Addressing climate change from a waste services perspective - Resource Futures
Sarah Hargreaves, Senior Consultant at Resource Futures talks about addressing climate change with a focus on food and from a waste services perspective.
If we’d looked forward to 2020 a decade ago, could we have imagined how much would have changed?
David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg have brought important and complex topics to worldwide public consciousness - a monumental task many sectors have been trying to achieve for years. In 2019 the UK became the first country in the world to declare a climate emergency. Now, at the time of writing this, around 274 individual UK local authorities have declared a climate emergency (according to climateemergency.uk). That’s a significant number, and a likely source of the increasing calls we are seeing at Resource Futures around how to factor carbon neutrality into waste management practices.
What does that mean for local authorities? And how do you start to turn these declarations and policies into real change whilst avoiding knee-jerk reactions? The release of the UK Government’s Resources and Waste strategy has provoked many local authorities to start asking about the impact of upcoming changes (such as deposit return schemes, extended producer responsibility and compulsory separate food recycling collections) in order to make decisions now that will work for the long-term. After a decade of unprecedented public and government momentum, it’s time to start moving into decisive action.
Food - the defining issue of the 21st Century
There are no one-size-fits-all answers to how to address climate emergency action. Each council’s plan, on waste or any other area, will depend on the individual context, the local perspective and the stakeholders that bind it all together. But looking at food is always a good place to start.
The EAT-Lancet Commission report released in January 2019 stated that food would likely be the defining issue of the 21st century1. Research by the Food Climate Research Network (FCRN) indicates that our food system is responsible for around 20–30% of all global human-made greenhouse gases, with the major impacts coming from farming, agriculture and land-use change2.
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