13 January 2021:
A quick scan of recent waste, recycling and related environmental developments from around the globe...
The formation of a single-use plastics multisectoral working group that includes representatives from public institutions, private organizations and plastics-related industry groups was announced at the end of last year by the Peruvian Ministry of Environment. The mission of the working group is to monitor and evaluate actions being taken in support of Law No. 30884, which regulates single-use plastic and was approved last year.
The working group also will monitor and evaluate integrated single-use plastics management to help transition towards the circular economy and issue annual technical reports that include proposed mechanisms to promote the transition.
In October 2019, the Singapore Government launched its Recycle N Save initiative, which uses a network of 50 reverse vending machines to collect empty plastic beverage bottles and cans. While there is no deposit placed on the containers, consumers receive "non-monetary rewards" or electronic vouchers for turning in their containers. The vouchers can be used for discounts from participating businesses.
Late last month, the Singapore Environment Agency announced that the initiative has collected nearly four million containers since its launch. It also said experience from managing the Recycle N Save initiative will be applied to developing a container deposit scheme using reverse vending machines.
"As part of the government's continuing efforts to manage packaging waste, a Deposit Refund Scheme (DRS) will be introduced for beverage containers within the next few years as the first phase of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Framework," the National Environment Agency said. "Based on the DRS implementation in other countries, the use of RVMs is one of the common collection channels. NEA will hence build on the experiences of the Recycle N Save initiative in developing a DRS framework for Singapore."
On Monday, the German Federal Environment Agency (Umwelt Bundesamt or UBA) published a 48-page report that argues that Germany's transition to a circular economy is off to a slow start and offers recommendations on how to accelerate the transition. According to the report, "the transformation towards a circular economy in Germany is still in an early stage of development with little momentum."
The report says that accelerating the transition will require "the emergence of new knowledge and new markets, the establishment of new companies or the introduction of new business models," and it makes the following three broad recommendations:
According to the report, that there are still significant barriers to the development of secondary raw materials markets and only a small increase in innovation and the sharing of the resulting knowledge.
Download the UBA report at
Last month, Zero Waste Europe published a 51-page report that says "the actual beverage carton recycling rate in four European countries is far below what is currently being reported." The four countries are Germany, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Zero Waste Europe commissioned Eunomia Research & Consulting to conduct the analysis and prepare the report.
The report states, for example, that "Germany's actual recycling rate is 47.8%, rather than the 75% recycling rate and 87.4% collection rate communication by the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment."
"Spain's estimated carton recycling rate was significantly lower at 21.5%, down from ACE’s estimate of 80% against a collection rate of 51.2%," said Zero Waste Europe. "Sweden and the UK were estimated to have recycled 21.9% and 29.5% of their cartons, down from ACE’s estimates of 33% and 36%, respectively."
Zero Waste Europe also said that "beverage cartons are particularly challenging to recycle due to their complex make-up. While the materials used are technically recyclable, the format of the carton, which usually involves bonded layers of card, plastic polymers and aluminium, makes it difficult to separate these materials for recycling and reprocessing."
Download the Zero Waste Europe report on European beverage carton recycling at
The Recycling Victoria Councils Fund and the Recycling Victoria Communities Fund are making available a combined $11 million in grants to "transition to a circular economy by encouraging the development of grassroots local solutions for waste avoidance, repair and reuse of goods, and correct recycling of materials," according to an announcement last week by government-funded Sustainability Victoria.
The Recycling Victoria Communities Fund will provide individual organizations with between $25,000 and $250,000 for projects to increase reuse, repair and share opportunities in their communities. The Recycling Victoria Councils Fund grants of up to $500,000 for projects that "focus on reducing the amount of waste going to landfill or increasing the volume of materials reused, repaired, repurposed or recycled – while creating local circular economy jobs."
The deadline for submitting grant requests for either fund is March 19.
Last week, the Brazilian Ministry of Environment announced it is providing R$ 2.2 million to municipalities in the state of Sao Paolo as part of the Ministry's Zero Waste Program. The funding will be used to purchase recycling collection vehicles and help construct a waste sorting facility that will serve about 400,000 residents.
The Ministry noted that the recently established Zero Waste Program and the projects it funds provide continuing support for the National Policy on Solid Waste approved in 2010.
The Brazilian Ministry of Environment announcement is posted at
Yesterday, the British Plastics Federation (BPF) published an 84-page Recycling Roadmap that contends "with the right drivers in place, plastic recycled within UK facilities could increase 3.5 times by the year 2030." Following recommendations in the Recycling Roadmap also would "eliminate reliance on low quality exports of plastic waste in the next ten years and could more than halve the amount of plastic waste being exported."
To achieve the aforementioned goals, the Recycling Roadmap recommends 16 changes in waste plastic collection and processing including greater investment in recycling systems across the United Kingdom, uniform plastic waste collection schemes among all local jurisdictions, curbside collection of plastic film, increases in the use of recycled plastic in new products, and better communication to the public about what can be recycled.
"The BPF Recycling Roadmap shows that with the right collaborative effort, we have the potential to be a leading light when it comes to rapidly developing the technology and infrastructure to recycle far more plastic," said BPF Director General Philip Law.
Download the BPF Recycling Roadmap at
Late last month, the Swedish Waste Association (Avfall Sverige) criticized a decision by the Swedish Government to end producer responsibility for printed paper, such newspapers and magazines, flyers, direct mail and related material. (The change will not take place untl 2022.) Instead of producers, municipal governments will be become responsible for collecting and recycling the material. Ultimately consumers (local tax payers) will be financing collection and recycling, according to Avfall Sverige.
"Why the government chooses to let the municipalities and citizens pay the bill to take care of this often unwanted material from commercially strong players is completely incomprehensible," said Avfall Sverige Chairman Lars Stjernkvist.
"The Government's decision means that we are abandoning the environmental law principle that the polluter must pay, for which producer responsibility is a clear example," Stjernkvist added. "The decision means a departure from the work being made towards a circular economy and global sustainability goals. If producer responsibility, which is to be seen as a model for the future, is scrapped for recycled paper, there is every reason to be worried."
Afvall Sverige, which advised against the decision made by the government, noted it was joined in its opposition to the change by the Swedish EPA and the Swedish Chemicals Agency.
To review the full Avfall Sverige announcement, go to