RECYCLING magazine Trends, Analyses, Opinions, and Facts for the Recycling Industry Tue, 06 Dec 2022 16:38:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 HDPE and PP recycling line for Turkish plastics recycler Tue, 06 Dec 2022 16:38:38 +0000 The recycling line, installed at the company’s recycling facility in Başiskele, Kocaeli Province, began operations in mid-September 2022.]]>

Featuring Starlinger’s special high-vacuum degassing unit, the recoSTAR dynamic 215 C-VAC has a production capacity of two tons of high-quality plastic pellets per hour and processes post-consumer HDPE and PP bottle flakes. The line is equipped with a SMART feeder, which ensures ideal material preparation prior to extrusion, effectively drying and homogenising the input material.

“The Starlinger recoSTAR dynamic recycling lines have been designed with the focus on processing contaminated and highly humid post-consumer plastic waste,” explained Paul Niedl, Commercial Head of Starlinger recycling technology. “The elaborate construction of the SMART feeder allows the recycling of materials with higher levels of humidity. In combination with Starlinger’s Dynamic Automation Package, which regulates the ideal operating point, it achieves a significant output increase.”

The specially developed C-VAC degassing unit with its modern cascade setup takes care of volatile contaminants after the main extruder, effectively removing them by expanding the melt surface by 300 percent.

Tanrıkulu supplies the produced regranulate to the Turkish plastic product manufacturing industry. While recycled polypropylene is used mainly to produce automobile plastic parts, furniture, toys, and other injection-molded products, as well as pallets, buckets, and packaging films, recycled polyethylene is used for pipes, bottles, plastic bags, and similar products.

“At Tanrıkulu, we try to improve ourselves at every opportunity we get. For that, we continuously upgrade our production equipment”, said İzzet Tanrıkulu, General Manager of Tanrıkulu Group of Companies. “To ensure the best regranulate quality, the post-consumer input material passes through metal detectors and filtration systems before being washed and sorted. The excellent vacuum degassing capacity of the Starlinger line combined with its high production output helps us achieve the best product quality at favourable costs, ensuring continuous supply of high-quality PP and PE regranulate to our customers.”

With currently ten plastics recycling and manufacturing plants in various parts of Kocaeli Province, which borders the Istanbul metropolitan area, Tanrıkulu originally started out in 1989 in Istanbul, recycling paper, glass, and metal waste. In 2006, the company began to produce regranulate from plastic waste and diversified by adding a facility for the production of PET sheet in 2014. Since then, Tanrıkulu has become one of the leading plastic recycling enterprises in Turkey and exports 50 % of its PET sheet products to overseas markets. Its plastic recycling capacity doubled after opening the Izpack PET packaging production facility in 2018 and installing automatic plastic sorting systems in 2019.

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Increased recycling potential at waste management facilities thanks to AI Tue, 06 Dec 2022 16:11:40 +0000 Keymakr, a data annotation service provider, partners with Recycleye, a developer of digital tools for detecting and providing analytics on waste management, to help reduce the amount of recyclable materials that go into landfills. ]]>

Despite the growing prevalence of recycling facilities and infrastructure in many parts of the world, an estimated 91 percent of plastics end up in landfills. Waste-management sorting facilities aim to reduce the amount of waste getting buried in landfills by separating anything that can be reused, including for industrial and agricultural purposes. With the goal of promoting a healthier environment and being thrifty, sorting waste comes with many inherent risks. Dividing waste from reusable materials is a grueling and dangerous task that leaves workers vulnerable to harmful substances and contaminants, workplace injuries, and other dangers.

Recycleye leverages Keymakr’s advanced computer vision AI to assist in running its ML models. Recycleye sends Keymakr relevant data to be labeled prior to it being returned and then integrated into the ML models. Part of this process involves Keymakr helping identify edge cases that occur during the sorting process, allowing the ML models to better recognize objects that otherwise would have been sorted incorrectly. Through this collaboration, waste management sorting facilities are able to recycle more materials.  

The partnership with Recycleye comes on the heels of Keymakr’s partnership with SeeChange and the launch of Keylabs, its purpose-built SaaS platform. Keylabs enables all companies, regardless of whether they have data annotation teams, to leverage Keymakr’s uniquely effective annotation capabilities. Keylabs’ easy-to-use interface improves the speed of annotation and data sets while ensuring accuracy through its QA abilities. 

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New waste and recycling kit for Doosan wheel loaders Tue, 06 Dec 2022 14:37:44 +0000 Doosan has launched a new waste and recycling kit for the company’s DL-7 range of wheel loaders. ]]>

The kit is available for all Doosan wheel loader models from the DL200-7 through the DL480-7, which is the segment of the Doosan range that is most widely used in this kind of environment.

There are many new safety features provided in the kit, including windshield guards, rim covers, road light protection, other protective covers, a fine mesh air intake cover, and solid tires. Several of these features will be available as options, so customers can choose a kit of their choice to tailor their wheel loaders for their specific applications. Doosan is also preparing an aftermarket version of the kit for those customers who decide to install it at a later date. Doosan is also providing a wider fin air conditioner condenser as standard to facilitate easy cleaning and maintenance.

The Waste and Recycling Kit matches other features of the DL-7 range, such as the air compressor, high lift arm, quick coupler, transparent bucket, and more. For maximum performance and versatility, all of the new DL-7 wheel loaders are equipped as standard with a third spool valve with settable flow and detent function, providing a constant flow for hydraulically driven attachments.

Like all DL-7 wheel loaders, the DL200-7 to DL480-7 models feature redesigned buckets offering up to 7% more capacity for easier and faster loading, with standard bucket capacities from 2.0 to 4.8 m3. This provides increased productivity for a very wide range of material-handling applications.  

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Leading a revolution in biowaste recycling Mon, 05 Dec 2022 07:56:47 +0000 Biowaste is a key topic in the European Union. 120 million tons of this residue are generated in the EU per year, which represents 200 kg per European citizen.]]>

But the valorisation rate is still very low (around 25%), and most common valorisation processes currently used generate low value products.

Therefore, many initiatives have been started to find solutions. Some of them are based on the improvement of the collection systems. The quality of the collected biowaste is key to its subsequent valorisation (better quality permits better applications). Other efforts are focused on the development of new processes able to get a higher value from biowaste.

SCALIBUR project

SCALIBUR is a Horizon 2020 project composed of 20 partners and coordinated by the research centre ITENE, aiming to develop new technologies for improving biowaste management. It started in November 2018 and finished in October 2022. Therefore, final results are available. They will be explained in this article.

The work in the project has been centred on three biowaste fractions. First, the Organic Fraction of Municipal Solid Waste (OFMSW), which is the material collected in the container for the selective collection of biowastes generated at home. Second, there is HORECA biowaste, which is the organic residue generated in hotels, restaurants, and cafés. Third, the sewage sludge, which is the bioresidue obtained after the treatment of waste water.

SCALIBUR had two main objectives: (1) to improve biowaste collection and management, (2) and to create high value products from biowaste. The improvement of biowaste collection and management in the project has been based on the introduction of innovative technologies to measure the quality of the organic matter, the optimization of collection routes and the implementation of innovative biowaste monitoring systems. The creation of high value products is based on the development of new biological and chemical processes able to degrade the residue for obtaining new raw materials.

Improvement of biowaste collection and management

Firstly, an innovative system of sensors was developed and tested in collection containers. This system not only measures the fill level, but also the degradation level of the organic matter. The measurement is done in real time. This allows to automatically know if the container needs to be collected urgently or if collection can be postponed. This information is useful to optimize collection routes, therefore saving time and fuel during collection. Moreover, it allows for the best quality in the organic matter collection, which is key to ensuring the necessary conditions in subsequent valorisation processes.

The information provided by the sensors, the decisions on collection (or not), and the connection with collection maps are all controlled by an IT platform that was also developed and tested in the project through real pilots.

Moreover, SCALIBUR worked on the development of innovative pre-treatment processes to prepare the organic materials for the subsequent treatments. Processes studied for the subsequent hydrolysis of OFMSW were monitoring, manual separation, trituration, trommel separation, electromagnetic separation, homogenization, stabilization, and drying.

