Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Winter is coming, the days are getting shorter, but there´s always something going on in the waste management sector! This time, we report on projects financed by us – and therefore by you – and provide you with information about events and current developments.
We wish you a wonderful advent season!
Your ERP Austria Team
We proudly present: our waste prevention initiatives – part 2
ERP provides part of the annual turnover for waste prevention initiatives. Currently, three different institutions are supported by us, which we introduce one by one at this point. A very current topic for the advent season is the Lucky Bag (German: Wundertüte):
The Caritas Lucky Bag („Wundertüte“) for families in need
Every year at Christmas, the Lucky Bag arrives in Austria´s mailboxes. This initiative of Caritas, Ö3, and Licht ins Dunkel (light into the dark) ensures that old mobile phones which are no longer used are disposed of in an environmentally safe manner. Concurrently, Austrian families in need are supported, because for each recyclable mobile phone 3 Euros are contributed for the emergency aid of Licht ins Dunkel and Caritas, and 50 Cents for each broken phone.
With the donations from the Lucky Bag, thousands of families with children in acute emergency situations can be supported. With bridging payments for rents and electricity bills, with emergency aid after tragic deaths, with food coupons, and with contributions for devices for disabled persons, these families´ living situations are stabilized. Because of this initial help, it often becomes possible for them to find a long-term perspective by themselves.
The Lucky Bag is a project which gets the whole country to cooperate: For example, in 2017 the schools sent a joint signal and collected 70,000 mobile phones. Furthermore, many companies across the country by now use the chance to dispose of their old company mobiles efficiently and environmentally friendly via the Lucky Bag. Since the beginning of the initiative, 5.2 million devices have turned into around 8 million Euro donation funds and therefore a safety net for families in need.
Caritas carries out the sorting and thus expands the labour supply for long-term unemployed people working there, so men and women who want to re-enter the labour market are supported.
Public relations in schools: „Trendy collecting rather than uncool littering“
13 of the WEEE ordinance, manufacturers and importers are responsible for adequate public relations to provide information for households and businesses. They fulfil this obligation by joining a collection and recycling system. The public relations coordinated by the Austrian coordination body for waste electrical and electronic equipment (EAK) are financed with part of the system fees.
A special focus lies on increasing the awareness of the youngest consumers. Since 2014, the Used Electronics and Batteries School Kit is in use, a learning tool which teaches children in a very descriptive and playful way about topics like raw material shortages and recycling.
From 15 to 17 October 2018, the education center Gleiß (Lower Austria) realized an environmental educational project with the target of expanding it to as many other school locations throughout Austria as possible.
Students of all classes and types of schools could inform themselves for three days in school workshops and excursions to METRAN recycling center about the correct collection and recycling of old electrical appliances and used batteries/rechargeable batteries. They were accompanied by waste consultants. The School Kit played an important role at the workshops: Using the example of a disassembled smartphone, the young people became acquainted with the various raw materials of their constant companion and learned in this way that mobile phones that are no longer used still have enormous value and therefore shouldn’t be discarded in dusty drawers and certainly not in residual waste.
The absolute highlight of the project days was the collection day for used small electrical appliances and batteries. The result exceeded all expectations – in around three hours, 3.508 devices were collected, 1.000 of them mobile phones, and around 150 kg used batteries. The first grade of the primary school was the winner of the collection contest with 880 collected devices. EAK awarded them 500 Euros for the class fund.
A Short Movie from Lukas Kößler BEd. and his press team provides insight into the workshops, the excursions, and the collection day.
Further information about the EAK´s school projects can be found here.
Care Innovation Conference 2018 in Vienna
From November 26th to 29th 2018, the Care Innovation Conference took place in the Schönbrunn palace in Vienna. The event was sponsored by ERP. The discussed topics were the latest market, technological, and legislative developments.
In a first session, Andreas Bohnhoff from ERP discussed reverse logistics for lithium-ion batteries and how to comply with the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR). In a second session, Arne Campen from Landbell Group evaluated the EU regulations on geo-blocking and sales of goods, as well as their impact on extended producer responsibility for distance sellers of electronic equipment.
