Recycling technology and equipment provider Tomra says it has worked with United Kingdom-based consultancy Eunomia on a study that has identified the potential for a globally “optimized” waste management and recycling system that could reduce the output of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2.76 billion metric tons annually.
Tomra and Eunomia point to an “optimized combination of key waste management practices for collection, sorting and recycling” they say can help prevent resource depletion, reduce littering and contribute to a carbon-neutral world.
The firms include extended producer responsibility (EPR) methods, deposit-return or bottle bill systems, and optimal collection and sorting practices as key contributors to an “efficient and cost-effective holistic system.”
Deposit-return systems for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles and metal beverage containers that can create return rates of more than 90 percent “should play a central role in such a system,” say the two companies.
The study finds some materials are best off collected separately, including “biowaste, paper, textiles, and electrical and electronic equipment.” The white paper concludes “the rest should remain in a mixed waste stream [that] can be most efficiently separated into reusable materials for further recycling.”
The combination of collection and sorting best practices “will enable regionally customized holistic models to cut global CO2 emissions by up to five percent - the equivalent of grounding all commercial flights globally and taking 65 percent of cars off the road,” say Tomra and Eunomia.
“Now is the time for real action to ensure societies stop wasting resources with all the related negative consequences,” says Volker Rehrmann of Tomra Recycling. “In many places, the pandemic helped to meet Paris Climate Agreement goals. But even maintaining this level will require determined and consistent implementation, including holistic systems, to close the loops.”
The incineration or landfilling of plastics and other high-carbon materials generates unnecessary greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to the study.
In the white paper, Tomra points to its customer IVAR and its facility that serves the Stavanger, Norway, area. The material recovery facility (MRF) system there is a “fully automated mixed waste sorting plant, including brand new facilities for plastics reprocessing and paper sorting,” says Tomra. “As of 2021, the IVAR [system] ranks first in Norway in post-consumer plastic packaging collection rates,” adds the company.
The white paper resulting from the Tomra-Eunomia study can be found on this web page.