Renewable Matter # I-2 / Packaging in Circular Economy

Italian collectivesystems, an idea for the planet

by Emanuele Bompan

Tracing maps was considered a virtuous practice in the XV century. The best maps were adapted to the cartographer’s taste and corrected when new lands were found. Like in all other forms of craftsmanship, imitating good products wasn’t a flaw,it was in fact encouraged, looking for the best and most effective.

Naturally, maps were kept hidden since they were one of the main instruments of power, the punishment for those who stole them was death; these object were precious and often a state secret. In the XXI century, maps became totally public and open, just think about OpenStreetMap, that operates following the same concept as Wikipedia, with the objective of sharing knowledge to which anyone can contribute and everyone uses. 

The knowledge on collective systems must proceed in the same direction, just like all the good circular economy practices should be open-source and shared. Reinventing what was already designed, perfected and tested, showing its effectiveness is a perverse form of waste. Sharing knowledge and experience, i.e. the proposal of models, can inspire the United States or South-East Asia, China, Africa, which are still anchored to entirely private local systems, centred on waste collection (often not even separate). Italy can offer great examples of integrated systems, based on prevention, recovery and recycling, as shown by CONAI and the six consortiums dedicated to each one of the main materials used for packaging: steel, aluminium, paper, wood, plastic and glass. 

The recent plastic packaging waste import ban in China reopened a global reflection on the definition an adequate framework for separate waste collection and the implementation of circular economy. In very civil states like Oregon and Massachusetts tons of perfectly recyclable materials are sent to landfills, since there is no federal collection system like the one present in Italy. Even China struggles to find a system to increase the domestic separate collection quota, trying to use prize systems (tokens for the purchase of primary goods for those who carry out separate waste collection). The European Circular Economy Laws set the recycled packaging quota at 65% by 2025, and at 70% by 2030 (only 55% for plastic). This will be very simple for some member states. Others might use consortium collection systems as an inspiration, working with eco-designed material and the reduction on produced waste. 

This is what divulging the new CONAI sustainability report means for a magazine like Renewable Matter. Italian collection and consortium systems are the company’s answer to collective, environmental and health problems, in the respect of the directives and objectives fixed by competent and present politics. It could still be improved, of course. But meanwhile, these examples provide a map that can be copy, a map that is necessary to guide companies and citizens toward a different relationship with environmental resources.  

 

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