News round-up April 2022 | MRW

Digital deposit return system launched; Food-grade rPP sent out for trials; Smurfit Kappa sees emissions fall; Call for ‘dating service’ for waste

Digital deposit return system launched

Consumers returning drink containers for recycling could now receive their deposit refunds through their store’s app, instead of a paper voucher, reverse vending machine maker Tomra has said.

It said this enabled stores, recycling depots and administrators of deposit return systems to offer paperless payout sof recycling refunds through their apps and loyalty programmes. It also reduces the need for staff to handle cash.
The system has been installed in Sweden with the central system administrator of deposit return system Returpack, and in Belgium with a large grocery retailer.

Digital payments can be made as either a digital voucher or as an electronic transfer instantly to the user’s account on a loyalty app or bank account. 

Press release

Food-grade rPP sent out for trials

Food-grade recycled polypropylene project Nextloopp has said it is ready to send its PPristine recycled PP prototype resins from post-consumer food packaging to its 43 international participants for further trials.

Luke Burgess, director of business development at Viridor, said this step confirmed the project could meet the key challenges to recycling this valuable polymer.

Professor Edward Kosior, who leads Nextloopp, said the real breakthrough into a sustainable circular economy had been the sorting into food packaging combined with the cleaning and decontamination of polypropylene packaging to food safety standards.

Press release

Smurfit Kappa sees emissions fall

Smurfit Kappa’s fifteenth sustainable development report has shown significant progress in reducing its fossil CO2 emission intensity in 2021, the company said. 

It has a target of net zero emissions by 2050 and – compared to its baseline year 2005 – reduced these by 41.3% by the end of 2021. The reduction in 2021 versus 2020 was 6%, 

Chief executive Tony Smurfit said: “This report highlights our continued leadership in sustainability, and how it extends from our products and manufacturing into the local communities in which we operate. Our circular business model helps us to address many of the challenges our stakeholders face.”

Press release

Call for ‘dating service’ for waste

North Yorkshire councillors called for a ‘waste dating service’, the Craven Herald and Pioneer has reported.

A meeting of North Yorkshire County Council’s transport, economy and environment scrutiny committee heard from one councillor, Paul Haslam, there should be a service under which firms could re-use materials that other firms would otherwise send for recycling,

Craven Herald and Pioneer

Unwanted mobiles sought for Ukraine

Charity Computer Aid has appealed for donations of unwanted mobile devices to replace those that Ukrainian refugees have lost, damaged or had stolen.

The chary said it had started to deploy containers equipped with digital services including charging stations, computers and internet access at the Romanian border with Ukraine.It will also distribute as many devices as possible to help people re-connect. 

Computer Aid has a Just Giving page for the project.

Press release

‘Sequins needed’ to spot black plastic

Peter King, cabinet member for neighbours services and transport at Vale of Glamorgan Council, has suggested sparkles or sequins could be added to black plastic food trays so that they could be identified for recycling by automated scanners.

Wales Online has reported King saying he had been in “several hissy fits” over this.

He told the environment and regeneration scrutiny committee he was “hopeful but impatient” that regulations could reduce the amount of waste manufacturers produce, particularly on black plastic food trays.

King said: “I said years ago why in god’s name can’t we put a levy on black plastic food trays so that the manufacturers put some silver sparkles or sequins on. Because the greatest thing that Wales has done in recent years was to put a 10p levy on disposable carrier bags.”

Wales Online

Craft drinks firm fears Scotland DRS

The owner of an Aberdeenshire-based natural soft drinks company has criticised the Scottish Government over its consultation with craft drinks suppliers ahead of the start next year of a deposit return scheme for drinks containers, the Herald has reported.

Claire Rennie, founder of Summer House Drinks, said the consultation had primarily focused on the views of major suppliers and she feared she might have to pay for empty bottles to be collected from consumers who had purchased products online.

The Herald

BA extends sustainable air fuel work

Sustainable aviation fuel firm Veolcys has agreed with British Airways to extend by one year to March 2023 both their UK Altalto project joint development agreement and the option agreement for BA to acquire half of Altalto  This is claimed as the first bid to build a commercial scale waste-to-transport-fuels plant in the UK

Velocys is seeking commercial scale production of sustainable synthetic fuels from a variety of waste materials.

Press release

Bottom ash firm joins Alupro

Scanmetals has become the latest business to sign up to aluminium trade body Alupro. It specialises in recovering non-ferrous metals from incinerator bottom ash at energy-from-waste (EfW) facilities.

