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The Future of Waste Management in Europe (Is Looking Pretty Bright!)

The Future of Waste Management in Europe

Long gone are the days when the phrase “waste management” was synonymous only with burly men in overalls hanging off the side of a smelly garbage truck. These days, a waste management company is as likely to be in the business of selling high-tech, connected waste filtration systems as it is engaging in community outreach to meet its ESG targets or directly combating the scourge of climate change.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some broader trends in the European waste management industry, as well as three European companies that are doing waste management…well, a little differently. Each of the highlighted firms represents a larger trend or shift occurring in the waste management industry as a whole. And, not so coincidentally, each of the companies on this list happens to be one of the fastest-growing waste management companies in Europe today.

We’ll examine an impurities filtration company diving headfirst into the Industrial Internet of Things, as well as a bulk recycling organization with a laser focus on ESG. Finally, we’ll examine a company that tackles one of the most pressing problems posed by the modern impact of climate change: fires.

But first, a bird’s-eye view.

The European Union and the Circular Economy Action Plan

Overall, the amount of waste produced per person in the European Union has remained pretty stable over the past ten years or so.

Per capita municipal waste generation in the European Union

This can be considered good or bad news, depending on how you look at it. On the one hand, at least per capita waste generation isn’t increasing. On the other, as the population of the EU grows, so does the overall amount of waste.

Luckily, at the same time as waste generation rates have remained constant, recycling rates in the EU have almost doubled. 

“The recycling rate of municipal waste in the European Union (EU-28) has increased steadily over the past two decades. In 2020, the recycling rate of municipal waste was estimated to be 25 percent and by 2018 it had increased to roughly 47 percent.

Recycling rate of municipal waste in the European Union (EU-28) from 2000 to 2018*

Energy initiatives have also served to boost the installed waste energy capacity in the EU to nearly 5 gigawatts.

Cumulative installed capacity of municipal waste energy in Europe

It’s against this backdrop that the European Commission recently published its Circular Economy Action Plan. With plans for legislation and regulation in a wide variety of industries and sectors, including chemicals, plastics, and the sustainable development area, the Circular Economy Action Plan aims to make sustainable products the norm in the European Union.

Circular Economy System Diagram

The increasingly urgent trend towards recycling, energy recovery, and other sustainable technologies is obvious. We’ll turn our attention now to what a few leading companies are doing to help drive waste numbers down and profits up.

The Nederman Group and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

The Nederman Group has been offering environmental technology solutions in the United Kingdom and Ireland for over 30 years. They specialize in increasing production efficiency and filtration products that protect employees, customers, and the public from harmful particles. Calling themselves, “The Clean Air Company,” the Nederman Group has long been at the forefront of sustainable solutions to air filtration problems.

This focus on sustainability and eco-friendliness is paying off in a big way for the company. According to its Annual and Sustainability Report 2020, sales for Nederman’s digital products and services grew by 87% on a currency-neutral basis in a single year. All told, the company moved SEK 506.9 million worth of goods and services in its Monitoring and Control Technology Division. That’s the equivalent of about $58 million US.

That they’re a part of the vanguard of sustainability in waste management becomes obvious when you check out their latest offering in smart filtration products. Nederman’s SmartFilter is an air filtration system that, along with all the usual bells and whistles, contains the company’s homemade Insight software platform.

Insight allows plant managers and owners to keep tabs on critical variables, visualize data, and track their system’s performance in real-time. They can even set up customized dashboards, reports, and alarms. (It’s kinda like Microsoft BI, but for air filtration.)

And it’s not just bleeding-edge manufacturers adopting this kind of smart tech. For the first time ever in 2020, almost a quarter of all filtration systems sold by Nederman were Internet of Things-ready.

European Metal Recycling and Embracing ESG

European Metal Recycling, or just EMR for short, claims to be a global leader in sustainable materials. And we don’t think they’re indulging in hyperbole. EMR specializes in recycling metals, vehicles, large domestic appliances, and all sorts of other “waste” that would typically wind up at the top of a garbage dump or trash heap somewhere. Instead, EMR uses state-of-the-art recycling technology to repurpose and sell the used material to companies in the automotive, demolition, construction, and electronics industries.

EMR’s focus on environmentalism isn’t just a byproduct of the industry they’re in. The firm embraces a progressive mindset across the ESG (Environmental-Social-Governance) spectrum, doing its best to ensure that the business it conducts is sustainable in every sense of the word.

From transportation and logistics strategies that rely heavily on rail and water transport, rather than fuel-inefficient trucking, to empowering its workforce to become forces for good in the communities in which they work, EMR aims to meet and exceed good governance standards wherever possible.

This drive for excellence is also apparent in the company’s ability to operate in compliance with leading safety, environmental, and quality ISO standards. The strategies they’ve used have obviously paid off. In 2019 alone, EMR reports that their UK operations have prevented the release of 4.5 million tons of CO2. That’s the equivalent of a small city’s emissions over the course of a year.

Angus Fire Tackles Global Warming Head-On

Sometimes it’s not necessary for a company to design a lofty mission statement to prove that they’re at the cutting-edge of environmental and waste management trends. Angus Fire is one of those companies. While not “traditionally” known as a waste management company, Angus Fire’s mission of putting out some of the world’s most dangerous fires in an environmentally friendly way seems like it definitely should qualify.

Not only does this firm directly tackle one of the most apparent and obvious problems being caused by global warming today, but it also meets the exacting requirements of the ISO 14001 Environmental Management standard. It’s a winner of the 2016 Green Apple Awards for Environmental Best Practice as well. Saving people from out-of-control fires and winning awards. What more could you ask for?

Top 20 Fastest-Growing Waste Management Companies in Europe

At first glance, the aforementioned companies may not seem like they have all that much in common. They’re in different industries and do vastly different things. But, at the end of the day, they’ve all made it part of their mission to do their part to solve tricky environmental problems one job at a time. 

Incidentally, the commitment of these companies to sustainability definitely hasn’t hurt their bottom line. We got each of their names from our sister company Gazelle’s AI-powered business platform, which includes some of the fastest-growing waste management companies in Europe.

And if you’d like to see a similar collection of environmental contributors, check out our recent article on Fast-Growth Climate Tech Hubs. And if you’d like to get in touch with us, please feel free to contact us here.

Top 20 Fastest-Growing Waste Management Companies in Europe

Until next time!

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