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Netherlands - Industry proposes return of DRS containers to 'Circular Hubs' rather than to retail - 21 Jan 2022
Since Jul-21 a mandatory DRS has been applied to plastic beverage bottles. From Jan-23 the DRS will also cover metal cans. Industry and packaging PRO StaV have now proposed an operational DRS mechanism that relies on ‘Circular Hubs’ rather than retailers as return-route for DRS containers. Environmental groups oppose the plan, fearing that it would make the return inconvenient. Meanwhile the Government is considering a collection target for beverage cartons to discourage switching to non-DRS subjected packaging
In Oct-20, State Secretary Ms. Van Veldhoven (succeeded) proposed the imposition of a mandatory DRS on cans unless industry achieved a litter reduction rate of 70% and a collection rate of 90% in 2021. On 3-Feb-21, following the release of municipal data concluding that the required waste reductions would be impossible to achieve, State Secretary Van Weyenberg (incumbent) announced his decision to activate the mandatory DRS on cans. A May-21 Decree 228/2021 subjected metal beverage packaging for all beverage types with a volume of 3L to a mandatory deposit from 2023 and to a 90% collection target from 2024.
The imposition of the DRS for metal cans follows a similar procedure to that for plastic bottles: In the context of the SUPD’s Art.9 collection targets for plastic beverage bottles (77%/90% by 2025/2029), Ms Van Veldhoven felt it necessary issue a Mar-20 Decree that imposed – from Jan-22 – a 90% recycling target and a mandatory DRS for all beverage plastic bottles below 3 liter. In Apr-21 she decided to bring the enforcement date of the DRS for plastic bottles forward to Jul-21. Note: From 2003 to 2015, a mandatory DRS applied to all plastic soft drink and water bottles above 0.5 liters. After the expiry of the DRS obligation, StaV encouraged producers to continue the DRS by charging very high recycling fees (EUR 7,500 per ton POM, or about EUR 0.25 per bottle) on plastic beverage bottles that did not participate in a DRS. Plastic bottles that did were only charged EUR 20 per ton, about 1/20 of fee for other plastic packaging.
Industry proposes return of DRS containers to ‘Circular Hubs’ rather than to retail
On 14-Dec-21, packaging PRO StaV, the food retail association CBL and the food and drinks industry federation FNLI released a joint ‘Action plan for a future-proof deposit system for metal beverage packaging’. The organisations expect the DRS design and the financing particulars to be ironed out in H1-22 and the DRS to be soft launched in H2-22. The Plan is supported by State Secretary Van Weyenberg.
A particularity of the plan is that it does not foresee any in-store retail return points for packaging subject to the DRS. Supermarkets have been reluctant to participate in the DRS, arguing that a DRS imposes on them a disproportionate amount of responsibility and costs. Although many continue to take-back of empty plastic beverage packaging within their stores (mainly through reverse vending machines), some are exercising their right not to do so. * Recall that the Apr-20 Decree 122/2020 introducing the DRS on plastic beverage containers also removed the requirement for supermarkets with a sales area >200 sqm to take-back deposit packaging. Supermarkets have, however, indicated that they are willing to provide emergency (temporary) return services for cans in the event of a delay in the establishment of adequate return infrastructure.
Rather than retail return points, the Plan foresees a network of 3,000 primary return points located ‘near’ (proximity undefined) supermarkets. These return points would be gradually be opened to take back other packaging materials, and then referred to as ‘Circular Hubs’. This indicates a gradual shift away from supermarket-operated return points for plastic deposit packaging and towards independent producer-arranged return points for all deposit packaging. Currently [only] Estonia has such a system in place.
The 3,000 “Circular Hubs” would be supplemented by around 5,000 voluntary return points and an additional 300 points at ‘high traffic’ locations.
Environmental groups push for re-instatement of retailer’s take-back obligation
Environmental groups (namely Recycling Netwerk Benelux, Natuur & Milieu, Plastic Soup Foundation, Plastic Soup Surfers, the North Sea Foundation and Greenpeace) believe the industry proposal inadequate for meeting the 90% collection target arguing that
The groups thus are lobbying Parliament and the new Cabinet to re-instate the obligation for the retail sector to take-back all deposit bearing packaging.
