Zero Waste To Landfill – Carbon Neutral Challenge Months 7 And 8

Written in June 2020 from notes made at the time

We had a frustrating experience at this time, a power cut towards the end of July meant that a generator was running for about 48 hours! We can’t really complain as the power company was just doing their best to keep the lights on, but it was slightly exasperating as we were trying to reduce our emissions.

We sorted out our waste collection for the workshop and found a supplier that offers “Zero to Landfill”. As with many aspects of carbon neutrality, it’s not as simple as it sounds. According to The Carbon Trust, Zero to Landfill “means that all waste produced is either reused, recycled, composted, or sent to energy recovery.”

“Energy recovery” sounds suspect, and it is exactly what it sounds like it’s a euphemism for-using the rubbish as fuel for electricity generation. If this is done well it can have a net carbon benefit, as it can happen in place of burning coal or gas, and it prevents the landfill from releasing that carbon while it degrades. Of course, burning the rubbish releases this same carbon much more quickly, but if it’s burnt in place of coal or gas then that’s better than burning the fossil fuel and leaving the rubbish to slowly decompose. Fossil fuels don’t emit anything if they’re left in the ground!

Power generation through combustion will likely have a place as part of the power grid for decades to come, as even when we put solar panels on every roof and fill the countryside with wind farms we’re still going to need some form of power generation that can be turned on with a switch.

None of this is to say I’m not counting the emissions caused by our waste. I’ve contacted our waste disposal contractors and will be adding the emissions from our waste disposal to what we need to offset.

We also bulk bought Certified Carbon Neutral paper from the Green Office. They protect the rainforest when you buy from them.

https://www.carbontrust.com/news-and-events/insights/what-is-zero-waste-to-landfill

https://www.thegreenoffice.co.uk/plain-paper/storefront-cool-earth-copier-paper-l-12