Methane reduction: How FMs can get ahead

COP26 saw a lot more than 100 countries pledge to significantly cut emissions of methane – a robust greenhouse gas in charge of around 30 % of global warming up to now. Dr Stephen Wise, Chief Strategic Development Officer for environmental biotechnology company, Advetec explains what this signifies for FMs

T he Global Methane Pledge commits signatories to reducing their overall emissions by 30 % by 2030, weighed against 2020 levels.

The brand new initiative emphasises making cuts by tackling emissions from sources including coal and oil wells, livestock farming and decaying waste in landfill sites. In accordance with Dr Stephen Wise from environmental biotechnology company, Advetec, it’s the latter which gives FMs having an actionable possibility to get ahead in minimising methane and meeting reduction targets.

Where does methane result from?

Methane is generated under anaerobic conditions. A straightforward way to visualise this can be a cow. The cow consumes breaks and food it down within its stomach under anaerobic conditions. As the food reduces in the stomach it creates methane that is expelled in to the atmosphere. Methane can be an presssing issue since it is 80 times stronger that skin tightening and as a greenhouse gas.

What’s waste surely got to do with it?

Landfill is inherently an anaerobic system. Waste switches into the ground, it’s included in new waste the very next day and incredibly little air ingresses. This gives an ideal conditions for organic waste to breakdown and emit methane – in the same way a cow’s food does in the stomach. There could be some gas collection infrastructure set up, but methane will always escape in to the atmosphere as it’s an all natural process.

Therefore, to be able to reach the targets lay out at COP26, we should address the fate of most waste, like the residual non-recyclable waste – or the forgotten waste. The Pledge, alongside rising costs of landfill, waste segregation targets and the increasing value of the green pound, have created the proper conditions to operate a vehicle change and innovate the true way they collect, treat and get rid of waste.

Nevertheless, you don’t send any waste to landfill?

It may seem this to function as case as you have waste contracts set up, recycling bins aplenty and a widespread need to reduce waste to landfill so that it appears that is at hand. But what many businesses don’t know is that despite these efforts, 50 % of waste would go to landfill or for incineration still.

This 50 % comprises of mixed residual waste – the waste that can’t be segregated or sorted for recycling since it is contaminated. This may be a half empty drinks bottle, a yoghurt pot or perhaps a sandwich wrapper with crusts in, for instance. This portion often gets overlooked altogether but it’s the organic matter that produces methane under anaerobic conditions.

The initial steps of reducing methane would be to make sure that FMs and their organisations have a larger knowledge of the waste supply chain all together in order to take full accountability for each decision made. It could be easy to depend on outsourced partners to accomplish the green thinking but FMs have to understand their different waste streams, how they’re handled, how they could be handled and how all this fits within the wider waste journey. This knowledge can help FMs to query waste handlers’ choices, dictate desired waste outcomes and chart a training course for continual improvement.

What changes is it possible to make?

Reducing widespread usage of landfill depends on there being other affordable, accessible alternative solutions and there were great strides forward with improved practices and the usage of innovative treatment technologies – including:

  • Greater refocus on sorting and separating waste on site can yield green benefits. Sorting waste into three main streams – clean organic (food waste), residual (mixed waste) and segregated recyclates – at source helps FMs to raised understand their waste and the disposal routes which are appropriate and available. That is from innovative far, but a surprising amount of organisations don’t do that. Moreover, FMs should try to learn that when organic matter exists within the recyclates, they’ll not be recycled and so are headed to incineration or landfill.
  • Taking waste off site posseses an additional environmental cost as lorries generate carbon emissions, so are there real advantages to treating some waste streams on site. Biotechnology has here enter into its own, with residual waste particularly, as this can’t be sent for recycling since it comprises a natural fraction. Biotechnology can help you reduce the mass of the waste stream by typically 50 % on site – this means fewer collections and less road related carbon, in addition to cost savings. Most significantly perhaps, it results in less waste likely to landfill or EfW considerably.
  • Another impressive step would be to send all separately collected food waste for anaerobic digestion – an activity which may be used to generate green energy – electricity, fuel or gas and considerable carbon savings. The circle is completed when organisations buy that green energy back perfectly.

The pressure for FMs to believe greener is increasing so when long as sustainability remains near the top of the global agenda, it’s here to remain. From achieving net zero to cutting methane, it could seem overwhelming but by championing waste management at board level, educating business leaders concerning the waste journey and the technologies setting and available their very own targets, FMs may become ambassadors for positive change quickly.

FMJ is hosting a webinar with Advetec on the 26 th January 2022: How biotechnology is helping FMs achieve their sustainability goals and reduce waste. For additional information visit: