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Global news – 1 February 2013

MRW brings you markets, business and policy news from around the world.


New VAT system aims to deter scrap fraud

The Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) said a simplified system for collecting VAT on scrap metal sales will spur a decline in VAT fraud across the EU.

The reverse-charge VAT collection system is designed to limit the risk of VAT fraud by making the buyer of scrap accountable for VAT rather than the supplier.

It closes potential loopholes that are created when metals are traded in a chain to exploit differences in VAT rates among member states, according to BIR director general Francis Veys.

His comments followed the recent discovery of an e20m (£17m) scrap metal VAT fraud perpetrated by a 14-man gang operating in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

They exploited buyers in countries such as the UK which have not adopted the reverse-charge system.

Metal Bulletin, 22 Jan

Battery recycling sees 5% fall in a year

European Battery Recycling Association (EBRA) reported a 5% fall in battery recycling during 2011. The volume of batteries recycled in Europe dropped from 36,963 tonnes in 2010 to 34,997 tonnes the following year.

The decline has been attributed in part to lower-than-anticipated growth in the consumer and portable collection market for both primary and secondary batteries.

Health and safety issues are also said to have been a factor, particularly with recycling lithium batteries.

Recycling International, 21 Jan


HK considers bottle levy to aid recycling

A HK$1 (8p) levy may be charged on bottles of beer, wine and spirits in Hong Kong to help pay the recycling costs of local glass recyclers.

The scheme is being considered by environment officials and could be put up for public consultation next month. It follows the 50¢ plastic bag levy introduced in 2009.

Recyclers welcomed the idea, which could help pay for recycling the 70,000 tonnes of waste glass generated in Hong Kong every year. But the food and beverage trade said it would be unfair to single out glass, which accounted for only 3% of total waste.

South China Morning Post, 15 Jan

Awareness is low among Malaysians

Awareness for the need to reduce and recycle waste is still low among Malaysians, said the ministry of federal territories and urban wellbeing.

Last year an estimated 25,000 tonnes of waste was generated in Malaysia in a single day, of which only 5% was recycled.

He added that the success of any environmental programme was dependent on the involvement of all parties, including individuals, communities, nongovernmental organisations and the public and private sectors., 21 Jan

North America

Canadians throw away more waste

A study from the non-profit organisation Conference Board of Canada said that residents throw away more waste than 15 comparable developed countries.

The average amount of waste thrown away per person in developed countries was 578kg, but Canada fared worse than the US at 777kg per person. This is nearly twice as much as Japan.

In Canada, municipal waste has been on the rise. And while some of this can be attributed to urbanisation, consumption culture and per capita income that has been steadily rising since the 1980s, countries going through similar changes have done so without increasing municipal waste.

Smart Planet, 18 Jan

Antennas recycled high in the sky

End-of-life communications satellites are being recycled to cut the cost of building new ones in the latest project from the Pentagon’s research wing.

When satellites retire, certain parts such as antennas and solar panels often still work, but there is currently no routine effort to salvage and reuse such parts once they are launched into space.

The Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency is spending $180m (£114m) to test technologies that could make this possible. It believes it can save money by repurposing parts in orbit.

Mail Online, 22 Jan

San Francisco wants to be a zero waste city

San Francisco is aiming to be the first zero waste to landfill city. The city currently has a 80% diversion rate, the highest in North America.

But San Francisco mayor Ed Lee says he wants 100% zero waste.

The city has already banned plastic bags. In 2009 it became the first city in the US to require municipal and commercial waste to be separated into compostable material and recyclable goods such as plastic and paper.

PBS, 25 Jan

Hawaii joins list banning plastic bags

All US states now support a plastic bag ban following its adoption in Hawaii.

Hawaiian authorities will phase-out plastic bags by July 2015, and will demand a fee on bags used at shops. The state will also require paper bags to contain at least 40% recycled product.

But there are exemptions to the law, including plastic bags used to hold bulk items such as meat, small hardware, clothing and prescription drugs.

Recycling International, 23 Jan


Plastic scrap to be reprocessed at plant

The Australian Packaging Covenant (APC), along with the Queensland Government, plans to provide equal funding totalling more than AUS$600,000 (£396,700) to help in the construction of a plastics recycling facility in South East Queensland.

Replas, based in Carrum Downs, has developed technology to reprocess plastic scrap such as shopping bags, shrinkwrap film and wrap from landfills into a range of recycled plastic products suitable for outdoor use.

The facility will reprocess locally collected plastic scrap and make products such as fencing and posts.

Recycling Today, 22 Jan

Danish tyre plant goes into Papua NG

Danish company Eldan Recycling is preparing to deliver a complete plant to Papua New Guinea for converting tyres, including truck and large mining tyres, into rubber granulate.

Eldan estimates that production will average four tonnes an hour, yielding a rubber granulate that is 99.9% free of textiles and steel.

Managing director Toni Reftman said: “Papua New Guinea is not a big market, but nevertheless they need durable recycling equipment.”

Recycling International, 18 Jan

Reward programme to reduce e-waste

Electronics giant Acer has launched a ‘Recycle and Reward’ programme which aims to reduce the amount of computer waste sent to landfill in Australia.

Under the scheme, people can hand in their old computers to be sent back to Acer for disposal. Any brand is accepted, and types of equipment can include notebooks, netbooks, tablets and desktops - but not monitors.

In return, Acer will be giving out AUS$10 vouchers to be spent online.

The scheme is in line with the company’s goal of reducing computer waste by 1,000 tonnes in 2013, equal to 30% of the converted weight of products imported into Australia by Acer during its 2011/12 financial year.

This target will increase progressively each year with the target of 80% by 2023., 21 Jan

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