Recycling and waste management sector to invest £10bn to drive net zero by 2040

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The UK recycling and waste management sector has committed to delivering a stretching net zero emissions target of 2040.

To go ‘further and faster and deliver its 2040 target’, the members of Environmental Services Association (ESA), trade body representing the UK’s resource and waste management industry, are set to:

  • Invest £10bn of new money in recycling infrastructure to drive up recycling rates and cut down waste and increasing capture of methane emissions, the most potent form, by 85% from landfill by 2030.
  • 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 energy from waste facilities by 2040 where feasible.
  • Buy only zero emissions collection vehicles from 2030, phasing out petrol and diesel entirely by 2040. Move vehicle and all on-site fuel use to zero emissions sources by 2040, so that bin and recycling lorries and trucks across the country are powered by sustainable sources such as electric or biofuel rather than diesel.

ESA members comprise 85% of the sector, including all the major companies.

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.

Jacob Hayler, Executive Director of the ESA, commented on the announcement: “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.”

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 what is reported to be the first sector-wide emissions review, conducted this year by Ricardo.

In addition to delivery from the ESA and its members, the association reports that 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 government on two ‘critical’ policy areas: regulatory and policy context around carbon capture technology and decarbonisation of industrial vehicles such as collection wagons.