We don’t believe in waste of any kind, not just resources, but also time, energy, ideas or money. Life is short; we don’t want to waste it.

is net zero just a buzzword?

I’ve been around long enough to have seen a few fads come and go in the environmental sector. I might have got into bins because of the fact that plastic in the oceans was killing leatherback turtles, but back then, recycling was all about saving the trees. Now it’s about being carbon net-zero.

In recent years we’ve seen companies go plastic-free, declare climate emergencies, join climate rebellions, move to one-planet living, go climate neutral, carbon neutral and now, more recently go carbon net-zero. All these different terms to deal with the one simple fact: modern living damages the planet’s ecosystems to such an extent that future generations will not be able to enjoy the same standard of living that we do today.

So where does carbon net zero come from? The Paris Agreement was signed in 2016 at COP21 as part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Signatories to the Agreement (196 countries) agreed to keep global average temperature rises to less that 2degrees and to limit that increase to 1.5 degrees ideally which is the level at which we think we can handle the impacts of climate change. We’ve been talking about this since Kyoto was signed back in 1997 and since then global emissions have increased. In Paris it was agreed that the only way to meet these targets was for there to be net zero carbon emission by mid-century. The UK has led the way in being the first country to put this into law, and so companies are following suite. (Whether or not you think we’ll make it is another matter).

However, being net zero something is just a sum; add something, take something else away and make sure the result is zero. When we are talking about climate change, some have taken it to mean carry on as normal, do some offsetting and hope the net result is no extra carbon being released. Unfortunately, while the market price of carbon is still low, it is easy for some companies to offset business as usual and greenwash it as something positive. Or net zero.

At Binit we want to be clear that for us, and for other responsible companies that we work with and support, net zero means reducing our carbon impact first and foremost. We are working now on calculating our Scope 1 and 2 emissions so we can set ambitious reduction targets by 2025. Scope 3 is harder, as anyone who has tried to calculate them will know! However, we’re working on a plan to reduce these too and while we’re doing this, we will offset. But offsetting is the temporary sticking plaster, it’s not healing the cut. As far as I’m concerned, even when we are net zero, we’re still bleeding. And the bleeding won’t stop till we stop using fossil fuels altogether. If we can’t do that, then there ain’t enough space on this one planet to plant all the trees that will be needed to stop climate change. 

Is net zero a buzzword? Can I ‘cop’ out and say it depends who uses it and how? Afterall, it’s not what you say, but what you do that counts. 

Want help in going net zero? Give us a shout.

how to make electrical waste collections carbon net zero

One of Binit’s core aims is to reduce the impact of heavy vehicle movements. Many of Europe’s cities are still built on medieval layouts and we are increasingly wanting pedestrians and cyclists to feel safer in these urban areas. Unfortunately, the most efficient way to collect waste is in a 26tonne bin lorry. Electric bin lorries are finally appearing on our streets, but demand is high, supply is low and it will be a while before it’s the norm. In the meantime, diesel is the fuel of choice.

Binit working closely with InExeter, the Business Improvement District, to see if there were things that we could collect for recycling that would not traditionally be collected in small volumes. Small electrical equipment was the obvious stream, mainly because of the high environmental impact of landfill or energy from waste.

We decided we would ensure that collections were made by cargo bike in the city centre. To make this happened we made sure we gave small, branded bags to each of the businesses in the BID area. Binit partnered with Co-Delivery, our lovely local cargo bike delivery firm. I have a particular love of Co-Delivery as I met Jenny, its founder, on the Exeter City Futures Accelerator programme when we were setting up Binit back in 2017.

Co-Delivery collect small electrical items for us from businesses in the centre of Exeter. They take these to a central bulking point where they are moved out of the city by van. The cargo bikes are whizzing round the city all day making deliveries so collections are made on the existing routes. A little more effort in planning means that we have made massively less impact with our collections. Simple.

5 things that make recycling confusing

We know that recycling can be complicated so we collected some of the most common areas that make people confused. If you want to up your recycling game, read on!

1. those nasty takeaway coffee cups

You’re about to have your daily dose of caffeine in a big coffee shop but realise that you forgot to bring your reusable cup. Never mind, you’ll just have it in a takeaway coffee cup and then put it in the recycling bin so it doesn’t harm the planet, right? Well, let us tell you something.

Despite your hardest efforts to recycle, most regular takeaway coffee cups end up in landfill where they decompose anaerobically (without the presence of oxygen) and produce methane, a greenhouse gas 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide. This is because hot drinks are typically served in paper cups with a thin inner plastic lining that prevents heating and leaking. Unlike cups made of PET or polypropylene (PP) that are widely recycled in the UK, these tricky ‘paper’ cups can only be recycled at two specialist facilities in the country.

Sadly, though the two specialist recycling plants have the capacity to process all discarded cups, most cups do not make it to their facilities. As single-use cups are usually used on-the-go and there are not enough recycling bins for coffee cups, customers are likely to throw them in the general recycling bin where it could contaminate other recyclable materials. Another problem is that even if the cups are put in the correct bin, the financial and environmental costs of the transportation of cups may outweigh the benefits of recycling.

So, please just try and remember to have your reusable cup with you at all times!