Memorandum submitted by WRAP (Waste and
Resources Action Programme) (U16)
WRAP is pleased to have this opportunity to
submit written evidence to the inquiry of the Efra Committee looking
at climate change.
WRAP was created in 2001 with a mission to accelerate
resource efficiency. We seek to do this by creating stable and
efficient markets for recycled materials and products, and removing
barriers to waste minimisation, re-use and recycling. Operating
on a UK-wide basis and funded by Defra, the DTI and the devolved
administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, WRAP
recently published a Business Plan for 2004-06 detailing the structure
and priorities of our work over the next three years and outlining
a number of challenging targets.
WRAP is working with both the public and private
sectors to increase markets for six individual material streams:
paper, plastics, glass, organics, wood and aggregates. It is also
working on major programmes aimed at increasing the procurement
of recycled products, improving standards for recycled materials,
and is undertaking a series of initiatives to stimulate investment
in capacity for processing recovered materials.
Within the recycling industry one issue that
has become highly relevant in recent years is that of energy saving
and the effect that this can have on tackling climate change.
Extensive industry research has revealed that
the recycling of a number of specific waste streams has the benefit
of not just diverting waste from landfill but also reducing greenhouse
gas emissions as a result of the reduced energy required to produce
goods in comparison with manufacturing goods from virgin materials.
Research to date has calculated the following savings are attributable
to the following specific material streams:
ENERGY SAVINGS PER MATERIAL
|Material||% Energy saving
||(International Aluminium Institute)
||(Oxford Brookes University)
||(Enviros Consulting, 2004 Report)
The following report examines research findings to date and
assesses further potential for the reduction of greenhouse gases
through an increase in the domestic and commercial rate of recycling.
CO2 SAVINGS ATTRIBUTABLE
Following the publication of the 2001 European Commission
report entitled "Waste Management Options and Climate Change",
WRAP engaged the authors of the report, AEA Technology, to research
further the effect of increasing the recycling rate on greenhouse
gas reductions for the UK. The results of this work indicated
the possibility of substantial CO2 savings with an
increase in the rate of recycling and increases in recycling industry
The estimation of CO2 reductions was based upon
predicted increases in the recycling of Municipal Solid Waste
taking the then current best practice (Daventry Council) and extrapolating
it to predict a possible future scenario. A variety of material
streams such as aluminium, textiles, wood and putrescibles were
considered in addition to the standard streams measured in household
recycling statistics. The report concluded that CO2
savings could equate to 10-15% of the UK's Kyoto obligation in
a best case scenario from recycling.
Recognising that gaps exist in the available data, WRAP decided
to undertake its own estimation of CO2 reduction benefits
attributable to the household recycling rate, this is one of the
few areas of waste recycling that has accurate material specific
The Defra Municipal Waste Survey for 2002-03 gives the latest
available data for household waste recycling in England with the
level at 14.5%. This data was entered into the table below for
the major material streams to calculate the CO2 savings
from using recyclate rather than virgin materials in the production
of new materials.
|Recycled (thousand tonnes)
|CO2 saving (tonnes per MWh)**
||CO2 saving (thousand tonnes)
For the year 2002-03 it is estimated that approximately 1.8
million tonnes of CO2 was avoided as a result of household
* Energy saving per tonne for using recycled materials
instead of virgin materials in production of new materials. Source:
respective organisations quoted in "Energy savings per Material"
chart on page 2.
** Where 1MWh = 3600 MJ = 3.6 GJ (1 Watt is 1 Joule per second).
Projecting this forward, the following table is based on
modelling carried out by the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit in
the "Waste Not Want Not" report
in 2002 that looked at the potential CO2 savings to
be gained by achieving the Government's recycling targets for
household waste in England:
The UK's current Kyoto obligation is to reduce CO2
emissions by 12.5% based upon the 1990 base year figure by the
year 2008. In addition to this the UK Government has set its own
target for cutting carbon dioxide to 20% of 1990 levels by 2010.
By extrapolating our current recycling data in line with
government requirements for household recycling in England in
2010 we can estimate that CO2 savings of 3.2 million
tonnes would be achieved, this would represent 2.5% of the government's
overall target for CO2 reduction detailed in the UK
Climate Change Programme.
This is a modest but important contribution to the UK Government's
Climate Change Programme. We would also remind the Committee that
the above estimate only concerns household waste, which accounted
for just 6.6% (25 million tonnes) of total UK waste arisings (375
million tonnes) in 2002-03. The chart below illustrates the composition
of total waste a risings and is based upon data ranging from 1998-2002.
Household waste is estimated as "making up 80%" of the
total of Municipal waste.
There are still limitations to the accuracy of material specific
recycling data in the majority of the sectors that contribute
most to waste arisings, however the CO2 saving potential
is clearly evident when you consider that the CO2 savings
attributable to all paper recycled in the UK in 2003-03 (4.5 million
tonnes) was around 2.5 million tonnes alone.
The above research is supported by the conclusion of the
most comprehensive research undertaken to date in the field of
recycling and climate change, the 2001 European Commission report
entitled "Waste Management Options and Climate Change"
(referenced on page 2 of this submission), which stated:
"The study has shown that overall the source segregation
of MSW (municipal Solid Waste) followed by recycling (for paper,
metals, textiles and plastics) and composting/AD (Anaerobic Digestion)(for
putrescible wastes) gives the lowest net flux of green house gases,
compared with other options for the treatment of bulk MSW."
With regards to the CO2 benefits that can be derived
from composting of green waste, WRAP will undertake further research
in this area in order to establish the magnitude of the emission
savings. This will be part of a major new study we are commissioning
to fully evaluate the environmental benefits of our work programmes
and in particular the CO2 savings from our recycling
and waste minimisation programmes. This will be published in March
WRAP would like the Committee to consider the central message
of this submission that the recycling and composting of household
waste is having an important impact in reducing CO2
emissions. While WRAP acknowledges that the energy and transport
sectors are the biggest contributors to UK CO2 emissions
and the primary focus of action to tackle climate change, recycling
also plays its part. As European legislation, particularly the
Landfill Directive, and UK Government policy drives current and
future increases in recycling and composting activity, the benefits
in terms of CO2 savings and our collective capacity
to quantify this will only increase.
We are encouraged by the Prime Minister's words during a
keynote speech on
climate change in September 2004 in which he said:
" . . . we will help business cut waste and improve resource
efficiency and competitiveness through a programme of new measures
funded through landfill tax receipts. We will follow up the report
of the Sustainable Buildings Task Group to raise environmental
standards in construction."
WRAP is one of the many organisations working to accelerate
resource efficiency and was represented on the Sustainable Buildings
Task Group. As mentioned in this report, we are involved in activity
to assess how our work is contributing to the Government's wider
ambitions on climate change and would be pleased to send the Committee
details of this study when it is published next year.
1 October 2004
WRAP Business Plan 2004-2006: http://www.wrap.org.uk/publications/BusinessPlan2004.pdf Back
European Commission "Waste Management Options and Climate
Change" report (July 2001): http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/waste/studies/climate_change.pdf Back
Strategy Unit report "Waste not, Want not-A strategy for
tackling the waste problem in England" (November 2002): http://www.number-10.gov.uk/su/waste/report/downloads/wastenot.pdf Back
Prime Minister's Prince of Wales Business and the Environment
Programme anniversary lecture in Whitehall (14 September 2004):