Case Studies

Making innovation: describes products, industrial processes, disrupting technologies, major success stories and new applications

# 16 - 2017 May

Fashion, Cannibals and Forks

by Marco Ricchetti

Focus Fashion   Over the past 15 years, an increasingly greater amount of clothing has been consumed across the world: we have gone from around 8 kg of... [read more]

Jeans for Rent

by Antonella Ilaria Totaro

Focus Fashion   New materials and business models, innovative, sustainable design and constant investments into research and development can rid fashion of... [read more]

Rethinking the Function of the Fridge

by Freija van Holsteijn

Every year, European households bin 84 million tonnes of food. Better food preservation can help cut waste and reduce at the same time energy consumption and environmental impact. But... [read more]

DS Smith: The Power of Less

by Ilaria N. Brambilla

Focus Paper   15 billion boxes produced every year, 5.4 million tonnes of paper, plastic, and other materials recovered and reused in the production... [read more]

Symbiosis & Innovation

by Sergio Ferraris

Focus Paper   The circular economy is beginning to change production supply chains in a radical way, moving, in the case of paper, innovation’s... [read more]

Good Fibre Packaging

by Rudi Bressa

Focus Paper   A new wood-based material could soon replace plastic in carrier bags and other flexible packaging. PAPTIC is made of renewable raw-materials,... [read more]

From Sheets to Packaging to Newspapers

by Rudi Bressa

Focus Paper   Currently, in Europe, 71% (57% worldwide) of paper is recycled. It is made producing half the carbon emissions compared to 1990 and using raw... [read more]

The Double Life of Peach and Apricot Kernels

by Silvia Zamboni

Road gritting from the salt used for meat processing, biscuits from apricot kernels. The region of Emilia Romagna was the first in Italy to draw up a list of by-products that can be... [read more]

# 15 - 2017 March

Paper and Cardboard Become Smart

by Marco Gisotti Letizia Palmisano

Focus Packaging vs Food waste   Innovation in the paper packaging sector can contribute to combating food waste. With active packaging that interacts with... [read more]

How Cans Have Changed

by Marco Gisotti Letizia Palmisano

Focus Packaging vs Food Waste   Cans, tins, and trays: the thousand faces of aluminium packaging. A material allowing constant evolution.... [read more]

Steel: A Safe of Nature

by Marco Gisotti Letizia Palmisano

Focus Packaging vs Food Waste   From tins used during the Crimean War to family bags, innovative fashionable containers to carry leftovers. Each year in... [read more]

Water Resilience

by Emanuele Bompan

Spills, breakdowns, rising water tables and even cyber attacks. In order to manage such occurrences the EU asks to set up resilience strategies for water infrastructure. Gruppo CAP is... [read more]

# 14 - 2017 January

Vietnam Opens Up to the Circular Economy

by Dinh Thao Hoa

One of the 10 most polluted countries in the world, Hanoi looks at the circular economy to combine growth and environmental protection,... [read more]

Now it is Southern Italy's Chance

by Rudi Bressa

While in North and Central Italy sorted waste collection of paper and cardboard remains substantially unvaried, the South has great development and growth potential. COMIECO has... [read more]

# 13 - 2016 November

Not Renewable, but Everlasting

by Marco Gisotti

Focus Permanent Materials   “Nothing is created, nothing is destroyed, everything is transformed.” The old Lavoisier’s postulate is ever... [read more]

The Secret of Steel

by Marco Gisotti

Focus Permanent Materials   An old invention that has changed history of mankind, steel is still a fundamental resource in our economy as demonstrated by... [read more]

5,000 Years of Transparency

by Letizia Palmisano

Focus Permanent Materials   Glass has been used for 5 millennia, but only now has started benefitting from a precise calculation of the economic and... [read more]

Circular Economy Showing off

by Marco Moro

Creating a free frame of an inherently fast moving phenomenon: this is the challenge that Ecomondo 2016 tried to overcome. With an exhibition.  ... [read more]

Filling up at the Treatment Plant!

by Rudi Bressa

The first filling up station offering methane produced by sewerage waste of Milan’s metropolitan area has been opened in Bresso. It could produce 341,640 kilograms of biomethane... [read more]

That Treasure Inside a Little Grain

by Ilaria N. Brambilla

In order to produce a tonne of white rice, 1.3 tonnes of straw, 200 kilos of chaff and 70 of bran are generated. These are not waste but, rather, resources for realising products for... [read more]

