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Wednesday 10th July 2024

Kirsten with Scania UK at Recorra's Materials Recovery Facility (MRF)

We're back with another 'Carbon Catchup', a part of my role as Net Zero Strategist at Recorra. In case you missed the first one, I'm going to be posting updates on my work and what I've learnt, with the hope that shedding some light on our own net zero transition will bring some transparency to what is a very, very complicated process.

This month, I showed a team from Scania UK around our Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Essex (we source some of our vehicles from Scania). I got to show them some new material I've been working on, and we had an interesting discussion about governance and supply chain sustainability when it comes to raw materials for batteries (which, you may know, is a huge point of contention when it comes to electric cars as they require rare metals like cobalt and lithium). Thank you, Scania!

I also spent a day with our Data Analyst Jessica Swan, taking a course on Carbon Footprinting and Reporting. I hadn't realised that transportation was the largest emitting sector in the UK (at around 25%). This hit home that the job of decarbonisation Recorra's logistics operation is tied directly to the national issue of making our transportation infrastructure more sustainable. It's going to take a huge number of people moving in the same direction.

Kirsten at the Campaign for Better Transport Conference at King's College London

In terms of events - I attended the Campaign for Better Transport Conference at King's College London, where I listened to a range of representatives talking about the future of transport. I was particularly interested in the freight panel, which discussed the UK's enormous logistics network needs, and the creative and innovative solutions taking us one step closer to net zero.

I've been quite sceptical about Hydrogen, hearing from different people that it is either 'going to solve all our problems', or 'totally not operational'. I have a more nuanced picture now - I think it's a plausible future tech with application in certain use cases, for instance, very heavy duty equipment and vehicles for which current battery technology is still lacking - i.e. tractors. A hydrogen fuel cell could provide a stationary charging source for these kinds of vehicles at relative speed. This feels much more plausible than near-future national hydrogen charging network, the kind which we need for grid-based electric charging for automobiles - although tech innovation could very well surprise us.

A key takeaway was also that over 90% of the UK's logistics industry is made of SMEs, making decarbonising particularly difficult in this sector, as it's much harder for small companies to absorb extra costs. When talking about electric heavy duty vehicles, remember its about TWICE the price to purchase electric over diesel.

Thank you for reading another catch up with me, and here's to another month of hard work and learning!

Kirsten Zoe Smith

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