It’s clear the waste management sector is transforming itself into resource management.
Led by significant drivers such as the landfill directive, carbon reporting, resource efficiency, legislation and public awareness, a range of new technologies have come into play with reuse, recycling and recovery at the core of their strategy.
Coinciding with the introduction of mandatory carbon reporting and the next round of landfill tax increases, these debates will provide invaluable insight into how companies can implement a sustainable resource management approach to waste.
So what is the legislation affecting the sector and what does Veolia see as the short and medium term impact being on developments such as waste profiling, Scope 3 thinking
and employee engagement?
Our view is that as companies pursue their sustainability agenda and ambitions, the waste management sector is uniquely positioned to help deliver tangible results. This applies both in terms of improving the carbon position and in the preservation of resources directly and within the wider supply chain.
We believe there are significant drivers that lend weight and focus to this view:
- Firstly, there’s Mandatory Carbon Reporting
The greenhouse gas reporting regulations are expected to require UK listed companies to report direct and indirect carbon emissions. Veolia believes that this will also encourage companies to increase focus on measurement and management of the carbon associated emissions of their waste management.
While not expected to form part of mandatory carbon reporting in the short term, this will certainly raise awareness around Scope 3 emissions. As CEOs will refer to their company’s carbon impact within their annual report this will undoubtedly be of interest to a wide range of stakeholders including investors.
- Secondly, The Landfill Directive (1999)
Now approaching its twelfth year, this continues to set strict limits on the removal of biodegradable waste from landfill, encouraging the diversion of food waste to recycling and recovery routes, and limiting the effects of pollution including greenhouse gases over the entire life cycle.
- Thirdly, public awareness is of course a key factor
The UK population increasingly expects waste recovery and recycling driven behaviours for household waste and companies are having to catch up to provide the same level of resource capture in the workplace.
- Fourthly, there’s the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED)
Like its predecessor IPPC, the purpose of the IED is to provide for an integrated approach to prevention and control of emissions into air, water and soil, to minimise the production of waste. (Any wastes produced must be dealt with in accordance with the waste hierarchy as per the waste framework directive).
- Fifthly, the Environmental Liability Directive
This is now implemented into the devolved regulatory frameworks The directive has an impact as it applies to environmental damage, or the threat of any damage or remedy environmental damage when pollution has occurred, and pay the costs of any action(s). This will make any future development in landfill operations increasingly unattractive.
- Finally, the Roadmap for a Resource Efficient Europe
This has consulted on how public policy tools can drive resource efficiency within Europe, this is expected to shape future directives.
Therefore here are good reasons why a robust waste and resource management strategy makes sound business sense:
- It improves competitive advantage - through the capture and recovery of resources that can be enhanced if you drive this thinking into your supply chain.
- It reduces the impact of a rising cost base - for example, through environmental taxation, capture of recyclates to offsite rising costs, the expected future scarcity of landfill capacity and the advantage of being an early adopter.
- It provides greater levels of security in the supply chain (through the sourcing of sustainable resource management activity). In a period of greater public and investor awareness and a rapidly changing regulatory landscape, now is a good time for companies to visit their approach to resource management.
We recognise this, having already invested £1.2bn since 1990 and now plan to invest a further £1 billion in recycling and recovery infrastructure in the next 6 years, providing in excess of 1m tonnes of new recycling and recovery capacity to the UK to meet the challenge of turning waste into a resource.