• 19 May 2022

    The construction sector in the CE era

    The speech by Riccardo Gulli, Professor of the Department of Architecture at the University of Bologna, during the Hacking the City event held in April 2021, focused on circularity in the construction sector and the relationships that come into play considering the housing and engineering aspect, the material reuse, the usage of raw materials and secondary raw materials. The speech focus was on: Rebuild to Regenerate. Rebuild to regenerate is a model by which they intend to develop various activities that relate to the broader theme of circular economy and sustainability regarding its adaptation to existing cities. In particular, Gulli and his team are studying this model applied to the city of Bologna and specifically it’s suburbs. In Italy, Gulli said, 40% of the housing stock we have today was developed in 2000 years, meanwhile, only in the last 50-70 years almost 60 percent of what is found in Italian urban scenarios was built. This means, that in much less time more has been accomplished than what has been done in almost 2000 years. In Italy, there are about 30 million houses and 12 million buildings of which more than 70% are residential. This is a very significant impact on the overall buildings in Italy. Most of this heritage was built between ‘1945 and ‘1990s, the period of expansion in construction, especially the post-war reconstruction, which was often without rules, as many laws were enacted and enforced only later with a comprehensive regulatory framework that covered not only urban planning aspects, but construction aspects as well. In the second half of the 1990s, the apparatus which is still present today had its own comprehensive codification, which includes the performance point of view, thus with regard to safety and standards for life. All this means that most of the built capital...
  • 12 May 2022

    A Biomimetic Future

    Ehab Sayed, Founder and Director of Innovation at Biohm as well as board member of Fast Forward 2030 and PhD researcher at Northumbria University, introduced his speech at Re-think Circular Economy Milan held last February, mentioning how the recent hard times were actually a great time for climate awareness and action. Reflections upon these topics brought Sayed to consider taking action in order to reverse human’s impact on the environment by actually bearing as an example the world we live in. According to him, nothing can demonstrate regeneration better than the natural world, and that is why taking a biomimetic approach could be a good solution for the future. Whilst people lived once their lives as part of a natural world, the world people built for themselves is marked by a form of extraction and consumption and has been shaped by stories and approaches prioritising economic values. Current habitats are predicted to grow by a further 40% in the next few decades and it is arguable that this growth will be supported by wasteful practices that will keep pushing the world’s limits far beyond their boundaries. Sayed then cited the construction industries as one of the largest contributors to the climate crisis, as much as food production waste contributes to wealth inequality all around the world. To solve these issues and make the world a better place, he suggested taking biological systems and ecological laws as the driving force of our current economy.   This introduced the activity they do at Biohm, a multi-awarded research-and-development-led company that is driving a bio revolution in the built environment and the way they do business. In Biohm, they offer bio-based materials which can be used in the building fabric and interiors as well as wastewater treatment and construction systems, which direct buildings and a...
  • Ilaria Giannoccaro, associate professor at Politecnico of Bari, during the section dedicated to circular ports at the first edition of the Re-think Circular Economy Forum in Taranto last September, began her speech by emphasising the role of ports as accelerators of a circular economy and their importance in the context of circular economic development. Ports represent a unique opportunity to pursue objectives not only of environmental sustainability, but also of an economic and social nature, contributing to the growth of business competitiveness and job creation.   The circular economy in ports passes through the application of the so-called ‘R’ strategies: transforming waste into resources, exploiting product life extension and giving priority to regenerative resources. In the first case, Prof. Giannoccaro refers to the creation of value through energy recovery, recycling and industrial symbiosis, in the second case she refers to the strategies of disassembly and remanufacturing, repair and reuse, as well as product rethinking strategies with a view to pay-per-use and finally, reduction strategies, to be applied in the design phase and use of recyclable materials.    The centrality of ports for the circular economy is evident in the light of the huge flows of materials (raw materials, components and waste) that pass through them, but not only that. Ports are not only places of transports and logistics activities, but also of industrial activities with high energy requirements and responsible, together with the urban areas in which they are located, for the production of huge quantities of waste. In this respect, ports are often base to waste treatment, collection and disposal facilities, as well as numerous other economic activities that are part of the so-called Blue Economy (shipbuilding, offshore wind energy production, fishing and aquaculture).    Recently, a European research project called LOOP Ports aimed to identify the different circular economy strategies adopted...
  • 28 April 2022

