RSSB develops metrics to improve rail’s circular economy targets

RSSB develops metrics to improve rail’s circular economy targets

The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) has developed 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.

The project, which was conducted in collaboration with global consulting experts Ricardo, identified a set of core metrics that are the highest priority for the rail industry to adopt. These metrics include:

  • 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
  • Proportion of procurement activities/contracts which include sustainability criteria in the selection criteria.

In addition to these core metrics, the project also identified a set of progressive metrics that can be implemented in the longer-term. These metrics include 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.

There is a growing need for the circular economy within rail and specifically improving the life cycle of assets and rolling stock. The RRSB metrics follow on from the REUSE project which many of Europe’s largest rail companies including Network Rail signed up to stimulate the use of recycled rolling stock. Greater Anglia have begun recycling parts from old Class 317 stock as they move to new electric models.

Northern have recently installed LIDAR cameras on its trains to identify old or unused assets at the side of the tracks.

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

Thom Rawson, sustainable rail strategy lead at RSSB, said: "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.

"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."

Andrew Dunwoody, head of circular economy at Ricardo, said: "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.

"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."

Image Credit: Istock

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