RSSB develops British rail industry zero waste metrics

The RSSB has developed a suite of metrics to help Great Britain’s rail industry measure performance across the circular economy, waste and resource management.

The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), working with the rail industry and global consulting experts Ricardo, has completed the first phase of a project to develop a suite of metrics to help the rail industry measure its performance towards reaching a zero waste goal of using its resources efficiently and supporting a collaborative circular economy. Integrating these metrics across the rail industry will enable consistent measurement and support wide scale adoption of circular economy principles across its assets, infrastructure, and operations.

The project has:

  • Identified the existing reporting, data flows and metrics used across rail and other sectors to measure waste management
  • Created a shortlist of metrics – using multi-criteria analysis to prioritise the metrics according to their relevance, feasibility and practicality
  • Developed data collection plans for the implementation of metrics.

Core metrics have been selected as being the highest priority for the rail industry to adopt, based on the findings from stakeholder interviews. They include:

  • Station waste generated, reported by treatment method
  • Proportion of surplus food redistributed
  • Level of recycled content in rail assets and infrastructure
  • Weight of materials in train models that can be reused or recycled at end-of-use
  • Depot waste generated, reported by treatment method
  • Provision of environmental training
  • Proportion of procurement activities/contracts which include sustainability criteria in the selection criteria.

Progressive metrics have also been identified for implementation in the longer-term, including materials efficiency, the use of critical materials and the amount of end-of-use batteries retained for reuse. A headline metric was also developed to support the monitoring of the overall progress and performance of the industry.

RSSB and Ricardo are now working with rail organisations to pilot the implementation of these data collection plans and metrics. The results will allow us to refine the recommended metrics and develop guidance to enable our members to consistently and effectively collect, measure and report on the industry’s circular economy performance.

“This project has established tangible and measurable metrics for the rail industry’s management of waste and recycling and represents a significant step forward towards achieving the goal of zero waste,” Thom Rawson, RSSB’s Sustainable Rail Strategy Lead, said. “Ricardo’s systematic and collaborative approach has produced the right results, most importantly ensuring that the recommendations are supported by the rail industry. This is key to ensuring they are put into practice. The information gathered using these metrics will be an important element of RSSB’s Sustainable Rail Data Framework, through which we are building a data-led understanding of rail’s sustainability credentials.”

“Ricardo’s circular economy experts have been delighted to work with RSSB on this leading-edge project, looking to identify and develop metrics to support the implementation of their Zero Waste goal,” Andrew Dunwoody, Head of Circular Economy for Ricardo, said. “Our recommendations will stimulate greater engagement across the GB rail industry, and advance circular activity and understanding. The metrics we have identified will enable consistent monitoring and reporting of circular performance across its assets, infrastructure and operations. This represents a significant step forward in how the industry reports its environmental performance, building upon existing waste management practices whilst future proofing itself against upcoming market and legislative changes.”

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