    Successori Reda

    Ercole Botto, CEO of Successori Reda, presented this reality and its approach to circularity during the presentation event of the Circular Threads report last June. Reda is a leading company in the textile sector, began Botto, that feels the responsibility to promote change through sustainable innovation, respect for the environment and social progress in order to ensure a future to next generations.  When it comes to sustainability, Reda embraces several concepts, including transparency, which, as Botto said during his speech, is essential in order to be sustainable. The company is also located in a manufacturing sector that, for economic reasons, had already to apply the principles of circularity to its fibres. For example, during the processing of wool, the first by-product generated in the first step of combing is fat, which is then used as a base in the beauty creams of all the brands in the sector.   Reda’s journey began, continued Botto, somehow in a reckless manner, as they approached this sector when they were already grown up, and it was only through the growing literature on sustainability that they became increasingly aware of the new possibilities and the fact that textiles are the second most polluting sector in the world because they are also the one that wastes the most.   Even the company itself had to learn this: in 2004 it received its first certification for sustainability, and from then until 2018-2019 it was unable to sell its products because they were sustainable products. There were no brands buying from them because they were sustainable and therefore still difficult to justify on the market compared to other similar products.  However, the world has finally started to change and move towards more sustainable and circular purchases. In recent years, the company has also started to certify its products with LCA...
  • 21 April 2022

    The bioeconomy of waste

    Isabella Pisano, Researcher at University of Bari, during her speech at the Re-think Circular Economy Forum in Taranto last September, presented some case studies and scenarios of what is defined as the “circular bioeconomy“, the good “biotech” practices that she follows in the laboratories and then, through a SWOT analysis, she saw the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities but also threats of that certain practice.    She began by defining the circular bioeconomy as an emerging knowledge-based business model for the development of products and processes based on renewable biological resources. The challenge of the bio-economy is to increasingly replace fossil fuels, and therefore it addresses a bio-based market for the production of new bio-products, ranging from food, energy, plastics, textiles to the chemical industry. For several years, researcher Pisano has been carrying out the study and implementation of various organic waste close to our territory with a view to its valorisation.     Are we really talking about waste and refuse, or are we still talking about resources?  Starting with an overview of the organic waste agenda that she has been working on, there are for example, waste from the dairy chain such as whey, which is highly developed in our area and whose production in Europe is around 90 million tonnes per year, and of which 40% is considered special waste under current legislation; lignocellulosic biomass, such as pruning waste, which is very often burned by small farmers, albeit in small quantities, or perennial herbaceous species that are found in marginal areas but could be fully exploited, while they are still considered waste, and the olive oil sector, which is also very present in the Mediterranean territories and for which, in accordance with the law, olive oil vegetation water can be disposed of by spreading it on the land. However, there are still...
  • 14 April 2022

    Flexibility can bring circularity?

    “A Circular Economy entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources and designing waste out of the system. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural and social capital”.  Starting from this quote from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Simon Bushell, Founder and CEO at Sympower, during his speech at Re-think Circular Economy Forum Milan 2020, illustrated how flexibility, such as demand response, contributes to a circular economy. To do so, he started by explaining the functioning of electricity systems.  In these systems, demand and supply of electricity always need to be balanced. In each country, the electricity grid operators are responsible for keeping this balance. In Italy, the grid operator at the national level is Terna, while at the local level we have other actors such as Unareti (Milan) and Areti (Rome).   Maintaining the grid balance can be challenging. For example, the UK often experiences fast and high peaks of electricity demand at half time during football matches, when millions of people simultaneously turn on kettles to boil water to make tea. This sudden peak in electricity demand is equivalent to turning on two entire coal-fired power plants and, at the moment, this is exactly where this electricity comes from in the UK. This is an incredibly inefficient, expensive and polluting way to address demand peaks because these plants then always have to be on standby for such moments. As more renewable energy of intermittent nature (such as sun and wind) replace traditional sources of energy, this becomes a growing concern due to the increasing mismatch between demand and supply of electricity from renewable generation. This transition to renewable energy resources is also accompanied by a transition to electrical transport and mobility, making the demand for electricity even more variable.  To achieve...
  • 7 April 2022

