The Carbon Trust has announced plans to launch the world’s first international standard for organisations to certify that they are managing and reducing waste.

The trust, through its network of international affiliates, is advising businesses, governments and the public sector across the globe on opportunities for a sustainable, low carbon world.

It is estimated that 11.2 billion tonnes of solid waste is collected globally every year. Of that waste, the decay of organic elements contributes to around five per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions – around 2.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Recycling just one tonne of paper saves approximately 17 trees and 50 per cent of the water needed for production. Preventing, reducing or recycling waste can therefore significantly reduce emissions and resource consumption.

Yet research by Carbon Trust has found that less than one in four senior executives of large companies in the UK, USA, China, South Korea and Brazil have sustainability targets for waste and nearly half are not yet confident that there is a business case for investing in managing waste.

“For the past five years we’ve worked with companies across the world to cut carbon emissions and it is now time for us to apply this expertise to the global problem of waste. The new Waste Standard, combined with Carbon Standard and Water Standard, will help organisations take a more stringent approach to resources so they can operate in a more efficient, cost-effective way, as well as preserving global resources,” said Carbon Trust chief executive Tom Delay.

The Carbon Trust Waste Standard, which will launch later this year, will require organisations to measure, manage and reduce their solid and hazardous waste. To meet the standards set out, organisations will need to demonstrate that waste streams are being reduced every year, or disposed of more effectively.

A qualitative assessment will also be included to demonstrate responsible management or prevention, including considerations outside of an organisation’s direct control, such as having a diligent procurement policy for goods and waste management services, or looking at downstream impacts through products and packaging.

The announcement coincides with the fifth anniversary of the launch of the Carbon Trust’s Carbon Standard. Since launching in 2008 as the world’s first international standard for measuring, managing and reducing organisational greenhouse gas emissions, over 1,000 successful certifications have been awarded to organisations around the world.

The equivalent of over 230 million tonnes of carbon dioxide has been certified to date – greater than the total annual emissions from all UK power generation and buildings combined.