CONAI presents its first sustainability report

18 November 2016

The Sustainability Report 2013 by the National Packaging Consortium is both the first Green Economy Report in Italy and the first Report to meet the new international standards set by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI-G4).

The first CONAI Sustainability Report was presented today in Rome by President of CONAI Roberto De Santis and Edo Ronchi, President of the Foundation for sustainable development. Present at the meeting were Barbara Degani, Undersecretary of the Ministry of the Environment and the Protection of the Land and Sea, Aldo Di Biagio, Vice President of the Land, Environment, Environmental Assets Commission for the Senate of the Republic and Massimo Beccarello, Vice Director of Policies for Development, Energy and the Environment at Confindustria. The CONAI report applies the international standards of the latest generation of Global Reporting Initiative(GRI-G4): the direct involvement of stakeholders identified six indicators believed to be key to defining CONAI’s environmental, social and economic performance. In addition, the Report was conducted using a radical change of perspective, i.e. report performances at three different functional levels: the organisation level (impact of the activities, offices and employees), the system level (activities connected to the system of COMIECO, CIAL, COREPLA, COREVE, RILEGNO, RICREA consortiums) and, finally, the recycling industry level (the players in the packaging recycling sector, including independent suppliers). The “Green Economy Report” was created in collaboration with Fondazione per lo Sviluppo Sostenibile and signed by CONAI, the largest consortium in Europe with 1.1 million associated companies. IN 15 YEARS WE HAVE AVOIDED: THE CONSTRUCTION OF AT LEAST 100 LANDFILLS, THE CONSUMPTION OF 350 MILLION KWH AND THE EMISSION OF 125 MILLION TONNES OF CO2 INTO THE ATMOSPHERE. Over 15 years of activity, the amount of packaging ending up in landfill has reduced from over two thirds to less than a quarter; recovery has increased from 33% to 76.4%, preventing the construction of at least 100 landfills. In 2012 8.6 million tonnes of packaging waste were recovered. Since 2004 CONAI has surpassed the target set by the European legislation in relation to recovery and in 2012 the recycling chain released 7.5 million tonnes of raw material deriving from packaging waste back into the production cycle. The target of recycling 55% of waste by 2008 was met in 2005 and reached 67% in 2012. In terms of recycling percentages, plastic packaging reached 37%, wood 55%, aluminium 59%, glass over 70%, steel 75% and paper 85%. In terms of the recycling of packaging waste, forecasts for 2015 predict an annual average growth rate of about 1.5% with the objective of recycling 7.7 million tonnes of packaging waste for a total of 67.4%. Over 15 years, packaging recycling has saved 350 billion kwH, a value higher than the total annual demand for energy in Italy. Likewise, 125 million tonnes of CO2 emissions have been avoided. INVEST 1 AND GET 3 TIMES THE PROFIT: FROM 1997 TO THE PRESENT DAY, FOR EACH EURO INVESTED IN THE CONAI SYSTEM THE NATIONAL SYSTEM HAS SEEN PROFITS OF 3 EUROS. According to research commissioned to Althesys, the 4.1 billion euros invested by syndicated companies in the recovery of packaging in six materials has produced 15.2 billion euros of profits for the country: 5.3 billion savings in disposal costs, 1.5 billion in CO2 emission costs and 535 million in prevention while 2.4 billion was made from secondary raw materials recovered through separate waste collection and 5.4 billion through the collection and recovery chain. The cost-benefit analysis presents an estimated 4.1 billion euros in costs and 15.2 billion in profits. The net balance is therefore about 11.1 billion euros, which is expected to grow over the next years owing to an increase in the volumes of materials collected in areas that are lagging behind and changes in the area of prevention in terms of packaging waste. SECONDARY RAW MATERIALS: -30 MILLION BARRELS OF PETROL, +300 MILLION TREES, -111 MILLION METRES CUBED OF WATER. AND MUCH MORE. From the perspective of “prevention” to reduce the environmental impact of packaging, CONAI has focused its activity on prevention in companies using the from cradle to cradle approach. The aim is to save raw materials, reuse packaging, use recycled materials, optimise logistics, facilitate recycling activities and simplify packaging. This has given considerable results. Plastic packaging (about 18% of total consumption in 2012) has seen the progressive reduction in its weight per unit by up to 50% for PET bottle while the percentage of material recycled has jumped from 10 to 30%. The weight of glass packaging (19% of the total) has also been reduced by 20-30%. And there has been a similar result for paper (38% of the total): the weight of corrugated cardboard, for instance, has gone down by 7%. The weight of steel packaging (4%) has been reduced by 15% while an aluminium can now weighs 33% less. Not only has weight been reduced (at varying percentages depending on the use of the packaging), but waste is being reused and regenerated: in 2013 450 thousand wooden pallets were regenerated, representing over two thirds of wooden packaging in circulation. In addition, the release of secondary raw materials in the production cycle prevents the consumption of virgin materials. The recycling system has enabled almost 30 million barrels of petrol to be saved, prevented 300 million trees being felled , saved 1.5 million tonnes of sand, and prevented the consumption of 43 million tonnes of iron and 1,775 tonnes of bauxite. As well as 111 million metres cubed of water in 2012 alone. EMPLOYMENT GROWS. In terms of employment, there are currently 1,400 Made in Italy recycling companies turning over 9.5 billion euros. In the recycling industry, the consortium system has generated economic activity worth 6.3 billion euros from the employment created (separate waste collection, launching the system, logistics, selection and recycling packaging). There are an estimated 150,000 staff working in waste management: in 2012 at least 160,000 new collection and recycling jobs were created in addition to the staff (about 21,000) working in the recycling industry downstream of consortium activities. The collection and recycling of packaging waste employs about 37,000 people, more than double that of 2003. THE SUSTAINABILITY OF THE ORGANISATION: 6 INDICATORS TO MEASURE CONAI PERFORMANCE. Six indicators have been analysed to evaluate the environmental, economic and social impacts of CONAI: waste production, emission of greenhouse gases, creation of income and employment, supporting disadvantaged communities, gender and the involvement of local communities. Between 2010 and 2012 the organisation reduced the amount of waste it produces by 29%. Likewise CO2 emissions went down by 21% owing to reduced energy consumption and using trains rather than planes for work trips. In 2012 the economic value generated directly by CONAI, used for the purposes outlined in the Consortium mission, amounts to 47.5 million euros. Between 2010 and 2012 over 3 million euros were spent in public charitable projects.