    EU: opportunities and challenges

    Roberto Zoboli, Rector’s Delegate for Scientific Research and Sustainability at Università Cattolica, Milano, for his speech at the Re-think Circular Economy Forum held in 2020 talked about the general architecture of the European Green Deal identifying different areas of actions: the decarbonization and zero pollution area, the bio economy area – from Farm to Fork to preserve European natural capital and biodiversity, and the transition to a Circular Economy area.  These areas, he started, can be considered separately but also in a NEXUS approach, which is used by international organizations and think-thanks to study the interactions between the different areas of reality and policies. All these interactions can be in synergy but also in conflict over the different processes and policies. For instance, the circular economy can save bio resources by using biowaste as input such as in green chemistry. In the case of decarbonisation, the biomass-based RES (energy/biofuels) can create possible pressures over virgin bioresources especially after the strong support on renewable energy sources in Europe. Finally, the circular economy can provide waste-based feedstocks for RES, reducing the demand for virgin bioresources. The acknowledgement of these interactions can be beneficial for policy integrations and for the achievement of the European Green Deal (EGD) objectives avoiding potential conflicts.  At the European level, in the NEXUS the focus is on biomaterials. Knowing that there is a great amount of residues in production (442 mt/year), there is a large potential that is partly unexploited but, in some cases, there is a high demand pressure on some sectors like wood residues. Looking at the biomaterials flows in the European Union it is possible to notice that these resources are not used properly, a large part of materials are wasted or used in low-value processes:  The energy use is about 72% of total uses and...
  • 31 March 2022

    CE status in Italy

    To present the lights, the shadows and the development prospects of the Circular Economy (CE) in Italy during his speech at Hacking the City last year, Davide Chiaroni, Professor of Strategy and Marketing at the Politecnico di Milano, co-founder and deputy director of the Energy & Strategy Observatory, used the results of their observatory on the Circular Economy. The observatory started in 2020 and with it they investigated how widespread the CE really is in our country. One of the first myths they would like to dispel, he continued, is the equation between CE and the recycling economy that people have become accustomed to, but that actually detracts from the true scope of the CE itself. In order to understand how much circularity is really being implemented and therefore, how much products and services are being rethought and redesigned, they decided to investigate three Italian marco-sectors: construction, automotive and industrial plants engineering.   Zooming on the construction sector, for instance, they saw that about 75% of the sample they interviewed had already adopted at least one circular practice and only 6% of the total had not adopted any practices yet and had no intention of adopting them in the future, while there was a 6% who had not yet adopted one but with the intention to in the coming years. Consequently, apart from this percentage of absolute sceptics, the Italian industrial and construction system is very well prepared. However, there is still a long way to go. When, during their analysis, they asked companies to identify their perception of their own distribution with respect to CE, so at what point in the development of circularity they think they have arrived on a scale from 1 to 5, many companies acknowledged that they are halfway along the circular transition. About 58% of...
  • 24 March 2022

    Ideology for the energy transition

    The Re-think Circular Economy Forum organised in Taranto on the 28th and the 29th of September saw the participation of numerous speakers, including Vito Albino, professor of engineering-economic management at the Politecnico di Bari, who discussed the energy transition between technology and ideology.     The choice of addressing the issue of energy transition by looking not only at technological aspects but also at ideological ones, the professor began, is based on the observation that industrial transitions are complex phenomena and require in-depth understanding.     The idea is that energy transition cannot be reduced exclusively to a question of technological change. It also requires ideological change. Hence, technology is a component of the transition, but the role of ideologies must also be considered.     The European Green Deal offers an interesting example in this direction. It is an important political action that is strongly supported by the development and adoption of new technologies. However, it is useful to reflect on what happened a few years ago when, for the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh in 2009, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) tried to convince the major G20 countries that the best way to respond to the economic crisis was to respond to the already looming environmental crisis. Very interesting studies were carried out and brought to the attention of the G20, including a proposal for a ‘Global Green New Deal‘. This initiative had negligible effects because the proposed change offered potential technological options that governments should have made their own. These choices respond to logics that go beyond the strictly technological ones.    At the moment, the European Union, proposing the European Green Deal programme, will reasonably have to consider aspects not only related to technological change, but also to the emergence of new ideologies that can enable the necessary industrial transitions. Industrial...
  • 17 March 2022

