Amazon invests $10M into US recycling infrastructure

Global logistics company Amazon has announced it will invest $10 million USD into a social impact investment fund to support recycling infrastructure in the United States.

The investment into Closed Loop Fund aims to increase kerbside recycling for 3 million homes around the US to make it easier for customers to recycle and develop end markets for recycled goods.

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An estimated one million tonnes will be diverted from landfill into the recycling stream, which would eliminate the equivalent of 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxides by 2028.

Closed Loop Fund provides cities and recycling companies access to funding to build recycling programs and aims to invest $100 million USD by 2020 to create economic value for cities and build circular supply chains.

The fund aims to improve recycling for more than 18 million households and save around $60 million USD for American cities.

Amazon Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations Dave Clark said the investment will help build local capabilities needed to make it easier for Amazon customers and their communities to recycle.

“We are investing in Closed Loop Fund’s work because we think everyone should have access to easy, convenient kerbside recycling,” he said.

“The more we are all able to recycle, the more we can reduce our collective energy, carbon, and water footprint.”

Closed Loop Fund CEO Ron Gonen said Amazon’s investment is an example of how recycling is good business in America.

“Companies are seeing that they can meet consumer demand and reduce costs while supporting a more sustainable future and growing good jobs across the country,” he said.

“We applaud Amazon’s commitment to cut waste, and we hope their leadership drives other brands and retailers to follow suit.”

Image Credit: Amazon

Nestlé pledges to improve recycled content in EU packaging

Nestlé has pledged to increase the amount of recycled plastics the company uses in some of its packaging in the European Union by 2025.

The company aims to include 25 to 50 per cent recycled materials in PET layer in laminates, caps on glass jars and tines, trays for meat products and shrink films for display trays.

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It follows Nestlé’s pledge in April to make all of its packaging recyclable or re-useable by 2025.

The announcement is part of the voluntary pledging exercise on recycled content by the European Commission. Nestlé CEO for Zone Europe, Middle East and North Africa Marco Settembri delivered the pledge in person to the European Commission.

Mr Settembri said the company is taking the first concrete steps to achieve its packaging ambitions.

“Nestlé supports the Plastics Strategy of the European Union. We share the vision that no plastic packaging ends up in the environment. Recyclable packaging, good recycling infrastructure and more use of recycled material will help us close the loop,” he said.

Recycled plastic to help WA tourism initiative

Almost 430,000 plastic bags worth of plastics have been diverted from landfill to create 27 plastic benches installed across Rottnest Island, Western Australia.

The benches and some boardwalk sections are part of the island’s recently opened Wadjemup Bidi walk trail, which is 45 kilometres long.

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Recycled plastic was chosen for maintenance, functionality, aesthetic and sustainability reasons.

Sections of recycled plastic boardwalks include Henrietta Rocks and Porpoise Bay, while the benches have been installed throughout the trails, offering views at Cape Vlamingh, Cathedral Rocks and Bickley Bay.

WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the initiative continues to push to reduce waste in the state and protect the environment for future generations.

“It’s fantastic to announce this new sustainability initiative during Plastic Free July, which engages the community in a discussion about waste avoidance, which is at the top of the waste hierarchy, with a focus on reducing our use of plastic,” Mr Dawson said.

WA Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said Rottnest Island wants to be recognised as a sustainable must-visit tourism destination.

“These long-term sustainability priorities will mean that Rottnest Island can continue to be enjoyed by visitor for generations to come,” he said.

McDonalds to phase out plastic straws by 2020

McDonalds to phase out plastic straws by 2020

McDonald’s Australia has announced it will phase out existing plastic straws from it 970 restaurants around the country by 2020.

It is currently working with local suppliers to find viable alternatives and will start a trial of paper straws in two restaurants from August.

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The move is part of the company’s global effort to identify sustainable alternatives to its current single-use plastic straws.

The trial will also help McDonald’s reach its goal of making its guest packaging from entirely renewable, recycled or certified sources by 2025.

McDonald’s Australia Director of Supply Chain Robert Sexton said as one of the world’s largest restaurant businesses, the company has a responsibility and opportunity to make significant change.

“Together with the global business, we have been working for some time to find appropriate alternatives. We know plastic straws is a topic our customers are passionate about and we will find a viable solution,” he said.

Alongside the moves to eliminate plastic straws, McDonalds is also currently trialling cup recycling through a partnership with Simply Cups. The trial launched in April in eight restaurants and includes segmented dining room bins to separate liquids, plastics, paper cups and general waste.

“Beverage cups are a unique concern when it comes to recycling through normal paper recycling facilities due to the inner plastic lining,” Mr Sexton said.

“By separating the cups through designated bins, we can ensure cups are diverted to the right facility to recycle this material. Our trials will provide useful learnings that will help to determine next steps for potential wider restaurant implementation.”

Global definition of recyclable developed

The term “recyclable” has received a global definition in relation to plastic packaging and products from two international recycling organisations.

In order for a plastic to be considered recyclable according to the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) and Plastics Recycling Europe (PRE), it must meet four conditions.

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The product must be made of a plastic that is collected for recycling, has market value and/or is supported by a legislatively mandated program. It also must be sorted and aggregated into defined streams for recycling processed.

It must also be able to be processed and reclaimed or recycled with a commercial recycling process and it must become a raw material that is used in the production of a new product.

Under this definition, innovative materials must demonstrate that they can be collected and sorted in sufficient quantities, must be compatible with the existing industrial recycling processes or will have to be available in sufficient quantities to justify new recycling processes.

In a joint statement from PRE President Ton Emans and CEO of APR Steve Alexander said the onslaught of recent announcements around commitments to package sustainability and recyclability often did not have a defined definition.

“Recently, we have seen many announcements regarding legislative measures on plastics products and pledges of the industry actors committing to making their products recyclable,” Mr Emans said.

“As recyclers, we are a fundamental part of the solution to the issue of sustainability of plastics, and we need for the appropriate audiences to understand what is necessary to label a product or package ‘recyclable’,” he said.

Mr Alexander said the use of the term ‘recyclable’ is consistently used with packages and products without a defined reference point.

“At the end of the day, recyclability goes beyond just being technically recyclable there must be consumer access to a recycling program, a recycler must be able to process the material, and there must be an end market.”

Both groups have said they understand the complexity of a global system and welcome comments from the plastics recycling industry and relevant stakeholders.

Unilever Australia on track for sustainablity targets

Unilever Australia has announced it is on track to meet 80 per cent of its Sustainable Living Plan commitments, which include improving the health and wellbeing for 1 billion people and reducing the company’s environmental impact by half.

The plan originally launched in 2010 and aimed to decouple the company’s growth from its environmental impact, while increasing the company’s positive social impact.

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Some key commitments include sourcing 100 per cent of all grid electricity used in manufacturing with renewable sources by 2020, becoming carbon positive in its manufacturing operations by 2030 and making 100 per cent of its plastic packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable while increasing the recycled plastic content in its packaging by 25 per cent by 2025.

Unilever Australia and New Zealand CEO Clive Stiff said the company has made good progress towards the targets in Australia and globally and that consumers were increasingly aware of the impact the products they purchase have on the environment.

“We also want to be transparent about how much more work there is still to do. This is critical when we are witnessing a crisis of trust in institutions in Australia and across the world. We believe business must play a leading role in restoring trust, and that at the heart of trust lies transparency,” Mr Stiff said.

“We also know that the biggest challenges facing our nation and our world can’t be addressed on our own. There is an ever-increasing need for us to work in partnership to drive transformational change across our value chain. To do so will require a new level of transparency across the board and business must be part of the solution.”