The waste management sector produces about 4% of the UK’s CO2 emissions. There’s no denying that we’re part of the climate problem – but we’re also an indispensable part of the solution that will get the country to net zero carbon.
We can certainly do something about our operational carbon footprint as an industry. As well as carefully separating the waste we handle to maximise recycling rates, we also do all we can to ensure it’s processed as close to Wellington as possible. At some point in the not too distant future, the vehicles that collect skips and other waste containers and transfer waste for processing won’t be powered by fossil fuels.
The biggest contribution we can make is to do our job well. Landfill will always be the last resort because of its environmental impact. The next rung up the waste hierarchy is ‘energy from waste’. Essentially this means burning it to generate energy.
Incineration can be the best option for waste that genuinely can’t be recycled and it helps to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. What we should never be doing is incinerating waste that could have been recycled or upcycled.
Less Waste Means Less Carbon
To become a net zero economy the UK will have to reduce the overall amount of waste it generates. We must increase recycling and reuse beyond the levels that the best countries achieve today. None of that can happen without a highly efficient waste management sector.
A lot of the transformation will be routine and day-to-day. We’d expect to see the collection of non-recyclable waste from homes and businesses dwindle to almost nothing over time. To some extent this trend is underway.
The bigger challenge could be those ‘big waste’ occasions such as when you have a major clear out at home or tackle a DIY project. Sorting that amount of waste can be a time-consuming pain, when all you really want to do is get shot of it as quickly as possible.
And that’s where we come in; We have the facilities, expertise and waste management supply chain to make sure everything ends up where it should.
Wellington Waste is just one cog in a much larger wheel that’s rolling towards a net zero future. And while we can’t change the world, we can (and will) help to change our small part of it.