    The evolution of circular fashion

    Last June, in occasion of the Circular Threads report release, we organised a presentation event with experts from the fashion and textile sector, including Giusy Cannone, CEO of Fashion Technology Accelerator. This accelerator was created to support innovative start-ups within the fashion industry. During her speech, Giusy Cannone talked about some possible applications, innovative case studies that seek to make the process and value chain of fashion more sustainable.   First of all, bith the fashion and the textile industry, she started, uses mainly non-renewable resources usually derived from oil, and synthetic fibres, chemicals and toxic products especially in the dyeing and the finishing phases. Moreover, this sector has a low rate use of the garments, sometimes a maximum of 5-6 times, and has a complicated relationship with recycling activities, which is still not enough widespread. Although at the moment the numbers are not reassuring and there is still a lot to do, there are many stakeholders who, through different steps, can make the fashion industry genuinely more circular.   Zooming on what innovation entrepreneurs, also called innovators, do they start from the input, since fabric is not the only important step in the fashion value chain, but it has a significant impact. In this respect, one of the solutions that has already been developed is fabric derived from recycled materials. For instance, recycled polyester, a fabric that is derived from recycled plastic and then reconstituted into polyester fibres. This operation can save around 59% energy compared to virgin polyester.   Moreover, widely used is also the recycled nylon, a product resulting from activities such as fishing. The well-known company Econyl has done an enormous amount of work to bring this solution to market. Even in the luxury segment, recycled nylon is beginning to be introduced, which can significantly save real resources and reduce oil...
  • 10 March 2022

    CE in the Mediterranean Sea

    During the Hacking the City event organised last April, we had the pleasure to host several speakers including Professor Francesca Pirlone and Researcher Ilenia Spadaro from the University of Genoa. Their speech focused on the role of the Circular Economy in the Mediterranean Sea and in particular on the Port-5R project for the creation of circular port-cities.    Numerous projects related to sustainable waste management have taken place for about 10 years, such as the Active project, the Med 3 R up to the Port 5-R project which ended in 2021. The projects revealed an upheaval in the concept of waste, which is now considered as a resource to be exploited, and the transition to a circular economy that aims to close the cycle, through recycling and the logic of the R, and with the objective of strengthening, growing and promoting sustainability while also generating new forms of employment. Waste therefore becomes a resource for sustainable growth, for the promotion of an economy and smart redevelopment of the city, also improving its quality of life.     How did it go from a circular economy to a circular city? Starting from the 2015 Paris COP and largely with the United Nations 2030 Agenda, where 17 common goals were identified to ensure sustainable development. In particular, in the eleventh, it is the city itself that is placed as the main character of the circular transition, as they are also becoming increasingly populated. In 1900, only 2 out of 10 people lived in cities, but by 2050 it is expected that 7 out of 10 people will live there. Cities are great centres of consumption, from food to materials to climate-changing gases. Unfortunately, they are also great centres of inefficiency, for example, private vehicles idle for 90% of their time and offices are switched off...
  • The speech by Riccardo Gulli, Professor of the Department of Architecture at the University of Bologna, during the Hacking the City event held in April 2021, focused on circularity in the construction sector and the relationships that come into play considering the housing and engineering aspect, the material reuse, the usage of raw materials and secondary raw materials. The speech focus was on: Rebuild to Regenerate. Rebuild to regenerate is a model by which they intend to develop various activities that relate to the broader theme of circular economy and sustainability regarding its adaptation to existing cities. In particular, Gulli and his team are studying this model applied to the city of Bologna and specifically it’s suburbs. In Italy, Gulli said, 40% of the housing stock we have today was developed in 2000 years, meanwhile, only in the last 50-70 years almost 60 percent of what is found in Italian urban scenarios was built. This means, that in much less time more has been accomplished than what has been done in almost 2000 years. In Italy, there are about 30 million houses and 12 million buildings of which more than 70% are residential. This is a very significant impact on the overall buildings in Italy. Most of this heritage was built between ‘1945 and ‘1990s, the period of expansion in construction, especially the post-war reconstruction, which was often without rules, as many laws were enacted and enforced only later with a comprehensive regulatory framework that covered not only urban planning aspects, but construction aspects as well. In the second half of the 1990s, the apparatus which is still present today had its own comprehensive codification, which includes the performance point of view, thus with regard to safety and standards for life. All this means that most of the built capital...
  • 12 May 2022

