In Italics Magazine, we studied Italy’s position in Europe on recycling, such as a recent Symbola Foundation report in February declared Italy on the podium with France and the UK followed by Germany – the Italian rate stands at 79%, the French at 56%, the British at 50% and the Germans at 43 %. Italy has thus improved its performance in eight years by + 8%. The engagement began with funds for the development and initiative of large and small businesses in the region. In this regard, the attention paid to the circular economy has grown exponentially, involving many young people to get involved in the world of commerce and information.
On the circularity of European countries, according to the national report on the circular economy Circular economy network (CEN), in collaboration with ENEA, Italy is confirmed in first place in 2020 in Europe for â€œglobal circularity indexâ€ with 100 points followed by Germany at 89 points, France at 88, Poland at 72 and Spain at 71. The results obtained so far give hope for an improvement despite the immense efforts that will have to be made to achieve objectives.
What is the circular economy?
The European Union is the first to recognize that the definition of circular economy cannot be agreed between member states, which is why their online report examines what circularity allows by providing agnostic definitions which can serve as reference points.
We cannot stop at the word â€œeconomyâ€ in the term circular economy. It aims to draw attention to economic and social progress which includes the environment as a pillar of survival and health. The objective is to maintain the usefulness of the product after its use in order to reintegrate it into the process without depending solely on the extraction of new raw materials.
Using the definition of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the circular economy: â€œis a generic term for an economy designed to regenerate. In a circular economy, material flows are of two types: biological flows, likely to be reintegrated into the biosphere, and technical flows, intended to be valued without entering the biosphere. The circular economy is therefore a system in which all activities, starting with extraction and production, are organized in such a way that someone’s waste becomes a resource for someone else.
The way products are created is also changing. Design takes an important place in the circular economy. The objective is to have modular and easily repairable products so that their reintegration into the process involves the least expenditure of natural and economic resources. One of the proposals put forward by the European Parliament aims to adopt rules to limit the planned obsolescence of products, one of the strongest strategies used in the linear economy. It is not only the end of the product’s life that becomes important, but also the entire path of its creation. Some of the best ways to reduce consumption and disposal include: using the product as a service, using sustainable materials, sharing products (pay per use) and repairing them.
Six years ago, the European Commission has drawn up an action plan describing 54 measures to accelerate the transition to the circular economy. The aim is to stimulate competitiveness to promote sustainable economic growth. One of the measures includes the obligation for Member States to recycle at least 70% of municipal waste and 80% of packaging waste, and to ban biodegradable and recyclable waste from landfills. Several funds have been allocated to financially support the transition, which in itself would bring several economic benefits. A boost to innovation and economic growth with an increase in GDP, the new jobs needed would be around 700,000 in the EU by 2030, and the end consumer will have more sustainable products that improve performance. quality of life and save money.
Then comes the European strategy of the Green Deal, a definition of objectives to achieve the net elimination of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and to decouple economic growth from the consumption of resources without neglecting places and people. . European companies would also save around â‚¬ 600 billion while reducing annual greenhouse gas emissions. In the circular economy, not only the financial aspect is assessed, but also the social, environmental and governance aspect – what is called â€œESGâ€ – used to identify and analyze the sustainability of investments.
Move away from the linear model
The economic model that we have always relied on has become unsustainable and given population growth, it can no longer be considered a viable path forward. â€œExtract, produce, use and disposeâ€ has been the motto for years, since the first industrial revolution, to meet growing consumer demand. Our old friend plastics, for example, went from 1.5 million tonnes produced in 1950 to 359 million in 2018. Most of it was used as packaging material, followed by construction materials, industrial equipment and automotive industry. Total waste generation, on the other hand, exceeds 2 billion per year, a sum which will exceed 3.5 billion by 2050 (World Bank data); 44% food and plant waste, 17% paper and cardboard, 12% plastic, 5% glass, 4% metal waste and 18% miscellaneous waste. Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s report on global waste generation shows that 75% goes to landfills or incinerators, while 25% is reused or recycled.
The need to extract raw materials increases and countries often have to depend on supplies from other countries. Energy consumption, emissions and pollution from mining and transportation are even higher. The ability to reuse the material would solve many of these problems.
Thus, on the issue of global warming, the shadow of a flat mass production, without concern to be able to reconstitute the material used and reduce emissions. The main source of the CO2 emitted is the production of electricity, industrial activity and transport. The connection of the large chain of the consumer industry is obvious and significant. According to a study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change As of October 2018, we have around 12 years to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% and around 30 years to eliminate them completely. Delaying reaching this safety threshold would devastatingly amplify the sad results of global warming. In 2017, the costs of damage caused by floods, fires and droughts exceeded â‚¬ 300 billion. “Extract, produce, use and throw away” is the result.
A circular growth industry in Italy
EHOP, the riclamercato is a Milan-based company with an online marketplace that encourages the use of natural products by also offering a take-back service on its product once consumed. The next step would be to provide business-to-business services where waste from one industry is sold to another. Other examples include Cup, a start-up that wants to perpetuate disposable cups by using a chip and the history of each of them, which can be viewed from their smartphone to obtain promotions in the event of a â€œreturnâ€; Where Grycle, in the province of Potenza, which pushes towards a world without waste with an artificial intelligence that learns to recognize and sort shredded waste. We are happy to watch Rethinking the climate, which has pushed for greater awareness with podcasts, interviews and articles, bringing innovation in the way social and environmental issues are communicated, and circularity must be part of our communication process for sustainability.
Every country and stakeholder must participate in an industrial process where even waste can become an investment and a profit not only economically, but above all for our planet which pays the highest price for our activities.
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Italics Magazine was born from the idea of â€‹â€‹two friends who believed that Italy lacked a complete, in-depth and general source of information in English. While some publications do a great job, writing about the latest news or focusing on specific areas of interest, we believe other types of quality information are just as necessary to better understand the complexity of a country which, very often, is only known abroad for the headlines our politicians make, or for classic tourist clichÃ©s. This is why Italics Magazine is quickly becoming a reference for foreign readers, professionals, expatriates and the press interested in covering Italian issues in depth, appealing to various schools of thought. However, we started from scratch and we are self-financing the project through advertisements (not too intrusive), promotions and donations, because we have decided not to go for a paywall. This means that while the effort is greater, we can certainly brag about our independent and free editorial line. This is notably possible thanks to our readers, whom we hope to continue to inspire with our articles. That is why we ask you to please consider giving us your important contribution, which will help us to make this project grow – and in the right direction. Thank you.