Sector must offer ‘solution’ to cutting UK’s emissions, FCC says

The waste sector faces a “significant challenge” to ensure it is seen as “part of the solution” as the UK looks to cut its emissions by 78% by 2035, according to a report published by FCC Environment.

FCC published its annual sustainability report for 2021 on 25 July

Spanish-owned FCC published its annual sustainability report for 2021 on 25 July. Within the report, FCC says the sector must look at how it can “enable” the rest of society to meet its own net zero goals through “better” recycling options, education, improved efficiency and working with producers to make them aware of what can be handled.

While the waste sector has “almost halved” its carbon emissions since 2008, FCC says, it still contributes 8% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Looking towards the next general election, which is scheduled for 2024, Paul Taylor, FCC’s group chief executive, said: “The waste and recycling sector can be instrumental in helping the UK achieve its goals and get back on its feet.

“Whatever Britain’s political future holds, it is FCC Environment’s belief that the industry requires legislative and economic drivers to encourage investment in infrastructure as well as market growth.”

FCC says it is “certain” that all the major parties will make advancing the green agenda a core component of their manifestos for the next election.

The company also says the waste sector should “brace” for a volley of new policies designed to help the devolved nations move towards a circular economy.

Net zero

FCC claims it already incorporates “carbon-friendly initiatives” into its day-to-day work. In the report, the company pointed to ‘avoided emissions’, which it says occur when an activity leads to avoiding emissions that would otherwise have been produced. Reuse, recycling and energy from waste all offset the need to create new products or generate fossil fuel energy, FCC says.

FCC is set to roll out ‘microgeneration’ at nine of its landfill sites across the UK following a pilot scheme in Burnley

The company claims its avoided emissions were 1.3 times higher than its emissions in 2021.

As part of FCC’s commitment to reaching net zero by 2040, the company has started moving to “zero emission vehicles”. In 2021, FCC trialled an e-One refuse collection vehicle and fully electric sweeper during collection rounds across Wychavon district council. It says trials are also taking place in North Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire as part of its strategy to replace diesel plans with electric models.

And, FCC says it is set to roll out ‘microgeneration’ at nine of its landfill sites across the UK, following a pilot scheme in Burnley. Microgeneration is the small-scale generation of power by individuals and businesses to meet their own needs, as an alternative or supplement to centralised, grid-connected electricity. Overall, FCC says, its initiative will feed an additional 7,329 MWh of energy into the grid, enough to power more than 2,360 homes.


FCC says it holds more than 100 contracts with some 60 local authorities, recycling more than 1.1 million tonnes of waste each year.

Recycleye installed an AI-powered robotic waste picking system at re3’s Reading MRF in September 2021

According to the report, the company’s highlights for 2021 include signing a contract with East Lothian council to provide food waste and recycling collections for 54,000 properties (see story).

Tom Reid, head of infrastructure at East Lothian council, said: “With the population expected to grow significantly over the length of the eight-year contract, FCC Environment has a clear focus on driving up material recycling rates, in line with the Scottish Government’s household recycling charter.”

And, in September, re3 announced the installation of Recycleye, the “UK’s first” retrofittable, AI-powered robotic waste picking system of its kind, at its materials recycling facility in Reading (see story). re3 is a waste management partnership between FCC and Bracknell Forest, Reading and Wokingham borough councils.

Related link
FCC Environment Sustainability Report 2021

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