    A Biomimetic Future

    Ehab Sayed, Founder and Director of Innovation at Biohm as well as board member of Fast Forward 2030 and PhD researcher at Northumbria University, introduced his speech at Re-think Circular Economy Milan held last February, mentioning how the recent hard times were actually a great time for climate awareness and action. Reflections upon these topics brought Sayed to consider taking action in order to reverse human’s impact on the environment by actually bearing as an example the world we live in. According to him, nothing can demonstrate regeneration better than the natural world, and that is why taking a biomimetic approach could be a good solution for the future. Whilst people lived once their lives as part of a natural world, the world people built for themselves is marked by a form of extraction and consumption and has been shaped by stories and approaches prioritising economic values. Current habitats are predicted to grow by a further 40% in the next few decades and it is arguable that this growth will be supported by wasteful practices that will keep pushing the world’s limits far beyond their boundaries. Sayed then cited the construction industries as one of the largest contributors to the climate crisis, as much as food production waste contributes to wealth inequality all around the world. To solve these issues and make the world a better place, he suggested taking biological systems and ecological laws as the driving force of our current economy.   This introduced the activity they do at Biohm, a multi-awarded research-and-development-led company that is driving a bio revolution in the built environment and the way they do business. In Biohm, they offer bio-based materials which can be used in the building fabric and interiors as well as wastewater treatment and construction systems, which direct buildings and a...
  • Ilaria Giannoccaro, associate professor at Politecnico of Bari, during the section dedicated to circular ports at the first edition of the Re-think Circular Economy Forum in Taranto last September, began her speech by emphasising the role of ports as accelerators of a circular economy and their importance in the context of circular economic development. Ports represent a unique opportunity to pursue objectives not only of environmental sustainability, but also of an economic and social nature, contributing to the growth of business competitiveness and job creation.   The circular economy in ports passes through the application of the so-called ‘R’ strategies: transforming waste into resources, exploiting product life extension and giving priority to regenerative resources. In the first case, Prof. Giannoccaro refers to the creation of value through energy recovery, recycling and industrial symbiosis, in the second case she refers to the strategies of disassembly and remanufacturing, repair and reuse, as well as product rethinking strategies with a view to pay-per-use and finally, reduction strategies, to be applied in the design phase and use of recyclable materials.    The centrality of ports for the circular economy is evident in the light of the huge flows of materials (raw materials, components and waste) that pass through them, but not only that. Ports are not only places of transports and logistics activities, but also of industrial activities with high energy requirements and responsible, together with the urban areas in which they are located, for the production of huge quantities of waste. In this respect, ports are often base to waste treatment, collection and disposal facilities, as well as numerous other economic activities that are part of the so-called Blue Economy (shipbuilding, offshore wind energy production, fishing and aquaculture).    Recently, a European research project called LOOP Ports aimed to identify the different circular economy strategies adopted...
  • 28 April 2022

    Successori Reda

    Ercole Botto, CEO of Successori Reda, presented this reality and its approach to circularity during the presentation event of the Circular Threads report last June. Reda is a leading company in the textile sector, began Botto, that feels the responsibility to promote change through sustainable innovation, respect for the environment and social progress in order to ensure a future to next generations.  When it comes to sustainability, Reda embraces several concepts, including transparency, which, as Botto said during his speech, is essential in order to be sustainable. The company is also located in a manufacturing sector that, for economic reasons, had already to apply the principles of circularity to its fibres. For example, during the processing of wool, the first by-product generated in the first step of combing is fat, which is then used as a base in the beauty creams of all the brands in the sector.   Reda’s journey began, continued Botto, somehow in a reckless manner, as they approached this sector when they were already grown up, and it was only through the growing literature on sustainability that they became increasingly aware of the new possibilities and the fact that textiles are the second most polluting sector in the world because they are also the one that wastes the most.   Even the company itself had to learn this: in 2004 it received its first certification for sustainability, and from then until 2018-2019 it was unable to sell its products because they were sustainable products. There were no brands buying from them because they were sustainable and therefore still difficult to justify on the market compared to other similar products.  However, the world has finally started to change and move towards more sustainable and circular purchases. In recent years, the company has also started to certify its products with LCA...
  • 21 April 2022

