Environment and sustainability – September 2021

05 October 2021

Plastic packaging waste
Current rates of plastic emissions globally may trigger effects that we will not be able to reverse, argues a study by Stockholm University researchers published in Science (abstract). A report (7.28 MB) by WWF shows that the cost of plastic to the environment and society is at least 10 times higher than its market price paid by primary plastic producers. A study (7.06 MB) by WWF (in German) on plastic packaging shows that even if all current commitments in Germany were fully implemented, the need for new plastic would increase by 4% in 2040. A recent report (2.6 MB) by IPEN provides a detailed account of how current investments in recycling schemes, both mechanical and chemical, will have very little impact on a growing, worldwide plastic pollution. The University of Delaware reports that an urgent call to action on plastics pollution has been published (abstract) in Science. According to ISGlobal research published (1.71 MB) in Science of The Total Environment, the environmental impact of bottled water in Barcelona is up to 3,500 times higher than tap water.

Finding solutions for plastic pollution
The University of Manchester has published a report (7.89 MB) on new business models that cut back on plastic. According to a report (7.3 MB) by WEF, reusing 10% will stop almost half of the plastic waste from entering the ocean. The Consumer Goods Forum has published a set of rules for the design of plastic packaging. A report (2.05 MB) by the Rethink Plastic alliance outlines why EPR and ecomodulation can be a key opportunity for EU waste prevention. FPF has announced the release of the Understanding Packaging (UP) Scorecard, an online tool for evaluating the environmental impacts of food and food packaging.
University of Edinburgh scientists have used bacteria to transform plastic waste into vanilla flavouring. An article (5.14 MB) is published in Green Chemistry. University of Sydney researchers are developing a smart, automated robotic system that uses AI to sort soft plastics waste. EuPC has announced the launch of the EU MERLIN project: increasing the quality and rate of MultilayER packaging recycLINg.

Rules and regulations
FPF reports on the first UN ministerial conference on marine litter and plastic pollution where Rwanda and Peru introduced a draft resolution (183 kB) to create an intergovernmental committee to negotiate a global plastics pollution treaty. EU: The EC has registered ReturnthePlastics, a Citizen's Initiative to implement an EU-wide DRS for plastic bottles. A University of Vaasa Master thesis (1.52 MB) looks at EU circular economy and packaging material waste reporting. India: The government (78 kB) has notified the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules 2021, prohibiting certain SUPs by 2022. NL: The State Secretary has answered (in Dutch) parliamentary questions about a collection system for beverage cans outside the supermarket. A University of Twente Master Thesis (4.95 MB) looks at redesigning the NL recycling system in the light of the upcoming DRS for beverage cans. KIDV (in Dutch) has launched a Recycle Check for glass packaging that you can download after filling in your details (in Dutch). NRK (in Dutch) reports that the Action plan Increasing the use of recycled plastics (in Dutch, 1.84 MB) has been presented to the State Secretary. An English summary can be found here (277 kB). Slovakia: Draft legislation on a DRS for disposable beverage containers has been sent to the EC. Slovenia: Draft legislation abolishing mandatory material identification labelling has been sent to the EC. Sweden: Swedish Plastic Recycling (180 kB) is investing in building the world's largest and most modern facility for plastic recycling: Site Zero. UK: A report (11.12 MB) by SAS reveals that two thirds of the UKs plastic and packaging pollution can be traced back to just 12 polluting companies.

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