# 12 - 2016 September

Sugar is Better than Oil

by Emanuele Bompan

The newly opened industrial plant in Bottrighe will produce 30,000 tonnes of bio-butanediol a year. It will be produced without using a single drop of oil, thanks to a bacterium which... [read more]

The Unburnable Carbon Bubble

Interview with Mark Campanale

edited by Diego Tavazziinterview with Mark Campanale

Mark Campanale is an investment professional working in sustainable finance since 1989, in investment management and corporate finance. His two major independent projects, the Social Stock... [read more]

From Waste to Green Building

by Rudi Bressa

This is the story of a company – the only one in Europe – that created a whole supply chain starting from residues of incinerators, generating a new product: a renewable... [read more]

Oil Draws a Perfect Circle

by Marco Moro

Italy has achieved excellent results in the management of used mineral oils. This case shows the importance of a product’s environmental certification in promoting environmental... [read more]

A Journey Where Matter is for Good

by Sergio Ferraris

Disposing of a ceramic cup in a glass recycling bank. Or using non-compostable plastic bags to collect biowaste. Citizens make many mistakes when it comes to separate collection. The... [read more]

Artificial and Safe

by Emanuele Bompan

In the past many warnings had been raised about the healthiness of synthetic turf utilizing recycled rubber from used tyres. A recent study conducted over 70 different samples has... [read more]

Intersecting Supply Chains

by Sergio Ferraris

From waste to protagonist, beans that did not pass the test are used to produce packing paper, to package more beans. An innovative process stemming from a dialogue between the... [read more]

Mission 99% Accomplished

by Marco Gisotti

In Italy, COOU collects 43% of used oils and regenerates more than 99% of them. These spectacular results have been made possible by the businesses’ investments in innovative... [read more]

More Recycling on the Web

by Sergio Ferraris

In Italy, 20 million people buy online. Not only airline tickets and holidays but real objects as well. How to rethink e-commerce packaging to make it more sustainable aiming at... [read more]

# 11 - 2016 July

The Concrete Way

by Roberto Rizzo

Concrete road paving may last up to 50 years. It is 100% recyclable, safer and, in the long run, cheaper. But Italy still prefers bitumen. ... [read more]

Bioenergy Integrated in the Bio-based Economy is Needed to Meet Climate Targets

by Maurizio Cocchi

In order to keep the increase of Earth’s temperature within 2 °C we should not release more than 1,000 billion tonnes of carbon. Since we have already reached 730, immediate... [read more]

Ecomondo Regenerates Itself with the Circular Economy

Interview with Alessandra Astolfi

edited by Ilaria N. Brambillainterview with Alessandra Astolfi

The Rimini Trade Fair celebrates its twentieth anniversary by joining the twin event Key Energy to offer a meeting point for the international economic and sustainabilities... [read more]

# 10 - 2016 May

How to Preserve Value in Waste Management

by Simonetta Tunesi

Planning waste management is a complex problem requiring appropriate approaches able to go beyond partial visions. The first step in preserving waste value is identifying and... [read more]

Aluminium letters

by Marco Moro

Circularity’s ways are infinite. In Milan, an event showing how aluminium is taking up a new life, in the hands of master calligraphers.  ... [read more]

Water Boundaries

by Emanuele Bompan

Over the next 15 years, global demand for water could exceed supply by 40%. In order to guarantee the availability of such resource, fragmentation and lack of coordination amongst... [read more]

Pulses are Circular

by Sergio Ferraris

Those who think the circular economy is a hindrance to companies are proved wrong by Gruppo Pedon’s results. Here is how to marry value production with environmental and social... [read more]

Earthworms vs. Ecomafia

by Antonio Pergolizzi

In a province where less than 10% of waste is separated at source, some little red worms will snatch waste from criminal modus operandi, thus turning what is a cost into a resource and... [read more]

Circulab, the Circular Economy Business Game

by Brieuc Saffré

Here is a game, with its own board, that can help a company plan its own virtuous business model. It stimulates creativity and innovation, relying on cooperation instead of... [read more]

Who Said Flies are Useless?

by Ilaria N. Brambilla

How to produce fish feeds using flies farmed with fruit and vegetable waste. A piece of research carried out by the University of Insubria on the possibility to use insects to recycle... [read more]

Follow that Waste!

