Renewable Matter # 28 / July-August

New Life to Plastic and Industry 4.0. A Boost for the Circular Economy

by Rudi Bressa

A European benchmark for the circular economy, this year Ecomondo will give a new boost to research and innovation. The green economy, an inescapable solution that in Italy will create 500,000 jobs by 2023.

 

The green revolution has already started: that of the circular economy, innovative recovery of materials and solutions to problems plaguing our planet. This is what Ecomondo has been narrating, showing and putting forward over the years. This year’s edition – Rimini 2019 from the 5th-8th November – will host 1,300 exhibitors from 30 countries and visitors from 150 nations. But that’s not all, the programme includes 150 lectures with a thousand speakers and experts, besides the usual States General of the Green Economy promoted by the National Council for the Green Economy in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Economic Development. “Each year, we get ideas and draw inspiration from the previous edition and from the needs of our customers to whom we ask accurate questions to prepare a product meeting market needs,” says Alessandra Astolfi, Group Brand Manager of the Italian Exhibition Group’s Green and Technology Department. “For instance, this year, we will broaden our services and experiences in lesser known aspects of the circular economy, such as the wine production chain that will attend this year’s edition. Or the sector of new organic materials for new packaging, materials and consumer goods.”

The event has always welcomed European and National institutions within its scientific committee and has always made connections between businesses, decision makers and legislators in a virtuous and constructive dialogue. “Ecomondo,” continues Astolfi, “is attended by ministers, undersecretaries, MPs, members of the European Commission and the institutional delegations of other countries that are all here for four days to meet many businesses, take part in numerous lectures, understand and focus on current problems, and get information on the most critical topics that offer most opportunities to come up with solutions. This is a distinctive characteristic of our job.”

 

 

For an Informed Management of Omnipresent Plastic

It can no longer be postponed. Public opinion is demanding it, not just national and European regulations. Sustainable management of plastic is a hot and undelayable issue. “Plastic issues will be dealt with extensively. On the one hand, recycling and development of plastic recovery and valorisation technology, on the other new and increasingly sophisticated materials,” highlights Astolfi. This is the bioeconomy, currently booming, that has been present at Ecomonodo since it was a niche or experimental topic. Today it is boosting innovation and Italian companies are world leaders in the field of compostable and biodegradable bioplastics offering a chance to rethink this product’s entire life cycle.

 

Industry 4.0 to Optimise Waste Management and Use

One of Ecomondo’s key topics, one of a multitude developed each year. A sector where renovating, following new trends and using currently available solutions such as blockchain in waste traceability is paramount. “Industry 4.0 is also that of new urban solid waste collection systems running on low impact fuels,” explains Astolfi. Or, for instance, life cycle analysis of products and the possibility to trace each product’s path thanks to sensors that transmit data for processing and cloud sharing. An instrument to optimise the whole network and promote an integrated approach to material flows along waste management and valorisation chains. 

 

 

An Increasingly Sustainable Exhibition

And then we come to the sustainability of big events. “Our exhibition area from its very construction has embraced sustainability. Our new car parks have been covered with solar panels producing renewable energy that we feed to the grid,” continues Rimini’s Exhibition Centre Brand Manager. “We are also very committed to reducing single-use plastic, even though we are taking it in steps.” Obviously, mobility is a big issue, the event attracts 100,000 people over 4 days. “We have strengthened our recharge grid for electric vehicles. In this case, those using electric vehicles do not pay for parking. Moreover, we have increased the number of trains, since more than 25% of visitors use this means of transport,” states Astolfi. Our goal, in collaboration with Rimini’s Public Administration, is to have an underground system connecting Rimini with the exhibition hub in order to decongest the whole area, reduce emissions and thus the impacts of what is currently an international benchmark for the circular economy. 

 

Ecomondo, www.ecomondo.com

Stati Generali della Green Economy, www.statigenerali.org

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