As an example, a new system for the characterization of the quality of the OFMSW in the treatment plant was developed. This system permits the visualization and calculation of percentages of organic matter and rejected material. This allows for clear information to be used to decide in real time on the most adequate subsequent pre-treatment processes.

Furthermore, a deep study of the main problems occurring in the cities was carried out together with stakeholders. These problems were classified in several categories, which are: social awareness, collection, transport, sorting, pre-treatment, and characterization (see Table 1). Then, a list of best practices on each of these topics was developed together with partners, cities, and other companies and stakeholders.

In addition, a sheet was prepared for each best practice, including the description, instructions for implementation, an example, and the expected benefits (environmental, economic, and social). It should be noted that the contribution of the City of Lund (a partner in the project as an “example” city) was crucial for the development of these best practices.

Table 1 Summary of best practises Copyright: Scalibur

All these innovations were tested in three pilot cities (Madrid, Spain; Albano-Laziale, Italy; and Kozani, Greece). The technologies tested in each pilot were slightly different. Madrid tested actions on social awareness, sorting, pre-treatment, and characterization, while Albano and Kozani implemented technologies on collection, transport, and characterization.

Results show important improvements in each city. In Madrid, the awareness and education campaigns led to an increase in the organic matter content from 2019 to 2022, from almost 75 percent to nearly 83 percent. In Kozani, due to the optimization of the routes, there was a 64% reduction in the distance travelled to collect 1 tonne of organic waste.

Finally, Albano Laziale reduced the total quantities of waste collected (-6.83%) while also increasing the quantity (and share) of organic fraction collected, from 25.59% to 29.49%. Regarding route optimization, Albano Laziale reduced by 15.15% the distance travelled during collection and therefore fuel consumption.

High value products from biowaste

Municipal solid waste is known to have a huge environmental impact in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, mainly because of the amount of waste that ends up being landfilled or incinerated. In the SCALIBUR project, biowaste valorization processes were developed to help implement the circular economy in the European Union by giving value to the organic fraction of municipal solid waste (OFMWS), HORECA waste, and sewage sludge from the water treatment plants. During the project, new sustainable products from the defined biowaste streams were developed.

HORECA and the organic fraction of municipal solid waste

The objective of the recovery of HORECA and municipal waste in the project was to develop new products from these residue flows, which are destined for landfill. For this, different processes were developed, such as the enzymatic hydrolysis of waste and insect rearing on the residues.

The valorisation of the organic fraction of the municipal solid waste (OFMSW) to extract the sugar fraction contained with the aim to manufacture different bio-based products (biopesticides and bio-based polyesters) starts with an enzymatic hydrolysis of the biowaste, where an enzymatic cocktail specifically designed to address the hydrolysis of the carbohydrate components in the OFMSW (cellulose and starch) was used. Then, an enzymatic hydrolysis process has been upscaled and validated using a high solid load for the production of a sugar enriched concentrated syrup. After this process, two products were produced; the solid fraction was used for the production of biopesticides, and the liquid fraction, enriched in sugars, was used for the synthesis of bio-based polyesters and biopesticides.

The concentrated sugar fraction obtained from the OFMSW’s conversion processes has been aimed at producing bio-based and biodegradable polyesters for both food packaging and collection bag waste. The production of these new products helps reduce the amount of virgin material while boosting the use of compostable end-of-life products. The use of compostable packaging will contribute to the success of good practices in OFMSW collection and management and its further valorization into highly valuable compost. Moreover, a territorial cluster of circular initiatives will accelerate the transition to a greener, more resilient economy, able to provide sustainable responses to the needs of the involved areas.

Furthermore, insects like black soldier flies (BSF, Hermetia illucens) can convert in a very efficient way kitchen and restaurant scraps, or simply organic materials, into biomass rich in proteins, lipids, and chitin.

Chitin and its derivatives represent a well-reviewed biopolymer with many beneficial applications. The preparations for chitin and its derivatives as a biomaterial vary according to process conditions and potential applications. However, their main sources are crustaceans, and research on alternative sources is still under development.

In the SCALIBUR project, chitin was optimally extracted from adult BSF through demineralization, deproteinization, and decolorization processes. The extracted chitin fraction was fully characterized, and then it was used to prepare nanofibres (Ch-NF) through a mechanical treatment. Therefore, the SCALIBUR project demonstrated the potential of black soldier fly insects to obtain chitin by chemical methods for the further development of nanofibres with potential interest in food, biomedical, or cosmetic applications.

Sewage sludge

In the case of sewage sludge, the objective was to develop processes to produce new products with high added value, such as biopolymers, biogas, and biopesticides.

Within the framework of the SCALIBUR project, a technological solution was designed and developed to increase efficiency in the anaerobic digestion process of sludge in a water treatment plant (WWTP), carried out in two stages.

On one hand, the dual digestion consists of a first reactor operated under thermophilic conditions where hydrolysis of the sludge to be treated occurs, producing hydrogen as a by-product. During this process, the concentration of volatile fatty acids (VFA) that have a high biodegradability is increased. Feeding hydrolyzed sludge to the second reactor operated under mesophilic conditions favours a drastic increase in biogas production compared to conventional digesters (increase of 38%).

During the anaerobic digestion process, a biogas stream rich in methane and carbon dioxide is produced. In SCALIBUR, a bioelectrochemical reactor was designed with the aim of reusing this current of carbon dioxide to transform it into products with high added value (acetic acid). During the piloting of the bioelectrochemical reactor (in the Czech Republic and Spain), acetic acid productions of 1.5 g/L have been achieved, demonstrating the capacity of new electrochemical technologies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere while transforming them into valuable products.

On the other hand, municipal wastewater sludge is microbiologically active and is rich in bacteria that can store biopolymers, namely polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs). Furthermore, fermentation of the organic fraction of municipal solid waste (OFMSW), and/or wastewater sludges can yield VFAs as a substrate for bacteria to accumulate these valued biopolymers. The SCALIBUR project developed methods for demonstrating and upscaling PHA production and recovery using waste activated sludge and VFAs. PHA is a biodegradable polyester with thermoplastic properties similar to those of fossil fuel-based polymers. The PHA was produced in infrastructure at pilot scale, including the process steps of PHA accumulation, PHA-rich biomass dewatering, green solvent extraction, and post-treatment towards bioplastics with food contact quality.

PHA was produced for end-users to be able to evaluate their interest. PHA production methods were optimized to enable the production of a food packaging prototype, and the thermal properties obtained are similar to those of commercial PHBV. To obtain results on the processability of the developed material, pots were manufactured (see photo). The SCALIBUR PHBVs were used as a property modifier. They enabled the enhancement of critical mechanical properties (toughness) compared to the commercial PHB.

The SCALIBUR multi-stakeholder engagement approach

In addition to the technical dimension for improving biowaste management, the SCALIBUR project has also implemented a variety of multi-stakeholder engagement activities in three pilot cities, Madrid (Spain), Albano (Italy), and Kozani (Greece). Consortium partners implemented a tailored approach based on a quadruple-helix engagement model that included stakeholders from the realms of academia, industry, policy, and civil society.

At the core of this approach lies the Biowaste Clubs concept, a stakeholder-driven process building on a long-term, inclusive dialogue with all actors aiming to develop local leadership and trigger innovative strategies and policies. Throughout the project, the Biowaste Club’s ad-hoc meetings and activities (i.e., events, workshops, and trainings) have provided a neutral stage for key stakeholders to meet and discuss, and thus to keep track of stakeholders’ motivations, drivers, challenges, and needs, all of which contribute to the development of shared (bio)waste management and valorisation visions and roadmaps at the local, regional, national, and EU levels.

Furthermore, the SCALIBUR project aimed to foster social innovation through a better understanding of citizens’ knowledge and perceptions of (bio)waste as a resource. Interactive do-it-yourself workshops, surveys, campaigns, and exhibitions have been organized revolving around the concepts of the bio- and circular economies at the city and regional level. The aim was not only to increase knowledge around emerging technological solutions for the generation of bio-waste-based products, but also to enhance citizen and consumer acceptance of those specific types of products. In the short term, these activities have enabled the kick-off of innovative collaborations across cities, regions, and countries, leading to societal innovation in the long term.