- 89% of consumers favor returning cans at the POS;
- the ~3,000 permanent return locations for cans compare to 5,500 supermarkets which currently take-back plastic bottles, while the number of cans is almost 2.5 times that of plastic bottles;
- there are almost no examples of DRS’ being established without the participation of the retail sector (except in Estronia);
- the successful establishment of return infrastructure within the (short) implementational time-frame is doubtful, as it is highly dependent on agreements and permits from property owners and municipalities.
Collection target considered for beverage cartons to discourage switching to non-DRS subjected packaging
On 17-Nov-21, in a letter to Parliament, State Secretary Van Weyenberg announced that, in light of a rising number of producers reportedly switching from plastic containers to beverage cartons – to avoid participation in the DRS – that the Department of Waterways and Public Works (Rijkswaterstaat) will monitor increases in the incidence of beverage cartons in the municipal waste stream to decide whether additional regulatory measures are needed.
It is likely that a recycling target will likely be imposed on beverage cartons from 2023.
Sweden - Municipalities unhappy with proposal for municipal control over packaging collection - 12 Jan 2022
A comprehensive 240+ page government memorandum proposes to shift the operational responsibility for the collection of household packaging and printed paper waste from producers to municipalities to improve collection, while producers would retain the financial responsibility for collection and treatment. Municipalities are unsatisfied with the proposal arguing further clarification and more flexibility on the regime’s design is needed.
On 5-Nov-21, the memorandum, entitled "An Improved Packaging Collection - New Roles for Municipalities and Producers", was sent to 143 stakeholders (municipalities, authorities, retailers, recyclers) for comments ending 7-Feb-22.
The memorandum is an attempt to move beyond the political disagreement about whether municipalities or producers should have operational control over packaging waste collection – a discussion ongoing for over 6 years.
It contains 8 legislative proposals summarised as follows:
Municipal control over waste packaging collection will be phased in from 2024 and from 1-Jan-26, all municipalities must have their own collection systems in place. Until municipalities transition away from PRO-operated collection systems, PROs would continue to manage waste packaging collected at their own ‘bring sites’.
- The municipalities
- will take over the operational responsibility for collecting packaging waste from households and businesses whose packaging waste is collected together with household packaging waste;
- must collect waste paper and cardboard, plastic, glass and metal packaging from households close to the property (curbside). Other types of packaging - for example wood, ceramics and textiles - as well as bulky packaging must be collected in easily accessible places;
- must also collect sorted packaging waste in specially prepared places for the public where a lot of packaging waste is generated;
- must hand over collected packaging waste to the PROs, based on their market share of each material;
- must provide trans-shipment stations and have routines for calculating and checking that the correct amount of waste is handed over to the respective producer responsibility organisation (PRO).
- The producers must finance the collection and treatment and cover the municipalities' costs for trans-shipment and information to households. New arrangements are laid out for competing PROs to operate alongside each other. The EPA will be responsible for determining market shares and ensuring that materials are divided fairly.
- If there is no approved PRO, the municipality must ensure that the packaging waste that falls under the municipality's collection responsibility is treated.
As regards non-household waste packaging, PROs will continue to be responsible for collecting packaging waste from businesses that is not collected together with household packaging waste (non-household). The largest PRO will be responsible for operating collection points in each municipality.
A decision on a new revised regulation, based on the memorandum's proposal, is expected to be made in June 2022.
Municipalities want more say in the regime’s design
The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKR) rejects the Government's proposal. A press release issued by SKR on 17-Dec-21 reveals concerns over:
Packaging PRO FTI – the largest packaging PRO which handles almost all household (and a large portion of non-household) packaging waste – had previously rejected the concept of full municipal control over the waste packaging regime, but has since warmed to the idea given a thorough ‘reality-addressing’ framework is in place. The newly appointed CEO of FTI Helena Nylén has welcomed the proposal for taking into account the organisation’s views expressed during its development, while stating that it contains ‘significant shortcomings’.
- the implementational complications and difficulties of newly establishing curb-side collection infrastructure;
- the ‘unrealistically short’ implementation schedule (to be phased over 2024-2026);
- doubt that municipalities will receive full cost coverage for packaging collection;
- the over-detail and inflexibility regarding how the system should be designed and operated, with the argument that if municipalities are to be given ultimate responsibility, it should be them that designs the system;
- the high expense of running the system - as currently proposed;
- a risk and impact assessment as regards the consequences on urban planning is lacking.
