MRW brings you markets, business and policy news from around the world.
Activists win after targeting water bottles
A new ban on the sales of single-serving plastic water bottles has taken effect in Concord, Massachusetts. Shops will be fined up to $50 (£31) for violating the ban. An exemption is allowed during emergencies.
The law was adopted after a three-year campaign by activists. They pushed for a return to tap water, saying that banning the bottles would cut down on plastic waste and reduce the use of the fossil fuels used to make the bottles.
Businesses said the ban would drive bottled water sales out of town.
Canada sees rise in plastics recovery
The recovery of post-consumer plastics packaging in Canada rose by 24% in 2011. Research undertaken for the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) showed that around 268,500 tonnes of scrap plastics were collected for recycling.
Leading the way was a 70% leap in the recovery of non-bottle rigid packaging, a rise of 19% in the recovery of plastic bottles and a 1% increase in plastic bag collections. Around two-thirds of the recovered plastic packaging in 2011 was recycled in Canada.
Scrap yard air tainted with carcinogens
Environmental officials in Houston recently undertook an extensive assessment of air emissions from scrap yards following complaints.
According to the Houston Chronicle, nearly 200 citizen complaints spurred city officials and researchers from Rice University to perform air emission tests outside five processing facilities.
They found that the air outside the plants had high levels of hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen, and that such levels were not found in any other industrial area of the city.
A number of facilities are now upgrading their operations.
Computer giants fail to sign up for recycling
When the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)launched an electronics recycling challenge in September, some of the country’s biggest electronics retailers and manufacturers signed on the dotted line.
But noticeably absent were two of the biggest names in the field: Apple and Hewlett-Packard. Neither would say why they did not sign on or whether they planed to join the challenge, which asks companies to use only electronics recyclers that are certified by either R2 or e-Stewards.
The challenge also requires participants to share data with EPA and the public.
Plastic bag ban to aid environment
Mauritania has banned the use of plastic bags to protect the environment and the lives of animals and fish.
More than 70% of cattle and sheep which die in the capital Nouakchott do so after eating plastic bags, the environment ministry told BBC Afrique. Plastic bag manufacturers or importers could be jailed for up to a year.
Plastic makes up a quarter of waste produced annually in Nouakchott.
HP opens e-waste processing plant
In a bid to recycle more electronics in east Africa, US-based multinational Hewlett-Packard (HP) has been operating an e-scrap processing plant in the region under the name East Africa Compliant Recycling.
HP hopes the venture will help Kenya deal with the growing volume of mobile phones, computers and other electronic equipment.
According to HP director of environment Herve Guilcher, this was part of a pilot project in the Kenyan city Mombasa to realise a scaleable model for e-scrap recycling.
Large amount of waste goes to landfill
Portugal generated nearly 500kg of refuse per head during 2011, of which more than 50% went to landfill, the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) has confirmed.
Total urban waste production in Portugal amounted to 4.8 million tonnes during the year, 6% less than in 2010 but slightly higher than the goal of 4.7 million tonnes.
It is estimated that 57%, or 1.5 million tonnes, of all packaging was recycled, which exceeded the 55% target established for 2011.
But of the overall volume collected, only 15.6% was sent for selective separation. According to the APA, 58% of the waste went to landfill while the rest was either incinerated, sent for recycling or reused for organic purposes.
Landfilling in 2011 was down 3% from the previous year.
Bricks made from two waste sources
Researchers at the University of Jaén in Spain have developed a method of creating bricks by mixing pulp and sludge residues from the paper industry with ceramic material used in the construction industry.
The scientists began by collecting recycled cellullous waste from a paper factory, together with sludge from waste water purification.
Both were mixed with clay, then passed through a pressure and extrusion machine to yield a single, long strand of material. This was then sliced into 3 x 1 x 6cm bricks.
Tests suggest that larger bricks retain the same promising properties.
China prepares laws on resource recovery
China plans to bring in legislation this year to deal with electrical and electronic waste, according to under-secretary for the environment Christine Loh.
She said that legislation would also be introduced to ensure that the plastic bag levy scheme extends to all retail outlets: “We will also shortly consult the public on implementing a glass recycling system.”
Stating that the country needs to recover energy and resources from “unavoidable waste” and to reduce bulk volumes before they go to landfill, Loh said that a state-of-the-art sludge incinerator was being built in Tuen Mun to be completed towards the end of the year.
Incentives push people to participate
Rubbish recycling programmes need to be based on a rewards and incentives to ensure participation.
This view was expressed by waste management expert Clinton Vaz while speaking
at a session on waste management at BarCamp 2013, a conference in Verna, Goa.
Vaz said that plastic bottles and Tetra Paks were easily recyclable if segregated, and were a source of generating money. He said it is estimated that Goa generates 400 tonnes of waste every day and does not have enough landfills or treatment plants.
Glass recycling targets drinks bottles
The Hong Kong government is considering legislation to make glass recycling mandatory. Secretary for the environment Wong Kam-Sing said the legislation would target mainly wine and other beverage bottles.
Wong expected details of the legislation to be released in March, with new measures introduced by the end of the year. Glass accounts for 3% of all waste in the area, and only 5% of it is recycled.
“We can’t say it’s insignificant,” he said. “We have to minimise waste in every aspect.”