Get a Quote
{​​​​​​​{​​​​​​​ old('alt') }​​​​​​​}​​​​​​​

BPF says plastic recycling could triple by 2030

The report by the BPF, published yesterday (12 January), highlights what the UK needs to achieve if it is to reduce the reliance on exporting plastic waste for recycling and to reduce the amount of plastic going to landfill by 1% by 2030. It suggests that the UK could eliminate reliance on low quality exports of plastic waste in the next ten years, and in doing so, more than halve the amount of plastic waste being exported. Investment In addition to investment in UK recycling systems, the report calls for there to be the same plastic waste collection schemes across all local authorities, such as the kerbside collection of plastic film, increases in the use of recycled material in new products and better communication to the public about what can be recycled. The BPF added that new technologies will also need to expand, estimating that if chemical recycling and other new recycling methods are proven to work “at scale”, the amount of material processed this way could increase by 60 times. These new recycling technologies could mean that the UK would be able to process three hundred kilotons of plastic waste per year by 2030, including hard-recycle-plastics like plastic film. The report also outlines how in order to increase domestic recycling capacity, recycling rates need to increase for a range of plastic products used in a variety of sectors, rather than just packaging. ‘Significant investment’ Philip Law, director general of the BPF, said: “The BPF Recycling Roadmap shows that with the right collaborative effort, we have the potential to be a leading light when it comes to rapidly developing the technology and infrastructure to recycle far more plastic.” “Drastically reducing our reliance on exporting plastic waste for recycling and the amount of plastic waste going to landfill is achievable and this roadmap shows how. Most importantly, there needs to be significant investment in increasing UK recycling capacity.” Foreword A foreword from Environment minister Rebecca Pow, said: “The 2030 British Plastics Federation’s vision sets out a clear pathway for progress, including an increase in recycling rates, minimal reliance on landfill and no exports of low-quality material. I am pleased to say this vision aligns with the government’s own Resources and Waste Strategy. Our Environment Bill will enable us to significantly change the way we manage our waste and take forward a number of the proposals from the strategy.” Orginal Source

{​​​​​​​{​​​​​​​ old('alt') }​​​​​​​}​​​​​​​

The role of packaging in reducing avoidable food waste

Philip Simpson, commercial director at ReFood, discusses why packaging innovation is key to reducing household food waste volumes. According to insight from WRAP, almost half of the UK’s food waste (some 4.5 million tonnes) originates in the home, costing the average family more than £700 every year. The vast majority of this ‘waste’ is considered perfectly edible, meaning the equivalent of ten billon meals are unnecessarily thrown away annually. With nearly a billion people going hungry in the UK every day, these statistics are somewhat hard to swallow. What’s more, with landfill sites nationwide close to bursting, and the greenhouse gases released by rotting food considered 21 times more dangerous to the environment than carbon dioxide, needlessly throwing away food seems thoroughly unsustainable behaviour. But while the picture may seem like bleak, recent statistics demonstrate an incremental decline in household food waste figures. Indeed, new data suggest that annual rates have dropped by almost 7% over the past three years, with homeowners beginning to appreciate – and challenge – the impact of their wasteful behaviour. A key factor behind this decline is huge investment from government, trade bodies, celebrity chefs and thought leaders into behavioural change initiatives. In parallel, the wider supply chain continues to innovate, creating new and improved solutions to reduce waste wherever possible. One primary area of focus is food product packaging. A combination of practical ‘design for zero waste’ approaches, combined with new and unique material choices, has proven hugely influential in further reducing household waste volumes. With packaging considered instrumental in extending product shelf life, innovation is changing the way in which we use and store food. Packaging designed to boost shelf life Innovative packaging is an area of continued progress, with new technologies and unique approaches helping consumers to directly reduce their food waste. Whether extending shelf life, preventing spoilage, or simply improving consumer confidence in using opened packages, progress aims to overcome barriers to achieving zero waste. Here’s some of the most influential solutions: Intelligent packaging Discarding perfectly edible food, due to misleading ‘best before’ dates, is surprisingly common. Intelligent packaging uses a small patch of smart plastic to show consumers how long packaging has been open. This encourages the consumer to only discard food that is unsafe to eat. Snap-packs With more single-person households than ever before, ‘family size’ perishable items are often unsuitable and form a key part of unnecessary waste. Snap-packs consist of single person portions, individually split and packaged into larger quantities. Consumers can open the desired volume of product, leaving the remainder enclosed in sealed packaging. A simple idea, but one that has already proven instrumental in reducing waste. Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) MAP seals food together with specific concentrations of oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen. This unique blend of gases – which is altered depending on the exact type of fresh food enclosed – preserves colour and taste, as well as increasing product shelf life. Active packaging Active packaging preserves food by adding certain chemicals to the packaging itself, which makes the environment less attractive for bacteria to grow. The addition of iron oxide, for example, reduces oxygen levels inside the packaging to increase shelf life. Resealable packaging Practical rather than scientific, using resealable packaging helps to further increase product shelf life once a product is opened. An air-tight seal helps to maintain freshness, prevent products from going stale and gives consumers the confidence to use food for longer. The above examples, alongside countless more, are helping to support behavioural change programmes by providing practical solutions to reduce household waste. Thinking about consumer habits, as well as identifying key areas of waste, has helped packaging companies to directly impact household food waste figures. Orginal Source

