22 September 2020:
A quick scan of recent waste, recycling and related environmental developments from around the globe...
Last week, Ken DaRosa, the Acting Director of the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), recommended during CalRecycle's public monthly meeting that business that generate two or more cubic yards of solid waste, recyclables and organic per week arrange for recycling services.
The recommendation was made after CalRecycle determined that an organic waste reduction target set by the passage of AB 1826 in 2014 had not been met. The target was a 50% reduction in organic waste disposal, using 2014 as a baseline. Under the state law, CalRecycle needed to make a determination on the situation this year.
However, Director DaRosa recommended extending an exemption on organics recycling requirements for rural jurdisctions until December 31, 2026 because the organics that those jurisdictions dispose is only about 1% of the state's total, which would "not result in significant additional organic disposal reductions."
Download more information on the determinations by CalRecycle at
Last year, Sweden recycled 68% of its packaging overall, according to a 24-page report published earlier this month by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The national overall packaging recycling target was 55%.
In 2019, 1,329,800 tons of packaging was placed in the Swedish market, and 905,000 tons was recycled.
For individual packaging materials, the 2019 recycling rates were 93% for glass, 84% for PET bottles and metal beverage containers, 75% for paper, and 41% for wood. Only the recycling rates for PET bottles and metal beverage containers failed to meet the national targets of 90% for each.
The Swedish EPA said that begining in January 2020, the targets for material recycling will be raised by up to 20% depending on the type of packaging.
Download the Swedish EPA packaging recycling report at
"We need to decouple waste generation from economic growth and achieve higher levels of recycling and reuse if we are to realise a circular economy in Ireland," the Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated in a communique last week. "Municipal waste, from household and commercial sources, amounted to 2.9 million tonnes in 2018, up 3.5 per cent on 2017."
Further troubling to the Irish EPA is that recycling in the country decreased to 38% in 2018 after holding steady at 40% for several consecutive years. And while the amount of waste disposed in landfills has decreased over the past decade, the amount of waste incinerated has been increasing.
"A circular economy is one that is based on less waste and more reuse and recycling of materials that otherwise would be thrown away," said Eimear Cotter, Director of the EPA.s Office of Environmental Sustainability. "These figures indicate that we are going in the wrong direction across a number of indicators, such as falling recycling levels. To get the most from our resources, we need to prevent waste and break the link between economic growth and waste generation."
Get more information at
Earlier this month, the US Mattress Recycling Council announced that "more than 83% of mattresses discarded in [California] in 2019 were diverted from California landfills, up 3 percentage points from the previous year." For the year 1.4 million mattresses weighing 58.3 million pounds of material were diverted from landfill.
Overall access to mattress recycling collection points and events across the state increased from 92.7% to 94.8% and in rural areas alone from 78.5% to 85.8%. Collection efforts in 2019 included 200 collection sites, 150 collection events and 50 curbside bulky item collection programs in addition to retailers taking back used mattresses from customers buying new ones.
"Coordinating with mattress retailers and the existing solid waste infrastructure throughout California has been a monumental achievement for the program, said Mike O'Donnell, Managing Directtor of the Mattress Recycling Council. "We've augmented that network by collaborating with nonprofit partners, including Local Conservation Corps, Goodwill Industries and Habitat for Humanity, so that access to the program is provided no matter where you live."
Get more information at
Last week, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a 49-page guide on how to reduce consumption of single-use plastics and increase plastics recycling at events such as sports contest, festivals, fairs and other public gatherings. The guide, compiled with the assistance of the other countries, too. The guide also supports the Danish Plastic Action Plan.
"In Denmark, as in the rest of the EU, the focus is on reducing the consumption of disposable plastic," said Nina Espegard Hassel, a Danish EPA Manager. "Many Danish municipalities have already gained experience with initiatives so that Denmark can move in a more sustainable direction. I hope more people will be inspired to do the same through this guide."
