Environmental consultancy Eunomia has been commissioned by Devon county council to carry out an analysis of the carbon impacts of the authority’s waste management services.
The project – which began in December 2019 but was announced this morning (13 January) – was prompted by the council’s endorsement of the Devon Climate Declaration on 22 May 2019.
With the council thus declaring a council emergency, it adopted a subsequent commitment to become a net-zero authority by 2030.
Ann Ballinger, Eunomia’s lead expert in the carbon impacts of waste management, said: “It is crucial that any declaration of a climate emergency is followed up with action, so it’s fantastic to see Devon county council engaging with one of their key areas where they have some direct influence over their carbon emissions.
“We’ll be looking at the full scope of the emissions from the authority’s waste management services to help them understand the areas where they can make the largest carbon savings in the least time and in the most cost-effective manner.
“We’re looking forward to working closely with the team and helping them take a step towards their net-zero goal.”
As part of the council’s commitment to tackling the climate emergency it required its current leader, Conservative John Hart, to report to full council within six months with the actions that will be taken to address the issue.
Eunomia says its emissions modelling team will establish the carbon footprint of Devon county council’s current waste management services, including the emissions from reuse, recycling, composting, anaerobic digestion, residual energy recovery, landfill and transport.
The results of this analysis will be used to produce a range of options for strategies for achieving carbon neutrality, and these will factor in the need to meet a 65% recycling target by 2035 at the latest.
Councillor Andrea Davis, Devon county council’s cabinet member for infrastructure and waste, said: “We are pleased to be working with Eunomia on this important project that will enable us to better understand the carbon impact of how we manage waste in Devon and the potential for reducing this in line with local and national targets.
“The report will be used to inform the development of our new Resources and Waste Strategy this year which will be produced in partnership with our district and neighbour unitary councils.”
Eunomia’s analysis will include carbon contributions from the eight district collection authorities in Devon and a household waste recycling centre service.
The population of the area under the authority of the council is 765,302 and its recycling rate was 56% for the 2018/19 financial year.
“It is crucial that any declaration of a climate emergency is followed up with action”
In January 2018 Suez was awarded a 10-year treatment contract worth £60 million by Devon county council for the construction of a waste transfer station and the annual treatment of 45,000 tonnes of residual household waste from two districts (see letsrecycle.com story).
At the LARAC Celebration Awards 2019 Catherine Causley, Devon county council’s reuse project officer, won a prize for an Outstanding Contribution to Recycling, having set up a range of programmes since she joined the local authority in October 2017, including Devon Reuse Week, Devon Upcycling Day, WEEE repair events and the Big Fix, which broke the world record for the most items fixed at one repair café (see letsrecycle.com story).