Waste Management and Biomass News July 2021 Compiled by 1st Choice Waste
Waste management and biomass fuels are never far from the UK news. This month, how the UK loses £13M in essential resources and the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association declaration was submitted to the Prime Minister.
Local authorities ‘need clarity’ over the net-zero role
The central government has not provided local authorities with clarity about their roles in achieving net-zero by 2050, according to the government’s spending watchdog and reported by James Langley of “Lets Recycle”
A report published by the National Audit Office (NAO) on 16 July considers how effectively central government and local authorities in England are collaborating on net zero.
The NAO says England’s 333 principal local authorities and 10 combined authorities, alongside the Greater London Authority, have an “essential part” to play in decarbonising sectors such as waste and recycling because of their powers and responsibilities.
The damning report concludes there are “serious weaknesses” in the central government’s approach to working with local authorities on decarbonisation, and its approach to funding their net-zero work is “piecemeal”.
Gareth Davies, head of the NAO, said: “There are serious weaknesses in government’s approach to working with local authorities on net zero, stemming from a lack of clarity over roles and responsibilities and piecemeal funding. This hampers local authorities’ ability to plan effectively for the long term, build skills and capacity, and prioritise effort.
“Government’s efforts to improve its approach to the local action on net-zero have been understandably slowed by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, there is now great urgency to make progress.”
Most of the greenhouse gas impact from waste is from methane from the decomposition of biodegradable waste in landfills, the NAO’s report suggests. Reducing waste and increasing recycling is key to cutting this source of emissions.
Using electric or hydrogen-fuelled vehicles can also help reduce emissions from waste collections, the NAO says.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is currently reviewing the new burdens that its planned waste reforms to support decarbonisation will place on local authorities and how these will be funded, the NAO says.
The NAO’s report concluded there were “serious weaknesses” in the central government’s approach to working with local authorities on decarbonisation stemming from a lack of clarity over local authorities’ overall roles, piecemeal funding, and “diffuse accountabilities”.
This, the NAO says, hampers local authorities’ ability to plan effectively for the long-term, build skills and capacity, and prioritise effort.
To address these issues, the report puts forward a series of recommendations. The first is that the main departments that engage with local authorities on net zero should establish a “clear lead” in central government for developing the way departments work with local authorities.
These departments should work in partnership with local authorities and their representative bodies to develop a dedicated section in the overall and sector decarbonisation strategies to set out how key actions, decisions and responsibilities will be split across national, regional and local government bodies, the report suggests.
The NAO says the departments should set out a “clear pathway” for how the Government expects to further align the planning system with net zero in the forthcoming planning reforms.
And, the department should set an “appropriate review point” within the next 18 months to assess the extent to which local authorities have in practice been able to use wider funding for economic growth and ‘levelling up’ in ways that align with net-zero, the NAO suggest.
Earlier this month, a coalition of the council, environmental and research organisations called for “urgent powers and resources” for local authorities ahead of the publication of the government’s Net Zero Strategy
To be published before the COP26 climate summit in November, the government’s Net Zero Strategy will set out where carbon emissions savings will be made across the country.
The coalition argues local authorities have greater control than energy firms, for example, over “key sectors” such as waste management in the push to decarbonise.
The coalition issued its demands just days after the Environmental Services Association (ESA) targeted the waste sector reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, a decade earlier than the government’s deadline.
UK Climate Declaration on Net Zero Ambition
UK anaerobic digestion and biogas industry sends a clear message that committed to decarbonising the economy reports waste-management-world.com
The Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association submitted to the Prime Minister the UK Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Industry Climate Declaration. With the declaration, they commit to doing everything in their powers to deliver the greatest possible carbon reduction for the UK and thus help the country achieve its Net Zero ambitions.
With the Declaration, the UK AD and biogas industry want to send a clear message to the UK Government that it is ready to help the nation decarbonise its economy and meet its climate change targets.
One of the ambitions of this commitment is to recycle 170 million tonnes of organic waste through anaerobic digestion.
The resources and waste industry sets out a plan to cut 8% of UK total GHG emissions to net-zero by 2040
The UK resources and waste management industry has committed to delivering a ‘stretching’ net zero emissions target, a decade ahead of the Government’s deadline, in a boost to the UK’s decarbonisation agenda reports Darrel Moore of circularonline.
The UK resources and waste management industry has reduced its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 46% since 1990.
To go ‘further and faster’ and deliver its 2040 target, members of the Environmental Services Association (ESA), which is the trade body representing the UK’s resource and waste management industry, will invest £10bn of ‘new money’ in recycling infrastructure with an aim of driving up recycling rates and cutting waste; and increasing capture of methane emissions, the most potent form, by 85% from landfill by 2030.
Outlined in its report, A Net-Zero greenhouse gas emission strategy for the recycling and waste management sector, ESA members – which includes companies Virdior, Veolia, SUEZ and Biffa – have also set a target to decarbonise non-recyclable waste treatment by diverting organic waste from landfill to recycling and energy production by 2030 and moving removing plastics from energy recovery facilities; and roll out carbon capture technology across our energy from waste facilities by 2040 ‘where feasible’.
The industry will also commit to buying only ‘zero emissions’ collection vehicles from 2030, phasing out petrol and diesel entirely by 2040, as well as move vehicle and all on-site fuel use to zero-emissions sources by 2040, so that refuse collection vehicles across the country will be powered by sustainable sources such as electric or biofuel rather than diesel.
