New Waste Infrastructure to Tackle CO2 Emissions

25 June 2020

New Waste Infrastructure to Tackle CO2 Emissions

The latest figures for greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) for Northern Ireland have revealed a 2% fall between 2017-2018.


Disappointingly, although GHG emissions from Northern Ireland’s waste management sector have fallen considerably since 1990, during 2017-2018 they increased by 10%.


Overall progress is also slower than other parts of the UK. Since 1990, total emissions have fallen by 20% in Northern Ireland compared to over 40% in England and Scotland, and 30% in Wales.


Modern waste facilities, however, would provide part of the solution.


A report by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) in July 2019 found that Northern Ireland was “at risk of falling behind the rest of the UK” in tackling CO2 emissions. This is in part due to Northern Ireland’s large agriculture sector which is responsible for 27% of GHG emissions.


The CCC previously recommended that new waste infrastructure in NI, such as Energy from Waste, could help reduce CO2 emissions by diverting waste from landfill (the methane gas produced by landfill waste is x20 more potent than CO2).


arc21’s proposals for Northern Ireland’s first EfW for household waste would reduce CO2 emissions by 57,000 tonnes annually, increase recycling rates by 5% and support 300 new jobs directly and indirectly (see here). Also, instead of exporting waste to produce green energy at EfWs overseas, it would allow us to recover that energy at home and reduce imports of fossil fuels.


Since 1990, the NI GHG Inventory found that the largest decreases, in terms of tonnes of CO2 equivalent, were in the energy supply, waste management and residential sectors.


These were driven by improvements in energy efficiency, fuel switching from coal to natural gas, which became available in the late 1990s, and the introduction of methane capture and oxidation systems in landfill management.


The UK has introduced a legally binding target to reduce GHG emissions to net zero by 2050.