13 November 2019:
A quick scan of recent waste, recycling and related environmental developments from around the globe...
Last week, the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), which administers the state's container deposit scheme, announced the arrests of a numberof individuals involved in transporting out-of-state beverage containers into California with the alleged intention of fraudulently claiming deposits for the containers.
Several separate incidents were reported by CalRecycle. In one incident, several individuals were found unloading a 53-foot trailer holding 10,978 pounds of aluminum and 14,940 pounds of plastic empty beverage containers. The redemption value of the containers was $36,718.
In other incidents, drivers from Nevada and Arizona were arrested when they were caught at highway checkpoints bringing out-of-state containers into California. CalRecycle said that agents seized 10,456 pounds of aluminum and 9,224 pounds of plastic empty beverage containers with a container redemption value of $28,665.
The CalRecycle announcement is posted at
In late October, the United Kingdom's Environment Agency launched a consultation on proposed new rules addressing biowaste processing that includes anaerobic digestion, composting and sewage sludge treatment. Among the proposed rules, the Environment Agency wants to reduce the amount of plastic contamination in compost, a growing problem.
The agency would like to reduce contamination levels including plastic to only 0.5%, down from the present permissible level of 5%.
Appenndix 1 of the consultation document states, "For many years the industry has struggled with high levels of contamination in incoming feedstock. This is particularly so from kerbside collections. We are concerned about plastic contamination because it can end up in the final material. This is then spread to land (see figure 4). More than 80% of plastics found in marine environments have been produced, consumed and disposed of on land."
You can download the UK Environment Agency's consultation document at
The overall EU glass container recycling rate in 2017 increased to 76%, a new record, according to an announcement last month by the European Glass Container Federation or FEVE. EU glass container manufacturers produced abot 30 billion containers in 2017.
The rates for EU Member States varied significantly with Belgium (98.03%), Slovenia (98.53%), and Sweden (97.43%) being the leaders. At the bottom of the list are Greece (36.01%), Hungary (43.19%) and Malta (29.51%)
In 2015 the overall EU glass container recycling rate was 73% with more than 25 billion glass containers being recycled. In 2016, the overall recycling rate increased to 75%.
The recycling rate for beverage cartons in the European Union increased 1% in 2018 to 49%, according to an announcement last week by the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE). The organization noted that carton recycling rates for some EU Member states were above 70%.
ACE also mentioned it has launched a public education campaign to encourage more consumers to recycle their waste cartons and contribute to the circular economy.
"Beverage cartons provide a double circularity, at sourcing thanks to the renewability of their main components and at end-of-life through recycling," said ACE Director General Annick Carpentier. "This double circularity helps ensure that beverage cartons play a role in helping achieve a low carbon circular economy."
The ACE announcement is posted at
The amount of recyclable materials output from material recovery facilities (MRFs) in Quebec was down 3% in 2018 from three years earlier, according to a report published last week by RECYC-QUEBEC. During the same three-year period, the quantity of materials rejected at MRFs increased by 2.3%.
"The closing of the purchases from the Chinese market that started in 2017 has forced various sorting centers to quickly find new markets to sell their main output materials, including mixed paper and plastics," said RECYC-QUEBEC in releasing the report. "This closing of export markets for certain materials was also accompanied by a decline in the prices offered for the materials, thereby weakening the financial viability of the majority of sorting facilities, regardless of whether they were managed by private, public or non-profit organizations.
The decline in recyclable paper output by MRFs was the most negative, falling from 707,000 tons in 2015 to 642,000 in 2018, a 9% decrease. The outputs of metal, plastic and glass all increased over the three-year period, however, the three materials were output at much smaller levels. For example, while plastic output increased 28%, the weight increase was only 9,000 tons.
The report contains other types of MRF output and market data compiled by RECYC-QUEBEC.
Download the RECYC-QUEBEC waste report at
Last month, the New South Wales (Australia) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that the state's Department of Planning, Industry and Environment was making grants of up to $100,000 available to "food rescue organizations" to collect donated food, reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill. The food waste prevention grants come from the state's Waste Less, Recycle More initiative and are the third round of funding that totals $1.7 million.
"Donating food is a great way to avoid food waste," said Amanda Kane, Acting Director Waste and Resource Recovery. "Every year in NSW, almost a million tonnes of food waste ends up in landfill - 200,000 tonnes of this comes from businesses."
Last month, the County of Hawaii told residents it would no longer accept metal cans in its curbside collection program. It said the change was made "due to significant decreases in the global market for recyclables."
The County Department of Environmental Management said it will "continue its ongoing efforts to evaluate potential alternatives to remain environmentally and economically responsible."
Norway is a marine-oriented nation with estimates of the length of its coastline ranging as high as 63,000 miles. Still, the announcement on Monday by the Norwegian Environment Agency (Miljodirektoratet) that a scheme to recover unwanted and abandoned recreational boats has collected more than 20,000 vessels over the past two years seems impressive.
According to the agency, the wood and plastic recovered from the boats is recycled or recovered as energy, and the metal issold as scrap. Removing abandoned boats from shorelines also reduces the chance of releases of toxic chemicals and microplastic particles.
The agency also noted that it makes grants of 1000 NOK (roughly $110 USD) available to boat owners for responsibly turning in their unwanted vessels for recovery, and it has provided more than NOK 20 million in such grants since the program began.
Today, the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) said it plans to form a new division within the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada, pending approval by both organizations' boards. The new division is expected to become operational next July.
"CIAC and CPIA have very complementary strengths and mandates,” said Joel Rudolph, Chair of the CPIA Board of Directors. "Combining those strengths will increase our share of voice about urgent plastics issues with important stakeholders at a time when our sector needs the clearest and most unified national voice possible."
Earlier this year, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government will ban some single-use plastics and take other actions to reduce plastic pollution.
The CPIA announcement is poted at
While the details about the proposed container deposit scheme (CDS) in the United Kingdom remain fluid, ALUPRO, the UK's aluminum industry group, voiced concerns about including plastic bottles in the CDS.
In a November 6 statement, ALUPRO claimed that the inclusion of plastic bottles "could result in an extra 823 million plastic bottles being produced, inadvertently adding to plastic pollution – one of the key issues the scheme is trying to solve."
ALUPRO also is concerned that consumers would opt to pay smaller deposit amounts by choosing large plastic bottles over 12-ounce aluminum cans, saying "attaching the same deposit fee to all sizes of container will lead consumers to opt for larger plastic bottles, having consequences for the environment and encouraging the purchase of larger portion sizes."
With Brexit still pending and a national election planned for next month, it is unclear when or if plans for the UK CDS will be finalized.