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Decarbonisation – why?

In 2020, EMR embarked on a path to fully decarbonising its operations in the decades ahead. Ian Sheppard, Managing Director of Metal Recycling of the organisation explains.


Decarbonisation – why? f
Ian Sheppard

The leading metal recycler has committed to an ambitious 2040 net-zero target, starting with a 10-year investment and transformation plan called ‘Our Decade of Action’. This includes switching to 100 percent renewable electricity, changing the way we work and introducing new technologies to further cut EMR’s emissions – all by the end of the decade. 

It means a dramatic period of change for the business so, it’s worth asking, why is EMR so committed to decarbonisation?

“The path to a greener, cleaner economy is one that EMR fully supports and, as one of the world’s leading, advanced recyclers, we believe we have a lot to contribute,” says Ian Sheppard, Managing Director of Metal Recycling at EMR.

This is why EMR is investing in developing new processes to support the production of high specification green steel, green aluminium and green copper which can be used in manufacturing and the next generation of sustainable products.

“Not only will this be better for the planet and reduce the need for nature-depleting virgin materials; the work we’re doing now will also help safeguard EMR’s future, as the demand for sustainably recycled materials from the urban mine grows,” Ian Sheppard says.

And the stakes are high. Leading recyclers like EMR must take a leadership role in decarbonising our world and creating the circular economy. Ian continues:

“EMR has a long track record of working with trade bodies such as the British Metal Recycling Association (BMRA) and Environmental Services Association (ESA). These organisations have thousands of members, many of whom are smaller businesses and may not feel they have the bandwidth and resources to invest and engage in these issues. By providing an example of how it can be done, EMR is helping the whole industry to embark on this journey.”

Crucially, as businesses up and down the supply chain work to hit their own Scope 3 carbon reduction targets, they will also rely on the likes of EMR to provide decarbonised recycling services to help them achieve their own goals.

EMR’s commitment to becoming a net-zero business can also be demonstrated by the family-style business model that sees 99 percent of profits put back into the business, investing in the technologies needed to reach these ambitious goals.

And, the pressure for EMR to become a decarbonised business isn’t only coming from the board level.

“My colleagues are proud to know that EMR is doing the right thing and it’s great to see managers and their teams getting fully behind our decarbonisation strategy. It is also great for them to see their employer is positioning itself to be an important part of the solution to the climate crisis,” Ian says.

EMR is also helping the communities where it operates to get behind the transition to net-zero with its Environment Fund providing grants to schools, local litter-picking groups and campaigns to protect biodiversity.

So, as the world gathers for the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Ian and the rest of the team at EMR, believe now is the time for EMR to further underline its commitment to decarbonise the recycling industry. Across EMR’s UK, European and US sites, its teams are working hard to meet the 2040 net-zero target and develop a new, more sustainable model for the business.

“What’s the answer to why we’re so focused on decarbonising?” asks Ian Sheppard. “Because the future of our planet and our company depends on it.”

For more information on EMR, visit

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Owain Griffiths

Owain Griffiths

Head of Circular Economy at Volvo Cars

Owain joined Volvo Cars in June 2021 to lead Circular Economy in the Global Sustainability Team. The company has committed to being a circular business by 2040 and has financial, recycled content and CO2 based targets for 2025, all of which Owain is working across the company to make happen. Owain previously worked for circular economy consultancy Oakdene Hollins where he advised businesses on evidence led circular economy implementation. 

Turning into a circular business and the importance of vehicle reuse and recycling.

The presentation will cover the work Volvo Cars is doing to achieve 2025 but mainly focus on the transformational work towards 2040 and the business and value chain changes being considered. Attention will be paid to the way vehicles are being dealt with at the end of life and the complexities of closing material and component loops. Opportunities and challenges which Volvo Cars is facing will be presented including engagement with 3rd parties and increasing pressure from stakeholders.

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