22 February 2017:
A quick scan of recent waste, recycling and environmental developments from around the globe...
Recently, the Supreme Court of South Australia ruled in favor of the South Australia Environment Protection Authority (EPA) in a legal challenge by Adelaide Resource Recovery, a company that recycles construction and demolition (C&D) waste. The EPA said the firm had breached its license by storing C&D waste uncovered, and cited the firm for violating a condition of its license. The firm appealed the EPA decision in court.
Adelaide Resource Recovery argued the C&D waste was not waste at all but a recycled product. The Supreme Court disagreed and upheld the EPA's citation. According to an EPA announcement, "The Court ruled that it will be a question of fact and degree as to when the waste has suitably changed its character and become a product which requires consideration of whether there is n economic demand and immediate market for that material."
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Numerous times, the European Commission has taken Member States to the European Court of Justice for non-compliance with environmental directives and regulations. However, last week a European environmental organization, ClientEarth, filed a lawsuit against the European Commission on an environmental matter. The suit charges the Commission made a mistake in deciding that several plastic recycling companies could continue to use diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) in some of the products they make.
ClientEarth called DEHP a "blacklisted chemical," noting it is endocrine disruptive, and the group noted that in 2015 EU Members of Parliament "voted overwhelmingly against authorising the use of DEHP."
Nonetheless, the European Commission permitted the three companies to continue using DEHP until at least 2019 when a review of the matter will be held.
"Allowing some manufacturers to use a black-listed chemical harms innovative companies that have shifted towards safer alternatives," said Alice Bernard, a ClientEarth attorney. "Is this the way the EU wants to do business?"
The Clientearth announcement is posted at
Last week, RECYC-QUEBEC, a government non-profit corporation, announced it is receiving $1 million in provincial government funding to assist companies in the construction, renovation and demolition (CRD) sector to reduce waste sent to landfills. The funding will support implementation of a CRD sector waste reduction action plan, the purchase of specialized equipment for CRD waste sorting, and a study on waste gypsum and current treatment capacity in the province.
"The funding announced today will allow businesses in this growing sector to increase their business opportunities and reduce their dependence on landfills,"said Marc H. Plante, Minister ofSustainable Development, Environment and Climate Change. "I am confident that the action plan that RECYC-QUEBEC will be putting in place will contribute to the development of this sector. We have here a convincing example that demonstrates that sustainable development and economic development can be achieved simultaneously."
The RECYC-QUEBEC announcement is posted at
Yesterday, the Waste Agency of Catalonia (the semi-autonomous region of Spain that includes Barcelona) said it would be unveiling an online platform for waste management innovation and the exchange of knowledge on April 27. The goal is to have municipalities in Catalonia collaborate in meeting 2020 waste management goals and targets set by the European Union.
Coordinating with the waste agency in establishing a "local commitment" to the EU goals and targets are Federation of Municipalities of Catalonia, the Catalan Association of Municipalities, the Metropolitan Area of ??Barcelona, Ecovidrio Ecoembes, a Spain glass packaging compliance organization, and Sistemes Integrats de Gestio d'envasos (SIG), an organization supporting extended producer responsibility schemes.
The US Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) said last week that "an increasing number of grocery chains are recycling rigid plastic containers through back-of-store programs." Ten national grocery store chains have begun recycling rigid plastics in 4,500 stores in 32 states, according to the APR, which begun encouraging and tracking grocery stores to accept the plastics.
The association estimates that each year about 350 million pounds of rigid plastics "with viable end markets are being generated in the largest national grocery chains.
THE APR announcement is posted at
Last week, Zero Waste Scotland said the next annual "Pass It On" Week is scheduled for March 11 through 19. During the week, Scottish consumers will be encouraged to not "hoard your unwanted gadgets, gizmos and electricals - make the most of them by donating them instead!"
According to Zero Waste Scotland, 32% of residents surveyed say "they have an old smartphone tucked away, while a quarter admit to hoarding a digital camera they no longer use and 19% say they still have a computer or laptop they don't need."
At this year's Pass It On Week, special boxes to collect unwanted small electric devices will be distributed to any organization or business that registers to be "an amnesty station." At the end of the week, the boxes will be picked up by Zero Waste Scotland's program partners.
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Under the Brazilian National Policy on Solid Waste enacted in 2010, open air dumps across the country must be closed and replaced with sanitary landfills and new recycling programs. However, implementation of the transition has been slower than expected.
Last week, Ricardo Salles, the Environmental Secretary for Sao Paolo, Brazil's most populated state, said that all open air dumps in the state would be closed by the end of this year. He made the announcement at the closing of an open air dump in Santa Maria da Serra that covered 7,500 square meters. About 2.5 tons of garbage had been dumped at the site daily.
"The state's goal is to close all unsanitary landfills by the end of 2017," said Salles. "So far, we have interdicted 11, and in the next 30 days, five more will be closed."
Last week, the US Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) annnounced support for the voluntary use of only two dating labels on food packaging: "BEST If Used By" and "USE By". According to GMA, more than 10 different date labels are used on food packaging today, and the array of labels confuse consumers.
Best If Used By "describes product quality, where the product may not taste or perform as expected but is safe to use or consumer," the two industry associations explained. USE By "applies to the few products that are highly perishable and/or have a food safety concern over time; these products should be consumed by the date listed on the package - and disposed of after that date."
"Our product code dating initiative is the latest example of how retailers and manufacturers are stepping up to help consumers and to reduce food waste," said Pamela G. Bailey, GMA president and CEO.
GMA and FMI said retailers and manufacturers are encouraged to immediately begin phasing in the common wording with widespread adoption urged by the summer of 2018.
Yesterday, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) said its Flexible Film Recycling Group would be coordinating with state government officials to help consumer recycle more used plastic wraps and bags at stores. The support will be largely in raising awareness that plastic film materials that can be turned in at stores for recycling.
In its announcement, the ACC said "only half [of state residents surveyed] are aware that certain plastic items should be brought to grocery or retail stores for proper recycling. Plus, few residents are aware of the many types of plastic wraps and bags that can be recycled. The Connecticut campaign is designed to change that."
Among the plastic films products that can be recycled at Connecticut stores are grocery bags; newspaper bags; produce bags; bread bags; dry cleaning bags; zipper bags; plastic wraps from water bottle cases, diapers, bathroom tissue, and paper towels; bubble wrap; and shipping pillows.
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