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August 2019


European Recycling Platform expresses concerns over plans for new Battery Law in Germany
New inquiry into WEEE and the circular economy launched in the UK

Interview with Peter Christensen, Circular Economy Project Manager, North America
EU WEEE Open Scope – one year on

Incoming president of the European Commission to develop New Circular Economy Action Plan

European Union tightens regulations on the world’s most dangerous chemicals

Blockchain powered proof of recycling program goes into effect

EEA publishes new report on the prevention of plastic waste in Europe

The Green Alley Award 2019: Facts & figures


European Recycling Platform expresses concerns over plans for new Battery Law in Germany

European Recycling Platform (ERP), a Landbell Group company, has raised concerns about the revision of the German Battery Law proposed by the German Ministry for the Environment. According to ERP Germany, the envisioned changes would jeopardise competition between the different take-back schemes. In order to ensure collection and treatment of waste batteries at the best possible price and quality, ERP Germany believes instead that the recast of the German Battery Law should be used as an opportunity to create a truly level playing field by giving all the schemes the same legal rights and obligations. 

At the moment, the German Battery Law provides for two different kinds of take-back schemes: the non-profit foundation GRS and the producer-owned schemes like ERP. Their roles and responsibilities are different in several aspects giving some exclusive rights to GRS although they both need to collect at least 45% of the batteries put on market by their respective producers. The main trigger for the changes to the law are the current financial troubles of GRS.  

However, ERP doubts that the proposed legislative measures will have any positive impact on the functioning of the battery market. The measures do not foresee any fundamental changes to the current two-tier system and ERP believes that they significantly risk redistributing inequalities among the schemes, creating new problems in the German battery market, while addressing few current ones. In particular, ERP is concerned that provisions like the sudden and considerable change to the method for calculating the collection rate would put a massive financial burden on the producer-owned schemes. 

The proposed legislative measures also foresee new requirements such as modulated fees, transposing the revised EU Waste Framework Directive. However, the proposed changes would take place before the Commission has even published its related guidelines to Member States, aiming for harmonization in the internal market as stipulated by the Directive. 

The proposed legislative measures underwent a stakeholder consultation conducted by the Federal Ministry for the Environment in which ERP took part. The ministry is expected to publish revised draft legislation after the summer break which then needs to be officially adopted by the parliament. In parallel to the German initiative, the European Commission is working on a revision of the Batteries Directive, which is the foundation of all the national legislation in Member States for waste batteries. The Commission is expected to come up with a legislative proposal next year. The new European rules would then require the German Battery Law to be revised again.

Contact Landbell Group here

New inquiry into WEEE and the circular economy launched in the UK 

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) in the United Kingdom has launched a new inquiry into waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and the circular economy. Representatives from the WEEE sector have applauded the move, but warn public backlash against recycling could follow. 

The launch of the inquiry coincided with chair Mary Creagh’s appearance at the National Recycling Awards’ daytime conference organised by Materials Recycling World (MRW). Creagh pointed out that the UK currently produces 25 kilograms of WEEE per person, close to 50% higher than the EU average. During her speech, Creagh also showed delegates a video of Agbogbloshie, a slum in Ghana where residents primarily subsist through retrieving metals from WEEE. 

John Redmayne, managing director at ERP UK, was quick to point out that the positive efforts currently going into solving the WEEE problem should not be overlooked: “I know that you have a track record of raising issues, but also not downplaying the significant work that already goes on to correctly collect, process and recycle material in the UK by people, who I agree with you, are heroes in the country.” 

The EAC is requesting written evidence for the inquiry by 16 August via the Electronic Waste and the Circular Economy inquiry page, to which ERP UK will contribute.

Contact Landbell Group here

Interview with Peter Christensen, Circular Economy Project Manager, North America 

What’s your job at Landbell Group?
I work as a circular economy project manager for Landbell Group in North America. We manage the circular economy for our clients which includes take-back, recycling and reuse of their no longer wanted products as well as compliance with EPR laws. We spend a lot of time researching the regulatory landscape across the US so that we are in the best position to advise clients. We then build solutions that show clients how they can make the most of circular opportunities. 