The company said its process is completely dry, harnessing innovations in eddy-current, induction and X-ray sorting applications to avoid the use of large volumes of water and chemicals.

Tom Giddings, executive director of Alupro, said Scanmetals was the first incinerator bottom ash recovery specialist to join and “we look forward to exploring the ways in which we can work together and make a real difference to the aluminium packaging recycling industry”.

Press release

Grundon gives business battery warning

Waste management firm Grundon has warned businesses to safely dispose of lithium batteries, as these were thought to be responsible for more than 250 fires at waste facilities last year, some 38% of all fires affecting the industry.

Deputy chairman Neil Grundon said: “The lack of public (and sometimes commercial) knowledge about just how dangerous these batteries can be is quite alarming. These fires don’t just pose a risk to waste management professionals, but to the public at large. We want to share information and guidelines to highlight the dangers and keep everyone safe; the motivation behind this warning.”

He said the greatest danger arose if the batteries were damaged or not fully sealed or came into contact with liquid during the disposal process.

Press release

Bradford uses recycled road surfacing

Bradford Council has said it is the first in the region to specify a road surfacing material that contains recycled plastic.

It has worked with supplier MacRebur, which processes waste plastics into granules or flakes that reduce the volume of oil-based bitumen in the asphalt mix.

The first projects are due to be completed this month, laying more than 2,000 tonnes of asphalt containing around 10 tonnes of recycled plastic.

MacRebur’s director of operations, Gordon Reid, said: “For every tonne of asphalt laid, 5kg of waste plastic is saved from landfill or incineration with an average saving of 7.75kg of carbon dioxide equivalent per tonne.”

Press release

Minister visits Binn Group

Waste firm Binn Group has had a visit from Scotland’s minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity Lorna Slater at its Glenfarg site.

Slater toured the low-carbon, resource recovery complex, and saw clean tech, low carbon systems operating and proposed at the 200-acre site.

The facility also has an anaerobic digestion plant, green-waste composting systems and four wind turbines which form the core of a new private grid project.

Press release

Makeover for Dorset waste firm

Dorset-based Eco Sustainable Solutions has undergone a rebrand, and said it will take on more ambitious projects.

The company said it takes in more than 250,000 tonnes of waste every year, including all 38,000 tonnes of Dorset’s food waste and 65,000 tonnes of garden waste, creating compost, woodchip and energy.

It recently expanded into the business of sustainable events starting with processing the food waste at the final race of the Extreme E championship. 

Press release

Bakers warn over basket thefts

Bakers Basco, which manages an industry-wide bakery equipment service for plastic baskets, has urged the events industry and caterers to raise awareness of bakery equipment left behind after festivals and events.

it said baskets taken out of its supply chain, intentionally or not, contributed negatively to the environment.

Bakers Basco said theft or conversion of its equipment was “the Achilles’ heel of the baking industry”.

Press release

HWRC gets on-site coffee shop

Community Reuse, which specialises in reuse at recycling sites, is opening what it believes is the UK’s first coffee shop on a Veolia household recycling centre in Tyseley, Birmingham.

It said this would play an important role in changing the old image of a ‘tip’ to dispose of waste, into a community hub with a focus on reuse and environmental education.

Mark Powell, general manager at Veolia in Birmingham, said: “Since the Reuse Shop launched in August 2021, it has diverted over 9,000 items for reuse by giving them a second chance in life. It’s clear the shop has been a hit with Birmingham residents and continues to grow in popularity. Visitors can now look forward to shopping sustainably whilst enjoying a hot drink.”

Press release

Gold safety award for AO

Online electricals retailer AO has gained a gold award from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) for the five consecutive years, which has now entitle dit also to the RoSPA gold medal.

Julia Small, RoSPA’s achievements director, said: “By receiving this recognition AO Recycling join like-minded businesses and organisations worldwide, who represent the very best in their approach to health and safety.”

Press release

Nye narrates Coca-Cola recycling film

Coca-Cola has issued a short animated film on plastic recycling narrated by scientist Bill Nye.

An animated- and recycled – likeness of Nye explains the end-to-end recycling process of a plastic bottle, from being placed in a recycling bin to returning to the shelf as a 100% recycled bottle.

“Recycling can be confusing for consumers,” said Christine Yeager, sustainability director of coca-Cola in North America. 

“We need to be able to articulate, in a clear, easy-to-understand way, how recycling helps drive a circular economy by using and reusing materials again and again.

Press release

CIWM elects Walker to vice-presidency

The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management has elected Tim Walker as junior vice president, succeeding Dan Cooke, who will become senior vice president.

