Circular economy

Packaging, recycling record: 9 million tons in 2014

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CONAI data presented. Collection and recovery gave the Italian economy almost a billion euros.

Over 9 million tons of packaging recovered in Italy in 2014. A recycling activity that has avoided the consumption of 3.3 million tons of raw material, the equivalent of 1.2 billion three-quarter-litre glass bottles, 300 million A4 paper reams, 30 million wooden pallets, 8 million PET detergent bottles, 1 billion 33 cl aluminium cans and, with regards to steel, the equivalent in weight of 665 Frecciarossa trains. They are the impressive numbers presented by CONAI, the consortium for packaging recovery, in its annual update of the Sustainability Report.

The CONAI report, “Contenuti e contenitori” (Contents and containers), developed by the Foundation for Sustainable Development and updated to the years 2013 and 2014, covers the consortium’s activity on three levels: organization (activities, offices and employees impact), Consortia (COMIECO, CIAL, COREPLA, COREVE, RILEGNO, RICREA) and recycling industry (actors engaged in packaging recycling, including independent managers).

The amount of packaging waste (steel, aluminium, paper, wood, plastic and glass) recovered at national level in 2014, confirmed and strengthened previous data: 77% of that put on sale, for a total of 9.2 million tons. A result that goes far beyond minimum legal limits and shows a steady growth over the years: in 1998, the first year for CONAI, two packages out of three ended up in landfills; today only one out of ten.

Benefits achieved are not only positive for the environment, but also for the economy. In addition to avoiding the emission of more than 3.5 million tons of CO2, collection and recycling has enabled a primary energy saving of about 18 TWh. Direct benefits generated by the consortium system amounted to 891 million euros, thanks to the value of the generated raw material, the economic value of energy produced and the economic entry created by the industry. Add to this, another 102 million euros of indirect benefits which derive from the non-emission of CO2. The overall benefits are well above the costs incurred by the system, which in the same year amounted to 477 million euros, showing that the circular economy is not only possible, but worthwhile.

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