Enable the circular economy
At Renewi, our purpose is to protect the world by giving new life to used materials. To achieve this, we need to take action to make the economy more circular
When your business strategy and sustainability strategy meet, sustainability becomes part of your organisation’s DNA.
At Renewi we take a precautionary approach to environmental challenges. Enabling the circular economy is at our core and expressed in our purpose: to protect the world by giving new life to used materials. That is exactly why two of our business strategy objectives are to be both a leader in recycling and a leader in secondary raw material production.
Our goals and metrics for 2025
Our objective is to turn our customers’ waste into new products, by focusing on three metrics: recycling rate, carbon avoidance and innovative secondary materials produced.
Transforming waste into new products
An important element of closing the circularity gap is turning waste into new products and, as such, one of our key objectives is to give new life to our customers’ waste. We help customers with guidance and advice on circularity. By bringing forward inspirational ways to make customers’ procurement practices more circular.
We have set three clear and measurable metrics to track how we will continue to close the circularity gap. First, by 2025, we intend to divert 75% of all the waste we receive towards recycling, saving more than 10 million tonnes of materials from going to incineration and landfill. Second, by 2025, we want to produce one million tonnes of secondary raw materials annually using new and innovative processing.
Carbon avoidance from recycling and recovery
An important aspect of a circular economy is the carbon avoidance that occurs in the supply chain when secondary raw materials are used instead of primary raw materials. Recycling leads to huge savings, both in terms of primary raw materials used as well as the energy expended to bring these into our production cycle. Giving preference to recycled materials over primary raw materials could make a big difference.
We are committed to boost our CO2 avoidance per year in the supply chain by 2025, mainly through recycling and the production of secondary raw materials, but also through the creation of waste-derived fuels, biogas production from food waste, landfill gas power generation and the use of waste-derived fuels on the ATM site.
It is important to note that with the increasing effort to recycle and produce secondary raw materials, the energy use of companies like Renewi will also increase. We are working on reducing these carbon emissions by switching to green energy where possible and by producing our own energy via solar and wind. However, the net carbon benefit of our efforts is always positive because the amount of carbon avoidance in the supply chain is almost seven times higher than our own footprint.
How do we want to accomplish this goal?
Recycling is the engine of a circular economy. It is precisely in the ability to recycle products that there is growth potential. A significant amount is already recycled in Western Europe, partly by producers rethinking and reinventing production processes to achieve eco-design targets. But there are still some challenging material flows, such as residual mixed waste, mixed plastics, wood and hazardous waste, which are difficult to recycle and therefore need innovation.
Renewi already has an industry leading recycling rate of 65.8%. Last year, we committed to raise this to 75% by 2025 through the launch of Mission75. To achieve this uplift, we must work innovatively to extract as much value as possible from waste and recycled materials.
Launched in April 2021, Mission75 is an ambitious goal that will require teamwork, focus and effort from everbody at Renewi. We are already a market leader in recycling, diverting eight million tonnes of waste away from incineration or landfill. Mission75 will aim to divert an additional 1.3 million tonnes of waste.
This mission requires new and innovative recycling solutions from us. We can start by recycling materials that currently end up in landfill or incineration, as well as working towards uplifting current low-grade recycling to achieve higher specifications. But we also need to innovate on the supply side, since we will become an essential supplier of secondary raw materials in the future. Hence, our recycled products will have to be as close as possible to virgin materials to be a valuable alternative.
We’re currently working on several new, advanced technologies across the whole Renewi portfolio. With Mission75, we identify hard to recycle waste streams such as mattresses and undertake advanced sorting that will allow sorting of mixed streams into recycable fractions.
This mission focuses on all of the Renewi divisions. Within the Commercial Division our primary goal is to divert at least 25% of the current residual waste volumes (mixed consumer and business waste) from incineration and landfill. We want to accomplish this by actively encouraging better sorting at source and by using innovative techniques in post-sorting.
Within our Mineralz & Water Division our primary goal is to get ATM soil recycling volumes back to full production volumes and increase the secondary material production of sand, gravel and filler to one million tonnes annually. Beyond ATM, we also want to increase FORZ and other mineral product volumes.
Within our Specialities Division the focus mostly lies in improving quality of material outputs at Maltha and Coolrec and maintaining volumes. Long-term UK PPP contracts limit the scope of possibilities within our UK business. However, we continue to increase volumes that are diverted from landfill to waste-derived fuels production.
Renewi is impacted by economic activity. In FY21, Covid-19 slowed down that pace considerably. However, despite the lower volumes of waste (-1.13 million tonnes), recycling and recovery rates and the carbon avoidance as a result of our activities – the key indicators for our sustainability performance – are progressing towards our target. The recycling rate rose almost 1.1 percentage points to 65.8%, mainly due to a decrease in waste sent to incineration, while at the same time levels of waste recycled remained stable.
The level of innovative materials produced significantly increased, to 353,500 tonnes, mainly due to ATM’s production of purified gravel, sand and filler. We will continue investing to enable a major leap forward. For example, RetourMatras (our investment with IKEA Group), our bio-LNG investment with Shell and Nordsol, the AP4Terra products, and our investments to get higher quality and quantity waste to products.
As a result of our increased recycling and recovery rate, our carbon avoidance intensity ratio rose by 1.5% compared with FY20, to 261kg CO2 per tonne waste handled.