OPINION: Ahead of the 2019 LARAC Conference and Awards this week, the event’s Platinum Sponsor, FCC Environment, says that the time is right to have a conversation on how local authorities can lead the response to the climate crisis.
People are increasingly aware that decisions we make today will affect the future of our planet for generations to come. Key opportunities lie ahead, from reducing climate change emissions to improving air quality and preventing plastic pollution.
As we move towards a cleaner and more resource efficient form of economic growth, all tiers of government are stepping up to their roles in solving global environmental challenges.
The climate emergencies being called across the land have led to hundreds of councils committing to carbon neutrality by 2030, and the government has set a legally binding target for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Meanwhile, the Industrial Strategy has clean growth at its core: cutting emissions will be achieved at the same time as growing an economy. And as the new Resources and Waste Strategy emerges, we are seeing the government’s blueprint for moving to a more circular economy, eliminating avoidable waste and doubling resource productivity by 2050.
The world of resources is set to change, and so is the role of local authorities.
• What are your council’s areas of focus for cutting carbon?
• How will food waste collections and a deposit return scheme impact your bottom (carbon) line?
• Can transport emissions be reduced; or offset by better recycling performance?
Let’s have a climate conversation…
Since the beginning of this year, over 75% of local authorities have declared a climate emergency. Actions taken by waste and recycling teams can have a sizeable impact on a council’s carbon footprint, with strong opportunities for environmental gains.
FCC has a rigorous approach to reducing carbon emissions as set out in our 2018 Sustainability Report. Guided by the 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development, we work with local authorities to deliver quick wins as well as longer-term, strategic objectives.
Our local authority partners benefit from the year-on-year improvements made across all of our service areas, from our focus on reuse and driving materials up the waste hierarchy to our investments in zero-emission vehicles and fuel-efficient fleets.
The need to communicate climate leadership has never been greater, and citizens are looking to their council for reassurance that steps are being made in the right direction.
The responsibility for sustainable resource management now brings with it a duty to deliver on circular economy ambitions, reducing carbon emissions, improving air quality and preventing plastic pollution. These are the critical environmental issues of this generation and local authorities are in a strong position to lead from the front.
FCC is a world leader in delivering public services that don’t cost the earth. Our municipal teams are driven to deliver more for less. They are helping councils make unprecedented progress through detailed route optimisation, alternative fuel vehicles and strict emissions monitoring. Our investments in research and innovation mean we can run clean fleets and share the benefits with residents who experience better air quality and a top-notch service.
At our award-winning household waste recycling centres, our focus on reuse is both climate-and community-friendly, reducing waste and providing training opportunities, as well as offering repaired goods at a fraction of their normal price. Not only that, but improved layouts and enhanced technology mean customers don’t wait so long with idling engines contributing to local air pollution.
We ensure maximum diversion from disposal, reducing the need for further fossil fuel extraction and keeping materials in the loop for longer. Unrecyclable waste is also a precious resource and we continue to invest in world-class energy recovery technology to make the most of the green electricity and heat available from residual waste treatment.
Our national network of energy-from-waste facilities is significantly reducing potent methane emissions from landfill, offsetting fossil fuel dependence and providing an indigenous renewable energy supply for Britain. These are all important steps in reducing global atmospheric carbon and our partner councils benefit from having these choices.
This is an exciting time in the resources and waste sector. With increased public interest and scrutiny in all aspects of waste management, the ambitions of the Resources and Waste Strategy, the Industrial Strategy, Clean Growth Strategy and the 25-year Environment Plan, now is the time to take action, stimulate discussion, assess priorities and commit to the vital changes needed in the sector to make a real and long term impact in reducing carbon emissions.
FCC Environment’s chief executive, Paul Taylor, said “We currently have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to deliver a revolution in our sector. If we get it right now, we can support the government’s ambitions to make the UK a world leader in resource efficiency.”
“We currently have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to deliver a revolution in our sector. If we get it right now, we can support the government’s ambitions to make the UK a world leader in resource efficiency.”
We want to work in partnership with local authorities to shape the changes that the UK needs to make as part of a global community. There are many challenges ahead. There are important decisions that need to be made, and FCC has the expertise, experience and insight local authorities need to plan and deliver new services for future generations.
Seize the opportunity at the LARAC Conference to meet our team and share your ambitions for a climate-conscious future.