emr sheppard recycling
Ian Sheppard of EMR says established recycling companies are positioned to take a leadership role in decarbonizing the planet and creating a circular economy.
Photo provided by EMR Ltd.

EMR spells out its steps toward decarbonization

Ian Sheppard of EMR Ltd. says decarbonization can protect the future of the planet and his company.

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November 2, 2021

Last year, United Kingdom-based EMR says it embarked on a path toward fully decarbonizing its operations in the decades ahead.

The metal recycler with operations in Europe and the United States has committed to what it calls an ambitious 2040 net zero target, starting with a 10-year investment and transformation plan called “Our Decade of Action.”

That plan includes switching to 100 percent renewable electricity, changes to how the company works and introducing new technologies to further cut EMR’s emissions.  

Ian Sheppard, managing director of metal recycling at EMR, says he has more than one answer when asked why EMR is so committed to decarbonization.

“The path to a greener, cleaner economy is one that EMR fully supports and, as one of the world’s leading, advanced recyclers, we believe we have a lot to contribute,” says Sheppard.

He says EMR is investing in developing new processes to support the production of “high specification green steel, green aluminum and green copper” that can be used in manufacturing and the next generation of sustainable products.

“Not only will this be better for the planet and reduce the need for nature-depleting virgin materials; the work we’re doing now will also help safeguard EMR’s future, as the demand for sustainably recycled materials from the urban mine grows,” says Sheppard.

Recycling firms such as EMR, which handles about 10 million tons per year of material, must take a leadership role in decarbonizing the planet and creating a circular economy, says Sheppard.

“EMR has a long track record of working with trade bodies such as the British Metal Recycling Association (BMRA) and the Environmental Services Association (ESA),” he remarks. “These organizations have thousands of members, many of whom are smaller businesses and may not feel they have the bandwidth and resources to invest and engage in these issues. By providing an example of how it can be done, EMR is helping the whole industry to embark on this journey.”

As businesses up and down the United Kingdom supply chain work to hit Carbon Trust Scope 3 carbon reduction targets, they will also rely on the likes of EMR to provide decarbonized recycling services to help them achieve their own goals, says the company.

EMR’s commitment to becoming a net-zero business can also be demonstrated by what it calls a family-style business model that sees 99 percent of profits put back into the business, investing in the technologies needed to reach its goals. The pressure for EMR to become a decarbonized business isn’t only coming from the board level, says Sheppard.

“My colleagues are proud to know that EMR is doing the right thing and it’s great to see managers and their teams getting fully behind our decarbonization strategy,” he comments. “It is also great for them to see their employer is positioning itself to be an important part of the solution to the climate crisis.”

EMR says is also helping the communities in which it operates to get behind the transition to net zero with its Environment Fund providing grants to schools, local litter picking groups and campaigns to protect biodiversity.

So, as the world gathers for the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Sheppard and EMR Ltd. say now is the time for the company to further underline its commitment to decarbonize the recycling industry. Across EMR’s U.K., European and U.S. sites, its teams are working to meet its 2040 net-zero target and develop a new, more sustainable model for the business, according to the company.

“What’s the answer to why we’re so focused on decarbonizing?” asks Ian Sheppard. “Because the future of our planet and our company depends on it.”