{​​​​​​​{​​​​​​​ old('alt') }​​​​​​​}​​​​​​​

2020 saw highest ever level of aluminium packaging collected for recycling

While reprocessors and exporters have until the end of the month to report their final annual tonnage, data from the National Packaging Waste Database (NPWD) highlights that 145,035 tonnes of aluminium packaging was collected for recycling in the UK last year* – a 24% increase compared to 2019 and exceeding the 2020 target by more than 26%. Aluminium packaging collected through kerbside, bring and on-the-go systems increased year-on-year, while tonnage recovered from incinerator bottom ash also experienced a significant uplift. While 2020 proved a positive year for recycling rates across the board, aluminium set the standard by exceeding its obligation by a larger percentage than any other material type. Rick Hindley, executive director at Alupro, commented: “While only preliminary figures, I was delighted to read the latest data published on the NPWD. “The past 12 months have seen a significant increase in the volume of aluminium packaging collected for recycling, which should be seen as a considerable achievement.” ‘Impressive increase’ “Alongside reaching its highest recycling rate on record, the industry has exceeded its obligated targets by more than 30,000 tonnes – a notable increase year-on-year and considerably higher than any other material type,” Hindley continued. “Such an impressive increase is not only a direct impact of COVID-19 and the resulting national lockdowns, but also suggests increased public awareness about the widespread benefits of best practice aluminium recycling. “Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we have continued to run our highly successful MetalMatters and Every Can Counts behavioural change programmes across multiple locations nationwide. “Both have proven instrumental in engaging with householders about how quick, simple and beneficial it is to recycle aluminium packaging “Looking ahead to the first quarter of 2021, we predict the ongoing impact of COVID-19 (and ongoing lockdown restrictions) to drive continually high aluminium packaging recycling rates. “However, in line with the predicted return to work and schools, it’s important that we switch our positive habits from kerbside to on-the-go systems – this will prove instrumental to not only meeting obligated targets for 2021, but also realising our ambition of 100% recycling rates across the UK.” Orginal Source

