Last reviewed 4 December 2020

The Environmental Services Association (ESA) has announced plans to decarbonise the waste and recycling sector.

ESA, which represents the largest waste sector group operating in the UK, says it is committed to decarbonising the waste sector and will “strive to achieve a zero-carbon waste and resources sector” among its industry members.

The group’s annual report, released last week, outlines plans to set up a new Climate Change working group, comprising experts within the sector and others to identify and explore low-carbon solutions for members’ fleets, offices and operational facilities. 

Waste industry members operate more than 100 local authority collection contracts and employ more than 43,000 people, processing 100 million tonnes of waste material every year, of which a significant proportion is recycled.

The ESA says the government’s Resources & Waste Strategy (RWS), and Circular Economy strategies and the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regime, all have the potential to unlock future investment, improve the recyclability of the waste stream and drive quality and innovation throughout the recycling system.

Launching the new report, ESA Executive Director, Jacob Hayler: “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the UK, and the ESA’s primary focus for 2021 will be to ensure that this vital policy framework is resumed with all of its original fervour and designed in a way that supports investment and delivery by our members.”

Key elements of the decarbonisation plan include developing a consistent methodology to quantify the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the waste sector and monitor progress, introduce clear targets to drive performance, and assess key actions necessary for our sector to achieve net-zero.

The group will also consider the carbon benefits of reuse and recycling; the power, heat, recycling and sanitary benefits of energy recovery from residual waste. The legacy of methane and other GHG emissions from landfill will also be considered.