The Biowaste Hub

To facilitate the connection between biowaste stakeholders, SCALIBUR also developed an interactive platform called The Biowaste Hub.This platform aims at connecting waste and wastewater management companies, business and local service providers, government municipalities, industry associations, academia, and the scientific community with end-users of bio-based and biodegradable polymers, developers of bioproducts, and generators of urban biowaste (retailers, hotels, restaurants, and individuals or professionals with interest in biowaste).

Moreover, the platform permits the transfer of all technologies developed within the project. Concretely, it lets users discover innovative processes and check for best practices. The objective of the platform is to grow even after the project in order to be the reference network on biowaste.

Environmental, technoeconomic, and social improvement

SCALIBUR also studied the sustainability of all technologies developed. This work was done in parallel with the technological development in order to identify potential aspects to be improved during development and testing. The study considered the three pillars of sustainability: environment, economy, and society. All these studies were done with a life cycle approach to consider all aspects affecting the whole value chain.

The environmental study showed that with the implementation of the value chains developed in SCALIBUR, some improvements in the environmental impact were achieved when compared to conventional treatments or conventional products:

  • Biochemical conversion of the organic fraction of MSW (municipal solid waste) into biodegradable polyesters and biopesticides: In this value chain, when comparing the results of the climate change category for the conventional pesticide to the fermented solid pesticide developed in SCALIBUR, it can be concluded that the impact is reduced by about 28.5%.
  • Insects to valorize organic waste from ROW (residue organic waste). The aim of this value chain is to obtain proteins. Therefore, the valorisation of ROW by insect rearing in order to obtain proteins that has been developed in SCALIBUR, was compared with a different type of production of proteins, such as those whose origin source are microalgae. The results indicated that the impact in the climate change category is reduced by around 60%.
  • Bioconversion of sewage sludge and OFMSW through biochemical and bioelectrochemical routes: In this value chain, two routes can be followed, one that aims to obtain VFA and another that produces PHVB. In both cases, when comparing the results of these routes with the conventional treatment, the environmental impacts get reduced, especially in the climate change category. In this category, the impacts decrease by 98% for the VFA production and 49% for the PHBV production.

In relation to the social-LCA (life cycle assessment) that was also carried out, it was proven that there is potential for creating new job opportunities through the establishment of these new value chains. The study showed that in 65% of the companies involved in SCALIBUR, new jobs were created. Also, great results were obtained in the social acceptability of the bioproducts, demonstrating higher levels of acceptability among citizens, workers, and value chain actors.


The SCALIBUR project worked for four years on the development of new technologies able to improve the collection as well as obtain high value products such as bioplastic films, biopesticides, biomaterials, and food and feed products.

The introduction of these technologies in the market is an opportunity not only for a better treatment of biowaste but also for the development of new value chains and industrial opportunities, especially taking into account the amount of biowaste generated, which can be considered raw materials for these processes. Therefore, SCALIBUR represents a step forward on the road to a circular economy.

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EuRIC: ENVI to dangerously damage European recycling Fri, 02 Dec 2022 14:24:38 +0000 European recyclers warn of major incoherences that remain after the ENVI report on the Waste Shipment Regulation was adopted on December 1.]]>

While the report alleviates some of the administrative burdens that impede trade of recycled materials within the EU and sets mandatory recycled content targets for plastics, it completely turns a blind eye to plastic waste shipments within the Union and grounds of revocation for pre-consented facilities by local authorities.

Regarding exports, the restrictive approach announced in the Commission’s proposal has been strengthened by the report. Waste export restrictions go so far as to include an explicit ban on all plastic waste exports to OECD and non-OECD countries. For other resource streams, in particular metals and recovered paper, the report falls short in distinguishing them from problematic waste streams. Yet, EuRIC welcomes the distinction made between OECD and non-OECD countries.

“By failing to distinguish between unprocessed waste and recycled materials in terms of exports, the EU fails to turn the waste shipment regulation into an instrument that boosts the transition towards a more circular economy and further unlevels the playing field with extracted raw materials that are not subject to similar restrictions”, said Emmanuel Katrakis, Secretary General of the European Recycling Industries’ Confederation (EuRIC). “If access to international markets for European recyclers is restricted, policymakers must swiftly adopt mandatory recycled content targets for all materials, including metals, paper, textiles, and tyres, not only plastics and fasten the adoption of EU-wide end-of-waste criteria for streams for which such criteria have still not been defined in EU law. Clearly defining when waste ceases to be waste is of paramount importance to reward the quality of raw materials from recycling and bolster market access within the EU and beyond”, he further stated.

“The high-quality recycled materials we produce have a positive market value, fully comply with established industry quality standards, and are key to reducing CO2 emissions, energy consumption, and water consumption”, stated Olivier Francois, President of EuRIC. “The Paris Climate Agreement shows that environmental and climate protection are global. The same applies to the circular economy. For the substitution of extracted raw materials, trade with high-quality recycled materials must be global,” he concluded.

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FEAD welcomes Commission’s PPW Regulation Fri, 02 Dec 2022 13:58:10 +0000 The Commission's proposal on the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation is welcomed by FEAD because it reiterates recycling's position as the foundation of circularity. ]]>

FEAD supports the European Commission’s ambition reflected in the packaging and packaging waste proposal, and strongly believes that the sector must be stimulated through strong, binding measures to achieve a “real” circular economy. We, as the waste management industry, are an important part of the circle, but we need strong market signals for recyclates. The proposed measures, such as mandatory recycled content, aim at creating the much-needed shock on demand for recyclates and therefore triggering investments in separate collection, sorting, and highly innovative recycling. Our role and added value as producers of sustainable secondary raw materials, which are crucial for the packaging industry, are now fully recognised.

FEAD views the ambitious collection targets as crucial and calls for the deployment of all available instruments. Separate collection is a key step in strengthening an environmentally sound waste management system and aiming to create new resources. FEAD also supports the progressive implementation of the targets to allow industry and Member States to develop all the necessary infrastructure in the right timeframe.

FEAD acknowledges that re-use and recycling go hand-in-hand in a circular economy, but stresses that it is equally important to ensure consistency between the targets, in order to support past and future efforts.

FEAD also views eco-design measures as of key importance. Eco-design is the first necessary step at the beginning of the production process to achieve full recyclability while ensuring that the goals of functionality and sustainability can be combined.

Peter Kurth, FEAD President, said: “The Commission’s proposed new regulation shows a strong willingness to close the loop in the packaging sector. It is a strong and welcomed signal, that echoes the voice of waste management, which called for ambitious measures and targets for recycling. Our pivotal role, along the whole chain of products to waste, in making the European economy more circular is being valued.”

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Sustainable metal packaging is put at risk by PPWR proposal Thu, 01 Dec 2022 16:14:24 +0000 The provisions on reuse in the proposal for a regulation on packaging and packaging waste endanger the competitiveness of the European food and beverage industry and its packaging value chain. ]]>

They fail to acknowledge that both reusable and highly recyclable one-way packaging are complementary and necessary means to achieve the circular economy goals of the EU Green Deal. The former should not replace or compromise the latter.

“Metal Packaging Europe (MPE) continues to question setting reusable targets when, at the time of publication, there is no scientific evidence to confirm that reusable packaging always delivers better overall performance than optimized one-way packaging systems, which achieve high recycling rates”, said Leonie Knox-Peebles, CEO of Metal Packaging Europe. Before setting reuse targets for 2040, and in the spirit of fair competition, we ask the Commission that the positive impact of reuse on the environment be critically assessed.

With a recycling rate of 85.5% for steel packaging and one close to 76% for aluminium beverage cans with an ambition to reach 100% by 20303, the metal packaging industry welcomes the introduction of performance grades to assess the recyclability of packaging and the specific reference in the text to eco-modulation of extended producer responsibility (EPR) fees to incentivise the production and use of sustainable packaging.

The industry appreciates and asked for ambitious minimum requirements to ensure well-functioning deposit return systems (DRS) for beverage packaging. However, those presented in the proposal fall short of guaranteeing a level playing field and high collection targets among all materials, with transparent reporting and no cross-subsidisation.

Finally, this proposal contains a large number of definitions, some of which should be clearer, more concise, and more consistent. It is also important to ensure that definitions do not contradict existing legislation.