by Sergio Ferraris

In order to enter the manufacturing circle, secondary raw materials must simply match – qualitatively and quantitatively – raw materials. Certification is the main way to... [read more]

# 09 - 2016 March

When Luxury Goes Hand in Hand with Sustainability

by Sergio Ferraris

Focus on Wine   Not just residues of citrus, coffee, kiwi, maize and hazelnuts. Now grape pomace too becomes part of the... [read more]

Repairing Your Teeth with a Bunch of Barbera

by Rudi Bressa

Focus on Wine   New products for surgery, orthopaedics and cosmetics are manufactured from wine marc and grape seeds. An... [read more]

DeVine Land

by Sergio Ferraris

Focus on Wine   How to advertise and promote the excellence of a territory and its product – wine – with... [read more]

Tyres Galore

by Emanuele Bompan

Milan-New York, there and back: this is the distance that – if placed in a row – the tyres recovered each year by Ecopneus would cover. 59% is transformed in new materials... [read more]

Fuels: The Battle of Cement Factories

by Roberto Rizzo

For many environmentalists using waste in cement manufacturing plants means moving away from Target Zero Waste. While – according to AITEC – the use of secondary solid... [read more]

27 Million Messages

by Roberto Giovannini

On a cruise liner, about 4 million cans are consumed every year. Since 2007, 27 millions have been recovered, the equivalent of 334 tons of aluminium. But more can be done: the second... [read more]

In Italy Glass Generates 1.4 Billion Euros

by Marco Gisotti

In Europe, production and recycling employ 125,000 people. In Italy, 77% of glass packaging is recovered and the 3 million tons of unused raw material save 316 million cubic metres of... [read more]

Successful Granules

by Marco Gisotti

Thanks to its efficient and widespread supply chain, Tuscany recycles 95% of waste from separate collection, thus giving new life to plastics, aluminium, steel, glass, and... [read more]

The Village of Materials

Interview with Emilio Genovesi

edited by Marco Morointerview with Emilio Genovesi

How is our relationship with innovative materials and new technologies changing? Increasingly focusing on the value of sustainability. ... [read more]

# 08 - 2016 January

Cars: Design's Love Affair with New Materials

by Marco Capellini

Bamboo, cork, flax, wool and wood. But also tomato skins. These are just some of the materials that car manufacturers are experimenting with to make cars more efficient, lighter and to... [read more]

The Budding Bioeconomy

by Giorgio Lonardi

Separate waste collection of coffee grounds used as fertilizers for vegetable gardens and flowers. Degraded areas transformed into vegetable gardens thanks to virtuous practices.... [read more]

# 06-07 - 2015 October

Metamorphosis of a Consortium in a Changing Waste Economy

by Paolo Tomasi

Over the last 30 years, the ability to face changes has resulted in the collection of more than 5 million tonnes of used oil, the regeneration of 2.5 million tonnes of base oil,... [read more]

How to Turn a Plastic Cup into a Scooter

by Roberto Rizzo

In just 45 minutes, plasmix is transformed into granules used in the building industry, scooter and electric vehicle components. Recycling mixed plastics rather than dispatching them... [read more]

The Future of Lego Bricks is Bio-Based

by Mario Bonaccorso

An environmental about-face for the world’s largest toy manufacturer. Forsaking its partnership with Shell, the Lego Group now wants to reduce its environmental impact and use... [read more]

How Circular Is Circular?

by Marco Capellini

The extremely rapid spread of this term calls for the adjustment of instruments enabling companies and users to provide and receive effective information on the “circular”... [read more]

Pushing the Limits of Technology, Recognizing the Limits of Natural Resources

Interview with Catia Bastioli

edited by Mario Bonaccorsointerview with Catia Bastioli

Technology can make a difference in the attempt to overcome the culture of waste. The initiatives of the Fondazione Cariplo to support research in the fields of the bioeconomy and... [read more]

A Question of Fibre

by Sergio Ferraris

Paper production involves recycling as well as considering other materials. For instance, if you are now reading us on paper, you are holding leather. ... [read more]

Paper: Sustainability Enters the Production Cycle

by Sergio Ferraris

How to combine product quality, process flexibility and sustainability. Cutting costs and energy consumption. An example of how to redesign the whole production... [read more]

We Recyle Oil

by Emanuele Bompan

Recycling and upcycling waste require a supply chain, in which collection is often the weak link. In Italy one of the industrialization models of collecting and transforming waste... [read more]

