Environment and sustainability – May 2022

03 June 2022

Plastics and recycling
University of Stuttgart research (2.02 MB) published in Sustainability, investigates how the design of SUP packaging can affect recyclability and LCA outcomes. Brightlands Chemelot Campus is leading the new project SYSCHEMIQ that focuses on collecting, sorting, and recycling used plastic but also on designing new plastic materials. RecyClass has carried out an analysis (171 kB) to verify the compatibility of PP-based, printed In-Mould Label technologies with recycling of PP containers. The Digital Watermarks Initiative HolyGrail 2.0 has achieved a significant milestone with the successful semi-industrial validation of a detection sorting unit. University of Aveiro researchers have discovered a simple process that allows PET to be recycled infinitely. University of Portsmouth scientists have discovered an enzyme that can help break down terephthalate (TPA), one of the molecular building blocks of PET. Northwestern University researchers have discovered a method to efficiently break down plastic bottles into components by using a metal-organic framework (MOF).
OECD has published a paper (1.67 MB) on global trade in plastic waste and scrap .A new study led by Kyushu University estimates that 25.3 million metric tons of plastic waste has entered our oceans and nearly two-thirds of that cannot be monitored and a new AWI-led study shows that there is a concerning degree of plastic pollution in the Arctic Ocean.

Research and reports
WUR has published a report (951 kB) on reusable packaging in Europe. VTT has published a discussion paper (720 kB) on the recycling of food packaging. FPF reports on the updated Understanding Packaging (UP) Scorecard; an online tool for evaluating the environmental impacts of food and food packaging.

Rules and regulations
EU: The EC is revising the circular economy monitoring framework; a call for evidence is open until 3 June 2022. EUROPEN reports that 60 associations have sent a letter (630 kB) to the EC on preserving the integrity of the EU Single Market by ensuring that packaging can move freely. France: The government (in French) reports the publication of a decree (in French) on consumer information on the environmental qualities and characteristics of waste products and a decree (in French) adopting the national strategy (in French) on the reduction, reuse and recycling of SUPs. Germany: Amazon reports that as of 1 July 2022, if you sell online in Germany, Amazon will be legally obliged to confirm that you are EPR compliant. Luxembourg: The parliament (in French) has passed 5 laws called the "Circular Economy Package" with the main objectives of waste prevention and reduction and providing the legal framework to reduce SUPs, littering and food waste. NL: On 11 May the Commission Debate Circular Economy (in Dutch) took place in the Dutch House. The State Secretary has given answers (in Dutch, 553 kB) to questions about the recent SUP regulations (in Dutch). The Packaging Waste Fund (in Dutch) has announced that the regular tariff for plastic will be increased. A WUR study (in Dutch, 910 kB) sent to the Dutch House shows that 31% of drink cartons was recycled in 2020. In a circular economy, products and materials are continually reused. There is a risk that hazardous substances will be reused as well. In a report (in Dutch, 1.44 MB), the RIVM sets out these possible risks. Spain: Draft legislation on EPR was sent to the EC. US: Legislation (312 kB) on EPR has been introduced in New York. California Attorney General Rob Bonta has announced an investigation into the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries for their role in causing and exacerbating the global plastics pollution crisis. According to research by NREL, only about 5% of the plastic waste in the US was recycled in 2019 and a report (594 kB) by The Last Beach Clean Up (116 kB) finds a recycling rate of 5 to 6% for 2021.

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