    The bioeconomy of waste

    Isabella Pisano, Researcher at University of Bari, during her speech at the Re-think Circular Economy Forum in Taranto last September, presented some case studies and scenarios of what is defined as the “circular bioeconomy“, the good “biotech” practices that she follows in the laboratories and then, through a SWOT analysis, she saw the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities but also threats of that certain practice.    She began by defining the circular bioeconomy as an emerging knowledge-based business model for the development of products and processes based on renewable biological resources. The challenge of the bio-economy is to increasingly replace fossil fuels, and therefore it addresses a bio-based market for the production of new bio-products, ranging from food, energy, plastics, textiles to the chemical industry. For several years, researcher Pisano has been carrying out the study and implementation of various organic waste close to our territory with a view to its valorisation.     Are we really talking about waste and refuse, or are we still talking about resources?  Starting with an overview of the organic waste agenda that she has been working on, there are for example, waste from the dairy chain such as whey, which is highly developed in our area and whose production in Europe is around 90 million tonnes per year, and of which 40% is considered special waste under current legislation; lignocellulosic biomass, such as pruning waste, which is very often burned by small farmers, albeit in small quantities, or perennial herbaceous species that are found in marginal areas but could be fully exploited, while they are still considered waste, and the olive oil sector, which is also very present in the Mediterranean territories and for which, in accordance with the law, olive oil vegetation water can be disposed of by spreading it on the land. However, there are still...
  • “A Circular Economy entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources and designing waste out of the system. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural and social capital”.  Starting from this quote from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Simon Bushell, Founder and CEO at Sympower, during his speech at Re-think Circular Economy Forum Milan 2020, illustrated how flexibility, such as demand response, contributes to a circular economy. To do so, he started by explaining the functioning of electricity systems.  In these systems, demand and supply of electricity always need to be balanced. In each country, the electricity grid operators are responsible for keeping this balance. In Italy, the grid operator at the national level is Terna, while at the local level we have other actors such as Unareti (Milan) and Areti (Rome).   Maintaining the grid balance can be challenging. For example, the UK often experiences fast and high peaks of electricity demand at half time during football matches, when millions of people simultaneously turn on kettles to boil water to make tea. This sudden peak in electricity demand is equivalent to turning on two entire coal-fired power plants and, at the moment, this is exactly where this electricity comes from in the UK. This is an incredibly inefficient, expensive and polluting way to address demand peaks because these plants then always have to be on standby for such moments. As more renewable energy of intermittent nature (such as sun and wind) replace traditional sources of energy, this becomes a growing concern due to the increasing mismatch between demand and supply of electricity from renewable generation. This transition to renewable energy resources is also accompanied by a transition to electrical transport and mobility, making the demand for electricity even more variable.  To achieve...
  • Roberto Zoboli, Rector’s Delegate for Scientific Research and Sustainability at Università Cattolica, Milano, for his speech at the Re-think Circular Economy Forum held in 2020 talked about the general architecture of the European Green Deal identifying different areas of actions: the decarbonization and zero pollution area, the bio economy area – from Farm to Fork to preserve European natural capital and biodiversity, and the transition to a Circular Economy area.  These areas, he started, can be considered separately but also in a NEXUS approach, which is used by international organizations and think-thanks to study the interactions between the different areas of reality and policies. All these interactions can be in synergy but also in conflict over the different processes and policies. For instance, the circular economy can save bio resources by using biowaste as input such as in green chemistry. In the case of decarbonisation, the biomass-based RES (energy/biofuels) can create possible pressures over virgin bioresources especially after the strong support on renewable energy sources in Europe. Finally, the circular economy can provide waste-based feedstocks for RES, reducing the demand for virgin bioresources. The acknowledgement of these interactions can be beneficial for policy integrations and for the achievement of the European Green Deal (EGD) objectives avoiding potential conflicts.  At the European level, in the NEXUS the focus is on biomaterials. Knowing that there is a great amount of residues in production (442 mt/year), there is a large potential that is partly unexploited but, in some cases, there is a high demand pressure on some sectors like wood residues. Looking at the biomaterials flows in the European Union it is possible to notice that these resources are not used properly, a large part of materials are wasted or used in low-value processes:  The energy use is about 72% of total uses and...
  • 31 March 2022

