - Blog

Skip to main content

Thursday 6th May 2021

The waste sector's role in delivering net zero

Recycling is unique in the benefits it can deliver in reducing carbon emissions.  

Recycled materials generally have a much lower carbon footprint than creating new materials, so an effective recycling scheme provides materials to the circular economy thereby avoiding significant carbon emissions. 

Let’s look at some examples.

  • According to Zero Waste Scotland’s, recycling 1 tonne of metal saves over 2.2 tonnes of CO2e emissions, by avoiding the mining and production of new virgin materials. 
  • Similarly, paper emits biogenic carbon if incinerated at an energy-from-waste plant but could save over half a tonne of CO2e for every tonne of paper recycled. Very importantly it also avoids cutting down trees, the lungs of the planet. Treating paper as waste is a real opportunity lost, and why businesses should have a separate stream for paper and card. 
  • We all hear about carbon dioxide’s effect on warming the planet, but some of the biggest impacts are from other greenhouse gases including methane. If food waste ends up in landfill, it produces methane - which is 84 times worse than CO2 in terms of its global warming impact. (IPCC 20-year global warming potential data). This is why we have never sent anything to landfill, and never will.

It’s easy to see the significant benefits of effective and real recycling and how the move to a circular economy has the potential to unlock significant carbon savings. 

This can only be achieved where the right material ends up at the right destination.

Introducing Commitment number 3

Commitment 3

‘We will use our expertise to determine the best recycling and end-of-life destinations and maintain our zero-to-landfill policy. ‘ 

The right material

The focus of our Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) is to extract as much high-quality sorted material as possible, to provide a useful second life in the circular economy.  

We operate London’s largest ‘clean’ MRF, exclusively focused on the commercial sector and recently completed a £2.5m investment to further improve material recovery. We do not process residential waste, which is often contaminated with food. This helps maintain the high-quality of our recycled materials. Why not take a virtual tour to see how it works.  

The right destinations 

We provide complete accountability, transparency, and consistency of where every material produced by our clients’ ends up. We carry out due diligence on our re-processors, who have been carefully selected based upon their processing methods, end products and distance from our facility.  

To determine the right destinations, with the best carbon savings we do the following:

  • We keep our materials in the UK for lower transport miles and associated emissions. 95% of our materials are re-processed here in the UK and all within Europe.  
  • We look for closed-loop options to reduce emissions, for example: 
    • We use a paper mill in northern France because it’s the closest plant capable of producing high-quality printer paper, which we sell back to our customers in a closed loop. Find out how it’s done here
    • Coffee cups are tricky to recycle because they are a fusion of paper and plastic. To unlock their full potential, we teamed up with James Cropper, a paper mill with the capability to effectively separate these materials. Again, the paper products made from coffee cups can be bought back, saving associated emissions by using recycled products.  See how it's done. 
  • For materials at the end of their life we look for the most appropriate processing method, for example: 
    • We send food waste to an Anaerobic Digestion plant, where it is transformed into bio-gas used in the National Grid and bio-fertiliser, spread onto farmland.

Finally, we’ve always been a zero-to-landfill company. We’ve never sent any waste to landfill and we’re super proud of that. 

The right material to the right destination 

We work hard to help our clients reduce their general waste production, finding the best destination for each material. We always follow the waste hierarchy, reusing where possible, followed by recycling and recovery if there are no alternative options. 

Reducing carbon emissions 

We are committed to reducing the carbon emissions from our business, delivering net zero waste and recycling services by 2030 at the latest. But we offer more... 

By delivering effective recycling services to clients, we also unlock the avoided carbon emission benefits now, changing a net carbon emission to a significant net carbon saving. 

Getting the right material to the right destination is key in saving the earth’s precious resources and unlocking the carbon emission savings available from real recycling. And we’re here to help you achieve this.

Keep up with the conversation by heading to our Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin pages. 

Jessica Parrilla

Certifications and Memberships