Change in land and water use

Changes to the way land and water environments are used are a mass driver of biodiversity loss and destruction.

What’s going on?

The Environmental Services sector’s activities can affect land and water use in three different ways: Direct impacts, Indirect impacts, and Avoided impacts.

Direct impacts generally relate to operational footprints.

Operational land use is the key issue with land. Negative impacts can be reduced by creating a system of land improvement and biodiversity net gain within operational estates. The trade-offs when considering any re-purposing new land for waste activities must be carefully evaluated.

Efficiency of water use and treatment is the key issue with water.

Negative impacts can be reduced through with effective management systems to minimise water use, segregated and recycled clean rainwater from water used in operations, and wastewater treatment systems to both clean and minimise wastewater discharge.

Indirect impacts on land and water use include the resources saved elsewhere in subsequent product manufacture and consumption.

The key issues here are understanding the overall system and designing for minimum land and water use across the entire supply chain. Higher technology solutions promote high quality recycled products, ensure less re-work elsewhere in the supply chain, and avoid downcycling.

Avoided Impacts on land and water use are significant as the recycling industry actively diminishes society’s reliance and over consumption of raw materials.

Extraction of mineral and other raw materials – such as timber – is largely unseen by society. Yet these activities involve exploration drilling; use of roads, rail, pipelines, ports and land for construction; local extraction of construction materials; power and transmission lines; water sources and wastewater treatment.

Although extraction activities are increasingly well managed, the potential impacts biodiversity include the loss of ecosystems and habitats; species loss; effects on sensitive or migratory species; and altered hydrologic and hydrogeological regimes.

The key issues in all three areas relate to the implementation of circular economy principles and the waste management framework. We must use less, and re-use and recycle more.

Product must be better-designed. And producers must take responsibility for the consumption and provenance of the resources used in their creation, and the impact of these products over their lifetimes.

What you can do

Inspired by steps waste management & recycling services companies are already taking, we’ve compiled suggested actions to help you on your journey to getting nature positive.

Explore actions for nature