The Swedish Waste Management recycling association (Avfall Sverige) generally supports the concept, as well as the proposed compensation/financing mechanism, but agrees with SKR in that:
- certain aspects of the financing mechanism (as well as other elements of the proposal) need further clarification; and that
- the methodology for calculating collection costs needs further fleshing out.
The 2014 Packaging Ordinance (2014:1073) required for the first time that packaging PROs were to be licensed from 2016. This deadline was delayed several times due to political disagreement about whether municipalities or producers should have operational control over collection.
In Jul-18, a revision of the ordinances required PROs to provide curbside collection of all packaging materials for 60% of residential properties by 2021 and 100% from Apr-25 as a licensing condition. The deadline for obtaining the license was moved to Jan-21.
In Jun-20 the Swedish EPA rejected license applications from PRO FTI and another party as both 'will not meet the requirements to be able to collect from 60% of the residential properties in 2021' and because both appear to be similar, meaning that they don't 'complement each other but rather duplicate each other's systems'. The EPA was to recommend changes to regulatory requirements for PROs to the Government.
In Oct-20, the deadline for PROs to be licensed was postponed to Jan-23.
In Feb-21, the government tasked the MoE with submitting proposals for a new Ordinance with the aim of creating conditions that would allow achieving the material recycling targets of the EU Circular Economy Packaging and its EPR requirements.
- OEP sets out draft strategy and enforcement policy; The newly-formed Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) has this week launched a consultation on how it intends to carry out its role to protect and improve the environment by holding government and public authorities to account.
- Tetra Pak launches cap using certified recycled polymers; Tetra Pak and Elle & Vire have worked together to produce the first carton packaging in the food and beverage industry to incorporate a cap using certified recycled polymers.
- Young inventors set to lead the UK to net zero; Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, has announced the winners of this year’s Young Innovators’ Awards as the next generation help the UK with the race to net zero. The Young Innovators Awards recognise young people from every region and nation of the UK with great business ideas who have the potential to become successful entrepreneurs and future leaders in innovation.
- £6 million National Lottery funding to support UK communities to reduce waste; The grants come from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK. They include £150,000 to Circular Fashion Economy, in Norwich, to expand its successful clothing-swap shop concept across Norfolk, and £150,000 to Groundwork South and North Tyneside to create a ‘repair and reuse’ culture within the local community. Communities’ Reduce, Reuse and Recycle in Edinburgh is also benefitting from £150,000 in National Lottery funding – enabling it to support local people to reduce their waste and consumption habits while diverting items from landfill.
- WRAP and Behaviour Change to work on sustainability & public habits; WRAP has joined forces with not-for-profit social enterprise Behaviour Change to focus on the impact of individual consumption on climate change.
- NASA launches ‘Sustainable Reprocessing in Space’ challenge; The United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has launched a challenge to help solve to the issue of conserving and reusing resources for its future space missions.
Future journeys into the ‘final frontier’ will require better use and recycling of the limited resources astronauts will have at their disposal after leaving Earth’s orbit; the journey to Mars and back would currently take two to three years and what crews take with them will be all they have.
- Smurfit Kappa supplies new ‘Better Planet’ pack to foodservice outlet; Smurfit Kappa has developed new packaging for fast food following collaboration with independent packaging consultant Juozas Baranauskas.
- Study looks at potential for CO2 reductions within European waste sector; A joint study compares two projections for waste management performance and recycling and landfill targets across the EU27 and the UK, with an aim of assessing the sector’s potential for CO2 reduction. The study suggests ‘significant’ avoided CO2 emissions for the following 10 waste streams: paper, glass, plastics, ferrous metals, aluminium, wood, textiles, waste tyres, biowaste, and residual waste/WDF (non-separately collected waste and rejects from waste treatment/waste derived fuels).
- Pro Carton relaunches website with focus on sustainability; Pro Carton has relaunched its website with a refreshed look under recently appointed general manager, Winfried Muehling.
- UK government proposes digital tracking to crack down on waste crime; Proposals set out in two new consultations aim to ‘clamp down’ on waste crime and support people and businesses to manage waste correctly. The reform will see increased background checks for firms who move or trade waste, as well as setting out to make it easier for regulators across the UK ‘take action against rogue operators’, the UK government says.
- Storopack launches protective paper sheet cushioning; Protective packaging specialist Storopack has launched paper sheets to replace traditional plastic bubble cushioning.
- Trewin Restorick to step down as Hubbub CEO; Trewin Restorick has announced plans to step down as CEO of the environmental charity Hubbub this Summer. The move comes eight years after Restorick first co-founded the charity in 2014, alongside directors Gavin Ellis and Heather Poore. It follows a stellar run of accolades, with the last two years seeing Hubbub awarded Charity of the Year at the Charity Times Awards, while Restorick was named Leader of the Year at the Global Good Awards and presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BusinessGreen Leaders Awards.
- Südpack switches to green electricity; German films specialist Südpack Group has switched entirely to green electricity supply for its key production, administration and logistics sites.
- Fortress Technology launches new x-ray machine for food packs; Food inspection specialist Fortress Technology Europe has launched the NEW RAPTOR X-RAY.
- Report: ‘Throwaway global economy’ is fuelling climate change; The ‘throwaway global economy’ is fuelling climate change, according to a new report from Circle Economy, showing more than half a trillion tonnes of virgin materials have been consumed since the 2015 Paris Agreement. The report from the impact organisation states world leaders are ‘missing the opportunity’ to achieve deep cuts in emissions by adopting circular economy strategies that reduce demand for resources.
- EPBP and RecyClass announce strategic collaboration; The European PET Bottle Platform (EPBP) and RecyClass have joined efforts to further support value chain actors in making the right design decisions in PET bottle production.
- A Circular Economy Network launched in The Gambia will help drive green growth; On 14 January 2022, the British High Commission in Banjul hosted the launch of a new Circular Economy Network in The Gambia. Led by UK waste management NGO WasteAid, and funded by the UK’s Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, the Circular Economy Network will help improve the way resources and wastes are managed in The Gambia, preventing pollution and supporting livelihoods in a green economy.
- Call for improved recycling facilities at parks & beaches; Parks and beaches are the most in need of improved recycling facilities, according to new research by Every Can Counts.
- ‘Outdated and repetitive’ curriculum ‘failing’ to prepare young people to tackle climate change; Educators and chemical sciences professionals say curriculum content for climate change and sustainability is ‘falling far short’ of delivering the knowledge and skills needed by the workforce of the future.
- Study reveals ‘UK’s best areas for recycling’; Waste and recycling management expert BusinessWaste.co.uk has revealed the best local councils for recycling in 2021 based on the percentage of household waste sent to recycling, reuse, or composting.
- 4.2 million old electricals ‘abandoned’ in UK over Christmas; Research conducted by Recycle Your Electricals has revealed that nearly 40% of UK adults bought nearly 40 million items of household tech from Black Friday to Christmas, resulting in 4.2 million unwanted electricals being ‘abandoned’. Some 2.2 million of these abandoned electricals are hoarded away, according to the research, with 2 million of them thrown in the bin. If we donated these items to those in need, the value would be £136 million, it says.
- Kite launches compostable greaseproof paper for takeaway packs; Kite Packaging aims to revolutionise takeaway packaging with the introduction of its compostable greaseproof paper, the latest in its range of eco-conscious food packaging solutions.
- UK government launches scheme for technologies producing hydrogen from biomass; The UK government has this week (Wednesday 12 January) launched a new programme to help develop innovative technologies to produce hydrogen, a clean energy source, from sustainable biomass and waste.
Backed with £5 million in government funding, the new Hydrogen BECCS Innovation Programme will set out to support the development of technologies to produce hydrogen generated via BECCS (bioenergy with carbon capture and storage).
- DS Smith announces commitment to 1.5°C temperature alignment; DS Smith has announced its ambitious commitment to align its global operations to a 1.5°C scenario as set out in the Paris Climate Agreement.
- New UK facility enables in-house testing for lead acid and lithium-ion battery recycling processes; Technology Minerals has announced it has opened its first laboratory suite at its new battery processing facility in Wolverhampton, UK.
