The HERU invention means there are very few items leftover in your home to discard as waste, massively reducing the need for a carbon intensive waste supply chain. It generates heat at the place it is required and helps address fuel poverty.
If you make the decision to dispose of everyday materials, either to the recycling or residual waste bin, these materials become waste and enter the waste supply chain. The current waste supply chain is very carbon intensive. This applies to transportation of waste by heavy goods vehicles, as well as the infrastructure and techniques required to process waste and recyclables. Although many techniques nowadays get value from waste, such as incineration, which recovers energy from the waste, many losses occur along the way. For example, electricity that is distributed through the electricity network loses approximately 75% through the distribution process.
Most low-grade recyclable materials are sent abroad and processed into new products. This is a carbon intensive practice, as every tonne of material is shipped aboard, transported to a carbon heavy processing plant before completing the cycle. It is still way better than landfill, but not a perfect solution.
Alongside this, the average home in a mild climate uses between 5,000kWh and 30,000kWh of energy per year for heating. According to the National Grid about 83% of homes use gas to provide this heat. Only 45% of this gas supply comes from UK production with 38% originating from European/ Russian pipelines and 17% from liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers. This is a natural and finite resource. In 2017 the UK government reported that approximately 11% of homes in England live in ‘fuel poverty’, meaning they cannot afford to keep their homes adequately heated.
By converting every day materials into energy, avoiding the creation of waste, means the useful outputs (heat energy) are used where they are needed most. This is a highly efficient process. Nothing is lost in transportation or requires processing in carbon intensive infrastructure. This massively reduces the amount of carbon generated.