27 October 2021:
A quick scan of recent waste, recycling and related environmental developments from around the globe...
A ban on the distribution of single-use plastic carryout bags took effect in Washington state on October 1. Implmentation of the law had been delayed by Governor Jay Insee because of the covid-19 pandemic.
The new law also requires retailers to charge an eight-cent fee on each recyclable paper and reusable plastic carryout bags they distribute. Green or brown compostable plastic bags may be distributed without the fee.
Flexible film recycling in Europe increased 10% in 2020, according to an announcement late last month by the trade association Plastic Recyclers Europe.
The organization also noted that "17% of recycled flexible polyethylene already finds outlet in film-to-film applications with non-food packaging and building & construction being its largest markets" and that "PE film products could incorporate overall as much as 38% of recycled content by 2030."
"Once deemed difficult to recycle, flexible household polyethylene waste recycling is a successful business case model of today," said Ton Emans, President of Plastics Recyclers Europe. "Fast-paced technological developments in collection, sorting and recycling, made it possible to recycle film back to film."
Last week, the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs reported that waste generation in the country jumped 20.4% from April through June 2020 to the same quarter this year. Municipal governments collected 284,771 tons of waste during the April through June 2021 quarter with 88.2% of the waste generated by households.
The amount of collected waste recycled - 52.1% - was slightly lower than for the quarter a year earlier. Energy recovery accounted for 23.8% of the waste processed, and 21.6% was disposed in landfills.
Earlier this month, the Portuguese Environment Agency (Agencia Portuguesa do Ambiente) announced it was launching a project to identigy possible "deviantions" in the movement of e-waste in the country. The campaign involves the country's three e-waste producer compliance organizations - Eletrao, ERP Portugal and E-cycle - and will be carried out over a one-year period.
According to the Portuguese Environment Agency, 50 GPS units will be placed by the three compliance organizations "in waste electrical equipment with a higher market value, such as refrigerators, washing machines and computer towers." The tracking devices will be placed in e-waste in 12 municipalities, and the movement of the end-of-life devices will be followed from there.
The Portuguese Environment Agency stated, "The objective of this action is to combat the parallel market: one of the great problems of this specific waste stream. Much of the used electrical equipment diverted from the formal circuit to the parallel market are transformed into metallic scrap in processes that do not prevent decontamination, which has serious consequences for human health and the environment."
The Portuguese Environment Agency announcement is posted at
On September 30, the Hong Kong Council for Sustainable Development launched a "public interaction phase of the public engagement on control of single-use plastics."
The Council is seeking input on the following issues: which single-use plastic products to target, their priority, and a timeline for reducing or eliminated their use; the degree of public acceptance in reducing or eliminating single-use plastics; and public interest in transitioning to more environmentally-friendly alternatives.
Thrity-nine Hong Kong business organizations and associations have announced their support for the effort including the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, the Hong Kong China Chamber of Commerce, the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Association, the Hong Kong Hotels Association, the Hong Kong Food council, the Hong Kong Food, Drink & Grocery Association, and the Hong Kong Retail Management Association. a
The public interaction phase of the public engagement will run through December 29, 2021
Get more information at
On August 31, the Japanese Ministry of the Environment (MOEJ) announced the selection of six pilot projects under a program it announced earlier this year called "Demonstration Projects for a Plastic Resource Circulation System toward a Decarbonized Society." Each project will be completed by a different company.
The six selected projects fall into two categories: transitioning from fossil-derived plastics to CO2-saving bioplastics (renewable resources) and plastic recycling processes that support reduced CO2 emissions.
"MOEJ has decided to gradually change the use of conventional plastics in order to accelerate plastic resource recycling that will contribute to the creation of a low-carbon society and a circular economy," the Ministry said in its announcement. "To this end, MOEJ has been promoting the transition from plastics derived from fossil resources to bioplastics derived from renewable resources."
The Japanese MOE announcement can be reviewed at
Last week, the Italian Ministry of Environmental Transition announced it is allocating €27 million to help municipalities purchase "plastic bottle eating" machines or bottle eco-compactors. Most of the funding - € 16 million - is being allocated for this year. The remainder will be distributed to municipalities from 2022 through 2024.
According to the Ministry, the eco-compactors defferentiate PET bottles from other containers then crush the PET bottles. Funding for the project is authorized under Italy's Mangiaplastica Experimental Program, which focuses on innovative methods to reduce plastic waste.
The Italian Ministry of Environment announcement is posted at
On October 1, the New Zealand Ministry for the Environment announced that the government has allocated $50 million in funding to "innovate, find solutions and then scale them up to minimize plastic waste." The funding will open on November 1 and continue through 2024.
While the primary objective of the fund is to minimize plastic waste, three secondary goals are to 1) transition equitably to a low emissions, low waste circular economy; 2) create jobs and transform New Zealand industries including the manufacturing and primary industries and the waste and resource recovery sector; and 3) provide other environmental, social, economic, and cultural benefits.
The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) has made $7 million in grants available for "innovative projects that reuse and manage solar panel and associated battery waste," according to a September 23 announcement by the EPA.
"Solar panels and batteries reaching their end of life could generate between 3,000 - 10,000 tons of waste per year by 2025, and 40,000 - 71,000 tons per year by 2035 in NSW," said Liesbet Spanjaard, an EPA executive director. "Australia is a leading world market for energy storage batteries, but only between 3 and 5% are collected for recycling."
The grants may be used for collection and recovery of end-of-waste devices, infrastructure development and expansion, and research and development for reuse, second-hand or refurbished items and market development for the recovered materials.
The NSW EPA announcement is posted at
North American battery recycling organization Call2Recycle and Lithium Recycling Inc., a Canadian lithium battery recycling company, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to "collaborate on providing a turnkey full-service management solution for safe and efficient recycling of Electric Vehicle (EV) batteries," according to an October 19 announcement by Lithium Recycling.
"The combination of Lithion’s patented and innovative hydrometallurgical battery recycling process and Call2Recycle’s existing North American collection, transportation and logistics network will make this an ideal comprehensive, whole industry solution," said Lithium Recycling in its announcement. "Various clients within the EV sector, whether at the dealer level, manufacturing or dismantling, will benefit tremendously from this arrangement."