Environmental Services Association release net zero emissions strategy for the UK recycling and waste sector

The ESA, a trade body representing the UK's resource and waste management industry, released their strategy last week.

The report states that despite recycling and waste management sectors having halved associated emissions in the last thirty years, the “climate emergency grows ever more pressing” and the sector still accounts for 8% of total UK emissions. Closing this gap to net zero will be an important challenge if the UK is to meet its net zero ambitions by 2050.

The strategy sets out the sector’s “collective ambition”, and outlines how it might be achieved by 2040, a galvanising 10 years ahead of the UK’s legally binding target, requiring strong collaboration between government and the whole waste and resources supply chain.

Decarbonise the sector

The strategy outlines the necessary steps to decarbonise the sector which include:

  • Investments in the sector forecasted at £10bn. This is capital needed to improve recycling infrastructure and efficiencies, meet government mandated municipal recycling targets and create 40,000 permanent jobs.
  • Decarbonising the non-recyclable waste treatment by removing organics from landfill by 2030 and plastics from energy recovery facilities. This will be alongside transitioning waste collection vehicles and their fuel to zero emission sources.
  • Creating regulatory and policy drivers that incentivise carbon capture technology in the UK’s energy recovery sector. There will always be waste that cannot be recycled, and carbon capture technology can, in the first instance, reduce emissions and potentially in the future remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than is emitted.

Achievable and consistently ambitious

Each of the above actions are strengthened in the proposal with accompanying commitments and targets, which the ESA say will be reviewed every five years “to ensure they are both achievable and consistently ambitious”. 

Although this strategy will undoubtedly take a lot of work across the whole sector, it is an ambitious but crucial step toward a necessarily low-carbon future.

You can view the ESA executive summary report here and also request full ESA report here

Louisa Goodfellow

Policy Manager

As Policy advisor Louisa provides key support to our team, including preparing reports on environmental policy issues and maintaining awareness of new developments. As such she will often be found coordinating responses to policy consultations, advocating policy positions and providing internal guidance to current legislation.

Written by Louisa Goodfellow Published 05/07/2021 Topics Sustainability
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