{​​​​​​​{​​​​​​​ old('alt') }​​​​​​​}​​​​​​​

10 green business trends to watch out for in 2021

If the past five years have taught us anything it is that predictions are a mug's game. The global economy has endured a particularly volatile period since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, with President Trump's victory, Brexit, and the flexing of authoritarian muscles all sparking geopolitical tensions and economic uncertainty, even before the pandemic struck. Yet for multiple reasons 2020 felt like something of a watershed, with Joe Biden's victory in the US and the emergence of coronavirus vaccines fuelling hopes 2021 could see both an economic recovery and revival of some sense of international order. As such, the foundations could be in place for an epic year for the green economy as diplomatic, policy, technological, consumer, and investment trends all combine to drive a rapid uptick in the pace and reach of global climate efforts. As such, it is possible to predict with a fair degree of confidence that a number of green business and policy trends will help shape the next 12 months 1. Net zero moves from aspiration to action By the end of 2020 over 1,500 corporates and national and state governments covering around 70 per cent of the global economy had net zero emissions targets either in place or in the pipeline. Projections now suggest that if these targets are met the world would be on track for just over 2C of warming by 2100 - still in breach of the goals of the Paris Agreement, but a drastic improvement on the outlook just two years ago. However, that 'if' represents an almighty challenge that is contingent on the biggest and fastest industrial revolution in human history. As such, attention at both the national and corporate level will continue to shift this year from the need to set net zero targets to the need to deliver an actionable and credible net zero strategy that can deliver on those targets. Pressure to develop such strategies will come from all quarters with investors demanding to see credible plans, policymakers strengthening the climate policy framework in support of more rapid decarbonisation, and activists targeting those net zero pledges that they regard, often with considerable justification, as 'greenwash'. Work will continue to develop a standardised approach for assessing whether a net zero plan is credible, but broadly speaking stakeholders will demand to see serious clean tech investment capital, clear short term decarbonisation goals, proper engagement with supply chains and the wider value chain, and above all a willingness to countenance a rapid curtailment of fossil fuels. 2. Preparing for a green consumer boom The short term economic outlook may be bleak with the third wave of the coronavirus crisis all but guaranteeing a double dip recession, but eventually better times will return. The pandemic has delivered a disorientating economic catastrophe where millions have lost their jobs or seen their income reduced and business and investor confidence has been hit hard, but at the same time millions of workers have seen their savings swell as they have been forced to work from home. Consequently, the Treasury is hoping that a consumer boom could help drive a rapid recovery as soon as the vaccine roll out allows lockdown conditions to be eased and people feel comfortable tapping into some of the money they saved. Clean technologies should be well placed to take advantage of this trend. The electric vehicle market was one of the few bright spots last year and demand should continue to grow as a degree of normality returns. Similarly plenty of families will assign some of their pandemic savings to home improvement projects, again providing an opportunity for energy efficiency upgrades and heat pump and solar installations. The Green Homes Grant and Plug-in Grant scheme should both help drive a green consumer-led recovery, but expect calls to grow for the government to take further steps to ensure savings are invested in emissions-saving technologies and not emissions-exacerbating foreign holidays. Green stamp duty incentives and long-called for cuts to VAT on clean technologies would make a lot of sense. 3. Carbon market developments Carbon markets look set to enjoy a bit of a moment in 2021. China kicked off the year by finally launching its long-awaited national carbon market and while its emissions caps look generous at the moment it provides an important foundation for future developments. Meanwhile, the UK-EU trade deal raised the prospect of future integration between the established European emissions trading scheme (ETS) and the proposed UK national carbon market. There is even (probably naïve) talk of some Republicans being willing to pursue a bipartisan agreement with Joe Biden to deliver a national carbon price in the US. More broadly, the debate over how to ensure the 'net' part of corporate net zero commitments is credible will move to the fore this year, as the COP26 Summit seeks to finalise new rules for international carbon credit markets and more businesses step up investment in so-called nature based solutions. The debate will be heated and opponents of carbon pricing mechanisms and carbon offsets will make their voices heard, but more and more businesses to play a proactive role in these fast evolving carbon markets. 