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 of new land for waste activities must be carefully evaluated.
The efficiency of water use and treatment is the key issue with water.
Negative impacts can be reduced through 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. Effective water management on open-air sites is also important, such as including planning for containment in case of a fire.
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.
Although extraction activities are increasingly well managed, the potential impacts of 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.
Products 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 and recycling services companies are already taking, we’ve compiled suggested actions to help you on your journey to getting nature positive.