10 August 2020:
A quick scan of recent waste, recycling and related environmental developments from around the globe...
According to data released last week by the United Kingdom's Environment Agency, recycling of aluminum containers during the second quarter of this year reached 40,653 tons, a quarterly record. For the first and second quarters combined, 76,933 tons of aluminum containers were recycled, a 52% increase over the first two quarters of 2019.
"The UK's PRN data for Q2 2020 shows a hugely impressive year-on-year increase in the volume of aluminium packaging collected for recycling," said Rick Hindley, executive director at the UK aluminum industry association Alupro. "Alongside greater public awareness about the benefits of recycling, figures should be attributed to the COVID-19 lockdown and the resulting increase in household recycling volumes."
More information is available at
Last week, the German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety released its 2018 data on the composition of the country's household waste stream. The most discarded material was organic (largely kitchen and garden) waste at 39.3%, followed by hygienic products at 6.7%, "fine trash" at 6.3%, and paper at 5.2%. All other materials each contributed less than 5% to the household waste stream.
While State Secretary for the Environment Jochen Flasbarth said that Germans discard about only half as much waste as they did 35 years ago, there remains room for improvement.
"Valuable raw materials still end up in the residual waste bin," said Flasbarth. "To change that separation has to be even easier. Our goal is a real circular economy in which there is hardly any residual waste and the raw materials are reused."
In 2018, the German per capita residual waste level was 128 kilograms. For the year, Germans discarded as residual waste around three million tons of organics.
For more information, go to
According to the 2019 Annual Report on Urban Waste released by the Portuguese Ministry of Environment last month, urban waste (municipal solid waste) generation in the country and its two autonomous regions (Madeira and the Azores) increased 1% in 2019 to 5,281 tons. The fifth consecutive year of increases.
Most of the waste generated - 57.8% - was disposed in landfills. Energy recovery accounted for 17.4%, recycling 13.1%, composting and aerobic digestion 8.4%, and other treatment processes 3.3%. The Ministry noted that landfill disposal decreased 1% from 2018.
In regard to composition of Portuguese urban waste by weight, 38.64% was organic, 11.45% was plastic, 9.91% was paper, 7.84% was sanitary products, 7.65% was fine material, 7.05% was glass, 4.17% was residual waste, 3.5% was textiles, and 3.07% was composite materials. Other materials each contributed less than 3% to the total.
The Portuguese 2019 Annual Report on Urban Waste is available at
The Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said last week that Ireland "recycled only a third of plastic packaging in 2018 which has decreased for the third year in a row" and that the recycling rate "is going in the wrong direction."
According to the EPA, Ireland generated just over 1 million tons of packaging waste in 2018, unchanged from the 2017 level. Per capita packaging waste generation in 2018 was about 214 kilograms. In 2018, 64% of packaging waste was recycled, exceeding the 55% EU target for the year. However, the EPA is concerned the country may not meet future EU targets of 65% for 2025 and 70% for 2030.
"To get the most from our resources in this area, we need to reduce packaging and reverse our falling recycling rates," said Eimear Cotter, Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Sustainability. "Households and businesses can drive this change by avoiding over-packaged goods which sends a strong signal back to producers to innovate for reduced packaging and reusable alternatives. We must also maximise recycling of the remaining materials, and waste collectors have a critical role here in ensuring their customers segregate correctly and use the appropriate bin."
The Irish EPA announcement is posted at
Last week, the United Kingdom's Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced that distribution of single use plastic carrier bags decreased by 59% last year and by 95% since 2015, the year a 5-pence charge first was imposed on each bag distributed by retailers. Defra said that in 2014, before the bag charge took effect, the per capita consumption leveal of the bags was 140. Last year it was only 10.
In England, collected plastic carrier bag fees can be donated to charities, and last year £9.2 million in donations were made. Since the bag charge was imposed, £178 million was been donated.
The other UK nations - Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland - all place 5-pence charges on single use plastic carrier bags but do so through separate regulations. In England, bag distribution data comes from the seven largest supermarket chains in England.
For more information, go to
On Monday, the Government of Western Australia said $1.54 million in grants is available to businesses, non-profit organizations, local governments and community groups to assist waste reduction and education programs. The state government said it is particularly interested in funding "infrastructure based projects that can deliver better waste management practices and education projects which can improve awareness of the need to reduce waste."
Individual grants of up to $250,000 are available to support investment in local recycling infrastructure, and of up to $50,000 for educational programs.
Since 2017, $4.5 million has been made available for such grants that have "improved the recovery and reuse of focus materials including plastics, construction and demolition waste, textiles, and food organics and garden organics."
The Government of Western Australia announcement is posted at
Today, the French Environmental Transition Agency (ADEME) announced it is seeking innovative project proposals from small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that support a circular economy among other types of projects. Individual project grants can range from 600,000 to 5 million euros and can be used to underwrite up to 55% of the costs of a project.
Circular economy proposals are sought in the following areas: sorting centers of the future; source sorting of consumer waste; reincorporation of recycled materials into industrial production processes; new recovery technologies; relevant development of digital tools and applications; development of reuse; and development of circular economy measures in the agriculture, textiles, and sports and leisure sectors.
The call for project proposals closes on October 6.
The ADEME announcement is posted at
Last month, Sustainability Victoria, a statutory authority in the Australian state of Victoria, launched the online Buy Recycled Directory "designed to provide government buyers with easy access to suppliers and recycled material options when considering products for purchasing and infrastructure projects." The directory is part of the state's 10-year plan to boost recycling and transition to a circular economy.
Among the 19 product categories in the directory are office supplies and equipment, packaging and paper supplies, medical and healthcare products, cleaning supplies, construction products and materials, civil engineering products and materials, fencing, and agricultural supplies.
The Buy Recycled Directory is expanding, and sellers of products containing recycled materials that would like to be added to the directory are invited to contact Sustainability Victoria with product information.
The URL of the new Sustainability Victoria directory is
Today, the Italian Ministry of Environment said it signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Corepla (the National Consortium for the Collection and Recycling of Plastic Packages) to help launch an "experimental project for the management of the marine litter." The project will span up to 24 months.
According to the Ministry, floating plastic waste will be collected by the Ministry's anti-pollution fleet as part of its marine pollution prevention and control service. The plastic litter will be collected at 15 Italian ports and delivered to Corepla, which will manage and process up to 36 tons of the collected material. Data also will be collected and analyzed on the waste to "measure the quantities of waste currently at sea and develop appropriate initiatives for an integrated approach to trace marine and terrestrial sources.."
Concerned that US waste and recycling workers need more protection during the covid-19 pandemic, the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) said late last month that it requested 2.4 million facial coverings from the US Department of Health and Human Services. SWANA said it submitted 1,540 separate orders producing the 2.4 million total coverings requested.
SWANA said that many states and local governments are requiring or recommending facial coverings for essential workers and that coverings being provided by the federal government are "an important supplement to the personal protective equipment (PPE) that front-line workers and others in the industry and at local governments are using to protect themselves from COVID-19."
The SWANA announcement is posted at