The CARE Innovation conference aimed to present and discuss the latest developments in eco-efficient electrical, electronic, and automotive products. The program included input from leading industry stakeholders and organisations from relevant sectors.
Aeropowder wins Green Alley Award 2018
This year’s Green Alley Award goes to the UK start-up Aeropowder. The company convinced the jury with their ecological insulation material and beat off five strong competitors. The startup uses waste feathers from the poultry industry to produce sustainable thermal packaging. Feathers have incredible properties, as they are light-weight and robust, and insulate against heat and cold. After cleaning and treatment, the feathers are covered in a certified, compostable food grade liner. This textile is called pluumo and serves as an environmental-friendly alternative to conventional polystyrene packaging, PE-foams or thermal foil.
The decision was made on October 18 at Haus Ungarn in Berlin. In mentoring sessions, the finalists worked with experts on their business model. Afterwards, all six startups presented their project to the audience and the jury in live pitches. “Once again, this year’s decision was not easy, and our finalists presented six strong and well-designed concepts,” said Jan Patrick Schulz, CEO of Landbell Group. “Aeropowder convinced us with their product pluumo, as they are repurposing materials which would otherwise be disposed of. We want to give the Green Alley Award to those innovative approaches that directly feed into the idea of a Circular Economy.”
For everyone who wants to feel the inspirational atmosphere of the Green Alley Award 2018: Here is the new Mood Film!
At a Glance Reports – easy explanations of producer responsibilities
Introducing “At a Glance” reports, one of Landbell Group’s latest products. The reports provide country specific overviews of extended producer responsibility (EPR) obligations that producers face. Three types of reports outline the basic knowledge that a producer needs to initiate or maintain compliance with national EPR obligations for packaging, WEEE and batteries.
Currently focusing on European countries, “At a Glance” reports will soon extend beyond Europe. The aim is to summarize the legal requirements and present the information in a Q&A format, answering core producer questions in an easy-to-understand way.
The reports are logically structured with an introduction providing information on the existing requirements and relevant definitions, followed by a section listing the regulatory requirements at each stage in the product’s life cycle, including design, information to users, specifics for different sales models and take-back obligations.
Ending marine litter: EU Parliament backs market restrictions for certain single-use plastics
On 24 October 2018, the European Parliament adopted draft plans to ban certain throwaway plastics. According to the European Commission, more than 70% of all marine litter is single-use plastic. Under the new measure, single-use cutlery, cotton buds, straws, and stirrers will be banned from 2021 onwards with additional calls for national reduction targets of at least 25% by 2025 on other plastics where no alternatives are currently available.
The European Parliament also proposes to amend the plans to include a 50% reduction requirement for cigarette filters containing plastics, and a 50% collection target for fishing gear by 2025. In addition, Member States would be required to establish extended producer responsibility schemes for fishing gear, but also for products like food and beverage containers and tobacco products with filters, which would require producers to cover the costs of collecting and treating their waste products, as well as cleaning up litter.
The draft directive was passed by 571 votes to 51, with 34 abstentions. The European Parliament started the trialogue negotiations after the EU ministers set out their initial positions on 31 October. The plan is to reach a compromise and to officially adopt the Directive in spring 2019 before the European Parliament elections in May.
Despite concerns, ENVI Committee proposes new restrictions for brominated flame retardants
Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) has ignored concerns raised by the recycling industry and put forward its proposal to restrict the use of certain brominated flame retardants. In a vote on 10 October, parliamentarians adopted rapporteur Julie Girling’s draft report on the recast of the regulation on persistent organic pollutants (POPs). European Recycling Platform (ERP) and nine other associations argued that these restrictions could threaten the correct recycling of plastics from waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), jeopardising the European Union’s ambitions to move towards a circular economy.
