Environment and sustainability – November 2023

05 December 2023

Rules and regulations – global and EU
UNEP reports on the third meeting to develop a global legally binding agreement on plastic pollution. Ahead of the meeting, OECD published a report (2.85 MB) showing that business as usual is unsustainable and the Plastic Pollution Coalition launched the Global Plastic Laws Database. The 2023 Global Commitment progress report (3.83 MB) by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation shows that the signatories are likely to miss some of the 2025 goals.
EU: During the plenary vote on 22 November 2023, the EP adopted amendments (461 kB) to the PPWR. The Council and the EP have reached provisional agreement on stricter rules for waste shipments, including a ban on exports of plastic waste to non-OECD countries. Data from Eurostat show that in 2021, the EU generated 188.7 kg packaging waste per inhabitant, 10.8 kg more per person than in 2020. The EP has published infographics on the data. BEUC has reported (1.62 MB) misleading claims about the recyclability of plastic water bottles to EU authorities. According to a Eunomia report that you can download after filling in your details, such claims do not comply with the EU rules on unfair commercial practices. Plastics Europe (187 kB) has published a ‘Plastics Transition’ roadmap (13.92 MB).

Rules and regulations in the Netherlands - all info is in Dutch unless stated otherwise
During the two-minute debate circular economy, two motions were passed. One is to allow paper cups and bowls with a maximum of 5% plastic. In a signal report (257 kB), the Inspectorate ILT finds that companies are taking advantage of avoidance opportunities provided by the SUP regulations. The state secretary has responded by letter. A report (1.93 MB) on the impact of the National Circular Plastics Standard with a mandatory minimum share of recyclate and/or biobased plastics has been sent to the House. A report (898 kB) by PBL shows that the current policy mix does not lead to lower consumption or increased recycling of PET. The Waste Fund has announced a collective approach for reusable consumer packaging.

Rules and regulations in other countries
IAI has published a study on aluminium can waste management in Asia Pacific and UAE. China: USDA has published an unofficial translation (649 kB) of a recent standard restricting excessive packaging for agricultural products. A Tongji University paper (1.13 MB) published in Recycling gives an overview of regulations for plastic packaging waste. Hong Kong: The government has passed a Bill that prohibits nine types of SUPs. Italy: The government (in Italian) has postponed the Plastics Tax to 1 July 2024. Poland: Draft regulations on the rates of the SUP consumer levy has been sent to the EC. UK: The government has announced new plans for simpler recycling in England. US: Keller and Heckman reports that the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act has been reintroduced in both the Senate and the House (H.R.6053 and S.3127).

Research (2.77 MB) by WUR shows that compostable coffee capsules are the most sustainable option. Brunel University London researchers have identified two new PET degrading enzymes and BSC scientists have created an artificial protein capable of degrading PET. A University of Otago study shows that biodegradable plastics are also harmful to fish. According to MSU, table salt could be the secret ingredient for better plastic recycling. Rice University researchers have found a way to covert plastic waste into hydrogen that could pay for itself.

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