17 February 2021:
A quick scan of recent waste, recycling and related environmental developments from around the globe...
Led by Illinois Senator Dick Durban, last month a group of six United States Senators, all Democrats, sent a letter to leading e-commerce companies based in the US about steps they are taking to reduce plastic packaging, increase recycled content in plastic packaing, and ensure proper disposal and recycling of products downstream, among others. The letters were sent to Amazon, Walmart, Apple, Home Depot, Target, Wayfair, Best Buy, and Costco.
"Due to the pandemic, consumers turned to online shopping to purchase more goods than ever before," the letters say in part. "In 2020, online shopping or e-commerce was already projected to increase its share of retail sales, but the pandemic has accelerated that growth. We are concerned that the plastic packaging that your company is producing will contribute to the world’s growing plastic pollution problem… This waste kills millions of marine animals and affects many more. It impacts our drinking water and our communities; it is a threat that cannot wait to be addressed."
Cosigning the letters were Senators Jeff Merkley (OR), Richard Blumenthal (CT), Cory Booker (NJ), Patrick Leahy (VT), and Ron Wyden (OR).
Download the US Senators' Letter to Leading US E-commerce companies at
In 2019, the Government of Pakistan approved a ban on the manufacture, import and retail distribution of polyethylene carryout bags. The manufacture, import and use of polyethylene bags for municipal waste, hospital waste, hazardous waste and industrial packaging would need to be authorized on a case-by-case basis by Pakistan's Environmental Protection Agency. Manufacturers and distributors must file recycling plans, submit reports on their recycling programs to the EPA, and comply with other requirements.
On February 1, the EPA launched a awareness campaign about the bag law and said it would begin enforcing the provisions of the law on March 1. Enforcement had been delayed in part to the covid-19 pandemic.
Get more information at
In 2019, the statewide recycling rate for California dropped to 37% from 40% in 2018, according to a 72-page report published last week by the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). According to the report titled "State of Disposal and Recycling for Calendar Year 2019," the state peaked at a 50% recycling rate in 2014.
According to the report, California "will not meet the 75 percent statewide recycling goal in 2020 as set out in Assembly Bill AB 341."
The report stated the California generated about 14.4 million tons of waste in 2019 and disposed of 42.2 million tons. It exported about 14.4 million tons of recyclable materials, a decrease of about one million tons from 2018.
Download CalRecycle's "State of Disposal and Recycling for Calendar Year 2019" at
Last week, the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) said "the demand for packaging paper and board continued to grow in 2020 especially materials used for transport packaging and corrugated boxes, as they benefited from the e-commerce boom related to the sanitary crisis." In 2020, production of packaging grades of paper was estimated to have grown by 2.1% compared to a year earlier.
Conversely, use of scrap paper for recycling by CEPI member companies decreased by 2.1%.
"The pandemic impacted the availability and quality of paper for recycling throughout 2020. 96% of European paper for recycling utilisation is supplied domestically," the CEPI announcement stated. "Exports went down by 8.4% according to preliminary statistics."
Individual grants of up to $100,000 are being offered by Green Industries SA, a state government-fund entity, to "councils, not-for-profit organisations, research institutes, and businesses that produce, manufacture, sell or promote South Australian recycled materials and recycled-content products," according to an announcement earlier this month.
Grants are available for projects that validate and improve the quality and performance of local recycled materials or recycled-content products and develop or expand recycled materials markets.
The deadline to apply is May 31.
For more information, go to
Yesterday, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) published a 56-page guide for clothing retailers that want to establish a take-back program for post-consumer clothing. It includes lessons learned from leading retailers with established clothing take-back programs such as the launched by H&M and is designed to "help retailers, brands and their re-use/recycling partners either set up from scratch, or improve on, a take-back scheme."
The guide has eight sections that cover subjects from different types of take-back schemes in use to effective external communications and operation considerations ranging from logistics and cost management to legal, health and safety issues.
WRAP says that only 2% of people choose retailer take-back to donate their unwanted clothing and that the percentage needs to increase significantly to create a circular clothing and textiles industry.
Download the WRAP guide at
Today, the Chilean Ministry of Environment launched the Bota Responsable Campaign that encourages residents to dispose of surgical masks, gloves and other covid-19 personal protective equipment responsibly instead of littering them.
"The arrival of the corona virus made use of masks and gloves, mostly plastic, massive, which once used become waste, because they are not biodegradable or recyclable," said Environmental Minister Carolina Schmidt. "That is why we call on residents not only to take care of themselves by always using masks, but to be responsible with them once used so that they do not contaminate our environment."
The Ministry of Environment announcement said that if each Chilean used 2 masks a day, 34 million masks would be discarded approximately every 24 hours.
The Chilean Ministry of Environment announcement is posted at
Last year, the European Commission unveiled its draft Circular Economy Action Plan 2.0 and said that one of the goals in the plan is to "make all packaging placed on the EU market reusable or recyclable in an economically viable way by 2030." Last week, four European packaging materials industry groups - the Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging, European Aluminium, the European Container Glass Federation, and Metal Packaging Europe - jointly announced support for the Commission's new action plan. The four groups are members of the Permanent Materials Coalition.
"The European Union is demonstrating global leadership in the drive to move from a linear to a real circular economy," the announcement stated. With respective recycling rates of 76%, 76% and 82.5% in 2018, the aluminium, glass and steel sectors are top-performers for recycling packaging materials and are well positioned to play a key role in this transition."
Late last month, the US Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) and The Recycling Partnership announced they were accepting requests for proposals from material recovery facilities for aluminum beverage can capture grants. Grants will be awared to fund "eddy currents, robots and other equipment or process improvement activities to capture used beverage cans at Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs)."
"While aluminum beverage cans are consistently one of the most valuable materials by weight in the recycling stream, a recent CMI study indicated up to one in four beverage cans are missorted at a typical MRF," the announcement stated. "Capturing these cans will provide critical revenue to MRFs, many of which struggle with sortation costs higher than revenue earned from selling recyclables.
The deadline for the first round of applications was February 19, but the second round deadline is March 31.
For more information, go to
Late last month, the Norwegian Retailers Environment Fund (Handelens Miljøfond) said it is awarding NOK 105 million in grants to fund 123 environmental projects, most addressing reducing plastic waste. Nine of the funded projects are outside of Norway including reducing emissions of microplastics from the textile industry in China, and collecting, managing and recycling at least 120 tons of plastics each year in Mali and Uganda.
The Norwegian Retailers Environment Fund, whichlaunched in 2017, is financed through a NOK 0.5 fee on each plastic carryout bag sold by retailers. The Fund focuses on reducing plastic pollution, increasing plastic recycling, and reducing consumption of plastic bags
Get more information at