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Carbon Trust to launch new standard for waste reduction

06 July 2013

The Carbon Trust has announced plans to launch the world’s first international standard for organisations to certify that they are managing and reducing waste.

The announcement coincides with the fifth anniversary of the launch of the Carbon Trust’s Carbon Standard, which has helped hundreds of organisations take a more stringent approach to managing and reducing carbon.

This experience is now being applied to waste management, and, together with the recent launch of the Carbon Trust Water Standard, will help businesses and public sector organisations from across the world take a more robust approach to resource management.

This is important when it is considered that every year landfill from commercial and industrial waste is responsible for 2.3 million tonnes of CO2e.

Around the world it is estimated that around 11.2 billion tonnes of solid waste is collected each year. The decay of just the organic parts of this waste contributes around five per cent of all global greenhouse gas emissions.

In the UK alone the waste sector is responsible for 17 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year. Preventing, reusing or recycling waste rather than depositing it to landfill, reduces emissions and resource consumption. For example, recycling a tonne of paper saves approximately 17 trees and 50 percent of the water needed for production.

Effective waste management can therefore have a huge positive environmental and economic impact. Despite this, Carbon Trust research[5] found that only 21 percent of senior executives of large companies in the UK, USA, China, South Korea and Brazil have sustainability targets for waste and 49 percent are not yet confident that there is a business case for investing in managing waste. 

The Carbon Trust Waste Standard, to be launched later this year, will require organisations to measure, manage and reduce their solid and hazardous waste. To achieve the standard organisations will need to demonstrate that waste streams are being reduced every year, or disposed of more effectively, for example through increased reuse, recycling or energy recovery.

The new standard will also include a qualitative assessment to show that waste is being managed responsibly or prevented. This will include considerations outside of an organisation’s direct control, such as having a diligent procurement policy for goods and waste management services, or looking at downstream impacts through products and packaging.

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