Environment and sustainability – February 2024

05 March 2024

European rules and regulations
The EP Internal Market and Environment committees have adopted their position on the Green Claims Directive on validating environmental marketing claims. This directive complements the already-approved EU ban on greenwashing. A document published in EUR-Lex compares the different positions of the EC, the EP and the Council on the PPWR. A legal assessment commissioned by EuPC, IK and Elipso, concludes that the special rules for plastic and exemptions for other packaging materials in the PPWR-proposal are probably not compatible with EU law. The EP has published a briefing (222 kB) on the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) proposal. The EP has also published a briefing (242 kB) on the revision of the Waste Shipment Regulation. According to Utrecht University research, a large percentage of the EU plastic waste exported to Vietnam ends up in nature. RecyClass has revised its Design for Recycling Guidelines for plastic packaging.

Rules and regulations in the different countries
Belgium: As proposed by the environment minister (in Dutch), the council of ministers (in Dutch) has approved SUP draft legislation. Among other things, the amount of plastic allowed in disposable packaging in the catering industry will gradually be reduced. Germany: Since the beginning of 2024, the DRS for SUP bottles also applies to milk. BfR (in German, 157 kB) does not expect this to create an increased health risk if the deposit machines are cleaned properly. Ireland: The DRS went live on 1 February 2024. NL all info is in Dutch unless mentioned otherwise: On 15 February, the Circular Economy debate took place. One of the topics was the DRS and the lack of transparency from the Waste Fund (Verpact as of 1 March), that reported on the same day that €87 million worth of plastic deposit bottles were not returned by consumers in 2022. The state secretary has informed the House by letter about the termination of the Plastic Pact NL as of 1 January 2024. One of the attachments is the monitoring report 2022 (5.86 MB) which shows, among other things, that 13% more plastic waste was incinerated compared to 2021. Parliamentary questions have been raised about new plastic being cheaper than recycled plastic following an article by EenVandaag on the bankruptcy of Umincorp. ABN AMRO expects the recyclate incorporation obligation (NCPN) to lead to financial problems for NL plastic processors. UK: Draft legislation on EPR in Northern Ireland has been sent to the EC. US: A Eunomia report (51.52 MB) published by Ball Corporation ranks US states by recycling rates while also examining state policies such as DRS and EPR.

Research and reports
According to the Circularity Gap Report 2024 (summary, 3.32 MB) by Circle Economy that you can download after filling in your details, the world is only 7.2% circular compared to 9.1% in 2018.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientists have compared CDA, PHA, paper, PLA, and PP drinking straws to see which degrade the fastest in the ocean.
A recent study (4.84 MB) by the Alaska Environment Research and Policy Center has found that 100% of the tested water bodies in Southcentral Alaska contained microplastics.
Desert Research Institute researchers have found high amounts of plastic and other litter on the bottom of Lake Tahoe. The most common items found were food containers, bottles, plastic bags and toys.
Fertilizers made from treated sewage sludge can bring along microplastic pollutants. ACS reports that UCLA researchers have discovered that microplastics are released from fields more easily than similarly sized dust particles, becoming airborne from even a slight breeze.

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