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October 2019


The 2019 Green Alley Award finalists

Interview with Tim Scholz, CFO Landbell Group

Battery take-back in Germany: ERP will continue to cover all collection points
Germany: Minimum criteria for assessing the recyclability of packaging  

Priorities, portfolios and candidates of the new European Commission
Germany to introduce a ban on plastic bags
Ongoing survey into the use of recycled plastic materials

Brexit update

New project aims to re-examine how we recycle e-waste

Overconsumption of electronic devices putting supply of rare minerals at risk
New report looks at the future potential of chemical recycling

All about the team


The 2019 Green Alley Award finalists

After months of promoting the Green Alley Award, and an intensive selection process, we are very proud to finally announce this year’s finalists. The six startups come from Germany, France, Spain, Denmark and Estonia. Their ideas for boosting the circular economy focus on waste prevention, recycling and digital technologies.

The startups

Cellugy from Denmark has come up with EcoFLEXY, a 100% bio-based alternative to conventional plastic packaging. The German Startup Flustix has invented a consumer trustmark to increase transparency and raise awareness amongst consumers. Gelatex Technologies from Estonia has created an eco-friendly alternative to conventional leather. LivingPackets, a startup based in France, has devised a sustainable packaging solution for online deliveries. RMF Tech from Germany has developed a recycling technology to extract the critical material indium. And Spanish biotechnology startup VEnvirotech creates polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) bioplastics using bacteria.

What’s happening next?

The six finalists will pitch their business ideas live on stage in front of an international audience. The Green Alley Award jury, consisting of Landbell Group experts as well as our partners, will then choose the 2019 Green Alley Award winner.

For more information on the finalists, check out our Green Alley Award blog here
If you would like to attend the finals in Berlin, please register here

Interview with Tim Scholz, CFO Landbell Group

What’s your job at Landbell Group?
I’m CFO at Landbell Group, so I manage the company’s finances. My job is to make sure that we continue to grow financially. I also oversee HR activities, so another aspect of my role is making sure that our employees grow and develop and are in the best position to contribute to the company’s growth.

What are your most important tasks and challenges?
Landbell Group is made up of a number of companies, which are based in different parts of the world, and we employ people from over 30 different countries. This variety makes my job exciting, but it is also a challenge to make sure that we are all working together to achieve the same goals. As I’m fairly new to the company, I want to keep meeting people and understanding what they do. I am curious to learn new facts and to understand the issues that we have to deal with.

How did you come to work for Landbell Group?
I first worked in construction and was based in Budapest, Hungary for five years. I then worked for an international warehouse software and logistics company, where I was in charge of the central European region. I think this experience put me in good stead to join an international, diverse group of companies like Landbell Group.

What do you do for the environment in your private life?
I’m married and have two children, so we certainly separate all our waste at home into paper, packaging, food and garden waste, and general waste. We also collect our glass and metal for recycling and I prefer to buy reusable deposit bottles for water, soft drinks and, occasionally, beer!

Battery take-back in Germany: ERP will continue to cover all collection points 

The German government is working on a recast of the Battery Law in an attempt to remedy shortcomings in the country’s collection system for waste batteries. Landbell Group company, ERP Germany, is closely engaged in the recast process. ERP Germany is aiming for a pragmatic solution that will ensure continued and nationwide collections of available waste batteries, while assuring a level playing field. 

The main trigger for the changes to the law are the current financial troubles of Stiftung GRS, the only scheme among Germany’s five take-back schemes that has a special role defined in the current law granting it special rights - and also duties. ERP Germany acknowledges the challenges faced by Stiftung GRS, but warns against any legislative action that would lead to artificial support for Stiftung GRS at the expense of the other four schemes, as this would distort competition and the overall system. 

Despite the uncertainties in the market, ERP Germany does not foresee any negative impact on the collection of waste batteries and it will continue to cover all its collection points and ensure proper take-back and treatment of waste batteries. ERP Germany is also prepared to take over some of the collection points covered by Stiftung GRS, even at short notice, to ensure immediate and effective balancing of costs. 

Contact Landbell Group here

Germany: Minimum criteria for assessing the recyclability of packaging

One of the main objectives of the new German Packaging Law, which entered into force on 1 January 2019, is to increase the recycling of packaging. To achieve this, recyclable packaging is required in the first place, which is why the law requires collection schemes to provide incentives and assistance for producers to put on market only packaging that is highly recyclable. Although this approach sounds promising for the circular economy, there are some challenges when it comes to implementation. One of these challenges relates to the definition of recyclability.