Responding to the targets, George Eustice MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said the ESA’s commitment is ‘absolutely vital’ in helping the UK achieve its target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, building a net-zero economy and leaving the environment in a better state for future generations.
He said: “The recycling and waste management sectors are key to the success of our reforms, from creating deposit return schemes for drinks containers to encouraging more recyclable packaging.
“This commitment will help the nation transform the way we deal with waste and reduce our emissions.”
The ESA’s Board will be responsible for monitoring performance against the targets set and will review and report on progress against this strategy annually, and the strategy itself every five years, to ensure that it remains aligned with policy and market shifts.
A full GHG review for the sector will be conducted every two years and will be published in the ESA’s Annual Report, baselined against the first sector-wide emissions review conducted this year by Ricardo.
In addition to delivery from the ESA and its members, success will also require government support on energy decarbonisation and carbon capture to ensure maximum benefit for the UK.
The ESA will continue to work in close partnership with the government on two critical policy areas. The first is the regulatory and policy context around carbon capture technology, which helps reduce emissions from non-recyclable waste and removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
The second is around the decarbonisation of industrial vehicles such as collection wagons through the progressive electrification and deployment of renewable and alternative fuels.
Green jobs and investment
Gavin Graveson, Chairman of the Environmental Services Association, said: “Our sector has made tremendous and rapid progress on decarbonisation but the climate crisis continues to accelerate and our sector is determined to embrace the challenge by doing more to ensure we hit net zero.
“Our report also shows that done right, decarbonisation can deliver green jobs and investment right across the UK.”
Jacob Hayler, Executive Director of the ESA, said: “Our members have committed to an ambitious target and we have developed a clear and detailed plan to get there. This is an urgent and important task for the UK which we are excited, willing and able to invest behind.
“Critical to our success is a continuing constrictive partnership with Government to ensure the policy framework around decarbonisation continues to drive the right decisions which will ensure we can accelerate the UK’s net-zero ambition.”
CIWM President, Dr Adam Read, applauded the ‘ambitious vision’, saying it is about much more than measuring direct emissions from recycling and waste treatment activities, it is about the sector’s role in moving waste up the waste hierarchy and ‘putting valuable resources to work’; a role that resulted in 50 million tonnes of avoided CO2 emissions across the economy in 2018.
He said: “It is about the expertise the sector can bring to bear as the policy focus shifts from dealing with waste as an end-of-pipe problem to designing it out at the concept stage. And it is about the enabling role it plays in influencing and helping consumers and companies to move away from wasteful behaviour.
“CIWM stands shoulder to shoulder with ESA on this critical journey towards net-zero and will be launching its own strategy later this year which will both be aligned to ESA’s vision and will recognise the role that CIWM, as the sector’s professional body, can play in supporting the behaviours, skills and knowledge that will be needed to drive positive change.”
The UK loses an annual £13m in raw materials
Given the right technologies, the UK could recover critical raw materials worth £13m each year reports “waste management world”.
A new research report reveals that the UK is on track to losing £13.64 million worth of critical raw materials due to a lack of advanced recovery technologies.
‘Contributing to a circular economy utilising Critical Raw Materials from Waste Electricals’ found that less than 1% of raw materials contained in electronic items such as laptops, tablets, mobile phones, monitors and lighting were being recovered prior to recycling. Said appliances, which often sport circuit boards and electric components, contain precious metals such as gold, silver or palladium worth £148 million per year.
Potential ways to recover the 300, 000 tonnes of said ‘lost electronics’ make up the bulk of this research.
Further research points out that of a sum total of 155,000 tonnes of small electricals being discarded in the UK, 99,000 tonnes could be retrieved through the introduction of kerbside recycling services.
Technological processes to recover critical raw materials (CRM) are manifold. These pre-processing methods include shredding, mechanical coarse grinding, increasing the surface area for material recovery, dust extraction, electrohydraulic fragmentation, steam gasification, thermal desoldering and sequential leaching.
The recovered raw metals have their respective use in the production of green technologies such as wind turbines, photovoltaics, batteries, fuel cells, and hybrid and electrical vehicles. They are also valuable commodities to the pharmaceutical and car industry.
With the EU pledging itself to carbon neutrality by 2050 as part of the European Green Deal, the likes of solar and wind energy grow ever more important. As these technologies depend on raw materials, demand for them is set to increase over twenty times between 2010 and 2030.
The issues raised within the report commissioned by Material Focus and conducted by Giraffe Innovation have been addressed by other official parties in 2020 as well, ranging from the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) to the Global E-Waste Monitor. The former similarly called on the UK government to invest more money into extraction technologies while the latter warned that e-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the UK.
Considering the global race for raw materials, ranging from Germany and China fighting for lithium rights in Bolivia to the trade wars between South Korea and Japan, the UK appears uniquely positioned to take advantage of further economic benefits whilst working towards a circular economy.
1st Choice Waste Management Redcar
Looking for cost-effective, professional and reliable commercial waste management services in Redcar, Middlesbrough or the North East UK? 1st Choice Waste offers ecological and environmentally friendly services for waste management, waste brokerage, waste processing and recycling. We also utilise a biomass boiler to reduce waste collected from clients, reduce our carbon footprint and return clean electricity back to the “grid”.
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