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 What are we doing to reduce our carbon footprint?

What are we doing to reduce our carbon footprint?

Blog

Posted 14.02.2020

By Clearabee

Climate change is a big problem in 2020. Although there may be many people suggesting it’s not real and is a made up issue (or ‘fake news’), it is very much a cause for concern. Our summers are getting warmer with temperatures reaching highs of 38.7℃ (101℉) in Cambridge in July 2019. Whilst it may be enjoyable to have a few more days of sunshine during the summer in the UK, we are not very well equipped to deal with the heat and it has devastating effects.

With the way climate change is going at the moment, the temperatures are only going to continue to rise during the summer months. Along with very hot summers, the UK is now seeing warmer winters too. We are getting less snow and frost with temperatures barely going below zero in the height of winter. In February 2019, the hottest winter day on record was recorded in Kew Gardens, South London. With temperatures reaching 21.2℃ (70.2℉) global warming is becoming more and more apparent. The average temperature for this time of year should be around 9℃ (48.2℉). Although this huge increase in temperature cannot all be blamed solely on climate change, it is a major contributing factor.

Why is climate change a problem?

Across the rest of the planet, climate change is also having a huge impact. In Australia, they are currently experiencing devastating bushfires which have been ravaging across every Australian state since September. Over half a billion animals and at least twenty eight humans have been killed so far with over 3,000 homes being destroyed. The increasing temperatures in Australia has made the bushfires even worse. The lack of rain across the areas means that the fires are continuing to spread across the vegetation.

Elsewhere, glaciers are melting, the Amazon rainforest is burning down and crops are struggling. With these devastating effects and climate change in mind, we have vowed as a business to to reduce our carbon footprint and offset our CO² emissions. If we want the planet to survive so that future generations can enjoy it, then we all need to do more to combat climate change.

What causes climate change?

The main contributor to climate change is greenhouse gases. These are: water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone. These gases all have the property of being able to absorb infrared radiation. They rise up into our atmosphere and trap heat in, which in turn, heats the planet up. This is the reason why they have been given the name ‘greenhouse gases’.

What is a carbon footprint and how is it calculated?

We all have a carbon footprint which is defined as the amount of greenhouse gases that are produced to directly and indirectly support human activities. In this case, carbon is used as a generic term for all of the greenhouse gases. We add to our carbon footprint with every flight that we take, every time we drive a car or switch a light on in our house. Some people will have a bigger carbon footprint than others. Your carbon footprint is calculated in many different ways. There are several online calculators although they all differ from one another. Calculating your carbon footprint can be a long and complicated process best left to scientists. If you want a rough figure, then you can try to calculate it yourself.

What is a carbon footprint and how is it calculated?

We all have a carbon footprint which is defined as the amount of greenhouse gases that are produced to directly and indirectly support human activities. In this case, carbon is used as a generic term for all of the greenhouse gases. We add to our carbon footprint with every flight that we take, every time we drive a car or switch a light on in our house. Some people will have a bigger carbon footprint than others. Your carbon footprint is calculated in many different ways. There are several online calculators although they all differ from one another. Calculating your carbon footprint can be a long and complicated process best left to scientists. If you want a rough figure, then you can try to calculate it yourself.

How the use of vehicles contributes towards climate change

At Clearabee, our work involves the use of a lot of vehicles and driving from place to place. All of our vehicles run on petrol which is a fossil fuel. The burning of fossil fuels (in this case, petroleum) releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which as we know, contributes towards climate change. As well as releasing carbon dioxide, burning petroleum also produces carbon monoxide which is a poisonous gas, nitrogen oxide which is the main source of urban smog and unburned hydrocarbons which are the main source of urban ozone. Cars are fitted with catalytic converters which are designed to eliminate the majority of these polluting gases. However, they don’t completely eliminate the problem. Air pollution is a very big issue in cities, especially larger ones such as London, Manchester and Birmingham.

We use vehicles for all of our services including the most popular man and van service. However, we ensure that we are not contributing to the pollution problem by offsetting all of the CO² emissions that come off our vehicles. Whether you’re looking to hire a skip, use our skip bags or book in a sofa removal you can rest assured that you will not be adding to the climate change issue.

waste operatives loading a van

How Clearabee is tackling the pollution

We currently have over a hundred vehicles in operation across the United Kingdom. Each of these vehicles are only used for local jobs in a bid to keep the mileage of each vehicle down to an absolute minimum. As we operate from over a hundred unique locations across the UK, we are always likely to have a team nearby to get to a job. This means that we ultimately cover far less miles between jobs.

We are gradually retiring older vehicles. These are being replaced with brand new ones which are built to a Euro 6 standard. As it stands, our fleet is currently made up over 90% newer vehicles built to a Euro 6 standard. The newer Clearabee vehicles are built on an advanced lightweight aluminium chassis. The benefit of this is that they are substantially lighter than other cars and vehicles that are on the road. Therefore, there will be significantly less fuel being consumed per vehicle and less pollution. Ergo, these vehicles will undoubtedly be reducing our carbon footprint and helping us to combat climate change. We are proud to have one of the most modern and environmentally friendly fleets in the waste industry.

A typical passenger vehicle such as a car emits around 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. Every gallon of petrol that’s burnt is creating around 8007g of CO². Transport emissions are on the rise, so it is very important to us to keep ours as low as we possibly can. According to the European Environment Agency, light duty trucks and heavy duty trucks accounted for 38.1% of CO² emissions in the EU in 2016.

We are aiming to get this statistic lower with our Euro 6 vehicles. On Birmingham where our head office is located, the government will soon be introducing a Clean Air Zone. This is where targeted action is taken to improve the air quality of a certain area. In the Clean Air Zone, the most polluting vehicles will be discouraged from entering the zone with the introduction of a daily charge. This is expected to come into operation in the summer of 2020.

Our reforestation project

Although we do all that we can to reduce the carbon emissions that our vehicles emit, we are unable to completely eliminate them. To balance out the CO² emissions that our vehicles produce, we started our reforestation project in 2018. Our first forest at Nether Kidston now has 19,674 trees which we have planted. These trees are a mixture of eight different species:

  • Alder
  • Aspen
  • Birch
  • Cherry
  • Hazel
  • Holly
  • Oak
  • Rowan

As well as providing a home for local wildlife and being great for flood mitigation, these trees will help to offset substantially more carbon dioxide than we generate through our operations. We are currently working on a second forest; this will help to make more of a difference and will positively affect the environment and surrounding areas. The second forest will also continue to offset our CO² emissions.

What we are doing in our office

In our Birmingham head office, we continue to do our best to reduce our carbon footprint. Our modern office in the Jewellery Quarter is powered by completely renewable energy. We also take recycling very seriously, ensuring that everything that can be recycled is recycled, as with our collections. From here, we also monitor the vehicles to ensure that they are all working as they should be. We also assist the drivers with real time driver behaviour monitoring, which encourages them to drive as safely and environmentally friendly as possible. We will continue to offset all of our carbon emissions in our aim to reduce greenhouse gases.