According to the ENVI Committee’s proposal, decaBDE should only be allowed in concentrations equal to or below 10 mg/kg when occurring in substances, mixtures, articles, or as constituents of the flame-retarded parts of articles. However, this concentration would be too low to reliably detect decaBDE in the recycling process, and to separate WEEE containing decaBDE from other materials, effectively prohibiting the recycling of plastics from WEEE. Although it is of the utmost importance to phase out these substances in new products, and to restrict their use in virgin materials, there still need to be applications for recycled plastics – even if they contain brominated flame retardants – to allow their natural phasing out while still recycling plastics from used products. Therefore, ERP and others call for a more consistent and internationally aligned approach.
The recast of the POP regulation will now be discussed within the Parliament’s plenary.
Software brings new opportunities to recycling facilities
The global recycling industry, which is projected to more than double its 2011 capacity by the end of the decade, is undergoing tremendous growth. With such growth comes the opportunity to employ the latest technologies and optimise processes across the industry. One of the most promising trends is the use of smart software to automate certain tasks and increase the efficiency of others.
In the United States, the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) is a good example. In the US, it is compulsory that all vehicles being recycled must be reported, with information sent to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in California. Software programmes can automatically compile and send in the required details, saving plant operators from having to manually enter information themselves.
In addition to time saving, improved tracking is also a major draw of new software. Live container tracking allows recycling companies to see where any of their containers are at any given time. At the same time, valuable information such as when they were dropped off, and who dropped them off allows companies to offer new, improved services that were not possible before.
For over 10 years, Landbell Group has pioneered the use of software to simplify tasks and is harnessing digital transformation to enable new ways of interacting with suppliers, partners and customers to pave the way for the circular economy. Landbell Group’s Circul8 software, for example, tracks materials and products along the supply chain so that companies can organize reverse logistics for products at end-of-life, converting potential waste into a valuable resource. This innovative software solution helps all players in the circular economy comply with current requirements and adapt to future needs.
New OECD report on extended producer responsibility and online sales
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has conducted a new report on online sales and their impact on extended producer responsibility (EPR). The report stresses that online sales create new opportunities for producers and retailers to “free-ride” and not meet their legal obligations.
The report focuses on EPR for waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). Free-riding in this context means that producers and retailers do not comply with their physical ‘take-back’ obligations or do not pay their share of WEEE management costs. The problem is estimated to total up to 5 % to 10 % of the OECD market for electrical and electronic equipment which is equivalent to between 460,000 and 920,000 tonnes.
To combat free-riding, the report gives several policy recommendations, such as raising awareness of legal obligations, improving enforcement, and harmonising EPR frameworks.
ERP joined EU Circular Economy Mission to India
From 4 to 7 September, European Recycling Platform (ERP) took part in the Circular Economy Mission to India. ERP was invited by the European Commission which organised the trip.
During the trip, and at the accompanying conference, ERP was able to share its experience of more than 25 years of extended producer responsibility (EPR) in Europe and of operating 34 producer responsibility organisations. These insights were particularly welcomed by Indian stakeholders as the country is about to introduce EPR for plastics and waste electrical and electronic equipment.
The Circular Economy Missions are regular events that promote sustainable and resource-efficient policies in countries outside the European Union. ERP joined similar missions to Chile, China and South Africa and is happy to support the European Commission on future trips
Global definition of “plastics recyclability” announced
To set clear standards and improve the sustainability of plastics, two of the leading international recycling organisations, Plastics Recyclers Europe and the Association of Plastic Recyclers, have developed a global definition of the term “recyclable”. It has become clear that “plastic recyclability” goes far beyond the technical process of recycling.
The organisations identified four conditions that a plastic product must meet to be considered recyclable:
- The plastic the product is made of must be collected for recycling and have a market value.
- The product must be sortable in defined recycling streams.
- The product must be compatible with commercial recycling processes.
- It must be possible for the recycled plastic to be reused.
An appropriate definition is important to guide the labelling of a product or package as “recyclable”. The definition still needs to be accepted and applied globally.