New trends for circular materials

Marco Cappellini’s speech is focused on three themes: the production of new materials and their end-life management, the transition to “products as services” and the measurement of the circularity.

Trends in corporates

According to a report by OCSE, it is estimated that the number of used resources will double by 2060. In particular, this fact involves specific sectors, as the packaging and the fashion ones, that are promising the recycling and the creation of biomaterials starting from 2020/2030. However, there are no doubts about the possibilities of recycling, but there could be problems about who carry out the process: some corporates produce recyclable products, but they are not recycled. For this reason, it exists the idea that the circular economy is uneconomic: but this is not the truth because multiple international cases prove the contrary.

New business realities are proposing new custom materials.

Many of these start from the principle of being “biomaterials”, material that are easily biodegradable and, or, compostable; there are other recyclable materials that are recyclable only through very specific processes and methods. This is very worrying because, it is possible to order recyclable products, but it is very hard for consumers to manage the end-life of the products.

We can say that corporates have to play a more important role in managing the recycling of materials, for example, by creating a clause that specifies the end-life of the products in the patents.

Matrec’s example is about a material made of recycled rubber by PFU, that is a very useful material, but it is undervalued. The input is to add value to the material: Matrec worked for new solutions that can improve sound and heat insulation performance, but they are also working on three-dimensionality.

The aim is to increase the value of the materials on the market and to decrease or reset fees paid by people who have to change a tire: this is possible only if, after the end of life-cycle, these materials will be recycled by the producing industries, allowing the separation of the components.

In this sense, it is not true that doing Circular Economy is diseconomy, indeed, big international corporates are moving towards this direction by gaining great profit.

Photo by Matrec

Materials for rent

Another step in the right direction in the materials field is: “materials for rent”. This is a new trend that is visible in different sectors such as cars, toys, accessories: Ikea in Switzerland is launching itself on this market, renting timed furniture and then regaining it, repairing it and putting it back on the market as used furniture. The existing trends such as resource scarcity, world population growth and the increase in demand for goods and services will bring to the unavoidable use of materials for rent. That means that the consumer will receive from the firm goods that are provided ad a service, to hand back at the end of the same service. This is the reason why the durability of the raw material is so important.

As regards shoes, if you rent them, the rental fee must include the reparation, with annual and biannual contracts, that is useful, above all, for the replacement at an early age.

Shoes can be returned to the producer and this one can return them to the provider of the raw materials. 

The recovered materials could be used for a new production of shoes or other purposes.

There is a passage from goods to services, producers will be in the front line to recover used things for new consumers. The durability of the materials should be longer to affect the market and to connect to this new vision of the future.

Measurement of circularity

To understand how sustainable a product is, it is important to consider the economic efficiency in the resource use management, this last point of the presentation is focused on the measurement of the circularity, that is not the measurement of the efficient use of resources, but the measurement of the economy in the resource use management as input and output.

Confindustria’s analysis concerns different fields and exploit data to understand how circular business is.

The basis of these calculation systems is connected to the input and output, a calculation on what is taken and how much is returned in the material balance of the production process even in small or medium-sized businesses.

Italy is at the forefront of these issues: in public contracts, it has been requested a material budget concerning the production of luminaires. If they have a high recyclability rate, it’s possible to gain a higher score according to CAM, Minimum Environmental Criteria. This fact implies that it occurs to find new materials to obtain better performance in the material budget, by creating a small revolution and a series of wide-ranging beneficial effects. Corporates must understand that is possible to gain profit from materials that are considered at the end of their life, by applying a material calculation, corporates can obtain economic benefits.

Diapers are an example of Matrec’s contribution, it follows the flow in the economic and material circular process. The current system consists of the disposal of the diapers by paying a fee, while, through the recycling, management is possible to recover 97-98% of all the resources, it brings to the creation of a profit, compared to the sale of the materials from which diapers are made.

It could be necessary to underline the results of the Circular Economy, by indicating the quantity and the cost of the used material and the quantity, the cost and the revenue of the material managed during the end-of-life considering all the circle.

Social Share Buttons and Icons powered by Ultimatelysocial