Can waste collections ever be carbon neutral?
The waste sector is the fourth largest producer of CO2 emissions. While we work hard to find the greenest options for your waste, it can be disheartening to hear about the amount of CO2 produced. But there is a greener future in store for waste collections and they can become carbon neutral. Here’s how:
The waste hierarchy
The best way to cut down on the emissions from waste collections is to cut down on the amount of waste you’re producing. You can do this by applying the waste hierarchy to your business. This ranks your waste management options according to which one is best for the environment. Prevention is at the top of the hierarchy as cutting down on the amount of waste you generate is the best place to start. Then look to re-using items and recycling them so they have a new life. If you’re throwing away old computers, see if anywhere is offering a WEEE collection service so the electronics can be used again. After this point, you can then look to recovery and disposal, but these should be used as a last resort.
Utilising equipment and technology
When looking to make your waste even more environmentally friendly, choosing to utilise technology can be somewhere to look. Using waste management equipment is a great way to maximise your waste storage. The more waste you can store on site, the less waste collections you’ll need. This not only reduces costs but reduces the amount of carbon that comes from the journey made to collect the waste.
Waste management equipment can also help to boost recycling on your site. This means that less waste will end up in landfill, helping to reduce the carbon emissions from that. Landfill waste was responsible for about 11% of global methane emissions. Methane emissions are 80 times more powerful than CO2 over a 20-year period. The less you’re sending to landfill, the less methane emissions will be generated from landfill.
Our SmartTrash technology can help you cut down on the emissions from your waste collections too. When attached to your waste management equipment, the technology will track how much waste is in your machine. This technology can then alert your waste carrier to let them know that your equipment is full and ready to be emptied. This ensures that you’re only having collections when you need them, preventing excess emissions from the fuel, traffic and vehicle emissions created by non-essential journeys.
Carbon Neutral Waste Collection Service
You can reduce the amount of waste you’re producing, but you’ll still need a collection at some point. Collecting and transporting waste involves lots of travelling, which is often done by large trucks. These HGV trucks account for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions and are the second largest contributors to UK transport emissions. We’ll try to optimise routes for the waste collections we organise to reduce the distance travelled and the emissions created as well as scheduling your waste collections, so you don’t need as many. In addition to this, where possible, we’ll try to use low emission vehicles for your waste collections to help reduce emissions.
It’s hard to remove all the carbon from your waste collections. That’s why we’ve introduced our carbon neutral waste collection service. For a little bit extra, we’ll calculate how much carbon was produced during the journey to collect your waste and offset that. We’ll invest in the carbon credits needed to offset the amount of carbon produced by the vehicle collecting your waste. These carbon credits are UN accredited and go towards carbon offsetting projects across the world. So, your waste collection could be helping to develop hydropower plants in Sri Lanka or providing safe and energy efficient cooking equipment in Ghana.
Renewable energy sources
Waste collection companies can also start to use renewable energy sources to help reduce the emissions created from processing waste. By switching to energy generated from renewable sources, such as wind or solar power, waste processing facilities will be able to cut their emissions down. An AD plant in Norfolk has recently opened which generates enough electricity from food waste to supply 4,000 Attleborough homes.