What are your most important tasks and challenges?
The regulatory landscape in the US is very complicated and fragmented. Every state has different EPR laws. One big task is to understand the legal structure and implications and to interpret this for companies. We try to develop the most universal solution possible, with nuanced approaches for those states that have stricter laws than others. Another important task for us is to alert companies to emerging opportunities and to present the business case for being part of the circular economy. It’s a subtle challenge as they are not obligated to do this, but this is the whole crux of the circular economy – encouraging companies to take an approach which they are not obligated to take. 

How did you come to work for Landbell Group?
Through my work in developing infinitely recyclable plastics (see article), I got a grant from the US Government to speak to a lot of different people in the industry to understand the commercial opportunities for the type of materials that I have helped to create. That’s how I came into contact with John Dickenson, Head of Americas Circular Economy at Landbell Group. John has worked in international compliance – so he is very knowledgeable – but he also takes a very realistic approach to the circular economy. It is relatively easy to wow companies with new products and inventions, but it’s much harder to convince them to invest in major transformations like reverse logistics. The circular economy is not about one thing that will affect change, but about creating a whole new system and getting people to look at the bigger picture. 

What do you do for the environment in your private life?
Even within states, US cities have very different recycling infrastructure and they are completely different in terms of what you can and cannot recycle. So this makes it hard to be a good citizen from an environmental point of view. I believe we need to build a better system to make effective change, so I think about product design a lot. I look at objects and think about their disassembly. I also do things like give talks for kids, not just about the scientific aspects of my work, but about what they need to do to take better care of their environment.

EU WEEE Open Scope – one year on 

Open Scope, which WEEE Directive 2012/19/EU required Member States to transpose by 15th August 2018, will soon celebrate its first anniversary. The new way of defining and categorising electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) brought new challenges for national authorities and producers. All Member States of the European Union (EU) and one country of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) are using the new definition of EEE, however almost a quarter of EU Member States didn’t limit their national categories to the six category list from the Directive, but implemented a different approach or introduced additional subcategories. Half the countries implemented the new categories in 2018 (while using different deadlines for the start of reporting), whereas the other half postponed reporting under the new categories until 2019.  

In practical terms, Open Scope brought more companies and products under the scope of the WEEE Directive. Other companies had to recategorise their products according to their dimensions or adjust their product categories from country to country, which sometimes resulted in the need to register again or to register for different categories. Authorities also needed to rebuild national registers, support producers on product assignment, and manage the increased number of registrations.  

Landbell Group assisted producers throughout this process. Our consultants ensured customers remained compliant with the new requirements in the most secure, efficient and cost-effective way. 

Download our Open Scope Summary for Producers for more details on how countries have implemented Open Scope. 

Contact Landbell Group here

Incoming president of the European Commission to develop New Circular Economy Action Plan 

President-elect of the next European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, wants Europe to become a world leader in the circular economy. In her Agenda for Europe, Mrs. von der Leyen proposes a New Circular Economy Action Plan, focusing in particular on resource-intense and high-impact sectors such as textiles and construction. In addition, she wants to put more emphasize on tackling single-use plastics, especially micro-plastics. It remains to be seen what concrete legislation the new Commission will put forward in the next legislature, but it can build on the work already carried out by the previous Commission which made its Circular Economy Action Plan a priority and included, among other things, a major revision of the Waste Framework Directive (WFD) and the Packaging Directive. 

Meanwhile, the composition of the new European Parliament’s Committees is now known. The Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI), which is among other things responsible for all waste legislation, consists of 71 parliamentarians, of which nearly two thirds (46) are new to the Parliament. Most of the other 25 members have worked in the ENVI Committee before, including Simona Bonafè (Socialists and Democrats), who was rapporteur on the recast of the WFD, and Frédérique Ries (Renew Europe), the rapporteur on the recently-adopted Single-Use Plastics Directive. Chair of the ENVI Committee is Pascal Canfin (Renew Europe). The Parliamentary Groups’ highly influential Coordinators are – as far as officially announced – Hans-Peter Liese (European People’s Party) and Nils Torvalds (Renew Europe).

European Union tightens regulations on the world’s most dangerous chemicals 

The European Union has toughened its rules on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) to better protect both people and the environment. POPs are chemicals that can persist and bioaccumulate in natural environments for a long period of time. 

The changes to the POP Regulation, published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 25 June, bring the rules in line with the latest amendments to the Stockholm Convention, which provides the legal framework for the elimination of the production, use, import and export of POPs on a global scale.  

The new rules could lead to considerable headaches for the recycling industry, however, resulting not only in higher costs to producers due to more complicated collection and sorting processes, but also make the achievement of certain EU recycling rate targets next to impossible.

