Environment and sustainability – May 2021

01 June 2021

Global, EU and US developments
In April 2021, ISO/TR 18568:2021 Packaging and the environment — Marking for material identification was published. Several commitments to achieve a worldwide circular economy were made during the WCEF+Climate summit in April 2021. The conference was co-organised by the Dutch government. A recent report (2.33 MB) by UNEP outlines the most used regulatory approaches to reduce plastic waste around the world. EU: In an article (1.12 MB) published in Waste Management, JRC researchers study the recycling of post-consumer plastic packaging waste. RecyClass has published new Quick Test Washing Procedures for film and paper labels applied on HDPE and PP containers. RecyClass has also published a new Polystyrene Design for Recycling Guideline (109 kB). US: The Glass Packaging Institute (138 kB) has announced the “A Circular Future for Glass” (1.73 MB) initiative, a 10-year plan to raise the glass recycling rate to 50%. ReFED has published the Roadmap to 2030: Reducing U.S. Food Waste by 50%.

Rules and Regulations in the different countries
Austria: Draft legislation transposing the SUP directive has been sent to the EC. France: Draft legislation defining the maximum plastic content permitted in SUP cups has been sent to the EC. Ireland: A consultation on the Circular Economy Strategy has been opened. NL: ACM has launched investigations into misleading sustainability claims in 3 sectors including dairy. The state secretary has sent a letter (in Dutch, 40 kB) to the Dutch House with new targets (in Dutch) based on WUR research (in Dutch, 4.09 MB) for metal packaging for 2025: 80% for aluminium and 94% for ferrous metals. She also sent answers (in Dutch, 631 kB) to questions about the PBL circular economy report (summary, 1.15 MB) and a report (in Dutch, 1.92 MB) about preventing the incineration of recyclable materials in 2030. On 15 April 2021, the Green Deal (263 kB) on coffee pads and tea bags in organic household waste was launched. TNO has launched a brochure (6.74 MB) on the Dutch circular plastics sector. At the request of the government, Duurzaamheid.nl (in Dutch) has written a report (in Dutch, 749 kB) on the interfaces between digitisation and the circular economy. Slovakia: Draft legislation transposing the SUP directive has been sent to the EC. South Afrika: The government has published amendments (163 kB) to the plastic bag regulations defining minimum recycled content. UK: The government has published information on the plastic packaging tax that will take effect from 1 April 2022. OPRL (376 kB) has launched a new refill labelling range to make clear which system applies and where and how the packaging should be refilled.

Scientists at Ames Laboratory have discovered a green, low-energy process to break down polystyrene. MIT engineers have developed self-cooling clothing fabrics from polyethylene, that could for example be derived by from recycling plastic bags.
Research (11.87 MB) by WUR shows that most beach litter in West Greenland is of local origin and not from afar. New Utah State University research focuses on how microplastics get into the atmosphere, how long they stay aloft and where we can expect to find hotspots.
On 22 April 2021, Sophie Kooij held a speech entitled ‘Exploration of the opportunities to improve the recyclability of flexible consumer packaging‘ as part of her master assignment at the University of Twente. Chairman of the assessment committee was prof. Roland ten Klooster who holds the NVC Chair Packaging Design and Management.

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