4. The 'Biden Effect' Joe Biden believes in the power of the US Presidency. Regardless of the inevitable Congressional gridlock, he has already shown a willingness to use the bully pulpit in the Oval Office to apply political pressure and help shape the international conversation. He will do this repeatedly on climate issues, while at the same time pulling every available lever to drive green investment and accelerate the retirement of fossil fuel assets. The Democrats victory in Georgia's Senate races has provided him with yet more levers to pull. Expect a surge in US clean infrastructure investment and a new wave of net zero strategies from corporate America. And where America leads, others will follow. Biden has made no secret of both his desire to prioritise international climate action and revive the Obama era's more multilateral approach to tackling global challenges. If he can resuscitate the alliances with China and the EU that enabled the Paris Agreement and step up pressure on those countries that continue to drag their feet on climate action then the chances of both a successful COP26 Summit and a further enhanced green investment climate will be significantly increased. 5. Changing diets, natural solutions, and shifting expectations Nearly 450,000 people have so far signed up to Veganuary this year, but that is just the most visible manifestation of a cultural shift now moving so fast it is taking even its advocates by surprise. Growing demand for plant-based food has triggered multi-billion dollar investments in everything from lab-based meats to sustainable agricultural practices. It is a trend that is only going to accelerate this year as the fallout from the pandemic intensifies our collective focus on physical and planetary health. But it is also just part of a much wider zeitgeist that shows no signs of burning itself out. Public engagement with the natural world has rarely been higher and pressure on businesses to tackle everything from their plastic use to their supply chain impacts is only moving in one direction. The expectation on businesses to act responsibly is now firmly embedded, with social media presenting a clear reputational risk to those that fail to meet the new standards the public expects. The policy environment is also tracking this trend with a major focus from the government on enhancing nature as part of its wider net zero strategy. Expect the sweeping plans to reform agricultural subsidies to bolster nature and expand ecosystem services to become one of the most significant, if under-appreciated, policy stories of the year in the UK. 6. Home working dilemmas It is one of the biggest economic unknowns arising from the coronavirus crisis: will the home working practices that have become the norm for millions of workers over the past year persist as the recovery gathers pace or will people flock back to the office? The answer has significant implications for the economy, urban planners, and the environment. Home working has the potential to slash transport emissions, enhance productivity, and help revive communities right across the UK. But if the transition towards more flexible working patterns is mismanaged it also has the potential to damage city centres, exacerbate social divisions, and actually increase emissions as people spend more time in inefficient homes. A big debate about the shape of the post-Covid economy is already well underway and is only going to intensify as the vaccine roll out allows the return of a degree of normality. Home working will be at the heart of the discussion. Innovative policy and technology thinking is going to be required to ensure the environmental and quality of life benefits on offer from more distributed workforces are realised and the risks of negative unintended consequences are minimised. 7. Evolving investor demands Arguably the most important component of the surge in net zero commitments from the corporate sector over the past year has been the extent to which the financial sector has got with the programme. The already powerful divestment movement has been augmented by a raft of top banks and asset managers that have pledge to deliver fully decarbonised portfolios. The Net Zero Asset Manager Initiative now boasts 30 members with over $9tr of assets under management, while the Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance includes 33 members boasting just over $5tr of assets. That's a lot of money and a lot of influence. As with the wider net zero transition the precise details on how these financial powerhouses will make good on their targets are very much a work in progress. But all businesses need to be aware that if the ranks of banks, pension funds, and investors that are seriously committed to delivering net zero portfolios continue to expand then it could have huge repercussions for any organisation still wedded to unsustainable and polluting practices. Taken to its logical extreme net zero portfolio plans mean fossil fuel infrastructure being starved of finance, insurance cover, and respectability, at the same time as a wall of money attempts to seek out viable climate friendly investments. Add soon to be mandatory climate risk reporting requirements in the UK and the likelihood that Joe Biden will lean heavily on financial regulation to drive climate action in the US to the mix and the pressure from investors for businesses to deliver credible decarbonisation plans is only heading in one direction. Expect the emergence of net zero investment and portfolio decarbonisation plans to be one of the defining - and yet underreported - business stories of the year. 8. It's time to talk about climate resilience 2020 was the