Walker is chief executive of  Arc21, a local authority waste partnership in Northern Ireland, and serves on the board of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.

Press release

Food waste ‘health hazard’ says GMB

A huge pile of food waste dumped at a Glasgow recycling plant has been described as a health hazard for workers and the public by gab trade union members.

Glasgow City Council has assured workers and residents living near the Blochairn Recycling Centre that the problem was a short term issue with their compost contractor, who is unable to receive its usual quantity of waste due to an update of their waste management system.

The council insisted there had been no breach of health and safety standards and accused the GMB of scaremongering.

Glasgow Live

Public ‘ready to shun’ single-use plastic

Research from plastics producer Aquapak has found 67% of the public will try to buy more products that do not use single-use plastic packaging.

The research also found 54% intended to stop buying such products entirely over the next three years. But 725 of respondents were unaware that there is alternative packaging available.

Chief executive Mark Lapping said: “There’s no doubt that consumers are ready for change when it comes to cutting down the amount of single-use plastic packaging used by the fashion industry.”

Aquapak said its Hydropol product enables packaging to be produced which is biodigestible, non-toxic, dissolvable in water and marine safe.

Press release

Grundon wins fresh stadium contract

Grundon Waste Management has secured a five-year contract to continue providing waste services at the Stadium MK complex. It is worth some £75,000 a year.

The contract covers waste collections across the stadium, its 300 room hotel and the the adjacent Marshall Arena, Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill, local radio station and offices.

Changes since the contract began have included the introduction of dedicated food and hazardous waste collections, larger compactors to reduce the frequency of collections and achieving zero waste to landfill.

Press release

Essex HWRCs back in-house

Essex County Council has brought management of its recycling centres and waste transfer stations back in-house, replacing contractor Veolia.

A council statement said the move would “help us to deliver a high quality, customer focused and sustainable service, which offers value for money to taxpayers”.

Veolia staff will transfer to become council employees. Recycling centres and waste transfer stations would continue operating as normal but the county said the in-house service “also provides us with most flexibility to adapt to future requirements”.

Press release

Economy fund-raises for mental health

Reconomy Trade raised £6,000 with its Healthy Mind, Healthy Trade campaign during February. This was equally shared between local mental health charities Springfield and Telford Mind.

Mike Benton, operations director at Reconomy Trade, said: “It is an amazing result to raise this amount for our regional Mind charities and to hear the positive impact this will have at a local level.”

Press release

Lighting firm slashes plastic use

Tamlite Lighting has said it has removed more than 51 tonnes of plastic from its operations over the last four years, and reduced consumption of new plastics by 80% from 14.5 tonnes in 2020 to 2.7 tonnes.

Its design team has ensured the amount of plastic used within its products has also been reduced and the company said it had also completely removed plastic packaging from a number of products, including the batten and flat panel lighting ranges.

Press release

Wood recycler offers shares to public

Recycling social enterprise Emerge, which is re-using wood discarded from Manchester Town Hall ’s refurbishment, has launched a £300,000 community share offer paying up to 4.0%.

It wants to raise money to hire six more staff and 12 trainees, upgrade its recycling and processing equipment and renew its vehicle fleet.

Emerge said that through its Touch Wood initiative, it took wood from the Town Hall which was then “lovingly repurposing it into bespoke pieces of furniture such as tables and benches”.

All profits generated are reinvested in the social enterprise with a proportion donated to the charity.

Press release

Call for transition period for pollutant rules

European waste industry body FEAD has emphasised the importance of a five-year transition period to apply the new concentration limit of 500 mg/kg for persistent organic pollutants in waste, voted on last week by the European Parliament.

It said this would allow sufficient time to deploy investments needed for new separation techniques, and to collect data on the presence of these substances in the waste flows and develop measurement methods and standards.

FEAD said the challenge was to find the best policy and time frame option, while ensuring a consistent regulatory framework for reducing POP substances from production to end-of-life, while at the same time increasing circularity/recycling and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Press release

EA cracks down on Gloucester carriers

Environment Agency staff stopped and checked 16 waste carriers and commercial vehicles in Gloucester last week, and found 11 were carrying waste, two of which were not registered. The EA said enforcement action was being considered.

An EA spokesperson said: “We are dedicated to stamping out waste crime, but it is an ongoing battle against criminals who seek ways to undercut legitimate businesses at the expense of the environment.”

Press release

Household waste fire hits Prickwillow

Cambridgeshire Fire & Rescue Service was called this mounting (4 April) to a fire a recycling site in Prickwillow.

