CONAI: the recycling chain proves itself to be an important sector for the country’s economy and competitiveness

18 November 2016

In Italy the economic results generated by packaging recycling amount to 10 billion euros a year, half of which are due to consortium management. Today the Meeting of Consortium Partners appointed the new BoD of the Consortium that will hold office for the next three years. Milan, 17th April 2014 – In 2013 the CONAI system proved itself once again to be a critical player for both safeguarding the environment and due to its industrial chain spanning from collection, to treatment through to valuing packaging waste, as shown in the Report about CONAI’s (National Packaging Consortium) management and budget. And all this, in spite of the economic crisis which has had a significant effect on he sector. According to preliminary data from 2013, consumption (which is strongly linked to economic dynamics and the uncertainty characterising the period) is in line with that recorded last year, reaching 11.4 million tonnes. The total recovery of steel, aluminium, paper, wood, plastic and glass packaging has grown by 1.3% since last year, reaching 76.7% of consumption, equal to 8.74 million tonnes of packaging recovered in comparison to the 11,392,000 tonnes consumed. Total recycling was at 66.5% of consumption, a slight increase on the previous year. The management of packaging waste in accordance with ANCI-CONAI (+3.3% compared with 2012) saw a steep rise, with a total of 3.37 million tonnes managed directly. The largest increase was recorded for the plastic chain (+10.9% compared with 2012), mostly due to the growth of volumes in southern-central Italy. Over 7000 municipalities are served by the conventions, involving over 57 million citizens, equal to 90% of the population. In order to continue guaranteeing the development of separate waste and the recycling of packaging materials across the country, ANCI and CONAI have recently reached an understanding in the Framework Programme Agreement that will, from 1/4/14 to 31/3/19, regulate the extent of compensation to be distributed to partner municipalities for the “higher costs” incurred due to separate waste collection. The Agreement sets an important target: to improve the quality of separate collection, an essential condition if higher volumes are to be recycled. Theeconomic benefits of recycling materials managed by the CONAI system, in spite of the crisis and the contraction of consumption, continue to grow: in over 15 years about 1,100 new companies have been established to manage the packaging collection and selection phases; 42,000 employees work in the sector, including those working in the recycling phase. It is estimated, that the benefits of recycling packaging equate to about 10 billion euros a year, about half of which is due to the consortium managed CONAI system. The benefits stem from avoiding imports of virgin raw materials, increasing the quantity of recycled materials for export, reducing energy consumption in the production process through the use of secondary raw materials as well as virgin raw materials, and the creation of economic activity connected to the different phases of the collection-valuing packaging waste chain. As such the chain has become a strategic activity – in which CONAI plays a central role – for the economy and the competitiveness of our country. “The development of this sector and the driving role it plays for the economy must take into account the European objective of 50% recycled material before 2020,” declared Roberto De Santis, CONAI President. “To reach this goal while at the same time increasing competitiveness, we need to move towards a more industrialised waste management chain, starting with consolidating the sector to obtain economies of scale, then increasing investment in infrastructure and waste management plants and finally distributing them at a regional level through the development of innovation and research into technologies to treat and recycle materials”. In a view to support innovation and changes capable of making packaging more eco-compatible, an agreement was signed with the CNR, the National Research Council, to develop research programmes to improve recycling technologies with a total investment of 800,00 euros over two years from the Consortium. In addition to collaborating with the CNR, CONAI will fund other university and institution research projects with the aim of improving recyclability and the quantities of plastic, glass and steel recycled. On the 31st December 2013, CONAI counted 1,090,053 members compared with 1,261,099 in 2012. The decrease is mostly due to the exclusion of members that did not formalise the termination of their activity with CONAI. What’s more, such as to protect fair competition between companies and to guarantee sufficient financial resources are brought into the system – and thus enabling packaging waste recycling and recovery targets to be met – over the course of 2013 actions aimed at combatting the evasion and avoidance of fees have been intensified. Finally, today, at the annual Consortium Meeting, the new BoD was appointed which will remain in office for the next three years.