The benefits of recycling, the green driving force for the economy

20 May 2014

The data put forth in the Conai Sustainability Report highlight a virtuous sector that with initial spending of 4.1 billion Euros has recorded benefits totalling 15.2 billion Euros. There have also been positive impacts on the environment and employment Recycling pays off. With an initial cost of 1.4 billion Euros, benefits amounted to 15.2 billion. Faced with a challenging situation in the sector, with the record for European infractions, all objectives set forth by law were met. Faced with growing costs of raw materials, it was possible to save nearly 30 million barrels of oil, save 300 million trees, and prevent consumption of 43 million tons of iron. These are the data put forth in the Conai Sustainability Report. The Green Economy Report, drafted by the Foundation to promote sustainable development, took the overall economic and environmental impacts generated by the actions of the national packaging consortium into consideration for the very first time. And the result is that systematic incentivising of recycling had effects beyond strictly the areas of intervention of the Consortium, with a greater ranging influence on the national system. Here is a summary of the primary advantages: 100 less landfills. Over 15 years with the recovery system active, the amount of packaging disposed of in the landfill has gone from more than two thirds to less than one quarter; the recovered packaging (8.6 million in 2012) has grown by 33% to 76.4%. This means that the construction of at least 100 landfills was prevented. Energy saving and less polluting emissions Using recycled materials is much less expensive in terms of the energy required to use virgin raw materials. In 15 years the consumption of 350 billion kilowatts was prevented, a value greater than the comprehensive annual energy demand in Italy, meaning the emission of 125 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. 150 thousand jobs There are 1,400 recycling companies in Italy, with 9.5 billion Euros in turnover (the consortium system has generated economic benefits totalling 6.3 billion Euros). The total number of waste management employees is about 150 thousand, and the economic benefits from the collection and recycling system in 2012 included 16,000 new jobs, in addition to the workers (approximately 21 thousand) in the recycling industry downstream from the consortium activities. In addition, jobs have also doubled in the waste collection and packaging waste recycling sectors from 2003 to the present (the current level is 37 thousand jobs). Beyond European targets The objective set forth for 2008 (55% recycling) was reached by Conai in 2005, while in 2012 67% was reached, issuing 7.5 million tons of raw materials derived from packaging waste into the production cycle. The estimates for 2015 for recycling of packaging waste predict an annual growth rate of approximately 1.5%.   The overall benefits According to research commissioned by the company Althesys, for the 4.1 billion Euros of contributions paid by the consortium companies, recovery of packaging has produced 15.2 billion Euros in benefits for the country (the main factors are: prevented disposal costs of 5.3 billion; recovered materials for 2.4 billion; prevented costs of emissions of 1.5 billion; added value in the collection and recovery sector of 5.4 billion). Source: