Measuring up to the low-carbon challenge
To calculate carbon intensity accurately and reduce our footprint year-on-year
In the UK, we measure our carbon emission intensity per tonne of waste handled based on the services we provide to our customers and the emission intensity of the emissions we avoid for our customers through the services we offer. Our aim is to contribute to the SUEZ group targets by decreasing our emission intensity whilst increasing the emissions we avoid for our customers.
Managing the climate change impacts of an organisation’s operations depends on consistent and reliable measurement of emissions. Whilst current carbon accounting methodology is based on the industry-standard protocol for the quantification of greenhouse gases from waste management activities, we have identified that this methodology fails to appropriately account for the emissions associated with landfilling activities. It only includes landfill emissions for a given year, rather than the lifecycle emissions of accepting a tonne of waste in a specific year (a tonne of residual waste accepted in a landfill today will cause emissions for a number of years in the future as the waste degrades).
Our mission is to develop a robust carbon accounting methodology that appropriately accounts for the emissions associated with landfilling to ensure that when diverting waste up the waste hierarchy, the associated carbon benefit is observed. This methodology will continue to allow the carbon intensity per tonne of waste handled and the carbon emissions avoided intensity to be calculated based on the services we offer to our customers and the carbon intensity per employee based on the activities our employees undertake.
Developing a methodology and environmental training
Existing carbon accounting methodology is based on the current industry-standard methodology, although it is recognised that it does not appropriately account for landfilling activities. We have used the current methodology to calculate our current carbon emission intensity per tonne of waste handled and the emissions avoided for our customers per tonne of carbon emitted. This is being communicated to the business to drive action to reduce our carbon intensity for each tonne of waste we handle and to improve the emission intensity of the tonnes we avoid for our customers.
Training material covering the risk of climate change and its impacts have been made available for employees on our inhouse training platform. Additionally, an employee workshop has been developed which will be rolled out to all employees as soon as practical.
In the meantime, work is progressing to improve and refine the existing methodology to appropriately account for the impact of landfilling and to allow carbon intensity emissions to be calculated, both based on the services we offer to our customers and our employee activity. Our strategic aims and commitments with regards to reducing our carbon emission intensity and the emissions avoided for our customers intensity will be reviewed following the production of this improved methodology.
Using the existing industry-standard carbon accounting methodology, we have calculated our carbon emission intensity at 103.98 kg CO2 (or 0.194teCO2) for every tonne of waste handled in 2019. For every tonne of carbon emitted in 2019, 1.731 teCO2 was avoided for our customers, increasing from 1.643 teCO2 in 2018.
To decrease our carbon emission intensity per tonne of waste handled and increase the emissions avoided intensity for our customers, we have introduced a number of actions:
- Driver behaviour monitoring across our fleet.
- An energy policy and commitment to procure 100% renewable electricity across our sites.
- 77 electric company cars and a number of electric vehicles charging points.
- A commitment to reduce company travel by 50% in comparison to 2019 figures through our sustainable travel policy.
- Increased electricity and heat generation at our sites.