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Biogenic emissions from Waste-to-Energy plants should be part of the carbon removal certification Thu, 01 Dec 2022 08:46:25 +0000 ESWET welcomes the European Commission’s proposal on the certification of carbon removal and would like to highlight that Waste-to-Energy should be included because of its share of biogenic emissions. ]]>

The primary function of Waste-to-Energy plants is the safe treatment of non-recyclable waste, meaning there is no option for the sector to switch fuel. Therefore, the implementation of Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) technologies represent a significant opportunity for the sector to decarbonise itself.

The certification of carbon removals as proposed by the Commission is a positive first step in the deployment of the full CCUS value chain in Europe. Offering a clear definition of “carbon removal” is essential in developing a comprehensive framework, which can also facilitate the monitoring of the removals.

Due to the heterogenous nature of its feedstock, Waste-to-Energy emits approximately 50% of biogenic CO2, but this share can be higher depending on the region, time period, etc. As such, carbon removals from Waste-to-Energy plants partially fit under the proposed definition by the Commission. However, to guarantee certifications of removals of CO2 from installations, it is important to have clear rules for monitoring and accounting of emissions that will reflect the particularities of this sector.

Moreover, as monitoring requirements to be decided under the Carbon Removal Mechanism can potentially overlap with the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), the articulation between the two systems has to be carefully designed.

In addition, the Delegated Acts that will establish certification methodologies should consider the particular features of Waste-to-Energy plants.

ESWET deems that recognising the storage of CO2 in “long-lasting products and materials” is a good start, however it is essential to acknowledge the full spectrum of the utilisation of biogenic CO2, such as the direct use in greenhouses to substitute fossil CO2, the utilisation in the chemicals sector, and promising technologies like mineralisation. The full contribution of carbon utilisation to the circular economy should not be overlooked.

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EuRIC: A boost for recycling but non-recyclable packaging must be phased out sooner Thu, 01 Dec 2022 08:42:41 +0000 The proposed Regulation on Packaging and Packaging Waste (PPWR) sets a robust framework to boost packaging recycling.]]>

However, European recyclers warn that the phasing out of non-recyclable packaging must be dramatically accelerated if the EU is to live up to its circular economy and climate ambitions.

Recyclers also regret the lack of ambition on recyclability targets arguing that design for recycling criteria – which enables packaging to be more easily recycled – must be fast-tracked for implementation before 2025, not 2035*. Moreover, requirements to ensure packaging is effectively collected, sorted, and recycled at scale should be implemented by 2030, not 2035.

“COP27 experts warn of record high emissions in 2022. Recycling offers solutions to this crisis by lowering our demand for extracted raw materials, thereby reducing CO2 emissions, energy, and water consumption. Yet, we need a regulatory environment that enables recyclers to thrive and re-invest in Europe,” says Emmanuel Katrakis, Secretary General of the European Recycling Industries’ Confederation. “The proposed Regulation is a step in the right direction but does not go far enough in eliminating the use of non-recyclable packaging,” he added.

While recyclers enthusiastically support rules that mandate the use of recycled materials in new packaging, they note the need for more ambitious targets for beverage bottles and non-contact sensitive packaging, including compostable packaging. The additional demand for recycled materials spurred by these targets will enable recyclers to reinvest in innovation and the upscaled recycling facilities necessary for realising the circular economy and tackling climate change.

Finally, while recyclers support targets that promote packaging reuse, it is of paramount importance to ensure consistency between targets and provide the certainty needed by the value chain to invest and scale-up capacities. In addition, a distinction must be made between those materials that are highly recyclable but not necessarily best fit for reuse e.g., paper and cardboard, and those that are better suited for reuse.

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FEFCO: Recycling & reuse recognised as complementary to the circular economy Thu, 01 Dec 2022 08:25:05 +0000 FEFCO welcomes the European Commission’s proposal for a Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation that will contribute to the EU’s circular economy and climate neutrality ambitions.]]>

FEFCO supports the Commission’s decision to transition from a directive to a regulation, as it will allow for improved harmonisation of packaging requirements and facilitate a level playing field in the European single market. Additionally, the waste reduction targets established by the proposal are a necessary step towards improving waste prevention and packaging sustainability across the EU.

The proposal provides a balanced approach to ensure that packaging “be designed, manufactured and commercialised in such a way as to allow for its re-use or high-quality recycling”. This recognises the complementarity of both reuse and recycling systems in improving circularity.

Recycling is already at the heart of the circular economy, and we are pleased to see recycling targets upheld in the proposal. Corrugated cardboard contributes extensively to the circular system, as it is the most recycled packaging material on the market. The industry has invested heavily in sustainability by improving recycling systems, with paper & board packaging achieving a recycling rate of 82%. Corrugated cardboard packaging also uses secondary raw materials, with 88% recycled content on average.

FEFCO believes that functional and well-established existing circular systems should be maintained and further supported. Packaging based on a renewable material that is fully recyclable and recycled in reality should be exempt from reuse targets in the legislation. Fibres from corrugated cardboard packaging can be recycled up to twenty-five times without any significant loss in quality. The recycling of corrugated cardboard packaging therefore ensures the reuse of the packaging material and contributes to the circular economy.

Eleni Despotou, Director General of FEFCO, said “the corrugated industry is dedicated to supporting the EU climate ambition, as demonstrated through FEFCO’s recently launched Climate Neutrality Roadmap. We believe that both circular economy and climate neutrality are indispensable for achieving the EU Green Deal ambitions.”

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ECOS: “Too little, too slow” Thu, 01 Dec 2022 07:44:31 +0000 The previously announced regulation on green claims is delayed again, the provisions overall have been watered down compared to earlier drafts, and a big share of responsibility has been shifted to member states and expert groups, ECOS experts say.]]>

The package includes a proposal for a new Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR). The text includes an overall 15% reduction target for packaging waste to be reached by EU Member States by 2040.

For the first time, it foresees reuse and refill targets for economic operators in different industries, including transport, e-commerce, restaurants, cafés, and bars. But ECOS believes these reuse targets, set for 2030 and 2040, are too low.

On the positive side, the Commission wants to ban the use of certain single-use packaging applications. This includes single-use cups and plates for food and beverages consumed on the premises of restaurants. A good move, but micro-companies with fewer than 10 employees will be exempted—this is unjustified.

The text also requires all packaging to be recyclable by 2030, including reusable packaging. This is a very positive step, but its real ambition will be determined when technical details are set.

Finally, new rules on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) will reduce the number of free-riders putting packaging on the market without contributing to paying for collection and recycling. E-commerce giants will have a responsibility to make sure that sellers on their platforms register with EPR schemes, so that they pay for the management of their packaging waste.
Mathias Falkenberg, Programme Manager, Environmental Coalition on Standards (ECOS):
National waste prevention plans have had limited success so far, and the volume of packaging waste keeps increasing. It is good that the Commission puts forward binding waste prevention and reuse targets, but it should have taken bolder steps towards reducing the amount of avoidable single-use packaging on the EU market, especially in restaurants. To realise the full potential of reuse, Member States will now have to take the helm and provide further incentives to boost reusable packaging – going beyond what the Commission is proposing. Will they though?
Carbon removals: a framework in the making, ‘key pieces of the puzzle still a mystery’

The European Commission adopted a proposal for a first EU-wide voluntary framework to reliably certify high-quality carbon removals. The Commission aims to boost innovative carbon removal technologies and sustainable carbon farming solutions.

The key technical pieces of the puzzle remain a mystery, however, as they will be developed in subsequent technical acts.

Samy Porteron, Programme Manager, Environmental Coalition on Standards (ECOS):
Companies should first and foremost reduce their emissions. Carbon removals must not be used to replace real action. Today’s proposal establishes a framework, but the key technical pieces of the puzzle are still a mystery. With robust safeguards, subsequent technical acts should make sure that carbon removals are not used as an excuse for companies to continue emitting as usual.
Green claims – ‘Commission mustn’t kick the can down the road any longer’

Contrary to what was announced, today’s package does not include an initiative to put green claims in check. It is not the first time this initiative has been delayed. It was originally planned for 2021. Although no official release date has been announced yet, journalists report it has been postponed to early 2023.

To our knowledge, the initial plan was for the initiative to require green claims made on products to follow the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) calculation method. This would have the potential to end spurious carbon neutrality claims, among others.

