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We take responsibility for the environment

Through our operations, we have both a positive and negative impact on the environment. Our goal to be climate positive by 2030 illustrates our ambition to not only manage our environmental challenges, but to optimise our entire operations.

”Emissions of greenhouse gases are one of the most important environmental aspects for us to consider”

Miranda Jensen, Environmental Manager Ragn-Sells Group


Our environmental impact 

Ragn-Sells´ business builds on circular solutions and closing the loop of material flows. Many of our operations enable more material to be returned to the material cycle, with decreased production of primary resources as result. Our business can have a positive environmental impact by succeeding with making new resources out of waste and removing toxic components from the material loop. 

Our approach to keeping society within the planetary boundaries through our business, is clearly outlined in Ragn-Sells business strategy.

Ragn-Sells negative environmental impact mainly derives from landfills, transport, and treatment plants. We continuously work on limiting our negative environmental impact. This includes handling, monitoring, and limiting emissions to air, land, and water, developing transport logistics, switching to renewable fuels, and performing final coverage on landfills.

The operational responsibility associated with the company’s environmental permits is delegated to the respective site manager. At the facilities, the precautionary principle is considered when permits and specific terms are decided. Risk analyses are conducted continuously within the framework of the company’s risk management routine and according to the precautionary principle. Read more under Risk Management. 

Climate change  

Emissions of greenhouse gases are one of the most important environmental aspects for us to consider in terms of our impact on climate change. We are committed to reducing our CO2 emissions by 50% by 2030. We can steer our impact on climate change through managing our own operations, as well as through providing our customers with solutions that reduce emissions. We also need to consider changes in how we act, meet, and influence the transport sector going forward. 

During 2020, Ragn-Sells’ total emissions of greenhouse gases amounted to 75 kton (270 kton, 2019). The majority of emissions of greenhouse gases from Ragn-Sells’ operations derive from landfills, which accounts for about 50%. The majority of the remaining contribution derives from transport. The main reason for the large reduction in greenhouse gases stems from the landfill gas, where we carried out measurements in 2020 instead of calculations. Read more about that below. Our emissions from business travel also decreased drastically by 50% due to the Covid pandemic.

Decreased emission from landfills

For many years, Ragn-Sells has depended on a theoretical model for calculating our landfill gas emissions. This model is called LandGEM and was developed by the US-EPA in the early 2000. LandGEM is reasonably easy to use, but since it is based on a generic MSW (municipal solid waste) landfill and does not take many of the site-specific conditions into account, the model does not necessarily present reality.  

Beginning of 2020, Ragn-Sells decided to gain more knowledge about the real emissions from our landfills. In order to do so we changed from calculating our emissions to instead using a scientifically verified measuring technique – infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and trace gas. The results were very positive and showed that the real emissions from our landfill were vastly overestimated in previous years.

We believe that one of the main reasons that LandGEM overestimates our landfill emissions is due to the fact that some of them are fully covered (and all are partly covered), something that the model did not take into account at all. Final cover increases the efficiency of the gas collection system greatly, which in turn increases the amount of gas that can be incinerated instead of emitted into the air. Furthermore, the model does not account for legislation and market trends. For example, it has been prohibited to deposit combustible waste since 2002, and organic waste since 2005, which changes the waste composition and the potential for methane gas being produced in the landfills.

Safe landfills

In the process of detoxifying the circular systems, landfills are necessary for certain types of waste. It is our top priority that storage in our landfills is safe. Ragn-Sells in Sweden owns and operates a number of landfills that are subject to environmental permits, which are continuously controlled by authorities and by our own self-monitoring programmes at the landfills.

The highest emissions of greenhouse gases from Ragn-Sells’ operations derive from landfills. In the process of anoxic decomposition of organic material in the landfills gas is formed. The landfill gas is a greenhouse gas, almost thirty times stronger than carbon dioxide. The landfill gas is largely generated from previously deposited waste, handled according to former regulations. Organic waste is increasingly being recycled in society, which leads to a decrease of methane gas outflow and reduced emissions from landfills. 

