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The Bulletin news briefs

25 March 2020:

A quick scan of recent waste, recycling and related environmental developments from around the globe...

Government of Hong Kong Allocates $200 Million to Support Recyclers During COVID-19 Pandemic

The Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department (EPD) said this week that the government's the Advisory Committee on Recycling Fund allocated $100 million to launch a One-off Recycling Industry Anti-epidemic Scheme (ORIAS). EPD said ORIAS would "provide timely financial support to help with recyclers' operational costs for six months." EPD said it received more than 200 ORIAS applications to date and has already approved 18 applications, providing $1.08 million in subsidies.

Under ORIAS, recyclers may receive up to $20,000 per month from January 1 to June 30, 2020, for a total maximum subsidy of $120,000.

ORIAS follows another Government of Hong Kong recycling support initiative called the One-off Rental Support Scheme (ORSS) for which another $100 million was allocated.

For more information, go to

UK Governments Suspending Carrier Bag Tax Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

According to the British Retail Consortium, the Scottish Government is preparing to waive the five-pence carrier bag tax on bags used for transporting home deliveries and for "click and collect orders of groceries." The bag tax waiver is expected to be approved by the Scottish Government next week and will be in effect for six months.

"Scottish Ministers have already moved with breakneck speed to back businesses grappling with the immense challenges created by coronavirus, including relaxing rules on delivery times to stores and warehouses as well as flexing restrictions on store opening hours," said David Lonsdale, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium. "This temporary suspension of the carrier bag levy for online orders is similarly a hugely positive and practical step and we are delighted Ministers have listened."

The waiver in Scotland follows an announcement last week by UK Environmental Secretary George Eustice that the single-use plastic carrier bag tax in England will be suspended for six months.

The British Retail Consortium announcement is posted at

Danish Beverage Container Return Rate Climbed to 92% in 2019

Last week, Dansk Retursystem, the Danish beverage container deposit scheme, announced it reached a record 92% return rate in 2019, a 3% increase from 2018. A total of 54,854 tons of containers were returned for recycling

More than 1.4 billion beverage bottles and cans were returned for recycling in 2019, an increase of about 61 million containers. A total of 54,854 tons of glass, metal and plastic containers were returned for recycling. The return rate for plastic containers was particularly high compared to many countries: 94%.

Dansk Retursystem estimated that by recycling the containers instead of manufacturing new ones from raw materials, more than 150,000 tons of CO2 emissions were prevented.

The Dansk Retursystem announcement is posted at

Spanish Glass Bottle Recycling Up 30% Over Last Five Years

Ecovidrio, the Spanish glass bottle recycling organization, recently announced that 896,450 tons of glass containers were collected for recycling last year, a 6% increase from 2018. Glass container recycling in Spain has increased by 30% over the past five years, saving 556,061 tons in carbon dioxide emissions from producing virgin glass, according to Ecovidrio.

The average Spaniard recycled 19 kilograms of glass containers in 2019 or about 65 bottles.

Ecovidrio set a goal to recycle 85% of all glass packaging by 2025.

For more information, go to

French Packaging Recycling Compliance Scheme Seeking Provider of Automated Plastic Bottle Recovery Systems

CITEO, the French packaging recycling compliance scheme, announced it is seeking to contract with a company to deploy "420 automated recovery systems for plastic bottles across France." The deployment will take place in two waves starting this year, and the contracts will run through December 31, 2025.

According to the announcement, the automated systems will pay consumers one or two euros per accepted plastic container in the form of a voucher or a donation to a participating non-profit organization. The deadlines for submitting tenders are June 15 for the first wave and September 28 for the second wave.

Get more information at

UK WRAP Announces £1.5 Million Grant Fund to Support Textile Recycling and Reuse

Businesses and not-for-profit organizations in the United Kingdom are invited to apply for £1.5 million in grants for projects that recycle or re-use textiles, according to an announcement last week by the Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP). Individual awards can range from £20,000 and £170,00.

"Existing markets for recycled textiles are small scale and traditional, with little innovation or growth potential," according to the announcement. "To meet the requirement for separate collections of textiles by 2025, new processes and markets need to be found, to avoid separately collected items simply being discarded. In addition, feedback from the textiles recycling sector suggests that export markets may diminish over time as other countries increase their exports of used textiles. The aim of this grant fund is to address the need for increased capacity, sorting, handling, and reprocessing textiles from municipal sources."

"We're looking for really imaginative solutions to the barriers to textile recycling and re-use, such as new technologies, interventions or equipment that hasn't been tried and tested before," added WRAP Director Peter Maddox.

The WRAP announcement is posted at

New South Wales EPA Makes More Than $1 Million in Litter Cleanup Grants

Earlier this month, the New South Wales (Australia) Environmental Protection Agency announced that $1.17 million is available to local governments, hospitals, universities and community and industry groups to implement litter prevention projects. A half million dollars in grants is being allocated to a new effort to prevent cigarette butt litter.

"Cigarettes butts are consistently the most littered item in NSW every year," said Environment Minister Matt Kean. "I look forward to seeing innovative projects to help reduce the millions of butts littered each year."

The other grants may be used for community education and engagement, clean-ups, new litter bins, promoting programs aimed at addressing littering, and strengthening the capacity of environmental groups working in the sector.

Get more information at$1-million-in-grants-to-tackle-local-litter.

Danish EPA Announces Proposed New Microplastics Monitoring Program

Today, the Danish EPA opened a public consultation on a proposed program to monitoring microplastics in the marine environment. The program would begin in 2021 and continue through 2026.

The program will include "more extensive use of new technology, including satellite monitoring, use of new equipment for detecting both the sounds of marine mammals and underwater noise from ship traffic, and the use of food and ecosystem models."

The public consultation on the proposed program is open through June 15.

Get more information at

Signatories of European Plastics Pact Hold Kick-Off Meeting

European Plastics Pact signatory countries and companies held their kick-off meeting on March 6, according to a recent announcement by the French Ministry of Ecology Transition and Solidarity, one of the signatory nations. Topics discussed at the meeting included food contact packaging, supply chain management, waste transfer activities, models of waste reduction and re-use for a circular economy.

"It is time to change the matrix," said Stientje van Veldhoven, the Dutch Minister for Environment and Housing, another European Plastics Pact signatory. "If we want to fight climate change, we have to look beyond the energy sector and look at materials. We have to start considering plastic as a raw material to high value, which should not end up in our oceans. We are doing everything we can to reuse all plastics in the future. This ranges from the packaging of a chocolate bar to the bottle of shampoo and everything the rest. And it's not an easy thing. The chemical industries need to be able to easily develop recyclable plastic. We need more recycling capacity and we need a new product design.

In addition to France and the Netherlands, other EU Member State signatories are Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Finland, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovenia, and Sweden.

Get more information at

European Paper Recycling Council Concerned about COVID-19 Pandemic's Possible Effect on Supply Chains

On Monday, the European Paper Recycling Council (EPRC) said it was concerned that some local governments in the European Union were changing paper collection and sorting efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and that the changes could adversely effect the contribution of recycled paper to supply chains.

"Recently, individual cities in some Member States have announced they might have to reduce separate collections or close sorting centers due to the current crisis," said the EPRC in a public statement.

The announcement also noted, "The paper value chain committed to keep its operations to deliver all essential paper products, such as hygiene products, packaging for food or pharmaceuticals while taking all necessary measures to protect workers, suppliers and customers."

The EPRC announcement is posted at

Previous issues of the Bulletin can be reviewed here.

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