News in Brief | the latest waste and resource news 10/02/23


Dive into the latest waste and resource news with Circular Online’s news in brief roundup.

Catch up with the latest industry news from 2023 so far featuring stories such as Microsoft partnering with circular fashion competition Junk Kouture, Quantafuel and Geminor establishing a new plastic recycling company and PepsiCo converting plant waste into renewable energy.

Environmental campaigners call some tea bag claims greenwashing

Tea bag

Environmental campaigners at the not-for-profit City to Sea have called on big tea bag brands to stop using, what they call, “confusing terms” like compostable and biodegradable unless their products meet the “highest standards”.

As part of the call, City to Sea has asked tea bag brands to take part in a greenwashing “AmnesTea”. The campaigners say that some tea bags can be made enmeshed with plastics like polypropylene fibres and some tea bags which claim to be “plastic-free” or “compostable” can often include bioplastics like polylactic acid (PLA).

City to Sea says that PLA, like other bioplastics, is considered “biodegradable”, but is only biodegradable in industrial settings and cannot be “domestically composted”.

The move comes following an announcement from Waitrose stating it has become the first UK supermarket to sell own-brand tea bags that are certified as suitable for home composting. A move that City to Sea welcomes.

If you need to buy tea bags, look out for home compostable symbols.

City to Sea’s Policy Manager, Steve Hynd, commented: “Customers are left with a near-impossible list of jargon to try and decipher. That’s why today we’re calling on all major tea brands to join our greenwashing ‘AmnesTea’ and cease using phrases like plastic-free, compostable or biodegradable unless their products meet the TUV OK compost HOME certification standards.

“At the very least businesses need to meet the CMA standards by offering clear conditionality to their claims and giving consumers clear instructions.

“Our advice to all of those who love a good brew is that until we get this clarity, drink loose tea wherever possible. If you need to buy tea bags, look out for home compostable symbols.

“For your current tea bags, if you’re not sure what they’re made of, it’s best to rip them open, put the tea in the compost or food caddy, and then bin the bag. For now at least if you see words like ‘plastic-free’, ‘compostable’ or ‘biodegradable’ assume you cannot home compost it.”

Microsoft announces partnership with circular fashion competition Junk Kouture

Microsoft Junk Kouture

Microsoft has partnered with the “world’s largest” youth sustainable fashion competition, Junk Kouture to raise awareness and educate the next generation about circular systems in fashion.

Junk Kouture is a creative program open to 13-18-year-olds that challenges young people to design, upcycle and create high-end Kouture from 100% recycled materials before showcasing their sustainable designs at live events across the globe.

Dubbed “The Eurovision for fashion and creative young people”, the competition focuses on creating the circular engineers of tomorrow by taking waste and making garments suited for a fashion runway.

Microsoft says the new partnership will involve it collaborating with Junk Kouture to develop “Masterclasses” that can be viewed on Microsoft’s Flip platform, a video discussion app to share videos.

Commenting on the announcement, Maruschka Loubser, Director of Global Brand Partnerships Microsoft, said: “Microsoft and Junk Kouture share a vision to empower the next generation and encourage future circular engineers through connected education.

“Our technology allies with Junk Kouture’s mission and enables accessible information for students across the globe, no matter where they are.

Microsoft and Junk Kouture share a vision to empower the next generation and encourage future circular engineers through connected education.

“As a brand, Microsoft has a strong foundation in supporting, and empowering people and organisations in the fashion industry – to inspire creativity and innovation and build a more inclusive and sustainable future.”

Microsoft says it will also support a new awards category within the competition, the Microsoft STEAM Award, which will be given out at the 2023 World Final of Junk Kouture later this year. The award will be presented to the design and designers that best integrate elements of STEAM into their work.

CEO & Founder Junk Kouture, Troy Armour, commented: “Young people can often feel helpless in the face of the climate crisis and that’s why at Junk Kouture, we give them a global platform and the tools to use their voice and the creative outlet to showcase their solutions.

“Our ambition is to reach 1 billion young people over the next 10 years, generating lasting behavioural change through creativity and education content around STEAM and sustainability that impacts our planet’s future along the way.”

Quantafuel and Geminor establish new plastic recycling company

Waste Plastic

Quantafuel says its new company Polynate – Circular Plastic Solutions, formed alongside Geminor, aims to take a leading position in the value chain for plastic waste recycling in the Nordics and the UK.

The company will be led by Ralf Schöpwinkel who leaves the position of CSO at Geminor, the resource management company he helped establish in nine European countries.

Schöpwinkel will remain a shareholder at Geminor. Quantafuel says Schöpwinkel has over 25 years of industry experience within the recycling and international waste markets.

“I am very motivated to take on the new role. With Polynate, we will take a leading position in the value chain for plastics in the Nordics and the UK,” Schöpwinkel commented.

Establishing Polynate together with Quantafuel is strategically important for Geminor.