Margaux Le Gallou, Programme Manager, Environmental Coalition on Standards (ECOS): “We can’t wait to see what this initiative will bring, as it could be a giant step against the Wild West of green claims. It is crucial that the initiative covers not only PEF-related claims but also those not covered by PEF, such as reusability or recyclability. Only this way can we make sure that all green claims are backed by clear, harmonised and robust calculation methods. It really is time to tackle greenwashing and the Commission mustn’t kick the can down the road any longer – we have waited enough.”
Bio-based, biodegradable, and compostable plastics, ‘not perfect’, but initiative ‘shows EU leadership’
As part of the package, the Commission has presented a communication on bio-based, biodegradable, and compostable plastics. It sets out guidelines about how, if at all, bio-based, biodegradable, and compostable plastics should be used.

This framework is a positive step as it gives the right signal to the market: bio-based, biodegradable, or compostable plastics are not necessarily superior to conventional plastics, especially since most of them are used in single-use applications today. Other regions should follow the EU’s steps and not fall for the substitution trap, ECOS experts urge. Bio-plastics must not simply replace traditional plastics in single-use applications. 

The communication, which is not legally binding, notes the importance of respecting the waste hierarchy and that priority should be given to material use reduction and circularity. However, it does not set a clear path of regulatory action to ensure that the principles are followed.

Ioana Popescu, Head of Circular Economy, Environmental Coalition on Standards (ECOS):
“The Commission has stepped up and come forward with a clear stance on bio-based, biodegradable and compostable plastics: these plastics are not necessarily more sustainable than the conventional ones. The published guidelines are neither perfect nor mandatory, but we are glad to see that the EU has shown leadership in framing the “bioplastics” issue. The circular economy hierarchy is clear: first, products need to be long-lasting and reusable, and at the end of their very long lifetimes, recyclable. Whether bio-based, bio-degradable or compostable, single-use is not part of this picture.”

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APEAL: Rules on recyclability of packaging need more ambition Thu, 01 Dec 2022 07:24:12 +0000 APEAL has cautiously welcomed the general approach of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) by the European Commission.]]>

Alexis Van Maercke, Secretary General of APEAL, said: “Packaging plays an essential role in protecting and preserving resources such as food and reducing waste. But the value of this role can be obscured by the impact of poor recycleability and ineffective recycling. APEAL believes the European Commission has taken a bold step to address some of these issues through this revised PPWR legislation.

“The transition to a regulation that acknowledges, and rewards, real recycling is an important step in the drive to achieve a truly circular economy.”

APEAL welcomes the introduction of a set of so-called ‘recyclability performance grades’ based on design for recycling criteria. Depending on its recyclability, packaging would be awarded a grade ranging from “A” to “E”, whereby the “A”-grade is the best-performer and “E” the worst. When labelled as “E”, the packaging format would have to be phased out within a certain time limit.

However, more needs to be done to achieve the Commission’s objective that all packaging on the EU market be reusable or recyclable in an economically viable way by 2030, as stipulated by the Green Deal and the Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) 2.0.

Packaging should not only be designed so that it is recyclable in an economically viable way by 2030, but also be effectively and efficiently recycled at scale by that date. Furthermore, minimum recyclability criteria should be introduced for all packaging put on the market, ensuring a level-playing field across all materials.

APEAL welcomes the European Commission’s ambition to link the eco-modulation of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) fees with the recyclability performance grades. It is the association’s firm belief that not all recycling contributes equally to a circular economy. Permanent materials, such as steel, that can be recycled again and again should be rewarded over those that cannot be recycled or can only be recycled a limited number of times.

APEAL is pleased that mandatory recycled content targets are proposed to boost the uptake of certain recyclates with low demand, and not for materials such as steel, which are already highly recycled, and significantly, where demand for scrap already exceeds supply.

But to fully close the loop, further action is still required. It is now essential to eliminate loopholes in the waste management process and set out an ambitious approach to phasing out the landfilling of recyclable resources in the forthcoming review of the Waste Framework and Landfill Directives. “Steel scrap is simply too valuable to end up in landfill,” said Mr Van Maercke.

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EUBP: New packaging rules acknowledge environmental and climate benefits of compostable plastic packaging Thu, 01 Dec 2022 07:01:59 +0000 European Bioplastics (EUBP) welcomes the proposed new rules on packaging and bioplastics adopted today by the European Commission.]]>

“We appreciate the Commission’s first comprehensive policy framework on innovative bioplastic materials, acknowledging their potential to provide genuine environmental benefits. EUBP in particular commends the Commission’s endorsement of the important role of compostable plastic packaging in the proposed packaging rules in reaching the ambitious waste and climate targets,” says Hasso von Pogrell, Managing Director of EUBP, “however, we would have expected stronger support for the use of biobased feedstock.”

“We are especially relieved to see that an initially proposed partial ban on compostable plastic packaging was eventually lifted, and compostable packaging solutions will continue to be allowed to be marketed and recycled in the EU”, says von Pogrell. The Commission’s proposal for a Regulation on Packaging and Packaging Waste (PPWR) recognises the contributions of compostable plastics in increasing the volumes and quality of separately collected biowaste and reducing the contamination of (organic) waste streams. EUBP states that by making several packaging applications mandatory to be compostable in industrial composting facilities, including tea bags, filter coffee pods and pads, fruit stickers, and very lightweight plastic carrier bags, the Commission is taking a first step in the right direction.

“Unfortunately, a few persistent misconceptions remain in the communication on the policy framework for biobased, biodegradable, and compostable plastics with regards to land-use, the methods used to evaluate environmental benefits, alleged risks of cross-contamination of waste streams, as well as biodegradability in different environments. It prevented the Commission from fully embracing the shift to biobased products that would enable Europe to reduce its dependency on fossil resources and achieve its ambitious climate and circularity goals,” says von Pogrell. 

Notably, the Commission’s proposal for a PPWR falls short on promoting biobased content equally with recycled content through targets to help secure feedstock availability, achieve recycled content targets, and meet the strict requirements for contact-sensitive materials. Prioritising recycled content and mechanical recycling will not be enough to replace the EU’s dependence on fossil resources and to stop the current trend of overpackaging and excessive waste in the EU, EUBP argues. 

“We call on EU policymakers to show more ambition and clear vision in their political support to biobased and compostable plastics by improving and further clarifying the proposal with the aim to decisively support innovation in the sector of sustainable materials and packaging solutions, ensuring that investments, jobs, and innovation remain in Europe”, concludes von Pogrell. During the upcoming ordinary legislative procedure, EUBP will continue to provide evidence and expertise in order to make sure that the potential and benefits of bioplastics in the transition to a climate-neutral circular economy are fully acknowledged.

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European recycling industry calls for unhampered trade of raw materials from recycling Thu, 01 Dec 2022 06:55:32 +0000 The procedures for the export of recycled materials still classified as waste laid down in the Waste Shipment Regulation (WSR) are burdensome, costly, and time-consuming, say EuRIC and FEAD.]]>

European recyclers are therefore in favour of an ambitious revision of the WSR that effectively combats illegal shipments while levelling the playing field with extracted raw materials. In that respect, it is instrumental to simplify procedures for intra-EU waste shipments while ensuring free, fair, and sustainable access to international markets for raw materials for recycling (RMR) that are used directly in production processes. This is of particular importance for base metals, paper, or some plastics that have undergone a material recovery process and for which there is no sufficient demand in the EU.

In view of the upcoming vote at the ENVI Committee on the WSR report of Rapporteur Pernille Weiss, EuRIC and FEAD urge policymakers to consider the following elements that are essential for the transition to a more circular economy in Europe within the WSR:

Need for a better functioning EU internal market for recycling:
While the Commission’s proposal introduces certain improvements to the current legislative framework on intra-EU shipments of waste by establishing electronic procedures and easing fast-track shipments for materials recovery, achieving a strong circular economy requires some additional changes. The role of pre-consented facilities still needs to be strengthened by establishing objective and harmonized requirements, including for refusals and revocations. In addition, and among other aspects, Annex VII procedures should maintain the current requirements, which cannot be complicated by introducing an electronic data interchange system. Also, financial guarantees need to be updated, introducing a risk-based approach.