joint-hottest year on record. Natural disaster costs rose again to over $210bn. There is a credible argument that the pandemic itself was linked to climate and deforestation risks. And yet climate resilience remains something of a side issue for policymakers, investors, and businesses alike. The hope was that the pandemic would spark an increased engagement with long-tail risks, effective disaster response, and the need for systemic resilience, but to date any improvements on these fronts have been patchy at best. This needs to change and there are some signs that 2021 could deliver progress. More and more leading food businesses are openly voicing their concerns about escalating climate impacts and stepping up investment in more sustainable agricultural practices. The UK government's reforms of farming subsidies will have nature-based enhancements to climate resilience at their heart. And the COP26 Summit will see developing nations implore richer countries to step up support to help them bolster their resilience in the face of worsening threats. Climate resilience will still struggle to be a headline-grabbing issue, even when tragic climate impacts make their way onto the front pages. But there are signs that this crucial topic will edge up the agenda for political and business leaders this year. 9. COP26 opportunities Climate change may be of greater concern to the public than ever before and clean technologies have never been more popular, and yet the topic still routinely struggles to lead the news agenda. For several weeks this autumn that should change. The COP26 Summit is by some metrics the biggest political event the UK has ever hosted. Assuming the coronavirus pandemic is under some sort of control (which at time of writing is a depressingly optimistic assumption), scores of world leaders, thousands of diplomats, tens of thousands of campaigners, and countless journalists and broadcasters will descend on Glasgow for the most important UN Summit since 2015. It is a big deal. There are three big tests the Summit will have to pass if it wants to be considered a success. First, the technical finalisation of the Paris Agreement rulebook needs to be completed and the negotiating deadlocks that have marred recent talks must be overcome. Second, all major emitters need to deliver more ambitious and credible national decarbonisation plans, thus providing the investment signals that will drive accelerated climate action throughout the 2020s. And third, political and business leaders need to seize the teachable moment the Summit offers and engage both the public and as many key decision makers as possible with the urgent need to embrace the net zero transition. As such any and all businesses have a role to play in both supporting the Summit and driving forward the narrative that climate action is inevitable and desirable. Those businesses that are already fully committed to this transition also face a unique chance to raise their profile and build support for their climate strategies. They should invest serious time and resources in seizing an opportunity that will not come round again. 10. Post-Brexit, post-Trump green culture wars The Conservative government and its supporters bristle at attempts to draw parallels between Brexit and Trumpism, and in fairness there are plenty of crucial differences between the two movements. There were plenty of well-intentioned Brexiteers who made their case in good faith, something that is much harder to say of Trump's outriders. But there is also a big similarity. Both President Trump and the Brexit campaign were supported by a disparate but vocal group of libertarians and reactionaries who enjoy a media profile out of all proportion to the small minority of the public who share their views. Now that group and the influential network of think tanks and media outlets that sustain it are preparing for the new post-Brexit, post-Trump era, and on both sides of the Atlantic they have environmental action in their sights. Some of the government's top Brexiteers have been consistent in arguing that Brexit will allow them to pursue more ambitious and effective green policies. But others make no secret of their desire for a low tax, laissez-faire post-Brexit approach to governance and are preparing to launch an all-out assault on climate action that will seek to repeatedly characterise decarbonisation as a high cost, liberal elite endeavour. Having helped install him in Number 10 they will want to see Boris Johnson do their bidding. Over in the US similar calculations are underway, with the GOP leadership nodding towards bipartisanship while showing zero desire to disown the climate denialism and political obstructionism that has defined their party for over 20 years. They will launch fierce attacks against any and all attempts by the Biden administration to accelerate the net zero transition, again alleging that the costs are too high and will disproportionately fall on working people. These co-ordinated attack lines will exaggerate the cost of climate action and ignore the costs of inaction, but if governments are around the world are to build on encouraging recent measures to accelerate decarbonisation efforts they will need to respond to, and then win, this simmering culture war. The debate over how to ensure the net zero transition is fair, that the costs are evenly shared, and the benefits reach all corners of society will be one of the defining trends of this coming year, and the rest of the decade. Orginal Source