    CE status in Italy

    To present the lights, the shadows and the development prospects of the Circular Economy (CE) in Italy during his speech at Hacking the City last year, Davide Chiaroni, Professor of Strategy and Marketing at the Politecnico di Milano, co-founder and deputy director of the Energy & Strategy Observatory, used the results of their observatory on the Circular Economy. The observatory started in 2020 and with it they investigated how widespread the CE really is in our country. One of the first myths they would like to dispel, he continued, is the equation between CE and the recycling economy that people have become accustomed to, but that actually detracts from the true scope of the CE itself. In order to understand how much circularity is really being implemented and therefore, how much products and services are being rethought and redesigned, they decided to investigate three Italian marco-sectors: construction, automotive and industrial plants engineering.   Zooming on the construction sector, for instance, they saw that about 75% of the sample they interviewed had already adopted at least one circular practice and only 6% of the total had not adopted any practices yet and had no intention of adopting them in the future, while there was a 6% who had not yet adopted one but with the intention to in the coming years. Consequently, apart from this percentage of absolute sceptics, the Italian industrial and construction system is very well prepared. However, there is still a long way to go. When, during their analysis, they asked companies to identify their perception of their own distribution with respect to CE, so at what point in the development of circularity they think they have arrived on a scale from 1 to 5, many companies acknowledged that they are halfway along the circular transition. About 58% of...
  • The Re-think Circular Economy Forum organised in Taranto on the 28th and the 29th of September saw the participation of numerous speakers, including Vito Albino, professor of engineering-economic management at the Politecnico di Bari, who discussed the energy transition between technology and ideology.     The choice of addressing the issue of energy transition by looking not only at technological aspects but also at ideological ones, the professor began, is based on the observation that industrial transitions are complex phenomena and require in-depth understanding.     The idea is that energy transition cannot be reduced exclusively to a question of technological change. It also requires ideological change. Hence, technology is a component of the transition, but the role of ideologies must also be considered.     The European Green Deal offers an interesting example in this direction. It is an important political action that is strongly supported by the development and adoption of new technologies. However, it is useful to reflect on what happened a few years ago when, for the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh in 2009, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) tried to convince the major G20 countries that the best way to respond to the economic crisis was to respond to the already looming environmental crisis. Very interesting studies were carried out and brought to the attention of the G20, including a proposal for a ‘Global Green New Deal‘. This initiative had negligible effects because the proposed change offered potential technological options that governments should have made their own. These choices respond to logics that go beyond the strictly technological ones.    At the moment, the European Union, proposing the European Green Deal programme, will reasonably have to consider aspects not only related to technological change, but also to the emergence of new ideologies that can enable the necessary industrial transitions. Industrial...
  • 17 March 2022

    The evolution of circular fashion

    Last June, in occasion of the Circular Threads report release, we organised a presentation event with experts from the fashion and textile sector, including Giusy Cannone, CEO of Fashion Technology Accelerator. This accelerator was created to support innovative start-ups within the fashion industry. During her speech, Giusy Cannone talked about some possible applications, innovative case studies that seek to make the process and value chain of fashion more sustainable.   First of all, bith the fashion and the textile industry, she started, uses mainly non-renewable resources usually derived from oil, and synthetic fibres, chemicals and toxic products especially in the dyeing and the finishing phases. Moreover, this sector has a low rate use of the garments, sometimes a maximum of 5-6 times, and has a complicated relationship with recycling activities, which is still not enough widespread. Although at the moment the numbers are not reassuring and there is still a lot to do, there are many stakeholders who, through different steps, can make the fashion industry genuinely more circular.   Zooming on what innovation entrepreneurs, also called innovators, do they start from the input, since fabric is not the only important step in the fashion value chain, but it has a significant impact. In this respect, one of the solutions that has already been developed is fabric derived from recycled materials. For instance, recycled polyester, a fabric that is derived from recycled plastic and then reconstituted into polyester fibres. This operation can save around 59% energy compared to virgin polyester.   Moreover, widely used is also the recycled nylon, a product resulting from activities such as fishing. The well-known company Econyl has done an enormous amount of work to bring this solution to market. Even in the luxury segment, recycled nylon is beginning to be introduced, which can significantly save real resources and reduce oil...
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