700 for the Bioeconomy

Interview with Nathalie Moll

edited by Mario Bonaccorsointerview with Nathalie Moll

European, national and local policies, technological innovation, industrial projects and research programmes. All these topics will be discussed at the European Forum on industrial... [read more]

# 5 - 2015 August

How to Turn an Old Sofa into Biofuel

by Mario Bonaccorso

A Dutch initiative explores methods on how to use solid urban waste to produce liquid biofuels and biochemicals.   [read more]

The Soil's Perspective

Sustainability Strategies for Resources and Communities: A New Pact for Agriculture

edited by Marco Morointerview with Luca Ruini

By only planting suitable varieties, adopting a good crop rotation and tilling the soil as a function of weather forecasts,... [read more]

Cardboard Beats Decay

by Sergio Ferraris

In Rione Sanità, a Naples’neighbourhood, every day 2.3 tonnes of cardboard are collected. An excellent result thanks not only to the collaboration between citizens and... [read more]

500 materials under the lens

by Marco Capellini

Every day we use goods which have an average life of a few minutes, but requiring resources needing millions of years to be regenerated. The renewability index relates the life cycle of... [read more]

Bioeconomy: The Virtuous Cooperation between National Cluster and Regions

edited by Cluster SPRING

A € 2 billion turnover, 22 million jobs, 9% of the total of EU’s employment: with these numbers, the Bioeconomy represents a unique opportunity for the sustainable... [read more]

Green Economy: Exporting Italian Know-How

by Giorgio Lonardi

We must firmly pursue an internationalisation strategy to get our green companies closer to foreign markets. The purpose is to put in contact countries rich in raw materials with our... [read more]

# 4 - 2015 June

$655 Million for Fairtrade Food

by Giorgio Lonardi

This is the amount allocated to food sustainability by the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, a coalition of 20 of the most important global... [read more]

The Bioeconomy Gets to the Fridge: Packaging is 100% Biobased

by Mario Bonaccorso

Food packaging becomes green too – with benefits for consumers, the environment and businesses. Northern European countries are leading the way, but big American companies like... [read more]

The Möbius Strip

by Sergio Ferraris

Italy ranks fourth in Europe for the use of recycled paper and is pushing waste collection based on the proximity principle: the average distance from the recycling plant is 17.3 km.... [read more]

Green Paper that Gives Agribusiness Waste a New Lease of Life

by Roberto Rizzo

When we were children we were told to eat up everything on our plates; wasting food was a big no-no. But perhaps our mothers did not worry about what happened to food before it reached our... [read more]

The Circular Economy at the Reach of Municipalities At Zero Cost

by Roberto Rizzo

Italian legislation is one of the most advanced in the world when it comes to waste oil management: it dictates that all available oils are to be regenerated. Today, in Italy, 30% of... [read more]

Made in Food Waste

by Marco Capellini

Eliminating food waste completely is certainly a difficult target to reach in the short term; however, there are more and more technological solutions to transform these residues into... [read more]

Water, Energy, Matter and Employment from End-of-life Tyres

edited by editorial staff

In 2014, the equivalent of 28 million car tyres was recovered. This prevented the emission of 344,000 tons of CO2 and generated a saving of 377,000 tons of mineral resources... [read more]

# 3 - 2015 April

Biofuels: The Aviation Industry Takes Off

by Emanuele Bompan

The aviation industry is over the moon because it is really looking forward to cutting emissions and going green. However, to avoid competing with food crops,... [read more]

Sardinia: An Alliance between Farmers and Green Chemistry Is Born

by Antonio Cianciullo

An agreement between Coldiretti (Italy’s National Farmers Federation) and Novamont has been signed. Abandoned marginal lands will be recovered for the production of... [read more]

Problem Solved: Tyres Soon to Become a Versatile Resource

by Giorgio Lonardi

Ecopneus is working hard to overcome all the bureaucratic obstacles that make recycling more difficult than incineration. Today less than a third of gathered end-of-life... [read more]

Distributed Generation Finally Hits the Bioplastics Production

by Roberto Rizzo

Developing a new production process for biodegradable bioplastics to be implemented on a small scale is Mycoplast’s (an Italian start-up) business... [read more]