The national authority responsible for packaging, the Zentrale Stelle Verpackungregister (ZSVR), has now published minimum criteria for assessing the recyclability of packaging. These criteria are based on draft guidelines that were published already last year and that stakeholders have responded to in two consultations. They give an indication on which packaging materials and material combinations can be deemed recyclable and which cannot. The criteria are supposed to be evaluated every year.

Access the guidelines (in German) here

Priorities, portfolios and candidates of the new European Commission

President-elect of the new European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has announced her preferred college of Commissioners and offered some insights into the political priorities for her term of office.

According to Mrs. von der Leyen’s proposal, Virginijus Sinkevičius of Lithuania will be the new Commissioner for the Environment with responsibility for all waste legislation. A member of the Greens/European Free Alliance parliamentary group, Mr. Sinkevičius is the current Minister of Economy and Innovation in Lithuania and, at just 28 years of age, is the youngest of the Commissioner candidates. Part of his mission will be to lead on the new circular economy action plan which Mrs. von der Leyen has announced for her term of office.

The new plan forms part of the “European Green Deal”, one of the six key pillars of the new Commission, which aim to make Europe the first continent to reach climate neutrality by 2050. This work will be coordinated by Frans Timmermans (Socialists and Democrats), the proposed future Commissioner for Climate and Executive Vice-President of the Commission.

The proposed college of Commissioners is not yet set in stone. The European Parliament may still demand some changes to both candidates and portfolios, forcing Mrs. von der Leyen to re-shuffle her college. The Parliament’s final vote on the Commission is scheduled for 21 October. After the official adoption by the Council of the European Union, the new Commission is expected to take office on 1 November.

Germany to introduce a ban on plastic bags

The German government wants to introduce a ban on certain plastic carrier bags, according to draft legislation published by the Ministry for the Environment (BMU). The ban is intended to further improve resource efficiency in Germany and to reduce the environmental impact of plastic bags. Ultra-lightweight bags with a thickness of less than 15 µm used for carrying fruit and vegetables will be exempt from the ban.

In parallel, the BMU is also working on a recast of the Circular Economy Law to implement the requirements of the European Waste Framework Directive which was amended last year. The aims of this recast are to achieve the higher recycling rates set out in the amended Waste Framework Directive and to define key measures to promote the circular economy, enhance resource protection and waste prevention, and implement new rules on separate collections.

Both drafts will need to be officially approved by the German government and parliament.

Ongoing survey into the use of recycled plastic materials

European Plastics Recyclers (EuPC) is working on the third edition of its survey into the use of recycled plastic materials (rPM) by plastics converters. The ongoing transition to a circular economy poses many challenges for the European plastics industry and finding ways to increase the volume of recycled plastics is increasingly important to the future of the industry. Plastics converters are set to play a central role in ensuring there is a strong market for rPM, which is then used as raw material for the creation of new products.

The survey follows similar studies in 2017 and 2018, and looks to improve knowledge of the use of rPM in the European plastics converting industry, and to better support converters as they transition towards a circular economy.

The survey questionnaire, which can be accessed in English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Turkish and Polish, and is open to all European companies from the plastics converting industry, will be open until December 2019. The full results from the survey will be published during the first quarter of 2020.

Access the questionnaire here

Brexit update

The United Kingdom (UK) will withdraw from the European Union's (EU) chemical regulatory regime in less than 30 days (31st October 2019).

EU-27 companies who source substances from UK-based suppliers are advised to engage with their supply chain to ensure uninterrupted REACH compliance upon the UK’s exit. The most likely solutions will be:

(a) the EU-27 importer from a UK-supplier REACH registers the substance;
(b) the UK supplier appoints an Only Representative in an EU-27 Member State to REACH register the substance; or
(c) the EU-27 importer changes to an EU-27 REACH registered supplier.

These solutions must be in place immediately after the UK’s exit from the EU.

Back in March, the UK parliament approved the draft text of the Statutory Instrument (SI) which is intended to be the UK-version of the REACH legal text. The text also lays out provisions for an Only Representative role, which may be appointed on behalf of a non-UK manufacturer or formulator.

Landbell Group company, H2 Compliance, may act as an Only Representative under UK-REACH through its UK entity. If you have not already engaged with your supply chains to ensure continuity of compliance after Brexit, it is recommended that you do so without delay. H2 Compliance can help you and other actors in your supply chain to identify obligations, find solutions and engage with the authorities in the EU and/or the UK.

