| Harvey Laud

COP26 Summit: What about waste?

As we reflect on the outputs from the COP26 summit we, as professionals in the resource management sector, were left wondering why resource management and the ubiquitous topic of waste was so apparently absent. Waste, both in its creation and disposal, is a significant generator of CO2, yet discussions failed to give any meaningful coverage or detail on the matter.

What was agreed from the summit was The Glasgow Climate Pact, which will mean that all nations should report on Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement for 2030 by the time COP27 begins in Egypt. They should align targets and plans with the 1.5 degree C pathway.

As we head into a year of action, following the summit, collaboration and joined up thinking is the only way to make net zero a reality. It is not enough to just focus our efforts on energy and water, because as far as we are concerned, they are just two corners of the ‘resource triangle’ – the third being raw materials and waste. We need to realise that carbon emissions associated with the things we create, buy, use and dispose of are contributing to the climate crisis. It is reported that 45% of damaging greenhouse gas emissions come from the global management of land and the production of goods for food. It is global imperative that the circular economy principles are utilised to reduce waste and conserve resources because it is only by operating at the very top of the waste hierarchy will we stay on the target pathway.

Circular economy models offer a clear pathway to achieving climate goals, reducing emissions which are linked to the resource extraction, processing and manufacturing of goods and the landfilling and incineration of them at the end of their ‘first life’.

For businesses large and small the principle is the same. Fact – your waste produces carbon, and your carbon footprint is directly linked to how much waste you produce and where your operation sits on the waste hierarchy. Understanding where you sit on the hierarchy and how this correlates with your trajectory to the 1.5°C target should be your starting point. By using a tool such as our Zerowasteometer (and our more extensive Zero Waste Index) you will see, based on your waste production and processing, what pathway you are on.

Looking in your bins (lifting the lid is a great way to counter the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ disabler), seeing what waste you are producing and tracking it back to its source is a very practical way of getting going. This end-to-end review that we do for our customers helps to unpick the problem areas and identify the quick wins to start with, and when completed as part of our ‘5 steps to circularity’ program it can deliver a meaningful roadmap of actions that get you on the right pathway.

At Reconomy we have this year launched our Environmental Action Plan (REAP). This sets out to look inwardly at our own operation but also at the operation involved in managing waste and resources for our customers. We have a roadmap that demonstrates collaborative working with our supply chain to address the fundamental areas of transport and processing – and the energy and emissions that are used. But what we are determined to do, is help our customers make a difference by managing their resources more effectively.

We recently launched REVOLVE, a compelling, cohesive solution suite that enables business to take greater strategic control of their entire ‘resource cycle’ to deliver a more sustainable performance at a lower cost – a true requisite of commercial sustainability. If your sustainability strategy is fragmented across departments, each with a discreet operating plan and a dedicated budget, you’re missing out on an opportunity to leverage efficiencies that will allow faster and more tangible progress towards improved circularity the realisation of a more efficient resource model. Find out more here: https://reconomy.com/revolve

Reference source: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/10/7-surprising-facts-to-know-about-the-circular-economy-for-cop26/