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Research finds that the waste and resource sector is projected to save over 200 million tonnes of carbon emissions 

Veolia and ICL release new research on carbon emissions

New research from Veolia and Imperial College London has found that the waste and resource industry is estimated to save over 200 million tonnes of carbon emissions between 2023-2032. 

Veolia has said that it expects to deliver eight million tonnes of this total, with the waste and resource sector also estimated to contribute more than 10% to the UK’s carbon budget shortfall during the same time. 

The UK won’t fulfil its carbon reduction commitments at current rates of emission mitigation, said Veolia, but the industry is working with a variety of energy saving solutions to redress this imbalance. These solutions include: 

  • Recycling 500,000 tonnes of plastic waste, with better design in manufacturing and upgrading recycling facilities to help save over one million tonnes of C02 emissions  
  • Energy Recovery Facilities (ERFs) to use district heating. Currently there is 215 megawatt (MW) of district heating capacity in UK ERFs, but if ERF’s use the ability to deliver district heating to local business and people, it could produce 530 MW of heat, cutting carbon emissions by 570,000 tonnes and saving the homeowner £90 annually through lower heating bills
  • 50% of all diesel vehicles in the waste/resource sector to be replaced by electric. By doing so, it will improve air quality as well as contribute to long-term climate targets and saving 400,000 tonnes of CO2 in emissions.   

Veolia chief technology and innovation officer Richard Kirkman said: “Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is essential to controlling climate change. Veolia, and the resource sector more broadly, has the technology at its disposal and the willpower to ensure not only Britain upholds its carbon commitments but is the bellwether for green and sustainable alternatives.  

“Our research suggests the waste and resource sector will save an additional 23 million tonnes of CO2 by 2032 – a significant portion of the carbon budget shortfall. If other sectors are to make similar contributions, if we as a nation and as a planet are to make sustainable choices, it is critical we calculate the cost of carbon on our natural world. Currently we’re scratching the surface with initiatives to curb carbon – to overturn the shortfall, we must think long term but act today.”  

Imperial College London professor of environmental technology Nick Voulvoulis led the research commissioned by Veolia. 

He said: “While effective new strategies and policies are urgently needed to ensure that UK greenhouse gas emissions continue to fall, the waste and resource sector offers a great potential to reduce the carbon shortfall in the country’s 4th and 5th carbon budgets and to combat climate change. The sector can facilitate the transition to a green, zero waste economy, maximising the retention of the energy and materials embedded in waste, contributing to the decoupling of economic growth from natural resources.”  



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