On Wednesday, the Carbon Trust announced plans to launch the world’s first international standard for organisations to certify that they are managing and reducing 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, through increased reuse, recycling or energy recovery.
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.
Around the world it is estimated that each year roughly 11.2 billion tonnes of solid waste is collected and landfill from commercial and industrial waste is responsible for 2.3 million tonnes of CO2e. The decay of just the organic parts of this waste contributes around five percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions. Preventing, reusing or recycling waste rather than depositing it to landfill reduces emissions and resource consumption; for example, recycling one tonne of paper saves approximately 17 trees and 50 per cent of the water needed for production.
Effective waste management can therefore have a huge positive environmental and economic impact. Despite this, Carbon Trust research conducted in October 2012 found that only 21% of senior executives of large companies in the UK, USA, China, South Korea and Brazil have sustainability targets for waste and 49% are not yet confident that there is a business case for investing in managing waste.
“For the past five years we’ve worked with companies across the world to cut carbon emissions and it is now time for us to apply this expertise to the global problem of waste," said Tom Delay, Carbon Trust's Chief Executive. "The new Waste Standard, combined with the Carbon Standard and Water Standard, will help organisations take a more stringent approach to resources so they can operate in a more efficient, cost-effective way, as well as preserving global resources.”
The new Carbon Trust Waste Standard will also include a qualitative assessment to show that waste is being prevented or managed responsibly. 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.