Why use the carbon metric?

Producing materials which are then wasted has a significant environmental impact. By reducing waste and managing resources better, we can live more sustainably.

Using the carbon metric instead of weight we get a more complete picture of the carbon impacts of our waste. It is also easier for organisations to evaluate the benefits of preventing and recycling waste, and helps identify which materials are causing the most damage to the environment.

As a consumption based carbon accounting approach, the carbon metric includes the carbon impacts across the whole life cycle of a product, not only the emissions which occur in Scotland. This means we can see how Scotland’s waste impacts on the environment globally rather than just in Scotland. 

If we implement Scotland’s current waste policies we can reduce our carbon impact by over 20% from 2011 to 2025. Over the last 10 years we saved 4.2Mt CO2eq from recycling waste in Scotland. This is the same as the amount of carbon it takes to make 3 billion cups of tea a year.

The policy guide gives an overview of the implications of the carbon metric for decision makers in Scotland. It explains:

  • Why it is important to measure the carbon impact of waste
  • The consumption based approach to measuring carbon
  • How the carbon impact of Scotland’s waste fits with our other measures of carbon emissions
  • How decision makers can use the carbon metric
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