Scotland is recycling more than ever before – and it’s having a positive impact on the environment, according to the latest results revealed today (Wednesday 16th March) of a unique approach to measuring the environmental impact of waste, developed by Zero Waste Scotland.
Scotland’s Carbon Metric is a pioneering way to measure the carbon impact of our waste, not just the amount that is recycled. The latest figures were revealed by Zero Waste Scotland Chief Executive Iain Gulland at the ‘Circular Economy Now’ event, hosted by international network ACR+.
The Carbon Metric takes into account the greenhouse gas emissions associated with waste, from the energy and raw materials that went into producing items, through to the impact of transporting materials in order for them to be recycled. It also shows the carbon impacts of managing our waste in different ways, allowing us to compare the benefits of waste management methods such as recycling, composting, anaerobic digestion and re-use.
The Carbon Metric will also be important in measuring progress towards the Scottish Government’s ambitious new target to reduce food waste by 33% by 2025.
Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Richard Lochhead, said: “The Carbon Metric is a unique and useful tool which shows the climate changing impacts of waste, and clearly demonstrates the benefits of reducing waste and increasing recycling – both key priorities of the Scottish Government. The latest results reveal that recycling in Scottish homes and businesses is delivering real benefits, with a big carbon saving achieved between 2011 and 2013. These are results to be proud of, and should spur us on to continue to redouble our recycling efforts.”
Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland, said: “We’re recycling more than ever before thanks to the efforts of people at home and in their businesses all over Scotland.
“What these new figures show is that by recycling more we really are making a difference to the environment, not just here in Scotland, but globally too, by reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions. It shows that we are right to target recycling of things like metals and food waste as these have a very high carbon impact. The Carbon Metric, by moving for the first time towards a carbon-based measure for waste, has the potential to change the way we think about waste and how we manage it.”
Francoise Bonnet, ACR+ Secretary General, said: “ACR+ strongly supports its member, Zero Waste Scotland, and its work on the development of Carbon Metric which shows that an efficient and smart waste management contributes highly to a low carbon economy. Greenhouse gas emissions are a key indicator to measure the impact of waste management strategies, especially within the perspective of circular economy. Still, waste management is only the tip of the iceberg as a much bigger impact can be achieved through resource efficiency and adopting a life-cycle perspective.”
In 2013, the carbon impact of waste in Scotland was 10.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (10.8 Mt CO2e), down from 13.1 Mt CO2e in 2011, when measurements started. The figures show that by recycling more, we are benefiting the environment and have reduced the carbon impact of waste by almost 2.3 Mt or 17% since 2011.
Scotland’s Carbon Metric was first developed by Zero Waste Scotland in 2011. It uses pioneering lifecycle methodology to measure the environmental impacts of waste, which has since been replicated in other parts of the UK and Europe. It considers the full life-cycle of impacts associated with the things we waste, and uses consumption accounting, not just counting impacts that occur within Scottish territorial boundaries.
How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions
Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
Public Health Crisis
It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.
It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.
Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.
With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.
The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.
With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.
Consumers Investing in Eco-Friendly Cars with the UK Green Revolution
The UK public appears to be embracing the electric car UK Green Revolution, as recent statistics reveal that more and more consumers are making the switch from petrol and diesel to electric or alternatively fuelled vehicles. The demand for diesel fell by almost a third in October compared to last year, whilst hybrid and electric cars rose by a staggering 36.9%.
Time for UK Green Revolution Change
So, what is the reason for this sudden change? This comes down to the current situation in the UK, which has led to people embracing eco-friendly technologies and automobiles. One of the main reasons is the Government’s clean air plans, which includes the impending 2040 ban on petrol and diesel automobiles. There is then the rollout of the T-Charge in London, the city of Oxford announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel from the city centre by 2020 and various other big announcements which take up a lot of space and time in the UK press.
In addition to this, the negative publicity against diesel has had a huge impact on the UK public. This has led to a lot of confusion over emissions, but actually, the newest low emission diesel automobiles will not face restrictions and are not as bad to drive as many believe. Most notably, German brand Volkswagen has been affected due to the emissions scandal in recent times. It was discovered that some emissions controls for VW’s turbocharged direct injection diesel engines were only activated during laboratory testing, so these automobiles were emitting 40 times more NO in real-world driving. As a result of this and all the negative publicity, the manufacturer has made adaptations and amended their vehicles in Europe. Additionally, they have made movements to improve the emissions from their cars, meaning that they are now one of the cleaner manufacturers. Their impressive range includes the Polo, Golf and Up, all of which can be found for affordable prices from places like Unbeatable Car.
The Current Market
The confusion over the Government’s current stance on diesel has clearly had a huge impact on the public. So much so that the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has called on the Government to use the Autumn Budget to restore stability in the market and encourage the public to invest in the latest low emission automobiles. SMMT believes that this is the fastest and most effective way to address the serious air quality concerns in this country.
One way that the Government has encouraged the public to make the switch is by making incentives. Motorists can benefit from a grant when they purchase a new plug-in vehicle, plus there are benefits like no road tax for electric vehicles and no congestion charge. When these are combined with the low running costs, it makes owning an electric automobile an appealing prospect and especially because there are so many great models available and a type to suit every motorist. One of the main reasons holding motorists back is the perceived lack of charging points. However, there are currently over 13,000 up and down the country with this number rapidly increasing each month. It is thought that the amount of charging points will outnumber petrol stations by 2020, so it is easy to see more and more motorists start to invest in electric cars way ahead of the 2040 ban.
It is an interesting time in the UK as people are now embracing the electric car revolution. The Government’s clean air plans seem to have accelerated this revolution, plus the poor publicity that diesel has received has only strengthened the case for making the switch sooner rather than later.