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Blog November 2021 Updated July 2023

5 ways waste management and recycling companies can mitigate climate change beyond COP26

Climate Change Beyond COP26

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Conor Dowd Product Marketing Manager

5 ways waste management and recycling companies can mitigate climate change beyond COP26

The COP26 Summit in Glasgow, UK has been a meeting of nations looking at ways to reduce and mitigate climate change. Sustainable waste management is one of the ways this can be achieved.

Approximately 90% of the world’s economy is now covered by pledges to reach net-zero emissions.

For many developed economies, the goal for this is by 2050. India is aiming for 2070, China 2060, and Turkey 2053.

Essentially, net-zero means we add no more climate-changing emissions to the atmosphere until the planet is back to its natural balance.

How can waste management and recycling businesses help to meet these net-zero goals?

1. Transport and Vehicles

Transport accounts for approximately a quarter of global CO2 emissions.

Haulers can reduce their own CO2 emissions by ensuring they optimize routes to minimize fuel use. The additional benefit from this is that less fuel is used, saving costs for waste management businesses too.

When used in conjunction with on-vehicle telematics, the AMCS Platform can also mean drivers are coached to drive more efficiently, saving fuel and reducing emissions.

It also means CO2 calculations can be made, giving your customers vital data for them to report their overall impact. Many major firms are now requiring this information as standard, and increasingly by companies of all sizes.

Good fleet management can also reduce CO2, only using vehicles when they are required, optimizing the journeys they make, and assessing maintenance needs. Again, all of this can be done via the AMCS Platform.

Increasingly, many haulers are also looking at alternative fuels that have lower or zero CO2 emissions. This includes EVs, hydrogen, used cooking oil, and even methane captured from landfills that can be used in a diesel dual-fuel engine.

Speaking of methane….

2. Methane

With a 100-year global warming potential 28 to 34 times that of CO2, methane is a gas that causes a huge amount of damage to the climate.

Around 33% of methane emissions come from fossil fuel production (oil, natural gas, and coal production in particular). By reducing transport fuel use, you are also ensuring less methane enters the atmosphere.

One of the key announcements from COP26 was a US/EU plan to slash methane emissions by 30% from 2020 levels by 2030. This aim to cut methane will be led globally by the US Government, with over 100 countries signed up to take action.

Landfills and waste represent 16% of global methane emissions.

According to the United States Environment Protection Agency, municipal solid waste landfills are the third-largest source of methane emissions in the US.

By using landfill gas to produce energy ( electricity or alternative transport fuels), landfills can significantly reduce their emissions of methane and avoid the need to generate energy from fossil fuels. Good landfill gas management is therefore a win-win.

Of course, reducing landfill use can also be done by encouraging more recycling…

3. Recycling and food waste

By encouraging customers to recycle more and separate food and kitchen waste for treatment, inevitably less waste will be sent to landfills.

A Chinese study in 2020 found that emissions from waste collection and treatment could be reduced by 70.82% by separately collecting and treating food waste and recyclable materials. Energy from waste plants is used for the remaining residual rather than landfill to control methane emissions.

Of course, by recycling more materials, there are also significant energy and emissions benefits compared to using virgin raw materials. Using virgin polymers rather than recycled PET, HDPE or PP uses up to three times more energy for example.

If food waste is treated using technologies such as anaerobic digestion, emissions are prevented from entering our atmosphere, and there is also a low carbon gas and/or electricity benefit generated too.

These energy sources are renewable, and that could also be used to power recycling facilities…

4. Materials Recycling Facilities (MRF)

Co-locating facilities can benefit both. An MRF located next to energy from a waste plant can take advantage of low carbon energy and heat for example.

One way to reduce emissions is to ensure an MRF produces a high-quality product at the end that can compete with virgin resources. Paper, plastics, metals, and glass are all likely to be recycled into new products if they have been sorted into high-value commodities. It also means less residual waste from the sorting process goes to landfills or energy from waste plants.

Sorting materials means energy needs to be used to power conveyors, optical sorters, magnets, and eddy current separators.

With a great deal of roof space, many MRF operators have seen the advantage of installing solar panels to power their facilities and take advantage of the subsidies for solar energy available in many countries.

Even in the cloudy UK, companies such as Veolia, Biffa and others have generated low carbon energy that powers their MRFs from the sun.

Indeed, Veolia is now also installing solar panels on its landfill sites in the UK.

Waste management companies are finding that being more efficient and taking advantage of what they already have, also has huge carbon reduction and cost-saving benefits.

Indeed, efficiency is essential to being low carbon…

5. Be Resource Efficient

Inefficient companies waste resources.

That could be excessive use of fuel, not planning for demand for materials, or not understanding the quality of your materials.

AMCS helps customers reduce costs, increase profits and reduce carbon emissions by making them more efficient.

The AMCS Platform helps waste management and recycling companies operate smarter, seamlessly, and digitally.

Our demand planning solution ensures your company provides a continuous supply of material to customers to meet production needs. This means more recycled content is used, with fewer emissions from virgin materials. It also ensures companies only receive material when they need it, reducing transport costs and fuel use.

AMCS’ Grading and Quality module put in place a quality assessment system that manages feedback with suppliers and documents evaluations of material. It means your company fully understands the material it is receiving and helps reduce the need for rejected loads and dealing with contamination.

By improving the quality received, companies are also reducing vehicle movements for returning low-quality loads or sending contaminated materials to landfills.

If waste management companies are also optimizing vehicle routes through the AMCS Platform, then they are likely to be highly efficient.

AMCS can assist your business in becoming more cost-efficient and low carbon.

Get in touch to find out more.

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