Environment and sustainability – May 2023

30 May 2023

Rules and regulations in the EU
The EP has approved the new rules for sustainable, durable products and no greenwashing. The EC has opened a consultation on calculating recycled plastic content in SUP beverage bottles. The EP Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) has published proposed amendments (306 kB) to the PPWR. The EP Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) has also published proposed amendments (263 kB). A Smithers white paper that you can download after filling in your details, gives a summary of the PPWR proposal. ZWE reports on a Eunomia report (3.81 MB) entitled ‘Reimagining the Waste Framework Directive’. A CE Delft study (1.16 MB) launched by ZWE assesses different approaches to allocating recycled content in plastic. The study shows that proportional allocation has the lowest impact on the level-playing field and the largest potential environmental benefits. NL: In a letter (in Dutch) to the Dutch House, Minister Jetten reports that a national obligation for plastic producers will be introduced by 2027 to encourage the use of recycled plastic or bio-based plastic. In another letter (in Dutch) to the Dutch House, State Secretary Heijnen reports that the ministry is working on a guideline with end-of-waste criteria for plastic from chemical recycling. She also responded in writing (in Dutch) to parliamentary questions on the PPWR. The Waste Fund (in Dutch) has commissioned an action plan (in Dutch, 3.42 MB): 'Design for recycling of plastic packaging'.

Rules and regulations outside the EU
Asia: EPR in Asia is the subject of a Smithers white paper that you can download after filling in your details. Canada: The government has launched consultations on plastic recycled content and recyclability labelling and on reporting requirements for the federal plastics registry. UK: Scotland: In a statement issued on 18 April 2023, the First Minister announced that the DRS will be delayed to 1 March 2024. He also announced that a package of measures to simplify the scheme has been developed. US: EPA has released the “National Strategy to Prevent Plastic Pollution” for public comment.

Plastic waste
During a G7 Meeting the members committed (536 kB) to ending plastic pollution by 2040. VBDO reports that a group of 185 investors is calling (118 kB) on companies to drastically reduce use and production of plastic.
The HolyGrail 2.0 digital watermarking initiative has succeeded in separating food and non-food PET packaging waste streams in an industrial environment at a Wellman/Indorama recycling plant in France. In a paper (4.98 MB) in Frontiers in Sustainability, Plastic Waste Innovation Hub researchers describe a system capable of accurately sorting compostable plastics from conventional plastic items.
A collaboration (97 kB) involving BASF, Krones, SÜDPACK, and TOMRA has succeeded in separating PET/PE multi-layer packaging into its individual components and returning them to the materials cycle as raw materials. Rice University researchers have made carbon nanotubes and hybrid nanomaterials from mixed waste plastics using flash Joule heating.
Researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute have found that arctic ice algae is heavily contaminated with microplastics. NHM reports on plasticosis: a new disease caused by small pieces of plastic which inflame the digestive tract of seabirds.
ACS reports that researchers have made a device with steel tubes and pulsing sound waves that removes microplastics from real water samples. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute have developed a jellyfish-inspired underwater robot with which they hope one day to collect waste from the bottom of the ocean.

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