Landfill gas is generally considered to be an environmental problem due to its potential for climate change. However, it can also be seen as an energy carrier and a resource. In 2020, Ragn-Sells collected and incinerated (thus avoiding emitting) landfill gas corresponding to more than 36,000 tonnes of CO2 at the landfill sites in Sweden. These efforts effectively collected the gas, which is then used for heating, cooling and to generate electricity that our recycling processes can be run on. Ragn-Sells’ landfills in Sweden generated over 14,200 MWh during 2020.

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New e-learning

Ragn-Sells has also invested more in communicating our positive and negative environmental impacts and how we operate. During the year, we have developed two new e-learnings, Waste as a resource, in which you learn what happens to the waste at waste treatment facilities and how we can contribute to circularity. This e-learning is also sold externally.
The other one, Navigate in environmentally hazardous activities, you learn how environmental management is conducted internally at Ragn-Sells to ensure compliance with laws and regulations.


A more efficient and greener vehicle fleet
 

Our second largest environmental impact comes from our transports. Some of the measures Ragn-Sells Sweden has taken to decrease the environmental impact include eco-driving, a review on route optimisation, updating the vehicle fleet, and replacing fossil fuels with renewable options. In order to achieve efficient control of the vehicle's fuel consumption, Ragn-Sells in Sweden is taking part in the large vehicle manufacturers' fleet management system. By switching to a greater share of bio-based fuels, we have been able to effectively reduce our climate emissions from transports. 

Effluents to water and soil

Our operations contribute to effluents to water and soil, which can have a negative environmental impact. Therefore control, management, and evaluation of risks associated with effluents is an important aspect for us.

In Ragn-Sells Sweden, effluents to water and soil derive mostly from treatment plants and mainly consist of metals, nutrients, and oils. Measures are continuously performed at the different plants to reduce emissions to water, both by improving the measurement and control of water quality, and by improving the water treatment processes. Ragn-Sells Sweden also participates in different cooperation forums for water collaboration and water conservation associations. 

In terms of emissions to soil, the primary source is leakage of substances from the stored material, but outflows can also occur from spillage or leakage of chemicals and waste. 

Ragn-Sells’ operations are regulated by legal requirements and permissions, and are subject to different types of analyses which are evaluated and reported to the relevant authorities. 

The effluents are regulated at plant level by permit conditions or other requirements and they are regularly monitored and controlled. Possible impacts on the surrounding environment are controlled by specific recipient control programmes. The results of the controls are continuously reported to the supervisory authorities. 

Local environmental impact 

Ragn-Sells treatment plants can cause noise and odours, which are important aspects to manage as they can have a direct impact on the local environment and neighbours. Unpleasant odours in the surrounding area can occur due to the waste treatment activities at the facilities. Noise from vehicles and from activities such as unloading, sorting, and crushing also have an impact on the local environment. Ragn-Sells works in different ways based on local conditions to prevent interference. Taking the neighbours and other stakeholders’ opinions into account is an important aspect in all facilities where Ragn-Sells operates.  

The greatest risk is related to the operation sites with the received waste and the machines used to process the waste, for example the grinding of wood. Continuous efforts are made to evaluate the risks associated with the activities. The number of complaints from neighbours received during 2020 were 28, as compared to 19 complaints in 2019. 

#Älskadestad – a cross industry operation for a more sustainable city

Älskade stad (Beloved city) is a unique initiative which shows that organisations that share similar goals and visions, can contribute to a more sustainable city.

The initiative is a collaboration between Ragn-Sells, Bring, Vasakronan, and the City of Stockholm aimed at limiting the number of transports in the city centre, reducing the carbon footprint, and improving the atmosphere for the people living and working in the inner city. Älskade stad is an example of how we can work to support several SDG’s simultaneously, in this case SDG 7, 11, 13, 17 and 12.