Contact Landbell Group here

New project aims to re-examine how we recycle e-waste

An ambitious new project called Innovative Recycling Processes for Electronic Waste (IRVE) aims to overhaul the commercial recycling processes used to recover valuable metal and plastic components from e-waste. The project is spearheaded by Technische Universität Aschaffenburg, the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Materials Recycling and Resource Strategies (Fraunhofer IWKS), and industrial partners Sesotec and Mairec.

IRVE looks at two different possible solutions. The first is to implement sensors to assess the waste, and then use algorithms to identify components containing valuable materials. The second uses electrohydraulic fragmentation, a process based on shock waves, to target weak spots in the materials to break them down. Automatic sorting then separates the materials into individual components.

The IRVE project was launched as a means of creating a more resource efficient economy in Bavaria, and is part of the Bavarian State Government’s seven-point plan released in July 2018.

More information on the IRVE project can be found at the Fraunhofer IWKS website

Overconsumption of electronic devices putting supply of rare minerals at risk

A survey of 2,353 people in the United Kingdom has revealed that 51% of households have at least one unused electronic device. Given the prediction that six of the elements found in mobile phones are set to run out in the next 100 years, the survey highlights the importance of finding new ways to reduce the consumption of these elements, by reusing, recycling or even reducing the amount of electronic devices that we use. One of this year’s Green Alley Award finalists, RMF Tech from Germany, has developed a recycling technology to extract the critical material indium from e-waste.

Promoting sustainable electronics use is far from straightforward, however, and will require action from retailers, manufacturers, governments and take-back schemes on key issues such as data security and built-in reparability and recyclability, as well as clear guidelines and infrastructure for implementing a circular economy.

According to the survey, 69% of households with unused electronic devices intend to store these devices as a spare and only one-third intends to recycle (18%) or sell (14%) them. Reasons for not recycling unused devices include lack of knowledge about rare materials (59%), about how and where to return the devices (29%), and concerns about data security (37%).

The survey was commissioned by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Find the full results here

New report looks at the future potential of chemical recycling

A new study from Zero Waste Europe attempts to clarify the future potential of chemical recycling in the plastics industry. The study examines the relevant information available, the current state of implementation in Europe, and gives policy recommendations to ensure chemical recycling can help the shift to a circular economy.

However, the report makes it clear that chemical recycling does not represent a silver bullet solution, and that a change in consumer habits is still paramount for a more sustainable industry.

“The chemical recycling hype should not divert attention from the real solution to plastic pollution which is replacing single-use plastics, detoxifying and simplifying new plastics, and designing business models to make efficient use of plastics,” said Joan Marc Simon, Executive Director of Zero Waste Europe.

Download the full report here

All about the team

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” (African proverb)

This year’s Green Alley Award finalists were announced in September. The six finalists made it through a tough selection process which involved more than 250 circular economy ideas. During the selection process, the committee looked at different criteria, one of them was the startup’s team.

Most of the startups have more than one team member which is an advantage when it comes to sharing the workload and providing different perspectives. The teams behind this year’s finalists have two members at least. A successful team shares the same values and is united by a common goal. Ideally the teams should also be interdisciplinary with different professional and academic backgrounds.

During the Green Alley Award selection process, the committee put a strong emphasis on diversity and paid close attention to the skills of the different team members. The team needs a creative and “thinking outside the box” mindset to come up with a good idea, but must also have the technical skills to realise and implement their product or service. However, even this is not enough: a good solution also needs to be promoted and marketed which requires sales and business skills.

Check out this year’s finalists
If you would like to attend the finals in Berlin, please register here
1 October 2019, Transitioning to a Circular Economy, Cologne,Germany 

4 October 2019, European Circular Economy Forum 2019, Kyiv City, Ukraine

5 October 2019, Circular Economy Hackathon 2019, Kyiv City, Ukraine

9 October 2019, The adaptive re-use of our built heritage for a greener Europe, Brussels, Belgium

15 October 2019, Discover The Blue Connection in Munich, Munich, Germany 

16 - 18 October 2019, Asia Pacific Circular Economy Roundtable, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan

25 - 26 October 2019, Climathon Torres Vedras 2019, Portugal 

28 October - 3 November 2019, Horeca PJ Food Waste collection pilot project – FoodWaste Warrior, Malaysia 

4 November 2019, Scaling Up 2019 Conference: Delivering a Bio-Circular Economy, Ontario,  Canada

4 - 5 November 2019, Design & Innovation Forum, Stockholms län, Sweden

5 - 7 November 2019, The 2019 Conference on Canadian Stewardship, Ontario, Canada

11 - 12 November 2019, The 3rd Indonesia Circular Economy Forum 2019, Jakarta, Indonesia

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