During the first day of the second Transnational Learning Journey Ramy Salemdeeb, Environmental Analyst at Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) presented the ZWS Carbon Metric Tool.

Zero Waste Scotland supports the circular economy governmental strategies working across different themes, tackling the issue of climate change and decarbonisation of the Scottish economy. This vision led to develop the Carbon Metric in 2013, a very inspiring way to look at waste management. Today this exciting work has moved forward, by looking at the waste generated from different perspectives and by providing additional insights to policymakers.

The Carbon Metric Tool

The Carbon Metric measure the all life carbon impact of Scotland’s waste from resource extraction and manufacturing to waste management emissions, with respect to where this impact occurs.

Unlike many tools and methods that focus on the emission associated with direct waste management activities, the carbon metric – that includes all life cycle impacts - it is an effective way to assess the substantial environmental benefits associated to waste prevention.

Rather than a mere accounting tool, the Carbon Metric Tool represents a decision-support tool that can help policymakers in taking environmental impact into consideration when they work on new policies and strategies to address the issue of climate change.

When it comes to waste, each city or region has different waste categories that cover different waste sources; in each country, there are own operation activities, and waste recycling and disposal methods. To drive waste prevention and management in order to reduce the carbon footprint, the goal is to reduce local emissions. Scotland has managed to reduce the life carbon impact of waste in the last seven years by improving the quality of recycling waste streams and increasing the tonnages of separate collection food waste

“More circularity, less carbon” campaign

In November 2019, ACR+ launched the “More circularity, less carbon” (MCLC) campaign to mobilise members of its networks and decentralised authorities in the fight against climate change while taking into account the local carbon footprint and existing dynamics. They will build on their key role as public authorities, mobilising local stakeholders and citizens, to drive waste prevention and management and advance the circular economy throughout their jurisdictions in order to reduce carbon impacts. Their goal? Reduce the emissions linked with local resource management by 25% by 2025.

The campaign is building on the work initiated by Zero Waste Scotland and is based on the Carbon Metric International tool, an expansion of the Carbon Metric tool.

This tool takes local and region-specific carbon factors into consideration.

It has been developed to be used by different regions and cities to estimate the carbon footprint of waste: that is why it has been shaped to be as user-friendly, robust, and reliable as possible and easy to adapt.

Going beyond carbon

The next step in the journey towards decarbonisation is to go beyond the carbon impact, which does not necessarily reflect the actual environmental cost of waste and material. For example, investigating bio-based plastics, it might turn out a lower carbon impact compared to the fossil-based plastics, but there might be other outcomes considering other factors like land and water footprint to produce the material.

Starting looking beyond carbon means to look at different parameters towards a holistic environmental assessment of materials and products.

The importance of cooperation

The way forward is collaboration, collaboration, collaboration! 
The ultimate way to address all the challenges.

In order to properly implement the life cycle thinking along the decision-making process, it is key to involve and build bridges among LCA community practitioners.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ramy Salemdeeb

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