UK skip hire companies aid in effort to increase sustainability

Environmental concerns are at an all-time high in the UK and Southampton is one of the cities rallying for the cause.

According to a recent report, Southampton has made considerable efforts in fighting CO2 emissions and is on track to become one of the top three sustainable cities in the UK by 2021. Southampton already has a thriving economy and will likely become one of the country’s economic powerhouses by 2021, so residents have reasons to be happy. 

According to the study conducted by law firm Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economic & Business Research, carbon emissions have been dropping by 6.3% since 2017, which had led to an increase in air quality and made Southampton one of the healthiest places to live. 

To achieve this, authorities have launched a number of awareness and infrastructure projects, aimed at reducing the number of vehicles on the road and popularising other forms of transport, such as walking and cycling: 

  • The Local Transport Plan, which aims to implement the Southampton Cycle Network and make biking the most popular way of getting around the city. The network also aims to make biking safer by creating dedicated cycling lanes across Southampton. 

  • The My Journey campaign, which works with schools, colleges, and workplaces, encouraging residents to switch to alternative means of transport that don’t harm the environment. 

  • The local council supported public transport providers in fitting vehicles with technology for cleaner diesel. 

  • The Green City Charter, launched in June 2019, is an ambitious project that aims to tackle multiple sustainability issues, including becoming carbon neutral by 2030, reduce energy consumption, reduce nitrogen dioxide levels to 25 µg/m3, and use natural resources in a more responsible way. 

Apart from reducing CO2 emissions, which are a crucial part of improving air quality, Southampton is also taking great strides to reduce waste. Southampton's waste management efforts top the list of UK cities and authorities are hoping to encourage citizens to recycle more. 

At present, the recycling rate in Southampton is only 25%, whereas Bournemouth recycles almost half their waste. If Southampton wants to become Britain’s most sustainable cities, then waste management and recycling need to be tackled as seriously as carbon emissions. 

Authorities say that, in the past months, residents have been more receptive of recycling and that after they introduced 12 new plastic recycling banks, an additional four tonnes of plastic were recycled. However, this is only a temporary solution to the problem and if Southampton really wants to become the UK's most sustainable city, it needs to collaborate with local authorities to build a large-scale recycling facility that can hold all the waste that the kerbside can’t. 

Citizens cite the lack of recycling facilities as the primary reason why they do not recycle. According to local environmental campaigners, Southampton residents are aware of the dangers of improper waste management and would like to recycle more, but they don’t have the means to do so. In the future, if the city follows the same ascending path it is on now, that could change and Southampton could pass the neighbouring cities of Eastleigh and Fareham. 

Why is waste management a priority for Southampton?

Like the rest of the UK, Southampton is in danger of running out of landfill space in the event of a no-deal Brexit. In an internal document prepared by the Southampton City Council, authorities warned that the current situation "could result in recycling banks and waste transfer stations becoming full and potentially closing". The UK exports three million tonnes of domestic waste to the EU for recycling and refuse-derived fuels, but port delays could put more pressure on landfills and quite literally bury the country in rubbish. 

The solution starts at a local level, where authorities should offer residents the right infrastructure to dispose of household waste responsibly. By recycling, waste no longer ends up in landfills. Instead, it is recycled, which solves several problems: 

  • Lower pollution levels. Landfills are extremely harmful to the environment because the decomposing waste gives off toxic substances. This, in turn, raises C02 emissions, lowers soil quality, and pollutes water. 

  • Preserve resources. Southampton may have a booming economy, but if the industrial sector is using more resources than it can provide, then that won’t make it sustainable in the long run. By recycling, we can reuse metal, plastic, and paper and this can help the planet. 

  • Protect wildlife habitats. When waste isn’t disposed of properly, it can end up in wildlife habitats, where it harms the local flora and fauna. Lakes and rivers are particularly affected by this because the plastic destroys food sources and then ends up in our food. 

Many people would actually want to recycle more, but they’re not sure which items can be recycled and which item belongs where. This is why, in addition to sorting bins, authorities in Southampton also want to introduce more skips, which collect more types of waste, and then professionals sort them according to local guidelines. This way, even waste such as electricals and building materials are compacted and shredded. Even when an item cannot be recycled, skip hire companies  avoid sending it to the landfill, and instead try to prepare it for treatment. 

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