Insufficient demand for RMR in Europe
Substituting extracted raw materials with raw materials from recycling saves resources, CO2, and energy, regardless of the material substituted. While the vast majority of waste recycled in the EU stays in the EU, exports of raw materials from recycling to OECD and non-OECD countries directly contribute to the balance of supply and demand. This is particularly the case for steel scrap and other base metals, such as steel, copper, or aluminium, or recovered paper, where supply exceeds demand in the EU and where value chains are intrinsically global.

Restricting access to international markets goes against recycling
Contrary to some false claims, export restrictions will directly damage the availability of raw materials from recycling for European energy-intensive industries, as has been witnessed in non-European countries. As is well known, trade and market openness go hand in hand with better economic performance. This also applies to the recycling industry, for which unhindered access to international markets is essential for balancing cyclical demand and remaining competitive. A strong European recycling and waste management industry needs economies of scale that allow for more investments in innovation and increased capacities. The absence of competitive end-markets for RMR will negatively affect waste collection, recycling, and investments to scale up recycling capacities. As such, the proposed export restrictions will put at risk the ability to achieve EU recycling targets.

Increasing the competitive disadvantage for recycled materials
A loss in competitiveness due to undiscriminated export restrictions will prioritize extracted raw materials over RMR. This negative impact is not accounted for in market prices. Moreover, extracted raw materials are not subject to any trade restrictions under EU law and therefore render energy-intensive industries even more resource- and carbon-intensive.

Company closures, job losses, and no investments to scale up capacities
Recycling activity is funded by the sales of raw materials from recycling. A revision that hampers instead of boosts recycling in Europe will result in substantial job losses in an industry whose competitiveness largely depends on its ability to market raw materials from recycling to cover the costs of proper waste management. For instance, more than 50% of the turnover of some recyclers relies on exports outside the EU, simply because there is no sufficient demand in Europe. As a result, a number of recycling companies spread across the EU may have to close, resulting in direct and indirect job losses as well as diverting waste from recycling to incineration, landfilling, or illegal dump sites.

The above-mentioned points will particularly affect smaller Member States, and especially islands, where economies of scale do not exist and heavily rely on exports to the EU27, but also to third countries such as the UK, Turkey, the US, or Asia. In Ireland, for example, there are no paper mills and no large metal smelters, as the global nature of business led to their closure. Ireland’s markets for recovered paper and metals are mainly outside the EU (around 80 percent of the exports in 2021), especially in India in the case of paper (almost 30 percent of the exports in 2021). Even though EU markets will continue to be accessible following trade restrictions outside the EU, capacities will be covered with national paper/metals or paper/metals coming from neighbouring countries first. Considering the above-mentioned damaging effects of trade restrictions on the European recycling industry, including the loss in competitiveness, the industry will not be able to scale up capacities to import the waste from those (smaller) EU countries that need it.

For the revision of the WSR, European recyclers and waste managers recall the importance of differentiated export rules according to waste streams under Article 37 of the proposal. Export restrictions for non-hazardous waste, if any, shall solely target exports of problematic waste streams, such as mixed plastic waste and non-processed electronic waste (WEEE), end-of-life vehicles (ELVs), tires, or batteries. European recyclers also underline the importance of maintaining a distinct regulatory framework between OECD and non-OECD countries, as proposed by the European Commission. The definition of environmental sound management of waste with OECD countries shall be primarily done through OECD multilateral agreements, rather than unilaterally by the EU. At a time when the world is undergoing major geopolitical changes, it is essential to maintain a robust economic and environmentally sound trade relationship with historical EU partners. Any amendments that would result in aligning the legal framework for waste shipments applicable to OECD countries with non-OECD countries will be disproportionate and breach legal commitments that the EU and its Member States have taken with OECD countries.

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EEB: Only two files remain from meager Circular Economy ‘package’ Thu, 01 Dec 2022 06:42:49 +0000 Initially promised to also include the Green Claims Initiative and a consumer initiative on the right to repair, the Commission has now served up a dwindling publication consisting of only the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation and a policy framework on biobased, biodegradable, and compostable plastics. ]]>

A number of leaks in the build up to the proposals saw heavy lobbying from industry, resulting in environmental ambition and targets being watered down.

Packaging law keeps an eye on reuse

For a sector hungry for natural resources and producing record levels of waste, the proposal for a new packaging regulation represents an important shift towards waste prevention, reuse, and recycling.

New targets are proposed for reuse in a number of sectors, including beverages, take-away food, and transportation. This is supported by an overall waste prevention target of 5% by 2030 and 10% by 2035.”Today’s proposals to support packaging waste prevention, reuse, and closed-loop recycling are urgently needed given the historic levels of waste Europe faces. Parliament and Council must focus on improving the proposals so that genuine reuse and recycling can be scaled up, avoiding fake solutions”, says Jean-Pierre Schweitzer, Deputy Manager Circular Economy.

To support the European objective of making all packaging recyclable by 2030, design for recycling requirements are introduced to remove difficult-to-recycle packaging from the market.

Measures lost ambition compared to a previous draft widely circulated. Reuse targets were reduced by as much as 50%, a ban on expanded polystyrene has been dropped, and technical details on the approach to defining recyclability were scaled back.

The missing puzzle piece: green claims

Over half of European citizens are interested in making sustainable choices, which has led to a flood of green claims on more than three quarters of products in the EU. However, according to authorities, 42% of online claims are potentially misleading and 59% lack easily accessible evidence.

Despite the growing prevalence of “greenwashing,” the initiative on green claims saw itself booted out of the Circular Economy package for a second time. This means yet another delay in establishing clear requirements for environmental claims and labels, which should be based on robust standards and holistic assessment methods, including the substitution of hazardous chemicals and biodiversity protection.

“The EU needs to urgently regulate the jungle of green claims and labels. Greenwashing does not only sow confusion and distrust among consumers, it also undermines the efforts of businesses that provide genuinely green products and services. A further delay of this initiative is bad news, as it slows down progress of the Circular Economy Action Plan to empower consumers and public buyers for the green transition”, states Blanca Morales, Senior Policy Officer for EU Ecolabel

Further delays to right to repair

Despite soaring living costs and years of citizen calls for repairable electronics, the proposal for the right to repair was once again delayed and left out of this Circular Economy package. By delaying the legislation, the Commission is leaving consumers unprotected when it comes to affordable and accessible repairs, wasting precious resources in a growing mountain of hazardous e-waste.

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Vecoplan supplies processing and storage technology to UBQ Thu, 01 Dec 2022 06:35:03 +0000 UBQ Materials has patented the world’s first thermoplastic material consisting entirely of unsorted household waste, including organics.]]>

In December 2021, the Israeli cleantech company UBQ Materials commissioned the Vecoplan Group with supplying the mechanical processing and storage technology for its plant in Bergen Op Zoom, Netherlands, which will have an annual production capacity of 80,000 metric tons. Twenty other companies will be participating in the project. Startup is planned for 2023.

Vecoplan began supporting UBQ already in the concept phase, when it provided its extensive expertise. The objective was to create an efficient material flow from intake all the way through transport and storage and to integrate these systems into the complex process as a whole.

“Our cooperation began back in 2013, when we helped with the pilot plant in Israel,” says Martina Schmidt, Head of Recycling and Waste Division at Vecoplan AG. “The special feature of the UBQ system is that, unlike conventional recycling, it utilises the entire waste stream. The new process makes it possible to upcycle a wide range of materials, including food waste, mixed plastics and paperboard, creating a new kind of raw material.”

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Commission proposes certification of carbon removals to help reach net-zero emissions Wed, 30 Nov 2022 16:08:57 +0000 The proposal will boost innovative carbon removal technologies and sustainable carbon farming solutions and contribute to the EU's climate, environmental, and zero-pollution goals.]]>

The proposed regulation will significantly improve the EU’s capacity to quantify, monitor, and verify carbon removals. Higher transparency will ensure trust from stakeholders and industry, and prevent “greenwashing.” Carbon removals can and must bring clear benefits for the climate, and the Commission will prioritise those carbon removal activities that will provide significant benefits for biodiversity. Moving forward, the Commission, supported by experts, will develop tailored certification methods for carbon removal activities that deliver on climate and other environmental objectives.

