13 December 2017:
A quick scan of recent waste, recycling and related environmental developments from around the globe...
On November 30, the Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department (EPD) and 13 firms that sell electronics and household appliances launched the Removal Service Trial Scheme, which EPD explained as a voluntary test of the e-waste collection mechanisms that must be in place when Hong Kong's mandatory EEE producer responsibility program takes effect in late 2018.
"To ensure the smooth implementation of the relevant legislation scheduled for the third quarter of next year, the EPD invited the trade to launch the Trial Scheme so that participating sellers may better understand their statutory duties, familiarise themselves with the operation, enhance their staff training and make other preparatory work as necessary," said Hong Kong Environmental Secretary KS Wong.
The covered devices in the EEE EPR program are air-conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, televisions, computers, printers, scanners and computer monitors (collectively called "regulated equipment").
The EPD said that merchants participating in the trial will offer free pickup of WEEE from customers who purchase similar new products.
Get more information at
The New South Wales (NSW) container deposit scheme (CDS), which is called Return and Earn, launched successfully on December 1 with two million beverage containers being redeemed during only its first week, according to a December 8 announcement by the NSW Environmental Protection Agency.
"This is just the start - I expect the scheme to take off even further once community groups and charities get more involved in Return and Earn," said Gabrielle Upton, the NSW Minister for the Environment.
More than 60,000 drink containers were redeemed in six communities using reverse vending machines alone. Of the containers redeemed using the machines, 53% were aluminum, 24% were glass, 21% were PET, 1.2% were HDPE, and 0.7 were paperboard cartons, the Ministry reported.
The New South Wales EPA announcement is posted at
The number of units of covered electronic devices recycled in the province of Alberta dropped to 647,000 units in 2017, down from 760,000 units in 2016 and 846,000 units in 2015. The per capita recycling amount was 3.8 kilograms, and the percentage of Albertans that said they recycled electronics in 2017 fell to 27%, down from 39% in 2016.
Covered devices in Alberta are computers and televisions.
According to the Alberta Recycling Management Authority's 2017 progress report, the continued decline was due to fewer end-of-life devices being turned in for recycling because of a downturn in Alberta's economy.
From the devices that were recycled in 2017, 3,589 tons of glass; 5,456 tons of plastic; and 3,710 tons of metal were recovered.
Download the 2017 Alberta Recycling Management Authority's electronics recycling progress report at
Data published last month by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources showed the total amount of mandated recyclable materials recovered by local governments to 418,376 tons, up from 410,192 tons in 2015. The per capita recovery rate for the year was 144 pounds, up from 142 pounds in 2015.
Corrugated cardboard and paper combined were the most recovered material at 266,835 tons in 2016. Following cardboard and paper were glass containers at 95,438 tons, plastic containers at 31,832 tons, steel and bimetal containers at 17,963 tons, and polystyrene faom at 67 tons.
Wisconsin DNR also provided data on non-mandated recyclable materials. Among those streams, the amount of e-waste recycled increased to 5,401 tons from 4,478 tons in 2015. However, recycling of appliances, tires, lead-acid batteries and used oil all fell in 2016.
Download the 2016 Wisconsin DNR recycling data at
A report published on Monday by Miljo-Direktoratet (the Norwegian Environment Agency) reported that 77% of mussels sampled from the Norwegian coast contained plastic microbeads and that the contamination "takes place along the entire coast." Of 252 mussels sampled from 13 stations, 193 contained microplastic beads.
"Microplastic beads are probably more predominant in the digestive system of the mussels, but since we eat the whole mussel, microplastic beads can end up on the Norwegian dinner table," said Ellen Hambro, the Miljo-Direktoratet Director.
Despite the concern about human consumption of mussels, the average level of contamination per mussel sampled was only 1.84 particles.
Miljo-Direktoratet, which manages programs to reduce microplastics, renewed its call to all sectors of Norwegian society to take steps to minimize the amount of plastic microbeads entering the environment.
Download the Miljo-Direktoratet study at
Yesterday, the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation (DEC) announced it is awarding 13 grants totaling $3,743,474 to prevent food and other organic waste from being disposed in landfills.
The largest grant - $1,098,091 - was awarded to a local food bank to purchase "a variety of food preservation and packaging equipment." The second largest grant - $895,493 - was awarded a compost manufacturing firm for equipment improvements at its facility.
According to the Tennessee DEC, food and yard waste currently make up nearly 30 percent of Tennessee waste disposed in landfills.
For more information, go to
Last week, the Mexican Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) called on "federal agencies, international agencies, and representatives of the private sector, academia, and civil society organizations" to review a World Bank report titled "Losses and Food Waste in Mexico." Semarnat said it plans to develop a national food waste prevention strategy and is seeking ideas and support from those sectors.
Cuauhtemoc Ochoa Fernandez, a Semarnat undersecretary said that Mexico's strategy "will be a pioneer among developing and developed countries because it will consider the prevention of food loss and waste along the entire chain of production. Likewise, it will consider the strengthening of food banks and the legal framework to encourage and facilitate the distribution of food recovered among the population most in need."
The Semarnat announcement said that the World Bank study analyzed "79 foods representative of the diet of Mexicans and concludes that 20.4 million tons of these foods are wasted each year."
The Semarnat announcement is posted at
Late last month, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation published a 150-page report on how to make the textile and clothing industries more circular and declared that a truckload of textiles is wasted every second and that more than half of the textile products in the "fast fashion" textile category are disposed of within a year. The title of the report is "A NEW TEXTILES ECONOMY: REDESIGNING FASHION'S FUTURE."
The report offers four high level recommmendations: 1) Phase out substances of concern and microfibre release. 2) Transform the way clothes are designed, sold, and used to break free from their increasingly disposable nature. 3) Radically improve recycling by transforming clothing design, collection, and reprocessing. 4) Make effective use of resources and move to renewable inputs.
To recycle more clothing, the report recommends aligning clothing design and recycling processes, using technological innovation to improve the economics and quality of recycling, stimulating more demand for recycled materials, and scaling up used clothing collection.
Download the Ellen MacArthur Foundation textiles report at
By 2030, the United Kingdom will face a six million ton shortfall in its waste processing capacity, said the Environmental Services Association (ESA), an industry association, in a statement issued on November 30. That means more waste will need to be disposed in landfills.
"The waste and recycling industry is alarmed by the emergence of a critical lack of infrastructure to treat the nation's waste," stated the ESA. "ESA's Members have invested around £5 billion in UK recycling and recovery facilities in the past five years and completed detailed modelling exercises to understand what further investment is required for the future."
Recycling rates are not likely to increase much above current levels, according to an ESA-sponsored analysis. Even with a continuation of waste exports to the EU (after Brexit) and the development of some currently unplanned processing facilities, capacity likely would fall short. As a possible solution, ESA asked the government to provide industry with "the long term clarity it needs to invest in new energy from waste facilities.
Download the complete ESA statement at
Last week, the United Kingdom's Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) announced that 24 more businesses, industry groups and other entities signed the Courtauld Commitment 2025, a voluntary agreement to take steps to reduce food and food and drink packaging waste and meet other environmental protection metrics. The new signatories join 156 existing signatories.
Among the new signatories were the British Meat Processors Association, the Federation of Bakers, Scotland Food & Drink, the Scotch Whisky Association, and the Industry Council for Researcn on Packaging and the Environment.
The announcement was made with the release of a first year (2016/2017) progress review of the Courtauld Commitment 2025, which provides a description of signatory efforts and initiatives by but is thin on performance statistics.
To review the complete WRAP announcement, go to
To review the first year Courtauld Commitment 2025 progress report, go to