How technology can drive us to net zero

  Chris Williams


There’s considerable pressure for us all to reach ‘net zero’ within the next decade. It’s essential that we make fundamental changes to the way we do things in order to avoid a catastrophic climate disaster and businesses are a critical part of this drive.

Increasingly, we are seeing businesses of all sizes committing to working towards net zero. This is driven by five key factors:

Regulatory pressures – as with many changes in business, there often needs to be a compunction to act. So we are now seeing a range of regulatory demands that will require businesses to make certain changes and commitments over the coming years. Failure to make these changes will put companies at a disadvantage and have a negative impact on growth and profits.

Investor priorities – investors are starting to vote with their feet. They expect businesses to be paying attention to climate-related issues and to have a serious plan in place to improve the way they do things. From venture capitalists to pension funds, investors are using their power to force change.

Long-term sustainability – climate change is happening now and it is already having an impact on the supply of raw materials and food production. Smart organisations plan for the long term, considering the risks that they face and how they will mitigate them. Climate is a significant risk, and so should be at the top of the list when it comes to long-term strategy planning.

Consumer demand – customers have increasingly high expectations of the businesses they deal with. The expect them to be taking climate issues seriously and making real and sustainable change to reduce their impact on the planet.

Social responsibility – it’s the right thing to do. Responsible businesses are making the effort because they believe they can – and should – do better.

Complying with climate regulation

For companies in the waste and recycling sector, regulatory compliance is a key driver of change. Not just for the companies for themselves, but for their customers. For example, the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) aims to improve and increase reporting of climate-related financial information.

The TCFD requirements apply to large businesses – around 1,300 in the UK, 49,000 in Europe and about 100,000 worldwide. These businesses need to formally report their climate-related activity based on recommendations from the TCFD. These include Scope 1 and Scope 2 requirements – covering emissions coming from the business’s core activities – and Scope 3 requirements, which cover both upstream and downstream in the supply chain.

That’s where waste and recycling companies come in. For the biggest providers, they may have to meet the TCFD requirements themselves. But most will come under Scope 3, where they will have to prove to their customers that they are operating sustainably and responsibly. So how does that work in practice?

Waste and recycling transparency

We know that around 5% of all emissions contributing to the climate emergency come from landfill. So it’s essential that we reduce the amount we throw away or burn. For waste and recycling companies, this is about collecting, separating and managing waste in a sustainable way, in line with the waste hierarchy. So companies need to be central to reducing, reusing, recycling, recovering materials and managing residual waste.

To do this, waste and recycling companies need to have complete visibility over their processes and be able to report their actions transparently and reliably. This relies on having technology that is integrated across the business, allowing for seamless reporting and both operational and financial efficiencies.

That’s exactly what we offer with Waste & Recycling One – our flagship system designed specifically to help waste and recycling companies around the world manage waste more responsibly and be valued partners to their customers, supporting them with better processes and accurate reporting.

We can’t influence companies to change their own attitudes or commitments to climate change, but we can give businesses a platform to transform the way they work. Technology has a vital role to play in the journey to net zero.

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