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“Using standard carbon conversion factors we were able to convert the energy consumed in the transport and sorting process into equivalent carbon emissions for each waste transaction,” explains Tara.

RE-PROCESSING The final stage of the waste

management process involves converting the individual material streams into raw materials for the manufacture of new products. The methods differ for each material type but typically this will involve removing contaminants then shredding or crushing the materials into fine particles ready for re-constitution using a manufacturing process. “Fortunately the calculation of the carbon emitted during re-processing had already been estimated,” said Tara, “We were able to find a number of official sources from published research carried out over the last few years by Defra and other agencies.”

The most recent data on carbon factors

for the re-processing was available from Zero Waste Scotland which included carbon emissions for almost all waste types. For those that were not available we made assumptions and used data for similar material streams.

The data was combined with the calculations from transport and sorting to produce a figure for carbon emissions for each waste transaction which can be aggregated across a series of transactions e.g. on a project-basis or for a fixed duration such as a monthly summary report.

ENDORSEMENT Tara approached independent carbon

consultancy, Carbon Action, to obtain verification of the efficacy of the methodology and that the assumptions were based on sound environmental principles. “Our team of auditors scrutinised

McGrath’s processes to ensure they were capable of producing fair, accurate and representative GHG data in compliance with the principles and requirements of the International Standard,” said Fergal Mee, Director of Carbon Action, “They spent considerable time analysing the logic and assumptions behind the methodology for all three waste processes as well as the accuracy of their calculations in converting energy consumption into equivalent carbon emissions.”

After much haggling between auditors across three continents and requests for clarifications the carbon reporting system was granted accreditation against the

International Standard for Greenhouse Gas Reporting, ISO 14064 part 3 in March 2014. “This gave our methodology the independent endorsement and authenticity required to help build client confidence in the accuracy of the data,” explains Tara. Following this the algorithms and workings were passed to the software developers to integrate the new data into their electronic waste management system and prepare a new report format. After a four-month period of testing over the summer of 2014 a trial report was ready to send to a select group of industry experts and influencers including Steve Lee, Chief Executive of the industry trade body the Chartered Institute of Waste Management (CIWM): “McGrath’s achievement marks a major milestone in the quest to quantify the environmental benefits of recycling waste materials and provides the baseline data that will encourage organisations to consider the ways in which they manage their wastes,” said Steve, “This reporting system will also provide organisations that are committed to going the extra mile and submitting Scope-3 carbon returns with accurate empirical data about one of the key contributors to indirect carbon emissions”.

The report provides two carbon data sets – a figure for gross carbon emissions and one for net CO2 emissions which factor in the carbon benefits of recycling the wastes compared to landfilling them. “The process was fraught with a number of technical and academic hurdles that tested our faith and fortitude,” says Tara, “The challenge now is to improve the accuracy and next year we plan to introduce more scientific methodology to challenge and replace some of the assumptions we needed to make in order for the report to become a reality.”

A sample copy of the report is available to download from PUBLIC SECTOR ESTATES MANAGEMENT • JANUARY 2015 27

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