Five crews were sent to the incident, described as “a well-developed fire in a steel-framed building containing recycled household waste”

It was contained during the early hours of the morning though crews have remained to ensure the area is safe.

Press release

Train newspapers recycling scheme launched

Train operator Northern has launched an advertising campaign to encourage passengers to recycle their newspapers in stations.

Its ‘When it’s Read it’s Blue’ campaign was created by Pelican Communications, and was launched at Manchester Victoria station. It aims to educate passengers that the blue recycling bins in stations are exclusively for newspapers.

Kyle MacNeill, environment business partner at Northern said: “We deal with large volumes of newspapers which can be easily recycled if they are put in the right bin.

“Unfortunately they are being contaminated by coffee cups, takeaway food wrappers and other materials. Dirty newspaper cannot be recycled, so a valuable material is going to waste.” 

Press release

Plastics report calls for greater circularity

Plastics Europe has backed an independent report on ReShaping Plastics: Pathways to a Circular, Climate Neutral Plastics System in Europe, which calls for better incentives to meet net zero.

It said the report’s central findings were that faster systemic change and more intense and effective collaboration between all parts of the European plastics’ system and policy makers were essential, and agreed with the conclusion that circularity was the most important medium-term lever for a comprehensive transition of the industry. Virginia Janssens, managing director of Plastics Europe said: “Our members are undertaking huge investments and a far-reaching reorganisation of their production and technology base. 

“To further accelerate the industry’s transition, we need a new and enabling policy framework that better incentivises investment and innovation by fostering a climate of creative competition. We must harness the power of the EU Single Market and find workable mechanisms and measures to keep the European industry globally competitive as the EU transitions to net zero.”

Press release

Progress report from sustainable fuels firm

Sustainable fuels technology company Velocys has said in a trading update that it has completed site engineering, geotechnical survey and integration of carbon sequestration of biogenic CO2 in preparation for the connection of the Altalto plant, when built, into the new East Coast Carbon Capture and Storage cluster. This is being developed by a consortium of firms including Drax, BP and Equinor. Its annual results are due for publication in mid-May.

Press release

Northacre EfW passes another hurdle

Communities secretary Michael Gove will not call in the decision by Wiltshire Council to grant planning permission for Northacre Renewable Energy’s energy-from-waste (EfW) plant in Westbury.

Andrew Murrison, MP for South West Wiltshire, asked Gove to take over the decision as he opposes the project.

A spokesperson for Northacre said: “The Environment Agency issued a draft approval document for the permit, which is required to operate the Northacre Energy from Waste facility, on 10 March 2022. This is now in a period of further consultation, which closes on 22 April 2022, before the EA make their final decision.”

Press release

FCC in Wychavon vehicle trials

FCC Environment is testing with Wychavon District Council new ways to power street cleaning and waste and recycling collection vehicles.

The first test involves swapping a traditional diesel lorry for an electric refuse collection vehicle with a battery range of o 125 miles that can operate for about nine hours on a single charge.

Its second test involves using hydrotreated vegetable oil to replace diesel for the remainder of the collection fleet. 

Mike Burgess, lead for the e-RCV initiative at FCC Environment, said: “These wide-ranging, long-term trials will generate critical hands-on experience and real FCC Environment contract data to help inform future fleet purchase specifications for the next generation of alternative fuel vehicles in the UK.”

Press release

Call for EU to recognise EfW merits

Industry associations across the waste management value chain have asked for energy-from-waste (EfW) to be included in the European Union’s taxonomy of sustainable activity, from which it has been omitted.

The taxonomy is a classification system with a list of economic activities deemed environmentally sustainable. 

Signatories said there was a gap in this regarding the environmentally sound treatment of residual waste. 

They said EfW enables the treatment of non-hazardous, non-recyclable waste higher up in the waste hierarchy and could contribute to the circular economy objectives of the EU Taxonomy Framework, and so should be included.

Support for this came from the Confederation of European Waste-to-Energy Plants, from ESWET  – which represents European suppliers of EfW technologies and FEAD, the European Waste Management Association.

Press release

Company claims clinical waste first

Medical technology company NeedleSmart has said it has helped the NHS to reduce CO2 emissions in its clinical waste disposal by 95%.

The company said it had designed a world-first in safe needle destruction and disposal, now being used at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.

It said its NS PRO product destroys a contaminated hypodermic needle in a sealed chamber in just six seconds by heating it to 1,300 degrees celsius, converting needles to safe clinical waste for recycling, 

NeedleSmart is also working with the NHS Supply Chain to minimise single-use plastics and associated packaging.

Press release