Carbon Committee to Champion Waste

By Mike Ritchie –

The WMAA has moved to strengthen the voice of the waste industry in forming a National Carbon Committee. It is important that potential contribution from the waste industry is recognised in any scheme and is not lost in the debate about the major emitters like power stations.

The waste industry has the ability to produce, at relatively short notice, savings of more than 35 million tonnes of CO2 emissions annually. That would represent nearly 7% of total emissions.

These reductions can be achieved through three simple and relatively low-cost actions: better capture of landfill gas; limiting the amount of organics in landfills; and better recycling and reuse.

The Government won’t make final decisions on its emissions trading scheme (ETS) until later in the year, but the Garnaut Review’s discussion paper has concluded that along with stationary energy, transport and industrial processes, emissions from waste can be accurately measured or estimated at reasonable cost and could be covered by an ETS commencing in 2010.

If waste is to be included in an AETS, then there is an enormous task to be able to measure accurately the gas emissions from landfills. It will be critical to develop accurate measurement and models to account for these emissions, particularly for council and private operators.

The National Carbon Committee is also concerned about the lack of specific recognition of recycling in the proposed ETS. It means that significant emissions that might be avoided through resource recovery, rather than raw materials, are not directly recognised and valued by the scheme.

We encourage Professor Garnaut and the AETS designers to consider including recycling as a generator of offset credits and that this be specifically recognised in the scheme. That would send a positive message of encouragement to all those households and businesses which are busily recycling across Australia.