“Seventeen thousand tons of waste represents an opportunity”

22 April 2015

Walter Fadel, the Director of CONAI, explains how packaging and organic matter produced during the EXPO event will be disposed of

Gloria Riva – Repubblica.it

Milan – Over six months Expo will produce 17 million tons of waste, nearly 70 tons a day, with peak amounts of 130 tons on the weekends. This is a lot of waste, especially in light of the fact that on average, Italian citizens produce around 500 kilograms per year. Who will be handling the waste produced by Expo? It will be Conai, the National Packaging Consortium, in partnership with Amsa, the company that manages waste disposal for the city of Milan. Thanks to Conai, in Italy the amount of packaging (composed of six elements: paper, glass, plastic, wood, aluminium and steel) ending up in the landfill has gone from 70% to less than 25%, and the recovered waste from 33% to more than 75%. Conai, a nonprofit company, works based on the contributions provided by thousands of manufacturing companies and packaging users associated with the consortium, a network for creating lines of communication in the packaging sector: on the one side, the companies that collect the waste separated by Italian citizens, on the other, the clients who purchase the materials to be recycled, giving new life to aluminium cans, glass and paper. Conai sits in the middle, collecting the material through 6 sub-consortiums. “This is a system that will also be extended to Expo,” explained Walter Facciotto, the Director of the consortium. “And to do so we are trying to involve everyone working at the exposition, as well as all the visitors.” In fact, careful separation of waste is paramount for successful recycling of packaging. Conai will be creating informational panels and materials (in English and Italian) to explain where and how to throw away waste. “The objective is to recycle 70% of the total waste, to be reused thanks to the consortium, also by transforming organic waste into compost.” An environmental counter will be installed along the main street of Expo, measuring the economic and social benefits of proper waste management. The display will show visitors the quantities of waste not going to the landfill, the reduction in CO2 emissions, how much of the materials tossed into the waste bins could be reused, as well as water/energy savings. The consortium will also manage an interactive game installed in the Children’s Park, short video clips, and an interactive exhibition with 30 benches made with recycled materials. “Sustaining the planet does not only mean protecting the environment,” says Facciotto, “but also activating new economic initiatives and business opportunities. In 15 years of business, the Consortium has generated 15.2 billion Euros of overall benefits in Italy, and today 37 thousand employees are working in the packaging waste treatment cycle and recycling industry.” There are 1,400 companies that make up the Made in Italy recycling chain, which have generated 9.5 billion Euros in turnover and another 6.3 billion Euros of economic activity, resulting in more employment opportunities (collection of separated waste, logistics, selection and recycling of packaging materials). If in 1998 33% of packaging materials on the market were reused, today 77% is recovered, or 3 packages out of 4. This translates into 100 less landfills built, as well as a savings of 125 million tons of CO2 emissions and 350 billion kilowatts of power. In economic terms, the resale of materials for recycling earned municipalities approximately 400 million Euros. Even so, the road ahead for Italy is still long: “Today 55% of the trash that we produce winds up in the landfill, while we could actually recycle three quarters of what we throw into the waste bin,” explains the Director of the consortium. (…)
Source: Repubblica.it