Playing a key role in the drive to net zero - Richard Todd

The potential for SMEs to drive innovation and sustainable practices across the UK is huge.

At Allium Energy, we wanted to recognise the importance of protecting and improving the environment around us and implement change through more positive actions, rather than doing less of something negative. That’s why our own plans to transition to net zero have been driven by biodiversity as well as low carbon power generation.

However, making these changes isn’t always as simple as it sounds. Recent research from Lloyds Bank’s Net Zero Monitor revealed that while 95% of SMEs are aware of the UK’s 2050 Net Zero target, only two fifths (39%) have set their own net zero plans and deadlines.

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Sustainability looks different for different businesses, and to make manageable and lasting changes, it’s important to set clear and achievable targets. This enables businesses to take responsibility for environmental impact, as well as remaining competitive in a rapidly changing landscape.

Richard ToddRichard Todd
Richard Todd

Since 2017, when we sold the Todd Waste Management arm of the business, Allium’s mission has been to produce energy from organic waste, with a focus on low carbon power generation and land restoration.

Each hour we produce up to 5MW of low-carbon power – the equivalent to powering 12,500 homes – and our renewable production saves over 6,441 tonnes of CO2 per year.

We do this by using gas produced from our former waste sites to create power and heat locally, with any excess sold to the National Grid. Not only has this helped our own business, its also helped local businesses benefit from green energy, supporting their own journeys to net zero.

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As well as dedicated energy recovery plants, a big focus for us is land restoration and biodiversity. We produce compost from organic waste that replaces the inorganic chemical fertilisers previously used on agricultural land, improving the soil structure and nutrients.

For the compost we can’t use in this way, a synthetic soil is produced that can be used on blighted land and restoration sites to improve biodiversity by supporting habitats of native grasses, pollenating plants and broadleaf woodland.

Reaching net zero in this way has sometimes been challenging, with legislation lagging and long waiting periods for environmental permits and planning consents. But recognising the role of biodiversity in delivering net zero is key.

In fact, with the implementation of recent Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) legislation, we are now able to create ‘natural capital’ that can be packaged as BNG credits, carbon credits and – in the future – soil carbon credits, and provided to developers and businesses to off-set their carbon emissions.

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In the instance of BNG credits, we create landbanks of habitats that can be used to mitigate the negative impact building has on biodiversity, where there is not the space to do so on development sites. While this market is still in its infancy, it’s a vital part of the net zero journey as biodiversity loss exacerbates climate change and threatens sustainable economic development through decreased agricultural productivity and ecotourism.

Richard Todd, Managing Director for Allium Energy