{​​​​​​​{​​​​​​​ old('alt') }​​​​​​​}​​​​​​​

Recycling Association calls for separate paper collections

The trade association for independent waste paper processors and their equipment suppliers also wants recovered fibre to meet end-of-waste status by 2025, with other materials to follow by 2030 at the latest. The trade association has laid out its demands as part of its Quality First Roadmap, a programme launched to raise the quality of material produced by the UK recycling industry. The Recycling Association says the Roadmap aims to “complement and inform” the development of the resources and waste strategy via the environment bill. The Recycling Association’s chief executive Simon Ellin said: “The UK needs to become a world-leading supplier of secondary commodities to both domestic mills and recycling facilities and their equivalents in vital export markets where manufacturing centres are situated.” He added: “Over the last few years, we have seen our markets shrink, and at the end of 2020 exports to China of paper grades ended following the ban on plastics in 2018. Indonesia has introduced tougher restrictions and appears on a similar path to China, Malaysia is bringing in pre-shipment inspection of paper and cardboard, while Turkey is also reducing its import quota. “It is imperative that we improve the quality of material we supply to domestic and international customers to ensure that we can have a successful and healthy recycling industry.” Paper and cardboard The Recycling Association has called for councils to begin implementing the introduction of separate paper and cardboard collections by 2023, with all UK local authorities to have their schemes in place by 2025. Mr Ellin said: “This will benefit paper and cardboard recyclers who will receive a higher-quality raw material that would attract higher prices due to lower recycling costs. “But it will also allow for packaging such as plastic films and cartons to be collected as core materials as planned by government, separate to paper and cardboard. Collecting plastic films and cartons with paper and cardboard leads to more contamination as it is harder to sort. Separating fibre from other materials also benefits them as wet paper and cardboard contaminates plastics, metals and glass.” Mr Ellin said that by “achieving” end-of-waste status for paper and cardboard by 2025 and other materials by 2030 at the latest, the UK would become a “bastion” of high-quality material. Resources and waste strategy As part of the resources and waste strategy, the government is to hold formal second stage consultations on three areas of proposed waste and recycling legislation in early 2021, including on extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging and consistency in recycling collections While the date is yet to be announced, the environment bill is expected to return to parliament for its report stage and third reading soon (see letsrecycle.com story). The bill gives government the power to introduce environmental legislation, such as that set out in the resources and waste strategy. Mr Ellin said: “With the introduction of the environment bill soon, extended producer responsibility will provide funding for recycling infrastructure and will necessitate renegotiation of contracts. This provides us with the perfect opportunity to ensure that all parts of the supply chain work together to provide high quality secondary commodities that can easily be turned into new products.” ‘Vision’ Resources charity WRAP welcomed the “vision” of the Recycling Association’s proposed timeline. Its chief executive Marcus Gover said: “It is becoming increasingly evident that improving material quality needs to be prioritised in order to transition to a circular economy. Orginal Source

{​​​​​​​{​​​​​​​ old('alt') }​​​​​​​}​​​​​​​

China trials AI-enabled sorting machines to keep plastic in circular economy

The joint initiative – called Waste-Free World – is part of Unilever’s drive to tackle the root cause of plastic waste and think differently about packaging. Unilever has set a goal to halve its use of virgin plastic, cut plastic packaging by more than 100,000 tonnes and accelerate its use of recycled plastic by 2025. The initiative is part of that drive and an active response to the Shanghai government’s plan to create a plastic packaging management system that can be used country-wide to promote a more circular economy. “Alibaba is supporting Unilever to make it easier for Chinese consumers to embrace responsible consumption across our multiple cross-platforms, including Alipay, Tmall, Ele.me and Tmall Supermarket by creating a closed-loop scenario for plastic recycling that starts with its purchase, to usage to recycle and repurchase,” says Vice President of the Alibaba Group, Jet Jing. Recycling machines Alibaba Group’s VP Jet Jing and Unilever’s North Asia EVP Rohit Jawa are jointly spearheading a closed-loop recycling initiative that sees AI-enabled machines pre-sort plastic into various grades to speed it back into the circular economy The launch of Waste-Free World saw 20 recycling machines installed as part of a pilot programme in offices and community spaces in two of China’s largest cities, Shanghai and Hangzhou. Each machine is equipped with state-of-the-art AI technology which automatically identifies different kinds of plastic bottle. All that customers need to do is to use Alipay – Alibaba’s e-wallet service – to scan the QR code displayed on the screen of the machine and then deposit the bottle into the recycling bin. Using AI technology, it automatically identifies the plastic the bottle is made of, sorts it and stores it, so that it can be collected and returned to recycling centres and fast-tracked for reuse rather than degraded. Alongside doing their bit to improve recycling rates, consumers earn Unilever coupons and green energy points on the Alipay ‘Ant Forest’ for each bottle they deposit in the Waste-Free World machines. Green energy points are awarded to consumers for low-carbon activities. Consumers collect them and then put them to use planting trees or protecting conservation land. Since Alipay Ant Forest’s launch in 2016, it has helped plant more than 200 million trees in partnership with NGOs in arid areas of China. Keeping plastic in the loop For businesses, Waste-Free World’s AI-enabled recycling equipment, logistics and plastic processing make it possible to create a circular economy for plastic waste. Waste-Free World’s ability to pre-sort plastic packaging into its various grades “enhances the quality of recycled plastic bottles and means the reuse of plastic materials will be more effective and could better contribute to a circular economy,” adds Unilever North Asia’s Supply Chain Vice President, Jennifer Han. Orginal Source