- Biffa secures multi-million-pound recycled plastic deal; Plastic recycling giant Biffa has signed a multi-million-pound a year partnership with one of the UK’s leading bottle manufacturers.
- ‘Acute skills shortage’ could squander green jobs opportunity, says think tank; More support for businesses, higher education institutions and individuals is needed to ensure the UK workforce is ‘ready to transition to greener jobs and industries this decade’, says think tank, Green Alliance.
- Smurfit Kappa announces $33m investment in Fortaleza, Brazil; Smurfit Kappa has announced an investment of over $33m in Brazil to expand the capacity of its plant in Fortaleza.
- ‘Postcode lottery’ means 98% of leftover paint incinerated or sent to landfill – Royal Society of Chemistry; Households across the UK are stockpiling enough paint to coat the Forth Rail Bridge 212 times, posing major sustainability and environmental issues, as revealed by new research from the Royal Society of Chemistry. Despite spoiling in a matter of months if stored incorrectly, 73% of UK adults have admitted to stashing away pots of unused or partially used decorating paint – 43% of which is more than three years old.
- Faerch launches ‘fully circular’ pack solution for foodservice market; Food packaging supplier, Faerch, is launching Evolve by Faerch into the existing Plaza range as an off the shelf product offer.
- Veolia announces its first electric vehicle battery recycling plant in UK; UK resource management company, Veolia, has announced its first electric vehicle battery recycling facility in the UK, which will have the capacity to process 20% of the UK’s end of life electric vehicle batteries by 2024.
- Industrial packaging specialist switches to 100% renewable power in Chile; Industrial packaging products specialist Greif has recently completed the switch to 100% renewable power at its Pudahuel steel plant in Chile.
- Study reveals most to least wasteful English areas;
Sustainable living expert Bower Collective’s latest study ranks each towns’ and cities’ waste habits.
- Constantia Flexibles announces first certified compostable product; Constantia Flexibles’ EcoPressoLid, a lidding material for coffee capsules, has been awarded ‘OK Compost Industrial’ by TÜV Austria.
- Waddington Europe launches mono-material recyclable meat tray; Thermoforming packaging specialist Waddington Europe, a division of Novolex, has introduced an innovative recyclable tray for meat, fish and poultry products.
- Darnley’s Gin unveils new refill pouches; Darnley’s Gin has launched refill pouches, which can be posted back to the brand’s headquarters for recycling.
- Glass industry decries lack of government action on energy price crisis; The UK glass industry is once again calling on government to support UK manufacturers against spiralling energy costs after “a complete lack of action from ministers” has left businesses fighting to stay afloat.
- Morrisons replaces ‘use by’ with ‘best before’ on milk packaging; Morrisons is replacing ‘use by’ dates with ‘best before’ dates on most of its own-brand milk in a bid to reduce food waste.
- Funding awarded to suite of low carbon heat network projects; Following the publication of the Heat and Buildings Strategy, funding has been announced to a suite of low carbon heat network projects. Heat networks have been identified by the UK government as a ‘key technology’ and the Strategy placed particular emphasis on the use of heat pumps in the delivery of low carbon heat, according to Triple Point Heat Networks Investment Management.
- Mindful Chef and Waitrose launch first supermarket co-branded recipe box; Healthy food brand Mindful Chef has partnered with Waitrose to offer the first supermarket co-branded recipe box service in the UK.
- New research reveals the biggest obstacle to living sustainably in the home; With news around sustainability dominating the media more and more, new research from GoodMove has revealed that a whopping 60% of Brits report sometimes making sustainable decisions, with a further 26% reporting to actively live a sustainable lifestyle.
- ‘World’s first refillable toothpaste dispenser’ in development; A British eco-friendly dental brand is developing the world’s first refillable toothpaste dispenser with biodegradable refill capsules, after receiving a Smart Innovate grant of £150,000.
- Half of Britons vow to use less plastic in 2022; New polling reveals that 49 percent of UK adults will make a New Year’s resolution to use less plastic in 2022.
- Greene King sets up recycling scheme for plastic tubs; Pub chain and brewer Greene King is working with Co-crea8 to collect plastic tubs for recycling.