Implementing a waste management strategy for your business
Industry waste has always been a challenge for businesses, as firms strive to ensure that their waste is disposed of in the most ethical and cost-efficient way.
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According to the CIPs, waste disposal for a business could cost as high as 4-6% of their entire turnover — which could in fact escalate up to 10% of their overall gross profits.
If companies do not find themselves making the appropriate changes to tackle their ongoing waste problem, the heightened cost will become a concern. With rising landfill taxes, as well as recycling and sustainability becoming a main concern within ethical business principles, creating a reliable waste management solution is more important than ever for any forward-thinking business that is looking to make a change.
A business’ duty of care
Companies across the UK have a duty of care outlined in countless pieces of legislation noting that they have a responsibility to dispose of any waste in the correct manner. The requirements that you should meet are broadly as follows:
- Adopt the Waste Hierarchy principles in order to keep waste to a minimum by preventing, reusing, recycling, and recovering waste where possible.
- Store or sort waste securely in a safe environment.
- Complete a waste transfer note for each load of waste that leaves the premises.
- Check to establish whether your waste carrier is registered. This can be done by visiting the official Environment Agency website.
- Do not let your waste carrier dispose of waste illegally. As a producer of waste, the legal responsibility for safe and correct disposal falls on you, and not the waste carrier. You have a responsibility to ensure safe disposal through an auditable document trail.
Securing waste correctly
Businesses should use the following as a guide to store waste safely:
- Use suitable and EU-approved containers to prevent leakage.
- Label containers in a way which clearly stipulates what type of waste they contain.
- Use waterproof covers — where appropriate — so that no contaminated run-offs are created.
- Use lockable containers to safeguard your waste.
Removing the waste efficiently
For any non-hazardous waste that your business wants removed from your operation site, you require a waste transfer note. However, documents that hold the same information, such as an invoice, can be used.
To fill in a waste transfer note, you must sign up with the appropriate services — if you are disposing multiple times, create a season ticket that can be used in the future.
Your organisation and the company you use to dispose the waste must:
- Fill in the sections of the note that applies to them.
- Sign it.
- Keep a copy for two years.
- Be able to present it to an enforcement officer from the local council or the Environment Agency, if requested.
Lowering the cost of waste removal
Every business that produces waste will have an aim to lower the cost of disposal. However, this can be a leap in the dark if business owners are uncertain of how to do this effectively.
Segregation is one option that businesses can take, as this allows business owners to monitor their waste usage closely and make appropriate decisions — whether this is analysing volume or materials thrown out. From this you can set your strategy, highlighting your own targets and goals to ensure the best results possible when it comes to disposal.
Something that all businesses should look at is TEEP; technically, environmentally and economically practicable. This determines whether a business should segregate and store various types of produced waste within the business premises prior to its collection by a waste management contractor you have teamed up with.
The Waste Framework implemented by the European Union is something that the UK will likely adopt after Brexit. This legislation looks at commercial and municipal waste and how businesses have a responsibility. They can use a third party to achieve this, but businesses will continue to remain responsible.
Measuring the waste
As technology is constantly growing, waste management companies have taken advantage of this and created online automated systems that allow businesses to look at their own waste volume and spend. Through waste management portals, each business can have tailored permissions that help provide them with an overview of waste statistics and management information.
Visually assessing the amount of waste you produce is essential before going ahead with a waste management provider. This will allow you to see how much waste you produce within a certain amount of time — giving you the opportunity to test the waters first.
To ensure a save in spending, businesses should look to reducing the amount of waste collections they have in place and reduce them to see how you can cope — this would encourage your business to try and reduce the amount of waste you produce. They will have to deal with the limited bin space they have for waste ensuring that every decision is important.
These types of assessments are vital when it comes to waste, especially with the rise in landfill tax.
Landfill tax is set to increase further to £88.95 from the 1st of April 2018. With the cost of landfill waste rising year or year, it’s clear that businesses need to ensure that their waste solution system is driven towards recyclable methods to keep the costs of landfill waste to a minimum.
Carbon dioxide removal revenues worth £2bn a year by 2030
Carbon dioxide removal revenues could reach £2bn a year by 2030 in the UK with costs per megatonne totalling up to £400 million, according to the National Infrastructure Commission.
Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades - although costs are uncertain given removal technologies are in their infancy - and revenues could match that of the UK’s water sector by 2050. The Commission’s analysis suggests engineered removals technologies need to have capacity to remove five to ten megatonnes of carbon dioxide no later than 2030, and between 40 and 100 megatonnes by 2050.
The Commission states technologies fit into two categories: extracting carbon dioxide directly out of the air; and bioenergy with carbon capture technology – processing biomass to recapture carbon dioxide absorbed as the fuel grew. In both cases, the captured CO2 is then stored permanently out of the atmosphere, typically under the seabed.
The report sets out how the engineered removal and storage of carbon dioxide offers the most realistic way to mitigate the final slice of emissions expected to remain by the 2040s from sources that don’t currently have a decarbonisation solution, like aviation and agriculture.
It stresses that the potential of these technologies is “not an excuse to delay necessary action elsewhere” and cannot replace efforts to reduce emissions from sectors like road transport or power, where removals would be a more expensive alternative.
The critical role these technologies will play in meeting climate targets means government must rapidly kick start the sector so that it becomes viable by the 2030s, according to the report, which was commissioned by government in November 2020.
Early movement by the UK to develop the expertise and capacity in greenhouse gas removal technologies could create a comparative advantage, with the prospect of other countries needing to procure the knowledge and skills the UK develops.
The Commission recommends that government should support the development of this new sector in the short term with policies that drive delivery of these technologies and create demand through obligations on polluting industries, which will over time enable a competitive market to develop. Robust independent regulation must also be put in place from the start to help build public and investor confidence.
While the burden of these costs could be shared by different parts of industries required to pay for removals or in part shared with government, the report acknowledges that, over the longer term, the aim should be to have polluting sectors pay for removals they need to reach carbon targets.
Polluting industries are likely to pass a proportion of the costs onto consumers. While those with bigger household expenditures will pay more than those on lower incomes, the report underlines that government will need to identify ways of protecting vulnerable consumers and to decide where in relevant industry supply chains the costs should fall.
Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, said taking steps to clean our air is something we’re going to have to get used to, just as we already manage our wastewater and household refuse.
"While engineered removals will not be everyone’s favourite device in the toolkit, they are there for the hardest jobs. And in the overall project of mitigating our impact on the planet for the sake of generations to come, we need every tool we can find," he said.
“But to get close to having the sector operating where and when we need it to, the government needs to get ahead of the game now. The adaptive approach to market building we recommend will create the best environment for emerging technologies to develop quickly and show their worth, avoiding the need for government to pick winners. We know from the dramatic fall in the cost of renewables that this approach works and we must apply the lessons learned to this novel, but necessary, technology.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Energy Agency estimate a global capacity for engineered removals of 2,000 to 16,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each year by 2050 will be needed in order to meet global reduction targets.
Yesterday Summit Carbon Solutions received "a strategic investment" from John Deere to advance a major CCUS project (click here). The project will accelerate decarbonisation efforts across the agriculture industry by enabling the production of low carbon ethanol, resulting in the production of more sustainable food, feed, and fuel. Summit Carbon Solutions has partnered with 31 biorefineries across the Midwest United States to capture and permanently sequester their CO2 emissions.
Cory Reed, President, Agriculture & Turf Division of John Deere, said: "Carbon neutral ethanol would have a positive impact on the environment and bolster the long-term sustainability of the agriculture industry. The work Summit Carbon Solutions is doing will be critical in delivering on these goals."
McKinsey highlights a number of CCUS methods which can drive CO2 to net zero:
- Today’s leader: Enhanced oil recovery Among CO2 uses by industry, enhanced oil recovery leads the field. It accounts for around 90 percent of all CO2 usage today
- Cementing in CO2 for the ages New processes could lock up CO2 permanently in concrete, “storing” CO2 in buildings, sidewalks, or anywhere else concrete is used
- Carbon neutral fuel for jets Technically, CO2 could be used to create virtually any type of fuel. Through a chemical reaction, CO2 captured from industry can be combined with hydrogen to create synthetic gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel
- Capturing CO2 from ambient air - anywhere Direct air capture (DAC) could push CO2 emissions into negative territory in a big way
- The biomass-energy cycle: CO2 neutral or even negative Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage relies on nature to remove CO2 from the atmosphere for use elsewhere