Reducing your carbon impact helps to build a cleaner, greener, healthier Scotland.
There are a range of greenhouse gases which are often referred to as 'carbon '. These include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). The emission of these gases in large quantities is harmful to the environment, and preventing waste and recycling as much as we can helps to reduce the damage being caused.
Everyday items, for example a fizzy drink can or plastic bottle, have an individual carbon impact which will depend on the type of material used, the amount of energy needed and the emissions from the production process. By adding all this up, we know that it takes more carbon emissions to produce 1 tonne of aluminium than it does to produce 1 tonne of plastic. Recycling products typically uses less energy than making new things from new materials. Recycling also avoids valuable materials going to waste, where they can decay and emit more greenhouse gases.
Further information about carbon calculations is available from the Energy Saving Trust.
Calculating the carbon saved by recycling
Scotland is pioneering a new approach to measure how much carbon we save by recycling. The world-first tool is the carbon metric, which has been developed by the Scottish Government and Zero Waste Scotland. The tool measures the carbon impact that different materials have at key stages of life: from the extraction and transport of raw materials to how the discarded product breaks down in landfill sites.
In future this could help local authorities and businesses develop future waste collection services based on a clear picture of the environmental benefits of recycling certain materials. It also offers a new way to measure our recycling efforts which is based on environmental impact rather than weight.
Further information is available on the Zero Waste Scotland website.