Environment and sustainability - May 2019

29 May 2019

In 2016, Japanese research discovered a bacterium that grows on PET and partially feeds on it. This bacterium possesses two special enzymes, PETase and MHETase, which are able to digest PET polymers. Researchers at the University of Greifswald have now solved the molecular structure of MHETase. An article (3.46 MB) is published in Nature Communications.
Scientists from the University of Plymouth have confirmed there has been a significant increase in open-ocean plastics in recent decades. In an article (737 kB) published in Nature Communications, they present 60 years of data collected from the North Atlantic. Plymouth Marine Laboratory scientists have revealed that ocean plastic is costing human society billions of dollars every year in damaged and lost resources. The study (810 kB) is published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin.
Environmental impact of food packaging
On 2 May, Joachim Batzke held a speech entitled ‘How can product design improve the environmental impact of primary food packaging combinations in Germany?’ as part of his master assignment at University of Twente. Chairman of the assessment committee was professor Roland ten Klooster who holds the NVC Chair Packaging Design and Management.

Plastic initiatives
PlasticsEurope has published the 2018 Operation Clean Sweep® (OCS) report (5.31 MB) providing an overview of the latest OCS developments and identifying further improvements to prevent pellet loss. EuPC has introduced MORE, a digital platform for plastics converters to monitor the uptake of recycled polymers into products.

Legislation around the world
World: UN Environment has announced that the Basel Convention has been amended to include plastic waste in a legally-binding framework which will make global trade in plastic waste more transparent and better regulated. University of Michigan research (1.13 MB) examines a wide array of policy tools around the world that have been implemented to reduce plastic pollution and increase plastic recycling rate. EU: On 8 May 2019, ECHA withdrew the intention to investigate the need for a restriction on oxo-degradable plastics. The withdrawal comes after an EC request following the adoption of the directive on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment. The KIDV (in Dutch) has published a fact sheet (in Dutch, 664 kB) on the legal position of chemical recycling in EU policy. Austria: The government has sent a draft law to the EC banning plastic carrier bags with clearly defined exceptions. Version 17/04/2019 of TÜV Austria OK Compost Home - Certification Home compostability of products was also sent to the EC. Denmark: The government has sent a draft act to the EC to ban the free distribution of carrier bags and thin plastic carrier bags less than 30 microns. NL: The KIDV (in Dutch) has published a new series of packaging sustainability plans 2019-2022 (in Dutch). The Court of Audit (in Dutch) has studied how the Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment is reducing the use of plastic. The report (in Dutch, 2.32 MB) shows that the policy to recycle more plastic packaging is successful, but also that there is still a long way to go to be 100% circular by 2050. In April the NOS broadcasted an item about plastic (in Dutch) and an item about deposit schemes (in Dutch). UK: The Scottish Government has announced that the new Deposit Return Scheme with a 20p deposit will include aluminium and steel cans as well as drinks containers made of glass and PET.

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