Aiming for and achieving Zero Waste has a pivotal role to play in terms of reducing the impact of climate change.
The Earth’s global average surface temperature in 2020 equalled 2016 as the warmest year on record. The average temperature was 1.02 degrees Celsius warmer than the baseline period of 1951-1980. To compound the situation, the last seven years have been the warmest since records began.
With the planet’s population and resource consumption continuing to grow, it is expected that waste will double and treble by 2050 and 2100.
The ultimate challenge is to mitigate the impacts of climate change by re-evaluating the contribution of carbon intensive economic drivers, resource consumption, unsustainable production and disposal of goods and the lifestyles choices of people. The more resources society consumes, the more waste it will produce and the more it will contribute to climate change.
Resource management has a pivotal role to play in terms reducing the impacts of climate change. Here at Merseyside Recycling & Waste Authority (MRWA), through our Climate Action Plan, we are committed to being more efficient with the resources we manage so that we can support a low carbon and circular society in the future. We have developed the Climate Action Plan to ensure we can respond effectively to the emergency and have identified the following core areas for action:
- Energy conservation, consumption, and production
- Closed landfill management – gas and waste water control
- Waste stream and waste treatment impacts
- Food Waste
In 2019, the UK became the first major economy to legislate for net zero emissions by 2050 and set out measures to go further and faster to tackle climate change. Measures included the following:
- A new package of energy efficiency measures for businesses
- Plans to accelerate the decarbonisation of transport including automotive, freight and rail
- Stronger governance to drive further climate action across government
- A new Environment Bill.
In 2019, the UK Parliament also passed a national declaration of a climate and ecological emergency. It was the first national government to declare such an emergency. Towns and cities across the UK, including Authorities in the Liverpool City Region (LCR) and us ourselves at MRWA, also declared emergencies.
In 2017, the UK Government made a commitment to a Circular Economy by pledging to support low carbon investments and to work towards zero avoidable waste by 2050. In addition, its Clean Growth Strategy aims to maximise the value of resources and minimise negative environmental and carbon impacts.
A Resources and Waste Strategy was published in 2018 that sets out how it will preserve material resources by minimising waste, promoting resource efficiency and moving towards a circular economy and how producers can be better incentivised to manage resources more efficiently through extended producer responsibility.
Minimising the impacts of consumer induced climate change is paramount therefore, we will take responsibility for informing, influencing, and intervening in the vagaries of consumerism through our Behaviour Change Programme.
To tackle climate change, we need to fully comprehend the personal and environmental reasons that influence the behaviour of consumers and encourage ‘owner and disposer’ responsibility. Conserving resources and prolonging their use through swapping, sharing, repairing, reusing, and upcycling, will help to mitigate climate change.