Quantafuel says Polynate will focus on plastic waste and its main operation will be supplying its current facilities in Kristiansund, Norway (mechanical plastic recycling), Skive in Denmark (chemical plastic recycling) and its planned facilities in Denmark and the UK.

Commenting on the announcement, the CEO of Geminor, Kjetil Vikingstad, said: “Polynate will be an important contributor in the sustainable treatment and handling of international plastic waste.

“Establishing Polynate together with Quantafuel is strategically important for Geminor. Our ambition is to increase our market share and secure new downstream solutions for plastics.

“It is becoming increasingly important to sort plastics from residual waste, both to secure more feedstock for new plastic products, but also to reduce the fossil content in the waste that is sent to energy recovery.”

PepsiCo converts plant waste into renewable energy in Portugal

PepsiCo biodigester

PepsiCo Portugal has announced the start of a new biodigester to convert waste to renewable energy at its snack food plant in Carregado, which it says is a first for PepsiCo in Southern Europe.

The biodigester will transform organic waste into biogas with a total investment of 7.5 million euros, PepsiCo Portugal says. The project is scheduled to begin construction in April this year.

The corporation says the biodigester will achieve a 30% reduction in carbon emissions at the Carregado plant and contribute to reducing gas consumption by allowing the facility to use the biogas produced during the process of anaerobic digestion.

The biogas will then be used directly as fuel in the various stages of production, as well as for sanitizing the production lines and heating the sanitary waters in the shower rooms and cafeteria, PepsiCo Portugal says.

We are proud to start the year by announcing this new biodigester, a first for PepsiCo in Southern Europe.

The biodigester will use the sludge produced at the plant’s treatment plant and potato peelings, as well as other food waste that is unfit for consumption.

PepsiCo has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by more than 40% by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2040. The corporation says it also plans to reduce GHG emissions in its direct operations by 75% and in its indirect operations by 40% by 2030.

Commenting on the announcement, PepsiCo Europe’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Katharina Stenholm, said: “PepsiCo’s pep+ strategy provides a clear roadmap on how our business can sustainably grow and bring value to the planet and people.

“We are proud to start the year by announcing this new biodigester, a first for PepsiCo in Southern Europe. Now, we will accelerate collaboration with our partners to ensure we have the right infrastructure and eco-systems to deliver positive change across the value chain.”

Podback launches kerbside coffee pod recycling in Horsham

Podback kerbside coffee pod recycling

Horsham District Council is launching a new scheme to help residents recycle used coffee pods.

Podback says the new coffee pod recycling service will help support the Council’s aims to reduce waste, increase recycling and achieve carbon savings to help tackle climate change.

It is the latest in a series of recycling initiatives from the Council, including the kerbside weekly collection of batteries and bookable collection of textiles and small electrical items as well as a recent food waste collection trial.

Not-for-profit recycling organisation Podback, which is partnering with the Council to deliver the service, was created in partnership with coffee pod system manufacturers including Nespresso, NESCAFE Dolce Gusto and Tassimo.

Podback says it will provide free collection bags for participants.

Commenting on the new scheme Horsham District Council’s Cabinet Member for Recycling and Waste Cllr Toni Bradnum said: “We have a really good track record for recycling in the Horsham District thanks to ongoing efforts by our environmentally conscious residents.

“As a council we are always looking for innovative ways to recycle items and avoid them going to waste and like to empower our residents to make more climate friendly decisions where we can.

“Previously coffee pods have been a difficult item to dispose of sustainably, so I’m sure the new service will be really welcomed by local people.

“This is a free service for residents who will need to sign up for collections via the established booking service, making it really easy for them to participate at home whilst helping the Council increase the amount it recycles.”

Kids combating climate change with the Great Clothes Swap

The Great Clothes Swap

Schools from across the Liverpool City Region have come together to tackle climate change by reducing the number of clothes that people throw away.

The project, The Great Clothes Swap, is the creation of Toxteth-based Liverpool World Centre and environmental charity Faiths4Change, who have been awarded £16,900 by the Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority & Veolia Community Fund 2022/23 to help deliver the project.

Commenting on the project, Jacquie Ayre, Global Learning Education Officer at Liverpool World Centre, said: “The aim of the project is to change perceptions and behaviour towards clothing repair and reuse to prevent clothes and textiles from going to waste.

“We’re building on our previous Fashion Fix project by engaging with teachers and giving children the knowledge and skills to get involved and have a say in improving industry practices.

The aim of the project is to change perceptions and behaviour towards clothing repair and reuse to prevent clothes and textiles from going to waste.

“Through events, training and workshops across the City Region we’re hopeful of changing attitudes towards clothes reuse and hopefully helping instil a systemic change in the current wasteful situation that society finds itself in when it comes to clothes and fast fashion.”

On Thursday 26th January, seven schools and 40 students assembled at No. 1 Mann Island in Liverpool City Centre for a “UN-style climate conference” to debate the impact of climate emissions and the role the textiles industry plays.

Students were asked to come up with ideas on how to put an end to a throwaway fashion culture and to identify any barriers to school uniform reuse and recycling.

Send this to a friend