BOLD Recycling Credit

(Breakthrough in Organics Landfill Diversion) - Version 1.0

An incentive framework for diverting organic waste from landfills to aerobic composting facilities for biological treatment

Purpose: for use in accelerating the transition to a resource-efficient, low-carbon, and inclusive circular economy

According to the World Bank, the world recycles less than 18% of the waste it produces, and total waste production will grow by 70% by 2050. The negative consequences of poor recycling rates are significant to our global economy, to society at large, and to our planet’s sustainability. Yet, the world could reuse and recycle more than 90% of the materials and products it consumes, which would result in reducing pollution in our environment, preserving vital natural resources for future generations to use, and significantly eliminating greenhouse gas emissions associated with needless raw material extraction, hauling, and processing activities. In fact, it is estimated that 85% of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction needed to stay below the 2ºC limit from pre-industrial revolution levels could be met if we simply double our current circularity rate, making the transition to a circular economy one of the most effective climate change mitigation strategies available today, if not the most important one.
Transitioning to a low-carbon, circular economy requires understanding the composition of global waste and the path required to achieve high-performance resource recovery for transformation and reuse. The journey begins with sorting organic waste (e.g., food waste, green waste, and sludge) from other recyclable waste streams and directing it towards biological treatment, such as at anaerobic digestion plants or aerobic composting facilities, the subject of this methodology. Organic waste represents approximately 50% of global waste and is 100% recyclable, yet municipalities around the world are not capable of addressing the organic waste challenge due to the high cost and complexity of its sorting, hauling, and treatment. Unfortunately, almost all of the organic waste we produce today ends up in a landfill or a dump where it decomposes anaerobically (without oxygen), generating approximately 11% of global methane emissions and between 3.2% and 5% of global GHG emissions. (It should be noted that methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and avoiding methane emissions is considered one of the most cost-effective mechanisms to reduce GHG emissions in our atmosphere.)
Once organic waste is sorted from other recyclable materials (e.g., metals, glass, paper, cardboard, plastic, electronics, etc.), the recovery and recyclability rates of these valuable resources improve significantly, often by many factors, while also reducing GHG emissions associated with no longer needing to extract, transport, and process their replacements. (For a nice visual representation of the importance of organic waste sorting, see the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s butterfly diagram.) In a circular economy, waste is avoided, resources are preserved, and carbon emissions are reduced dramatically. When analyzed from a system approach rather than direct sector emissions (as presented above), the circular economy can reduce ~45% of total global emissions.
The transition to a low-carbon, circular economy requires a new approach to encouraging people and businesses to sort organic waste and to participate in sending this valuable resource along its dedicated logistical route for biological treatment, such as at an aerobic composting facility. The BOLD (Breakthrough in Organics Landfill Diversion) Credit, or simply “BOLD”, described in this methodology aims to accomplish this by properly verifying organic waste that reaches a professional composting facility, identifying the participants along the supply chain who contributed to sorting, hauling, and treating the waste, measuring the environmental gain to society (e.g., reducing waste, avoiding carbon emissions among, etc.), as well as rewarding the participants financially for their contributions, thus encouraging other businesses and individuals to do the same. Businesses wishing to meet ESG goals such as net zero carbon and waste reduction, whether mandatory (such as Extended Producer Responsibility) or not, can purchase BOLD credits to corroborate their investment in material recovery and pollution reduction strategies that help to eliminate negative externalities.
We view BOLD as an innovative system change solution to effectively jump-start the transition from an inefficient and wasteful linear economy to an efficient, low-carbon, and inclusive circular economy. BOLD will not only educate and change behavior but also unite the world on the common cause of living sustainably on this planet.
Download the methodology as a PDF:
Carrot_ BOLD_v1.0