The Po Valley: An Open Air Biorefinery

by Roberto Rizzo

Reconciling Research, enterprises and public authorities: Parco Tecnologico Padano focuses on food security, public health and the... [read more]

Biomaterials Come out on Top

'Biomaterials of the Year' Win an Award for Innovation

by Maurizio Quaranta

The award for the best Bio-based Material of the Year 2015 went to Desmodur® eco N, a coating material designed by Bayer MaterialScience, the German chemical... [read more]

Circular Design: Matter Exits No Man's land

by Emanuele Bompan

From cradle to cradle. Even design embraces the circular economy with interesting and aesthetically pleasing objects characterised by great attention to materials and their... [read more]

# 2 - 2015 February

The Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant

An Open-Innovation Pilot Plant for Bio-based Products and Processes

by Hendrik Waegeman

Creating biofuels from whiskey waste. This is just one of Bio Base Europe’s pilot plant (see Box), the first open innovation and training centre... [read more]

Net Gain: Fighting Ocean Pollution

Three American Entrepreneurs Fight Ocean Plastic Pollution by Upcycling Discarded Fishing Nets into Skateboards

by Nancy Averett

Ben Kneppers paused as he strolled around a music festival in Santiago, Chile. In front of him was a booth where local kids could repair damaged skateboards,... [read more]

Eco-Friendly Playing Fields

by Roberto Rizzo

There are those who play football to vent their stress built up at work, those wishing to emulate the exploits of TV champions and those who just enjoy their... [read more]

Agriculture's Second Green Life

by Sara Guerrini

Plastic materials are widely used in agriculture, to the point that they have become a distinctive feature of some landscapes. Greenhouse covers, mulching, nets,... [read more]

When Innovation and Recycling Go Hand in Hand

by Giorgio Lonardi

It is easy to recycle paper to produce other paper. Or plastic to obtain a different kind of plastic. But the game gets more interesting if the reuse of materials goes hand in... [read more]

Still Too Many Landfills, and They Will Only Last Two More Years

The Limits of Waste Management in Italy, a Sector Experiencing a Phase of Deep Change, Between Incoming EU Diktats and Prospects for Development

by Maurizio Quaranta

WAS – Waste Strategy, the think tank on waste and recycling of Althesys in collaboration with AMA, AMIU, HeraAmbiente, BASF, CIAL, CONAI, COREPLA, COMIECO,... [read more]

Glass Recycling Is km 0

by Marco Gisotti

Imagine drinking from a glass that was previously used by Salvador Dalì. Imagine that even before that the same container vessel was used to placate the... [read more]

# 1 - 2014 November

Urban Mine

by Emanuele Bompan

Milan has become an international leader in organic waste collection and recycling. Renewable Matter analyses how one of Italy’s most interesting projects was... [read more]

CO2: From Climate Killer to Resource

An Innovative Process for "Zero Emission" Methane Production

by Fabrizio Sibilla

Turning carbon dioxide (CO2) from polluting waste into a high added-value product by using microorganisms is what Krajete GmbH is doing, a young Austrian company operating in the... [read more]

Used Oil: 30 Years of Green Economy

by Roberto Coizet

It generated an economic value of about 3 billion euros. It prevented the emission of 1.1 million tons of greenhouse gases. It created thousands of jobs. It managed to reuse half of what... [read more]

Made and ReMade in Italy

by Roberto Rizzo

Suppose we wanted to buy a kitchen utensil, like a saucepan. At first glance, they all look the same: after all, for the purpose of cooking pasta or frittata, they all serve the same... [read more]

The Virtuous Circle of Regeneration

by Roberto Rizzo

Regenerating used oils may sound simple, almost artisan business, but in order to achieve this target with a high quality product and significant figures, three requirements –... [read more]

PLASTiCE Project: Promoting Sustainable Plastics in Central Europe

by Andrej Krzan

Polymer research has a long and rich tradition in Central Europe, where it has contributed to the development of polymer science and technology and has been a powerful supporting factor... [read more]

A New Frontier for Start-Ups

by Carlo Pesso

As the business of renewable matter expands across material streams, Giaura – an European Space Agency (ESA) spin-off based in Amsterdam – offers a highly innovative approach to... [read more]

From Recycling to High-End Products

by Marco Moro

Every time we throw a plastic bottle, a carrier bag, a net, a tub or a yogurt pot into a bin for separate waste collection, we take it for granted that packaging will be recycled and... [read more]