Circular economy

Paper and cardboard, 90 recycling facilities open to the public

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13th to 15th April, an initiative by Comieco: from waste to new product, the whole recycling chain made visible.

What happens to paper and cardboard after they are collected and sent for recycling? Find out with RicicloAperto, “Open Recycling”, a three-days initiative promoted all over Italy from 13th to 15th of April by Comieco (National Consortium for Recovery and Recycling of Cellulose Packaging). The event has come to its 15th edition and enjoys the support of the Federation of the paper and graphics production chain, Assocarta and Assografici, with the sponsoring of the Ministry of the Environment, Anci, Utilitalia, Unirima, Fise Assoambiente, and Fise Unire.

Over 90 recycling facilities will be opened to the public to show all phases of paper and cardboard recycling, from their selection on platforms to the actual recycling in paper mills, up to the transformation of the ex-waste into new products in paper processing factories.

This initiative aims at making citizens more active and more aware of the role they can play with waste sorting at home. Sorting paper and cardboard is the first step of a long process that gives new life to what is considered as waste. From trash bins, paper and cardboard are sent to the selection platforms of the pulping mill, where they are sorted by type and format.

In paper mills, these materials are transformed into new rolls of recycled paper. Then they are sent to paper processing factories, where they are processed to produce new packaging, new sheets, but also furnishing and design objects. After this process, the market system brings the former paper waste back to the houses of citizens, and the cycle ends, ready to start again.

“The ‘RicicloAperto’ initiative is a commendable way to make ‘on site’ environmental education – says Gian Luca Galletti, Ministry of the Environment and Protection of Land and Sea – Italian facilities of the paper production chain open their doors and offer schools the opportunity of guided tours, giving the children a chance to see with their own eyes how recycling can be useful, productive and respectful of the environment. The government is making great efforts with legislative measures and awareness raising initiatives to transmit this cultural message, and it is essential to constantly set up initiatives of this kind, that teach the younger generations about environmental best practices.”

According to Ignazio Capuano, head of Comieco, “Our country has always been poor in raw materials throughout history, and has always resorted to paper pulping. The paper sector has a natural vocation to circular economy, in which 55% of the raw materials come from secondary fibres. To date, Italy recycles 10 tons of paper per minute. After the iron and steel industry, the paper industry in Italy employs the highest quantities of secondary raw materials.”

The recycling facilities that open their doors to the public during the three days of the initiative are 96, among recycling platforms, paper mills, paper processing factories, and museums. 31 of these are located in Northern Italy, 18 are in the Centre and 44 are in the South. Moreover, numerous side events have been organized for the occasion in some of the participating facilities.

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