Carbon emissions and savings

Waste and recycling services use energy and have environmental impacts, including through carbon emissions. But materials recycling and energy recovery achieve even greater energy and carbon savings.

There is increasing concern and scientific consensus about the impact of greenhouse gases, especially those containing carbon, on our climate and how this is changing weather patterns as a result.

Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) has two main sets of service contracts that are the principal producers of carbon:

1) Collections provided for Somerset’s five district councils as the Waste Collection Authority (WCA).

2) Recycling sites, waste treatment, including composting, and disposal provided for Somerset County Council as the Waste Disposal Authority (WDA).

For both WCA and WDA operations, emissions from diesel vehicles are the largest sources of carbon.

The carbon impact of these emissions are small in comparison to the much greater carbon savings achieved by SWP services, with the main benefits achieved by:

(a) Recovery of landfill gas to generate electricity from Somerset’s landfill sites at Dimmer and Walpole. The gas from landfill waste includes methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas 23 times more damaging than CO2. The carbon benefits are from less landfill gas being emitted to the atmosphere and from the electricity produced substituting for energy produced from fossil fuels.

(b) The biggest benefits are from the energy saved and emissions avoided from materials being recycled and reused, as they substitute for primary raw materials that require much more energy to be converted into new products.