Environment and sustainability – November 2020

01 December 2020

Regulations around the world
: The Council has formally adopted the framework to revise the drinking water directive. Belgium: Draft legislation on EPR was sent to the EC. The coalition agreement (in Dutch, 822 kB) of the new government (in Dutch) includes a possible DRS. France: As of 2021 the Triman is to become the main label and logo’s that are confusing for the consumer, like the Green Dot, are no longer allowed. This is part of the anti-waste law (in French, article 17 and 62). Ireland: The government has opened a consultation on a DRS for plastic bottles and aluminium cans. Israel: The government has decided to activate the DRS for beverage bottles larger than 1.5 litres. Malta: Draft regulations on restricting the use of plastic bags have been sent to the EC. NL: The government (in Dutch) has embraced the advisory report (2.52 MB) from SER and opts for a responsible use of bio-based raw materials. A report (in Dutch, 3.28 MB) by RIVM shows that the Circular Economy Implementation Programme 2019-2023 has got off to a good start. A letter (in Dutch) to the government states that ILT is looking into the export of plastic to Turkey, Malaysia and Vietnam. US: The Congress has approved a bill to minimise plastic waste. Keller and Heckman reports that a new Bill AB 793l requires all plastic bottles covered by California’s DRS to contain at least 15% post-consumer plastic.

AIM reports the launch of HolyGrail 2.0 to assess whether digital technology can enable better sorting and recycling for packaging. Smithers has published an infographic (571 kB) on chemical recycling. RWTH Aachen University researchers look at its potential in an article (720 kB) published in Resources, Conservation & Recycling.
UC Santa Barbara researchers have developed an efficient, low-energy method for upcycling polyethylene waste into valuable molecules. An article about the research is published in Science (abstract). In a study (2.09 MB) published in PNAS, University of Portsmouth researchers combined PETase with a second enzyme that lives on a diet of plastic bottles, to speed up the breakdown of plastic.

Plastic waste
University of Toronto ecologists are sounding the alarm in a study (abstract), published in Science, on plastic entering the global waterways. A report (2.86 MB) by INTERPOL has found an alarming increase in illegal plastic waste trade since 2018. The Sea Education Association reports on a study (223 kB) published in Science Advances showing that the US is the third largest contributor to coastal pollution. According to a University of Exeter study, published in Science of the Total Environment (abstract), ocean clean-up devices won't solve the problem.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has published the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment Progress report (3.9 MB). In a report (3.23 MB) the Foundation, WWF and BCG, set out the opportunity for a global UN treaty on plastic pollution. The Nordic Ministerial Declaration on the need for a global agreement to prevent marine litter has been adopted and a report (27.19 MB) was published.
Achieving a cleaner Mediterranean Sea requires better implementation of policies, according to a report (34.2 MB) by EEA and UNEP/MAP. According to research (959 kB) by Flanders Marine Institute published in Environmental Pollution, by the year 2100, 69% of the water surface of this sea could show unfavourable conditions for marine life due to pollution with microplastics.

Environmental impact of packaging
In an article (1.37 MB) published in the Journal of Cleaner Production, NTU Singapore scientists report that plastic bags could be 'eco-friendlier' than paper and cotton bags in cities like Singapore.

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