100 STORIES OF MADE IN ITALY CIRCULAR ECONOMY FOCUSSED ON QUALITY AND INNOVATION: FROM AGRI-FOOD TO FASHION, PACKAGING TO MECHANICS, WOOD FURNITURE TO CONSTRUCTION AND FINANCE, ELECTRONICS TO CHEMICALS
ITALY IS A CIRCULAR ECONOMY SUPERPOWER AND HAS THE HIGHEST RECYCLING RATE FOR TOTAL WASTE: 79.4%, TWICE THE EUROPEAN AVERAGE (49%)
THE RECOVERY OF MATERIALS IN PRODUCTION CYCLES LEADS TO ANNUAL SAVINGS OF 23 MILLION TONNES OF OIL EQUIVALENT AND 63 MILLION TONNES OF CO2
REALACCI: “ITALY CAN MAKE A SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTION TO THE CLIMATE CRISIS CHALLENGE IN MANY SECTORS IN WHICH IT IS ALREADY A LEADER, STARTING WITH THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY. WE ARE THE EUROPEAN COUNTRY WITH THE HIGHEST RECYCLING RATE OF 79.4% OF TOTAL WASTE, WHICH IS MORE THAN DOUBLE THE EU AVERAGE AND WELL ABOVE ALL OTHER MAJOR EUROPEAN COUNTRIES: BECAUSE OF THIS, WE SAVE 23 MILLION TONNES OF OIL EQUIVALENT PER YEAR AND AROUND 63 MILLION TONS OF CO₂ EQUIVALENTS. RAW MATERIAL SHORTAGES HAVE NECESSITATED THE USE OF THE RENEWABLE AND NON-POLLUTING ENERGY RESOURCES OF HUMAN INTELLIGENCE. WE HAVE THUS BUILT A MORE EFFICIENT SYSTEM: SCRAP FROM BRESCIA, RAGS FROM PRATO, PAPER FROM LUCCA REUSED, NOT AS THE RESULT OF A LAW, BUT AS A RESPONSE TO A NEED. THE ONE HUNDRED COMPANIES IN THIS DOSSIER EXPLAIN WHY, AS THE ASSISI MANIFESTO STATES, 'COURAGEOUSLY TACKLING THE CLIMATE CRISIS IS NOT ONLY NECESSARY BUT IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE OUR ECONOMY AND OUR SOCIETY MORE PEOPLE-FRIENDLY AND THEREBY MORE CAPABLE OF FACING THE FUTURE’."
STARACE: “THE STORY OF MADE IN ITALY EXCELLENCE CONTINUES TOGETHER WITH THE SYMBOLA FOUNDATION. IT IS MADE UP OF COMPANIES, RESEARCH CENTERS AND ASSOCIATIONS THAT ARE WORKING ON A DAILY BASIS TO REDUCE WASTE AND POLLUTION IN PRODUCTION PROCESSES, RESEARCHING AND DESIGNING DURABLE, REUSABLE, REPAIRABLE OR RECYCLABLE PRODUCTS, SEEKING NEW HARMONY BETWEEN BEAUTY AND SUSTAINABILITY. BY APPLYING THE PRINCIPLES OF THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY, DIFFERENT SUPPLY CHAINS ARE CONNECTED IN A PROCESS OF INDUSTRIAL SYMBIOSIS, WHERE WASTE FROM ONE COMPANY, OR ONE SECTOR, BECOMES A RAW MATERIAL FOR ANOTHER; A DECISIVE APPROACH TO TACKLING THE CLIMATE CRISIS WHILE AT THE SAME TIME INCREASING COMPETITIVENESS, GENERATING TRADE AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES, AS WELL AS ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL BENEFITS.”
