Recycling combats climate change by delivering clean material to manufacture products without sacrificing natural resources such as trees or oil. The carbon impact to produce new products from recycled material is significantly lower – for example, carbon emissions of manufacturing a can from recycled aluminium compared to new aluminium are 8 times lower.

First Mile’s entire business is designed to reduce carbon by making it easier for businesses to recycle. However, recycling trucks and vehicles (both electric and fuel) emit carbon directly (burning fuel) or indirectly (charging using power from the national grid).

If you compare the carbon saving through recycling to the emissions of our vehicles, First Mile’s services could already be described as net-zero carbon as the carbon savings through recycling outweigh the emissions of our operation.

However, on top of this, we are passionate about reducing the impact of our fleet and operations, eventually to zero.

How First Mile is bringing down Carbon Emissions

Graph showing the week by week reduction in First Mile's emissions in 2021

*Graph showing week by week reduction in First Mile emissions 2021

In 2021, we were delighted to see our emissions per tonne collected fall as the result of the initiatives listed below:

1. Reducing the carbon impact of our fleet and operation

We have rolled out numerous zero-emission cargo bikes which make collections and consolidate recycling in built up areas so that our trucks can reduce road miles and be more efficient.

We deploy telematics to measure our driver’s driving style to reduce inefficient driving and unnecessary idling. Green drivers get a bonus.

We focus marketing efforts around areas where we have existing customers to ensure rounds become more efficient and effective.

We have switched to fully renewable energy across all locations and are implementing energy saving measures within each of our premises.

2. Reducing the carbon impact of our customer's waste

We have measured the carbon impact of our services to provide customers with a detailed view of the carbon impact of their waste and recycling.

We have launched over 30 recycling services to allow customers to manage waste better, recycle more, and bring down carbon emissions.

We have launched several waste reduction services to allow customers to focus on reducing and reusing waste in the first place, greatly reducing their carbon impact.

3. Offsetting unavoidable emissions through tangible direct air capture carbon projects

Since 2012, First Mile has funded several carbon offset projects in order to offset unavoidable emissions.

Our aim is to allow customers to choose to directly offset impact in future, and for First Mile to also fund offset directly.

We are aiming to switch to a portfolio of offset projects that will include direct air capture projects and eventually only direct air capture.

4. Supporting and investing in new technologies to find lower-carbon ways of working in the future

We have supported vehicle suppliers to test new vehicles including electric and hydrogen power.

In 2021 we invested £250k into improving route optimisation to make our fleet more efficient across the 30 million collections we make a year, having a great impact on the carbon performance of our operation.

*last updated April 2022