London Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Waste

12th September 2019

The Greater London Authority (GLA) has released an updated greenhouse gas (GHG) calculator for London boroughs to use to project their performance against the GLA’s Emissions Performance Standard (EPS).

The EPS is a world first, with London being the first city to set climate-related targets alongside targets for waste management activities. With over 500 climate emergencies declared internationally by public authorities, the EPS focuses attention on the type of action that will be required in future if public authorities are to manage their waste in a manner consistent with a net-zero carbon world.

The EPS sets targets for London’s local authority waste activities to work towards achieving continuous reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. It covers significant emission savings achieved from waste reduction, recycling and generating renewable energy from organic waste, displacing virgin materials and fossil fuels. The EPS also accounts for emissions and the impact on climate change from transport of waste, landfill, and incineration.

The greenhouse gas calculator, which was put together by our team, allows local authorities and other organisations responsible for managing waste, to measure the climate change impacts of their activities against the EPS targets. It also allows them to model the potential impact of future activities and service changes. The guidance shows which waste service changes have the most impact on both reducing carbon emissions and making progress towards the EPS targets. Meeting the EPS encourages boroughs to implement and enhance a range of more environmentally-friendly practices that help to cut waste and boost recycling. These might range from introducing collections for segregated food waste, switching to electric vehicles for collecting waste, and recovering greater amounts of plastic from residual waste prior to incineration.

Ann Ballinger, Principal Consultant at Eunomia, said:

“London is demonstrating leadership by tackling the climate crisis head-on. Declaring a climate emergency means public authorities, or others managing waste, must make every possible effort to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere. The implementation of the EPS will set the city on a trajectory towards a net-carbon zero future. The EPS applies to waste that has to be managed: we do also need to reduce the amount of waste we generate in the first place if we are to achieve net zero emissions.

“Alongside the crucial impact this will have on London’s contribution to the climate crisis, the changes to waste management services made as a result of meeting the EPS targets should also see air quality improve across the city.”

Doug Simpson, Principal Policy and Programme Officer at the GLA, said:

“In adopting a carbon-based approach to waste management, London is leading the way to link actions that deliver the greatest climate change mitigation benefits with improvements in waste reduction, increased recycling and renewable energy generation.  This approach puts London in a strong position to effectively respond and adapt to a raft of new policies and measures including carbon-based metrics being considered by Government in its Resources and Waste Strategy.”

Photo courtesy of Tony Hisgett, Flickr, CC BY 2.0.