Rome, December 15th, 2021. 100 Italian Circular Economy Stories by the Symbola Foundation and Enel, presented today by Ermete Realacci, President of Symbola Foundation and Francesco Starace, General Manager and CEO of Enel, provides a survey and description of 100 examples of circular economy found across Italy, considered particularly significant in terms of the robust solutions put in place and their originality. Although these 100 stories are only a small part of the many virtuous examples of circular economy that our country features, they contribute not only to giving a snapshot of where Italy is, but also to highlighting the potential for development of the circular economy at every level, offering everyone food for thought, which will hopefully give rise to new stories and opportunities for growth. Italy is the European country with the highest percentage of recycling of total waste, 79.4%, more than double the EU average (49%) and well above all other major European countries (France 66%, Germany 69%). Recycled waste (117 million tons) is used as material in construction/infrastructure (50% or 59 million tons) and manufacturing (33% or 39 million tons). Thanks to this component of material from the national waste cycle, plus materials from internal industrial recovery and imported materials, Italian industry has a circularity rate (the ratio between secondary materials from recycling and total primary and secondary materials used) of around 50%.
Furthermore, with 270.5 tons of materials used per million euros produced, a figure almost half what it was ten years ago and much lower than that of Germany (333.9), we are the most efficient of the large EU countries in terms of material consumption. Recycling, the circular economy and the use of renewable materials are also key to achieving energy-saving and CO2 reduction targets.
Ermete Realacci, President of Symbola Foundation commented, “Italy can make a significant contribution to the climate crisis challenge in many sectors in which it is already a leader, starting with the circular economy. We are the European country with the highest recycling rate of 79.4% of total waste, which is more than double the EU average and well above all other major European countries: Because of this, we save 23 million tons of oil equivalent per year and around 63 million tons of CO₂ equivalents. Raw material shortages have necessitated the use of the renewable and non-polluting energy resource of human intelligence. We have thus built a more efficient system: scrap from Brescia, rags from Prato, paper from Lucca reused, not as the result of a law, but as a response to a need. The one hundred companies in this dossier explain why, as the Assisi Manifesto states, 'courageously tackling the climate crisis is not only necessary but is a great opportunity to make our economy and our society more people-friendly and thereby more capable of facing the future'".
Francesco Starace, General Manager and CEO of Enel agreed, “The story of Made in Italy excellence continues together with the Symbola Foundation. It is made up of companies, research centres and associations that are working on a daily basis to reduce waste and pollution in production processes, researching and designing durable, reusable, repairable or recyclable products, seeking new harmony between beauty and sustainability. By applying the principles of the circular economy, different supply chains are connected in a process of industrial symbiosis, where waste from one company, or one sector, becomes a raw material for another; a decisive approach to tackling the climate crisis while at the same time increasing competitiveness, generating trade and economic opportunities, as well as environmental and social benefits.”
The research focused on different business sectors, selected in terms of their importance in the national economy and taking into account the strategic role some of them are given by European policies on environmental sustainability. These one hundred companies tell of a Made in Italy that looks to quality and innovation in a circular way: from agri-food to fashion, packaging to mechanics, wood furniture to construction and finance, electronics to chemicals. The search for material and energy efficiency is common to most of the companies surveyed, something that has direct effects on costs, productivity and therefore competition. There are many solutions that look to maintain the quality of materials at the end of the product's life cycle and those that use renewable inputs from recovery and recycling processes. But innovation also begins at the design stage, with eco-design approaches aimed at extending the useful life of products, looking at new patterns of consumption.
The selection of the 100 companies was based on the desire to find examples that could represent the five different pillars for each business sector, although this was not always possible, as some business models lend themselves better to be implemented in certain sectors than in others. In addition, to give the most complete overview of the current situation possible, the report also highlights cases that are not associated with any pillar but which, in relation to the specific activity described, can be recognized as "enablers" or "accelerators" of the circular economy.
Here are some examples: ecological panels made from 100% post-consumer wood (Gruppo Saviola); furniture made from post-consumer or recyclable materials and designed to be easily disassembled at the end of its life (Arper); e-commerce websites specializing in clothing, shoes and accessory rental (DressYouCan); digital platforms dedicated to sharing materials, machinery and construction equipment (Edilmag); innovative technologies for mechanical and chemical waste recycling (NextChem); non-profit companies dedicated to developing projects, strategies and disseminating knowledge about the circular economy (Tondo): these are just some of the many stories illustrated in the book. These pages outline the shape of an Italy which is at the forefront in this area, one which rewards quality, innovation and environmental sustainability. The stories included should act as a stimulus for the wider dissemination and replication of best practices, while at the same time, giving a clear and concrete insight into what the circular economy actually is.