To ensure the transparency and credibility of the certification process, the proposal sets out rules for the independent verification of carbon removals, as well as rules to recognise certification schemes that can be used to demonstrate compliance with the EU framework. To ensure the quality and comparability of carbon removals, the proposed regulation establishes four QU.A.L.ITY criteria:

  • Quantification: Carbon removal activities need to be measured accurately and deliver unambiguous benefits for the climate;
  • Additionality: Carbon removal activities need to go beyond existing practices and what is required by law;
  • Long-term storage: Certificates are linked to the duration of carbon storage to ensure permanent storage;
  • Sustainability: Carbon removal activities must preserve or contribute to sustainability objectives such as climate change adaptation, the circular economy, water and marine resources, and biodiversity.

This proposal is essential to the EU’s goal of becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050. To achieve this goal, the EU needs to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to a minimum. At the same time, the EU will have to scale up the removal of carbon from the atmosphere to balance out emissions that cannot be eliminated.

Industrial technologies, such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) or direct air carbon capture and storage (DACCS), can capture carbon and store it permanently. In agriculture and forestry, carbon farming practices can sustainably enhance the storage of carbon in soils and forests or reduce the release of carbon from soils, creating a new business model for farmers and foresters. Long-lasting products and materials, such as wood-based construction products, can also keep carbon bound for several decades or longer.

Today’s proposal will promote cutting-edge clean technologies and support the New European Bauhaus by recognising the carbon storage capacity of wood-based and energy-efficient building materials. The proposal will enable innovative forms of private and public financing, including impact finance or result-based public support under state aid or the Common Agricultural Policy. The Commission will continue funding carbon removal action on the ground through the Innovation Fund (which can finance BECCS and DACCS projects, among others), the Common Agricultural Policy, the Regional Development Fund, the LIFE programme, and the Horizon Europe programme (including the Mission ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’).

Next steps

The Commission proposal will now be discussed by the European Parliament and the Council, in line with ordinary legislative procedure. Based on the QU.A.L.ITY criteria, the Commission will develop tailored certification methodologies for the different types of carbon removal activities, supported by an expert group. The first meeting of the expert group is planned for the first quarter of 2023.

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Historical Inclusion of Waste Pickers in Global Plastics Treaty Negotiations Wed, 30 Nov 2022 16:00:30 +0000 The formation of a "Group of Friends of Waste Pickers" was announced today at the negotiations towards a global plastics treaty.]]>

This moment marks unprecedented recognition of the rights, skills, and importance of the informal waste sector; never before have countries formally committed to advocate on behalf of waste pickers in the context of international negotiations. The Group is a voluntary body made up of representatives of member states from around the world to ensure waste pickers’ voices are heard in the Plastic Treaty negotiations.

The announcement comes at the outset of the first international negotiations’ committee (INC-1) meeting to establish the text of the Global Plastics Treaty, which will be the first legally binding treaty to address plastic pollution, from extraction to disposal. The inclusion of waste pickers in the negotiations signals that countries are acknowledging the pivotal role that waste pickers play in creating solutions to the plastic crisis, and should therefore be recognized as key stakeholders in the treaty process.

Between 12.6 and 56 million people work in the informal recycling sector, and in many places their efforts account for almost all the materials recycled in their municipalities. Despite this, waste pickers often go unrecognized and/or uncompensated by their local governments, and work in undignified conditions. In Latin America and the Caribbean, for example, it is estimated that the informal sector provides 50–90% of the recyclable materials that are used by local industry or exported, yet only receives 5% of the profits.

The core demand of waste picker groups is to develop a just transition plan, which must include adequate compensation for services, opportunities for self-employment, a key role in the plastic value chain, entrepreneurship, and a role in the creation and implementation of policies to end the plastic crisis at a local and international level.

Soledad Mella, President of the National Association of Waste Pickers Chile (ANARCH), and Communications Secretary RedLacre: “It is historic to see more than 19 countries aligning with the International Alliance of Waste Pickers with delegates who can politically influence decisions, guaranteeing the participation of waste pickers in the negotiation. Now, the biggest challenge is that the process is truly binding and that they take into account our demand, which is a just transition that guarantees the participation of waste pickers in the entire recycling chain and in every negotiation, and that the laws that will be implemented see waste pickers as a fundamental part of the recycling chain”.

Adja  Mame Seyni Paye Diop, – Vice President of the Waste Pickers from Senegal: “What I expect from this treaty and this meeting is that people take our jobs into account. For me, a just transition is having alternative jobs to support our families when it comes time to close dump sites.”

Waste picker groups demand:

  • A definition of just transition and a description of waste pickers in the draft text for the negotiations.
  • A negotiating cluster dedicated to just transition
  • The commissioning of a report highlighting the contribution of waste pickers in recycling and reducing plastic pollution, where waste pickers will provide input.
  • Financial support to attend international negotiations.
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EU: Putting an end to wasteful packaging and boosting reuse and recycling Wed, 30 Nov 2022 15:24:47 +0000 To address this continually expanding source of waste and consumer annoyance, the Commission has proposed new EU-wide rules on packaging.]]>

On average, each European generates almost 180 kg of packaging waste per year. Packaging is one of the main users of virgin materials, as 40% of plastics and 50% of paper used in the EU are destined for packaging. Without action, the EU would see a further 19% increase in packaging waste by 2030, and for plastic packaging waste, even a 46% increase.

The new rules aim to stop this trend. For consumers, they will ensure reusable packaging options, eliminate unnecessary packaging, limit overpackaging, and provide clear labels to support correct recycling. For the industry, they will create new business opportunities, especially for smaller companies, decrease the need for virgin materials, boost Europe’s recycling capacity, and make Europe less dependent on primary resources and external suppliers. They will put the packaging sector on track for climate neutrality by 2050.

The Commission also brings clarity to consumers and industry on bio-based, compostable, and biodegradable plastics, setting out for which applications such plastics are truly environmentally beneficial and how they should be designed, disposed of, and recycled.

The proposals are crucial pieces of the Circular Economy Action Plan of the European Green Deal, which aims to standardize sustainable products. Additionally, they gave in to specific requests made by Europeans at the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Preventing packaging waste, boosting reuse and refill, and making all packaging recyclable by 2030

The proposed revision of the EU legislation on Packaging and Packaging Waste has three main objectives. First, to prevent the generation of packaging waste: reduce its quantity, restrict unnecessary packaging, and promote reusable and refillable packaging solutions. Second, to boost high quality (‘closed loop’) recycling: make all packaging on the EU market recyclable in an economically viable way by 2030. And finally, to reduce the need for primary natural resources and create a well-functioning market for secondary raw materials, increase the use of recycled plastics in packaging through mandatory targets.

  • The headline target is to reduce packaging waste by 15% by 2040 per Member State per capita, compared to 2018. This would lead to an overall waste reduction in the EU of some 37% compared to a scenario without changing the legislation. It will happen through both reuse and recycling.
  • To foster reuse or refill of packaging, which has declined steeply in the last 20 years, companies will have to offer a certain percentage of their products to consumers in reusable or refillable packaging, for example takeaway drinks and meals or e-commerce deliveries. There will also be some standardisation of packaging formats and clear labelling of reusable packaging.
  • To address clearly unnecessary packaging, certain forms of packaging will be banned, for example single-use packaging for food and beverages when consumed inside restaurants and cafés, single-use packaging for fruits and vegetables, miniature shampoo bottles, and other miniature packaging in hotels.
  • Many measures aim to make packaging fully recyclable by 2030. This includes setting design criteria for packaging, creating mandatory deposit return systems for plastic bottles and aluminium cans, and making it clear which very limited types of packaging must be compostable so that consumers can throw these into biowaste.
  • There will also be mandatory rates of recycled content that producers have to include in new plastic packaging. This will help turn recycled plastic into a valuable raw material, as already shown by the example of PET bottles in the context of the Single-Use Plastics Directive.
  • The proposal will clear up any confusion over which packaging belongs in which recycling bin. Every piece of packaging will carry a label showing what the packaging is made of and into which waste stream it should go. Waste collection containers will carry the same labels. The same symbols will be used everywhere in the EU.

