The ESA and its members are leading efforts by the recycling and waste treatment sector to reach net-zero emissions by 2040.

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The recycling and waste treatment industry has reduced carbon emissions more than almost every other sector since 1990.

Furthermore, through our core recycling and waste treatment activities, our sector helps avoid millions of tonnes of CO2e emissions associated with society’s waste, across the wider economy, every year.

But our operations do still have a direct emissions impact and account for nearly eight per cent of total UK emissions.

To ensure we maximise our sector’s positive contribution towards the UK’s net-zero goals, the ESA and its members produced the first sectoral Net Zero Strategy in 2021, which sets out a credible plan and commitment to achieve net-zero emissions as a sector by 2040 – a full decade ahead of Government targets.

We will do this by decarbonising our vehicle fleets, increasing plastics recycling, moving organic waste out of landfill, improving the energy-efficiency of facilities and by developing carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) opportunities alongside greater use of district heating networks for energy-from-waste facilities.

Our members commit to reporting on, and monitoring, emissions progress and the ESA will continue to lead engagement with policy-makers to ensure the policy agenda supports delivery of our net-zero strategy. In particular, this includes promoting policy solutions for challenges outside of the sector’s full control – including support for plastics recycling, grid and transport decarbonisation and ensuring successful application of the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) to the sector.

You can view and download the ESA’s Net-Zero strategy document and a selection of our latest decarbonisation news, analysis and publications below.

Turning up the heat on Energy-from-Waste

Improving the energy efficiency of Energy-from-Waste (EfW) facilities by developing district heat networks could play a key role in meeting our sectoral decarbonisation goals.

To support the development of district heating networks for energy recovery facilities the ESA, alongside the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE), has compiled a Heat Network Prospectus which provides a map of the UK’s energy- from-waste fleet along with the technical specifications and contact details for each facility. All interested parties are welcome to view the prospectus below to support the opportunity appraisal process.

Latest decarbonising the sector news