Download the Danish EPA best practices guide at
Earlier this month, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) - an organization represented by the US EPA, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales of Mexico - launched the "Let's Shrink Food Waste Mountain" awareness campaign and made a Food Matters Action Kit available. The campaign seeks to reduce food waste throughout North America by educating youth on the impact of food loss and waste and inspiring behavorial change. It includes online videos on a dedicated website.
The action kit provides information on how to conduct a household food audit, how to inventory "forgotten foods" and include them in meal planning, and how to use cosmetically imperfect fruits and vegetables in appealing ways, among other advice.
The CEC says that together the United States, Canada and Mexico North waste approximately 168 million tons of food per year.
The CEC announcement is posted at
A group of UK Members of Parliament and other individuals known as the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion (APPG), released a report discussing the need to increase textile recycling in the United Kingdom. The report follows a survey of 3,000 UK adults on textile consumption and attitudes.
According to the APPG, 73% of the people surveyed said they wanted the government to invest in fabric recycling facilities in the country and 65% said the government "should urgently do more to reduce the impact of the fashion industry on the environment." Additionally, 64% said they would like to see clearer sustainability labelling and information about the clothes they buy.
Among the recommendations the APPG has for government are invest in research and development to create more sustainable fabrics that have a lower environmental and social impact, boost investment in UK fabric recycling to create a more circular economy, and support new start-up businesses that use more sustainable business models.
A summary of the APPG research findings and recommendations is available at
"A reusable face covering will help protect communities from coronavirus but with less waste," said Zero Waste Scotland in a statement it posted last month. The government-funded organization noted that with the increased use of disposable single-use options, there has been a recent spike in associated litter, although it provided no statistics to quantify the increase.
"The full long-term effects of single-use face coverings in terms of pollution, impacts on wildlife and our climate emergency are not yet known but conservationists are already warning that dealing with the aftermath of increases in plastic and single-use items during the pandemic may be felt for years to come," the statement continued.
Zero Waste Scotland cautioned that reusable face coverings should be washed at the highest setting suitable for the fabric, preferably 60 degrees centigrade, after every use. That recommendation may make reusable face masks a less convenient option for some people.
The Zero Waste Scotland announcement is posted at
Earlier this month, Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) announced that their bottlers in the Netherlands and Norway are transitioning to 100% recycled PET (rPET). The transition will begin next month in the Netherlands and next year in Norway.
Last year, CCEP announced Swedish bottlers would be transitioning to 100% rPET bottles.
"Today's announcement that Coca-Cola European Partners Netherlands and Coca-Cola European Partners Norway are making the switch to 100% rPET marks a vitally important step forwards on our journey to eliminating new virgin oil-based plastic across all our plastic bottles within a decade," said Joe Franses, Vice President Sustainability at CCEP. "Crucially, this announcement provides a compelling case for the role that Deposit Return Schemes can play in the creation of local circular economies for beverage packaging. Markets with well-designed DRS such as those in Sweden, the Netherlands and Norway not only have high collection rates but also have the capacity to collect a higher grade of material with less contamination."
The CCEP announcement is posted at
Last month, the United Kingdom's Environmental Services Association (ESA) launched the 'Take Charge' consumer awareness campaign in an effort to reduce the number of serious fires caused by carelessly discarded batteries. According to the ESA, lithium-ion batteries are responsible for around 25% of all fires at waste management facilities.
The campaign also seeks to "raise awareness of the wide range of consumer electronic devices that contain high-energy rechargeable batteries and to help people understand how to recycle products containing batteries which cannot easily be removed for separate recycling."
"Our society is seeing an exponential increase in the use of high-energy rechargeable batteries across a wide range of consumer electronic devices, so we expect the number and frequency of battery-related waste fires to increase in future unless we can encourage consumers to use proper battery recycling infrastructure more often," said ESA Executive Director Jacob Hayler. "Waste fires not only cause millions of pounds of damage every year and disrupt services but, more importantly, can put lives at risk, so this is clearly a serious issue facing the recycling and waste management sector."
For more information, go to