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Global news - 8 March 2013

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

Africa

Concerns over ban on scrap metal exports

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) has expressed “grave concern” that South Africa is considering imposing restrictions on the export of scrap metals.

In an open letter to the South African government, ISRI vice-president and general counsel Scott Horne said the country’s new draft policy directive was conceived “with the stated intent to increase the supply of scrap metals available to domestic industry while also making the price of those scrap metals more affordable for the domestic industry”.

Horne pointed out that domestic scrap prices in most countries were driven by the global marketplace for the scrap materials and not by the local economy. He cited scrap metals as a “one of the purest examples of supply and demand economics” and warned that the sector was “extraordinarily sensitive to outside intervention”.

Recycling International, 27 Feb

North America

Paper bag charge is not a tax, says court

The ban on plastic bags and the 10¢ fee for paper bags that came with it in the Los Angeles (LA) area is not considered a tax that requires voter approval, a state appellate court has ruled.

A Californian appeal court hearing ruled against plastic bag manufacturer Hilex Poly Co and a group of unincorporated LA County residents, saying that the fee can stand.

The paper bag charge is not a tax and not in violations of California Proposition 26, wrote the judges in the 3-0 decision “because the charge is payable to and retained by the retail store and is not remitted to the county”.

Hilex Poly lawyers are already planning an appeal. They believe the charge is a violation of Proposition 26 which mandates that “any levy, charge or exaction of any kind imposed by a local government” must be approved by local voters.

Plastics News, 25 Feb

In-store trade-in hits 10 million milestone

ERecyclingCorps (ERC) has completed 10 million wireless device trade-ins since it started in 2009. ERC almost tripled its collection volumes during the past year, completing more than seven million wireless device trade-ins in 2012.

The 10 million devices collected via ERC’s in-store operator and retail programmes are repaired to ‘like new’ quality to meet strict standards for functionality. Devices are resold to consumers in developed and emerging markets, where they offer access to high-quality mobile technology at lower costs.

Erecyclingcorps.com, 25 Feb

Renewables firm joins sustainability council

US recycler Waste Management has become a member of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) for 2013. BCSE president Lisa Jacobson said the company was an innovator in the production of renewable energy.

Barry Caldwell, chief communications officer for Waste Management, said. “BCSE’s goal to expand opportunities for renewable energy and sustainable practices aligns well with our corporate goals to realise energy savings by increasing recycling, produce renewable energy from materials otherwise discarded, and continually improve our own energy efficiency.”

States News Service, 26 Feb

Jail after false claims for oil-to-fuel credits

A man has been sentenced to more than 12 years in prison following the sale of $9m (£6m) of fraudulent Renewable Fuel Credits (RFCs) generated by falsely claiming to have produced some 87 million litres of fuel from waste cooking oil.

The US Environmental Protection Agency said the criminal sold the RFCs which he falsely claimed had been produced by his company.

Waste Management World, 26 Feb

Europe

‘Wrong standard’ is being proposed

The Oxo-biodegradable Plastics Association (OPA) warned ‘compostable plastic’ companies to be cautious about profiting from the recent approval in Italy of a proposal to ban plastic carrier bags except those tested as biodegradable, according to the EN13432 standard.

The legislative process has not been completed and it would be the wrong decision for Italy and the wider EU, according to OPA.

EN13432 is a test for biodegradation in the special conditions found in industrial composting. It says specifically that “it does not take into account packaging waste which may end up in the environment through uncontrolled means, ie as litter”.

The correct standard to use is ISO17556, the association claimed.

PR Newswire, 26 Feb

Massacre at Swiss wood processing firm

Three people were killed and seven injured during a shooting by an employee at the Kronospan wood processing plant in Menznau, near Lucerne. Police said the 42-year-old man, who had worked at the factory for 10 years, was among the dead.

“The workers were eating a snack in the cafeteria during the morning, and there was a massacre,” said a man quoted by the Swiss news website 20minutes, who had phoned the factory to check on the welfare of his father.

Kronospan chief executive Mauro Capozzo denied local rumours that job cuts were due to be announced.

Switzerland has one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the world.

BBC News, 27 Feb

Plastics and textiles join under Core group

A new association in Belgium is aiming to improving plastics recycling by bringing together plastics and textiles firms. Four organisations - Federplast.be, Centexbel, Febem and Plasticvision - are taking part in the CORE (controlled recycling) project.

A major initiative for the three-year CORE project is looking at recycling polyvinyl butyrate (PVB), which is most commonly used to make laminated safety glass for car windscreens. The project’s budget amounts to e626,145 (£540,000), with 20% coming from the four founders.

Geert Scheys, spokesperson from Federplast.be, said the combination of plastics and textiles made sense because both industries use a lot of the same raw materials.

“We both make use of materials such as polyurethanes, polyolefins and PVC, so it is possible that the waste from one sector could be recycled and used as raw materials from the other,” Scheys said.

European Plastics News, 27 Feb

Dutch shops improve light bulb recycling

An increasing number of Dutch retailers are now allowing consumers to return used energy-saving light bulbs when they buy new ones, a recent report by the Netherlands-based foundation Lightrec has revealed. ‘Mystery shoppers’ who visited 533 stores found they could discard their bulbs at 83% of outlets.

“We have witnessed enormous progress compared to previous years,” said the report from LightRec, which is part of the Dutch recycling service Wecycle. “In 2011, only 63% of retailers participating in the study agreed to receive used light bulbs.”

Three years ago, the acceptance rate was barely 50%, the foundation added.

Recycling International, 26 Feb

Asia

Rafah’s rubbish goes to first recycling plant

The Gaza Strip’s first recycling plant has opened in Rafah, close to the Egyptian border, as part of an initiative to help clear piles of rubbish that ring the city.

Officials say that if not dealt with, the waste could constitute a public health hazard.

BBC News, 26 Feb

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