9 October 2019:
A quick scan of recent waste, recycling and related environmental developments from around the globe...
Late last month, New Zealand Associate Minister of Environment Eugenie Sage announced that her ministry has initiated work on a container return scheme (CRS) proposal. Specifically, Minister Sage said an agreement was reached "to start the investigation and design stage for a CRS – or container return scheme – learning from the best international models but designed to meet New Zealand’s geographic and societal needs."
According to the announcement, "a comprehensive CRS proposal for New Zealand is to be presented to the Government by August 2020." About $1 million from the New Zealand Waste Minimization Fund is financing the development.
"Overseas experience shows a refundable deposit puts the value back into recycling and results in a big increase in returned containers," added Minister Sage. "A scheme could lift recovery and recycling rates for numbers of beverage containers in New Zealand from around 45 percent – 58 percent to 80 percent, or more."
An estimated two billion single-use drink containers are consumed each year in New Zealand.
For more information, go to
On October 1, the Resource Productivity & Recovery Authority (RPRA) of Ontario announced it had received a "wind-up plan" from Stewardship Ontario for the province's household hazardous waste (Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste or MHSW in Ontario) recycling program . Among the items MHSW managed through Stewardship Ontario are single-use consumer batteries.
According to the RPRA, the current single-use battery collection program will end by June 31, 2020. The current collection programs for other covered materials, such as pressurized gas cyclinders, paints, solvents, pesticides and automotive chemicals, will end on June 31, 2021.
Industry funding organizations (IFOs) will become responsible for managing the collection and recycling of all covered materials once the current program ends. The transition was required by passage of the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016.
Get more information at
Waste generation in Scotland in 2018 decreased by 2% or 55,574 tons from a year earlier, according to data released late last month by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA). The amount of waste disposed in landfills decreased by 7% or 75,491 tons over the same period.
"The total amount of waste disposed of to landfill has decreased steadily since 2009, following large reductions between 2007 and 2009," SEPA stated in the announcement.
Regarding packaging waste, plastic packaging recycling in 2018 increased by 8,163 tonnes or 5% from a year earlier. Glass recycling also increased but by only 0.8%, and paper and cardboard recycling fell.
The overall household recycling rate also decreased slightly in 2018. It was 44.7% compared to 45.5% in 2016.
According to a 58-page report published last week by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and titled "Paving the way for a circular economy: insights on status and potentials," European companies have started moving to a circular economy but "corporate culture, market factors and system complexity" remain inhibiting factors to greater progress.
"Monitoring progress on circular economy needs further investment," the EEA said. "Many relevant data — for example, on the production and consumption phase of product lifecycles — are not available in established information systems, including national statistics."
The report highlights that only 10% of the materials used in the European economy are recovered and reused, yielding circularity rates that vary from less than 1% for materials such as lithium and silicon to more than 50% for silver and lead. By making products more durable and extending their effective lifespans and by shifting from product‑based to service-based business models businesses can accelerate the transition to circularity, the report states.
Download the EEA circular economy progress report at
An online survey of 4,001 French consumer conducted in May found 70% of respondents said they are concerned about packaging waste and 55% were concerned about plastic packaging in particular, according to an announcement last week by the French packaging recycling compliance organization CITEO.
Other findings from the survey were:
Clothes, books, DVDs or CDs and games and toys are the tops used items purchased and sold.
In regard to other habits supporting a circular economy, the survey uncovered some problems. About 65% of respondents said they typically replace older products rather than try to repair them, and more than a third said programs to collect yard waste, bulky items and some other waste streams are not available where they live.
For more information on the survey, go to
Last week, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) announced it awarded $2.9 million in Sustainable Materials Recovery Program grants to support municipal recycling programs. Grants were given to 262 municipalities and regional solid waste districts.
"Through the Sustainable Materials Recovery Program, our Administration continues to partner with cities, towns and regional organizations to increase recycling and decrease the disposal of valuable materials," said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. "These grants provide the funding necessary for communities to tailor their individual recycling programs to the needs of their residents."
Local governments qualify for the grants under the state's "Recycling Dividends Program." Individual grant awards ranged from $2,100 to $97,500.
The MassDEP announcement is posted at
To prevent still usable but unwanted products from being disposed in landfills, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government is participating in the National Garage Sale Trail weekend scheduled for October 19 and 20. The ACT Government said this week, "Thousands of community groups and householders across Australia have registered their sales, with over 300 registered garage sales expected in Canberra."
"Reusing is even more important than recycling in terms of minimising environmental impacts," said ACT Minister Christ Steel. "The ACT Government is committed to reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill and this is a great way for the community to get involved and do their part."
Across Australia, 20,825 garage sales featuring more than 3.6 million products will take place during the designated weekend, according to The Garage Sale Trail Foundation.
The ACT Government announcement is posted at
In an effort to reduce consumption of disposable cups, plates and bowls, particularly those made of plastic, RECYC-QUEBEC (the Quebec Society for Recovery and Recycling) launched a campaign to encourage "concrete and reproducible projects for the installation of reusable dishes and cups in businesses, institutions and events," according to a September 30 announcement by the organization.
The argument to make the transition from disposables is based on life cycle analyses that RECYC-QUEBEC has published on its website. However, the faces of the campaign are two characters: Réal, a business owner, and Lise, a consumer. Videos and supporting documents present the environmental and long-term economic benefits of reusables the two come to realize as they transition from disposables.
The US-based Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) said last week that a recycled material standard is being developed for its nonprofit organization GreenBlue by NSF International, a global standards development organization.
A stakehold committee convened last week to develop the development, and the projected publication date for the new standard is early 2021, according to the SPC.
"Brands, together with their suppliers and the recycling industry, are currently facing challenges to incorporate higher amounts of recycled content into packaging," the SPC said. "The global standard will help advance adoption of certified material for common packing materials, beginning with plastic."
Last week, global consumer products company Unilever said it would reduce its use of virgin plastic by 50% by 2025 and would "help collect and process more plastic packaging than it sells." The moves should save about 100,000 tons of virgin plastic being used for packaging.
"Plastic has its place, but that place is not in the environment," said Unilever CEO Alan Jope. "We can only eliminate plastic waste by acting fast and taking radical action at all points in the plastic cycle. Our starting point has to be design, reducing the amount of plastic we use, and then making sure that what we do use increasingly comes from recycled sources. We are also committed to ensuring all our plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable."
The Unilever announcement is posted at