Circular economy

Italy of Recycling: all the numbers of Italian circular economy

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Presentation of the report by FISE UNIRE and Sustainable Development Foundation, with the partnership of Recycling Point.

Over 15 million tons of waste paper, glass, plastic, wood, and organic materials were transformed in 10.6 million tons of new raw materials in 2015. These are the accomplishments of Italian circular economy presented in “Italy of Reycling”, the annual survey promoted and realized by FISE UNIRE (the association that represents recycling companies) and the Sustainable Development Foundation, in partnership with Recycling Point.

The report was presented in Rome on December 13th and shows that the Italian waste recycling industry is experiencing constant growth. The recycling of packaging materials has grown by 5%: 8.2 million tons in 2015 against 7.8 in 2014 and 7.6 in 2013. All recycling sectors demonstrated good growth levels, with the exception of aluminium: the tons of recycled aluminium decreased by 1% and the production-recycling ratio decreased by 4%. The recycling sector achieved overall excellent results with materials such as paper (80%), steel (73.4%), glass (71%) and aluminium (70%). The highest growth rates were recorded with plastic (+10%) and wood (+5%).

Good news also from end-of-life tyres and organic waste: both fields recorded a recycling increase of 5% compared to 2014. The collection of waste electric and electronic equipment exceeded the minimum target of 4 kg/inhabitant per year, intercepting 41% of all sold products. The collection rate, however, is still far from satisfying the newest targets. The reusing and recycling rate of old vehicles touched 83% of the total weight of the vehicles, still far from the 95% target.

“The report testifies for Italy’s considerable progress in the recycling field – said Andrea Futtero, the new president of UNIRE – It is a virtuous and dynamic sector, although we still have a long way to go to achieve a full circularity of resources. To achieve this goal, we need to face and solve issues that we have been pushing off. Above all, we need clear, certain, and stable rules; an overall simplification of the recycling sector; a clearer definition of the consortium system, which needs to leave space for the free market; the problem of exports; and the need to develop research and technological innovation. We must work on these points if we want to grow further: if we don’t, it won’t be easy to improve our results from an economic and environmental point of view”.

“The efficient use of energy and raw materials is indispensable for the preservation of the environment as well as for economic competitiveness – added Edo Ronchi, president of the Sustainable Development Foundation – We need to produce less waste and recycle as much as possible. Italian enterprises are an example of excellence at the European level with a 72% special waste recycling rate. We want to achieve similar rates also with the recycling of urban waste (currently 43%), following the positive examples of packaging recycling (67% production-recycling ratio). These goals necessitate specific measures to help some Southern Italy regions catch up with the national level, and a greater attention to industrial recycling chains, which play a strategic role”.

In this year’s edition, “Italy of Recycling” focuses in particular on circular economy and on the amount of waste effectively processed by secondary raw material centers. The analysis considers in particular the so-called “typical” waste, namely paper, glass, plastic, wood, and organic waste (from both urban and special waste). The total production of secondary raw material amounts to 10.6 million tons in 2014, a 2% growth compared to the previous year.

For what concerns paper, about 50% of the total input for the production of secondary raw material is constituted by packaging waste, followed by domestic waste (over 40%). In the case of glass, the influence of packaging waste is even greater (about 60% of the total input), while about 35% comes from other kinds of waste (not packaging and not domestic waste). In the case of plastic, packaging and typical waste contribute equally. Concerning wood, almost 75% of the total input consists of other typical waste. On the contrary, over 85% of organic waste comes from domestic waste.

The report can be downloaded from the website of UNIRE (under “Pubblicazioni” in the public area) and from


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