By 2030, the proposed measures would bring greenhouse gas emissions from packaging down to 43 million metric tons, compared to 66 million if the legislation is not changed—the reduction is about as much as the annual emissions of Croatia. Water use would be reduced by 1.1 million m3. The costs of environmental damage to the economy and society would be reduced by €6.4 billion relative to the baseline of 2030.

Single-use packaging industries will have to invest in a transition, but the overall economic and job creation impact in the EU is positive. Boosting reuse alone is expected to lead to more than 600,000 jobs in the reuse sector by 2030, many of them at local small and medium-sized companies. We expect much innovation in packaging solutions, making it convenient to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Measures are also expected to save money: each European could save almost €100 per year, if businesses pass on savings to consumers.

Clearing up confusion around bio-based, biodegradable, and compostable plastics

The use and production of bio-based, biodegradable, and compostable plastics have been steadily increasing. A number of conditions have to be met for these plastics to have positive environmental impacts, rather than exacerbating plastic pollution, climate change, and biodiversity loss.

The Commission’s new framework clarifies in what way these plastics can be part of a sustainable future.

Biomass used to produce bio-based plastics must be sustainably sourced, with no harm to the environment and in respect of the ‘cascading use of biomass’ principle: producers should prioritise the use of organic waste and by-products as feedstock. In addition, to fight greenwashing and avoid misleading consumers, producers need to avoid generic claims on plastic products such as ‘bioplastic’ and ‘bio-based’. When communicating on bio-based content, producers should refer to the exact and measurable share of bio-based plastic content in the product (for example: ‘the product contains 50% bio-based plastic content’).

Biodegradable plastics must be approached with caution. They have their place in a sustainable future, but they need to be directed to specific applications where their environmental benefits and value for the circular economy are proven. Biodegradable plastics should by no means provide a licence to litter. Also, they must be labelled to show how long they will take to biodegrade, under what circumstances, and in what environment. Products that are likely to be littered, including those covered by the Single-Use Plastics Directive, cannot be claimed to be or labelled as biodegradable.

Industrially compostable plastics should only be used when they have environmental benefits, do not negatively affect the quality of the compost, and when there is a proper biowaste collection and treatment system in place. Industrially compostable packaging will only be allowed for tea bags, filter coffee pods and pads, fruit and vegetable stickers, and very light plastic bags. The products must always specify that they are certified for industrial composting, in line with EU standards.

Next steps

The proposal on packaging and packaging waste will now be considered by the European Parliament and the Council in the ordinary legislative procedure.

The policy framework on bio-based, biodegradable, and compostable plastics will guide future EU work on this issue, for example through ecodesign requirements for sustainable products, funding programs, and international discussions. The Commission encourages citizens, public authorities, and businesses to use this framework in their policy, investment, and purchasing decisions.

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IERC 2023 Preview interview Tue, 29 Nov 2022 13:44:38 +0000 International Electronics Recycling Congress (IERC) 2023 preview interview with Raymond Langevoort, Manager Copper Raw Materials at Boliden]]>

ICM: Could you start by presenting Boliden and your activity in a few words?
Raymond Langevoort: Boliden is a base metals company, operating 5 mining areas, of which the Aitik copper mine and Garpenberg zinc mine are the two largest mines operated in Sweden. The company’s smelter division operates six smelters: a secondary lead smelter in Bergsöe, Sweden, our Odda zinc smelter in Norway; the Kokkola zinc smelter in Finland; the Rönnskär copper smelter in Sweden; and the Harjavalta copper smelter in Finland. In Harjavalta, Finland, we also operate a nickel smelter. Besides lead, zinc, copper, and nickel, Boliden also produces by-products such as gold, silver, palladium, and sulphuric acid.

The Rönnskär copper smelter is one of the largest consumers of WEEE and other secondary raw materials as the last step in the recycling chain. What makes Rönnskär unique is its capability to handle hazardous elements in a sustainable manner. Besides this, Rönnskär produces low carbon copper from primary raw materials as well as from secondary raw materials. The low carbon copper originating from concentrates produced by Boliden’s Aitik mine has the lowest carbon footprint around. This has been achieved through high efficiency, automation, and electrification at the mine and smelter, as well as the low CO2 footprint of the electricity mix in Sweden.

What is your role in the group?
My role is to take care of the raw material supply to both copper smelters. This includes a large volume of primary raw materials produced by copper mines around the globe, as well as secondary raw materials. For this, we have a team of 7 Purchasing Managers located in different places, but mainly close to the smelters to be close to the raw materials our suppliers deliver and to be able to provide the best service possible to our suppliers and Boliden’s smelters.

What is the importance of electronic waste for your business?
Electronic waste is an important source of critical metals like copper. The demand for copper is increasing due to the rapid increase in electrification in our society (e.g., EVs and the required infrastructure for charging stations) and the demand for sustainable green energy. It is great that electronic waste, as a raw material smelted and refined at Boliden’s smelters, can contribute to the future of society with increased electrification and renewable energy sources. Copper from primary sources would not be sufficient to fill the demand for copper.

As an example, Boliden’s low carbon copper was used in the construction of the Doggerbank wind farm, which is the largest wind farm currently being built. It is a great synergy to use low carbon copper in a project that will generate green energy. Copper originating from the recycling of electronics can potentially be used in such projects or, for example, in an electric vehicle. So recycled copper is being used to secure a better environment for future generations, and Boliden is proud to contribute to this.

The treatment of electronic waste has several challenges to face, though. The material has a decreasing metal content and an increasing plastic content. This means more effort is needed to treat the material properly, potentially more CO2 is emitted, and less metal is recovered. This is a challenge for the whole recycling chain, and we are working on our processes to make sure that the materials can still be smelted at Boliden’s smelters in the future, because sufficient treatment capacity is required to handle the increasing amount of electronic waste and to avoid transportation around the globe, which increases CO2 emissions and costs.

What are the main drivers, and what trends and challenges do you see in the near future?
Our main driver is to provide metals essential for future generations in the most climate-friendly and sustainable manner possible. Recycling contributes to this sustainable metal production.

The challenge of increasing plastic content is however a trend that possibly contradicts this, as more CO2 will be emitted in the case of increased non-recyclable plastics in electric appliances. There is also an increased focus required on securing a sustainable supply chain for these materials, following the OECD guidelines and UN Global Compact, which Boliden is adhering to.

What is Boliden’s strategy to overcome the challenges?
With regard to the valuable contents in electronic waste, we have to make sure that our processes can handle the decreasing contents of valuables and the increasing contents of impurities and plastics in the future. Technically, this can be a challenge, but even more so economically. Recycling is not cost-free and involves many stakeholders to complete the cycle. All players are currently facing increased costs related to inflation and high energy prices, but also related to the development of processes to dismantle and sort.

Regarding energy, Boliden’s smelters are using heat generated from smelting raw materials in their own processes, as well as distributing the heat to nearby communities. Tighter regulations are there for a reason, and they incite producers, consumers, and recyclers, including Boliden as an end-of-life facility, to do the best we can to put sustainable processes in place. This can sometimes be problematic, as regulations can change faster than stakeholders can adapt. Some of the regulations Boliden understands very well, such as restrictions on where electronic waste may be shipped to and where it may be treated. We also understand the challenges with this, but taking care of our own waste within Europe to high sustainability standards is normal. This is why collaboration with our suppliers is important to maximise recycling and value creation.

Who is the target market for your low-carbon copper?
Boliden’s low-carbon copper has gained a lot of interest from manufacturers who want to decrease their Scope 3 emissions, resulting in a low carbon footprint of the product they put on the market. Like the Doggerbank wind farm example, a cable producer providing cables to the project produced cables with a low carbon footprint, contributing to a low carbon windmill. In its turn, it will generate more renewable energy and reduce CO2 emissions from alternative energy sources.

How do you see the future of electronics recycling?
Challenging! There is a lot needed to secure proper and sustainable recycling going forward and to accommodate the increase in electronic waste generation.

Why are you supporting IERC 2023?
The IERC is a great conference where many market participants can meet and exchange thoughts, a place to meet everyone in a few days instead of travelling around too much. And as Boliden is very much in favour of recycling metals, as this is contributing to the sustainable metal production that is required to match the growing metals demand, this is the place where we need to be. To share our thoughts and present our great company, which provides metals essential to improving society for future generations.

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