As home to around 500,000 people and with an extra 47 million tourists annually, Cumbria faces a significant challenge in addressing emissions resulting from consumption and waste. This update sheds light on the ongoing efforts within the Consumption, Waste, and Circular Economy sector and their progress towards developing their Emission Reduction Action Plans (ERAPs).
The Scope of the Challenge
The emissions associated with consumption and waste, range from what we eat and the things we buy to our recycling processes and are substantial contributors to Cumbria’s carbon footprint. Tackling this issue is an extensive undertaking.
In spring, the Sector Groups underwent a reset of their priorities. Their primary objective is to draft the Sector Emission Reduction Action Plan (ERAP) by December 2023. Throughout the summer, they convened to delve into the details of addressing their Priority Emission Reduction Action Topics (PERA topics).
To help inform the ERAP’s, members have been collecting evidence from around the UK on other successful schemes, innovative interventions, and best practices. This process acknowledges the unique characteristics of Cumbria, the richness of geography from incredibly remote places to honey-pot towns its visitor economy, and diverse range of socio economic circumstances.
Insights and Engagement
To gain insights, the Sector Groups engaged with local authorities, who presented their current waste collection and processing strategies. They explored short-term emission reduction opportunities and initiated discussion on the longer-term plans, particularly concerning new waste contracts.
A notable highlight was the representative from the lottery-funded “Food Futures” project in North Lancashire showcasing their community initiatives promoting sustainable food systems. Additionally, some of the group members, visited the Mechanical Biological Treatment facility in Barrow.
The Sector Group are actively collaborating with WRAP, a leading Climate Action NGO, to access evidence-based recommendations. Notably, pilot projects are already underway, such as the collaboration between Cumbria Tourism and WRAP on the “Guardians of Grub” campaign, aimed at reducing food and drink waste in the hospitality sector.
Behavioural Change as a Driver
Recognising the power of behavioural change, the action plan will focus on campaigns and educational initiatives. These efforts aim to transform consumption patterns, shopping habits, recycling practices, and more.
The Sector Groups have begun crafting the ERAP, working on their vision for 2037, stakeholder mapping, the pathway to net zero, and a detailed workplan. Emerging draft actions include:
- Reducing wasted food through supporting and growing the Sustainable Food Places Network in Cumbria, a food strategy for Cumbria, education through the Love Food Hate Waste campaigns.
- Providing sustainable consumption guidance and promoting the hierarchy of reducing demand for products.
- Expanding reuse and repair networks, normalizing these practices, and investing in skills and training.
- Establishing a circular economy hub to drive transformative change.
Links to resources or projects already happening in Cumbria linked to the Sector Group members/actions: