Environment and sustainability – April 2024

30 April 2024

European rules and regulations
During the plenary meeting on 24 April 2024, the EP approved the PPWR proposal with 476 votes in favour, 129 against and 24 abstentions.
The Council has approved stricter rules for waste shipments, including a ban on exports of plastic waste to non-OECD countries.
JRC has published a number of reports on elements of the PPWR that need to be developed: EU harmonised waste-sorting labels (5.53 MB); categories of packaging for design for recycling guidelines (1.63 MB); parameters of a methodology to assess the recyclability of packaging (688 kB) and the environmental performance of single use and multiple use food packaging (3.04 MB).
According to the biennial circular economy report (8.9 MB) by Plastics Europe, circular plastics now account for 13.5% in new plastic products. In total, 26.9% of EU plastics waste is currently recycled. A report (7.1 MB) by Petcore Europe shows that the average PET beverage bottles’ recycled content rate reached 24% in 2022. The collection rate was 60%, showing an increase from the 45% achieved in 2020.
EEA has published a state of play assessment (3.59 MB) on the circular economy.

Rules and regulations in the different countries
Belgium: Draft legislation on SUP bags and providing that adhesives, labels and other markings affixed to returnable glass bottles must be easily removable, has been sent to the EC. Statistics Flanders (in Dutch) reports that 80% of the packaging waste in Belgium was recycled in 2021. Denmark: Draft legislation introducing EPR for certain SUPs has been sent to the EC. Germany: Since April 2024, producers with an establishment in Germany are able to register at the SUP fund platform DIVID. India: The government has published draft guidelines (608 kB) for the prevention and regulation of greenwashing. NL: Verpact (in Dutch) estimates that the collection rate for all plastic beverage bottles, large and small, with and without a deposit will reach 71% in 2023. More information on how the system works and the results can be found in an explanatory note (in Dutch, 440 kB). Spain: RVO has published an article (in Dutch) on the implications for exporters of the new packaging act that was introduced in 2023. Sweden: Draft legislation on littering fees for SUPs has been sent to the EC. US: A Eunomia report (4.74 MB), commissioned by APR, studies the potential of pyrolysis, as a complement to mechanical recycling for plastic film and flexible packaging.

Research and reports
University of York researchers have found evidence that microplastics are contaminating archaeological remains.
Back to Blue has published a roadmap (5.69 MB) to tackle ocean pollution collectively. It offers an approach to harmonise existing projects, catalyse new initiatives and spark action. A UFZ study reveals large quantities of microplastics in a remote marine protected area in the Pacific Ocean. The quantities were similar to those found in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
University of Exeter researchers have found hundreds of plastic items in the guts of dead sea turtles, including bottle tops. Engineers at the University of Notre Dame have found that nanoplastics in ocean water have surprising diversity in shape and chemical composition. University of Kentucky researchers have developed an eco-friendly magnet to remove microplastics from water. Wiley reports that RWTH researchers have developed a biohybrid catalyst that oxidises polystyrene microparticles to facilitate their degradation.

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