This is already anticipated, for example, in the United Kingdom where the Environment Agency has adopted new regulations for the treatment of POPs in WEEE plastic. This follows research which uncovered plastics across multiple WEEE streams that contained POPs - in particular, the flame retardant DecaBDE – above the levels permitted in new products.  

This situation together with the absence of validated measurement methods, which can be used at an industrial scale for concentration limits lower than 1000 ppm for total bromine, make recycling these materials into any new products, which do not fall under an exemption, technically impossible.  

Moreover, if the plastics cannot be recycled, then the new requirements also pose a challenge for the UK and other EU Member States that do not have the capacity to properly dispose of these waste materials, which are now classified as hazardous, and need to be sent abroad to facilities with adequate high temperature incineration plants. 

Landbell Group company European Recycling Platform (ERP) was a co-signatory of the Joint position on the draft recast of the Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Regulation (EC 850/2004).

Blockchain powered proof of recycling program goes into effect 

Momentum Recycling has begun implementing a new blockchain waste traceability software which it hopes will lead to more transparency in glass recycling, and ultimately result in higher recycling figures. The software, developed by End of Waste Foundation (EOWF), will track glass from curbside bins to new products. It then issues a glass certificate, indicating the amount recycled, the chain of activity and carbon offsets, which can be purchased by consumers and businesses.  

EOWF co-founder and chief traceability officer John Stefanescu sees the new approach as a peek into the future of recycling: “What we are proposing is a new way of looking at the industry, a change in paradigm, which will determine a new set of actions that will create a shift in the system.” Following the implementation of the software, EOWF now sees its role shift to educator, using the data collected to teach consumers, businesses and the marketplace how their actions contribute to the growing circular economy. 

To learn more about End of Waste Foundation visit their website.

EEA publishes new report on the prevention of plastic waste in Europe 

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has published a new report outlining the need to increase efforts to recycle plastics in Europe. The report sheds light on the scope of the challenge, and offers suggestions on how to better deal with the growing issue going forward. Despite efforts to reduce the use of plastics in the 28 EU Member States, demand grew to 52 million tonnes in 2017, up from 46 million tonnes in 2010.  

The EEA also identified a number of routes that could be taken to better deal with plastic waste. At present, 31.1% of plastic waste is recovered in the EU, but domestically recycled or secondary plastics covered only 6% of the European demand for plastics. The report sees great potential to bring those figures closer together and bring more circularity to the industry.

The full report can be accessed here

The Green Alley Award 2019: Facts & figures  

When Landbell Group initiated the Green Alley Award in 2014, 70 start-ups from Germany, Austria and Switzerland entered the competition. Five years later we are happy to announce that we have received 274 applications, 27% more than last year, from over 30 European countries. One quarter of the applications come from Germany, followed by the UK (12%) and Spain (10%). With 28 applications (up on 5 last year), Spain has now even outpaced Italy, which makes up about 7% of all incoming applications. Berlin and London are still the main innovation hubs for start-ups, but we are seeing growing diversity in Germany: last year, German start-ups came from 28 different cities, this year the number has increased to 39. 

Circular Economy trends 

Over 50% of the start-ups have come up with a product solution; 28% provide a service; and 15% develop digital technology: compared to last year, these numbers have barely changed. When we look at CEO gender, more men (68%) are leading start-ups than women (32%). The number of female CEOs has slightly decreased by one percentage point compared to last year, but is still higher than the average. According to the Green Startup Monitor 2018, women only make up about 18% of green leaders and even less when it comes to non-green start-ups. 

What are the next steps? 

In September, we will announce the six finalists who will join us at the Grand Final in Berlin. These start-ups will present their business idea to a jury, who will choose the Green Alley Award winner 2019.   

29 - 30 August 2019, Ecodesign Learning Factory - Public Training, Berlin, Germany

30 August - 01 September 2019, Global Challenges Retreat 2019, Exeter, United Kingdom

11 September 2019, RWM, Marston Green, United Kingdom

19 September 2019, European Recycling Conference 2019, Paris, France

23 September 2019, Sustainable Business Models in Circular Bio-Economy, Brussels,  Belgium

25 - 26 September 2019, EREK Intrnational Conference, Brussels,  Belgium

26 September 2019, NISP® Canada – Circular Economy Workshop, Vancouver, Canada 

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