Month: July 2021

  • English Version Have you ever thought that spent coffee grounds could not be a waste, but a great resource?  Let’s start with some numbers. Italy imports annually around 606 thousand tonnes of coffee (this is 17% of the EU’s coffee imports), and on average an Italian consumes 6 kg of coffee annually. As we can see, Italy is a significant coffee consumer, which means that Italy produces a significant quantity of spent coffee grounds. Spent coffee grounds have a lot of qualities: in particular, they are rich in nitrogen, an element with a high potential for energy production, saturated fatty acids, and cellulose. They can be used in several industries as they can be used to produce cosmetics, compost, pellets, biofuels, etc.  While some industries do recognize the potential of spent coffee grounds, there are some innovative startups that truly went above and beyond. Coffeefrom uses this resource in a circular way, with a zero-waste approach.  Coffeefrom is an Italian company that was born in 2019, it is based in Milan and it brought an innovative, extremely versatile, and sustainable material of biological origin material on the market. This material is made using spent coffee grounds of industrial origin, in a truly sustainable and circular fashion. Coffeefrom is the second circular economy spin-off launched by a local cooperative, Il Giardinone Cooperativa Sociale. The first experience dates back to Expo 2015, when the team of Il Giardinone experimented with the recovery and transformation of coffee grounds from Lavazza bars, using them to cultivate fresh mushrooms. In 2016, FungoBox was launched: the kit allows for self-production of fresh mushrooms from urban coffee waste.  Over time, the know-how of Il Giardinone in the recovery and transformation of coffee by-products strengthened and a new entrepreneurial vision was born: this is how Coffeefrom first came...
  • English Version Cities are the first cause and at the same time victims of global warming, but can they be the first resource for fighting climate change? Stefano Boeri, President of Triennale Milano, was our guest during our Re-think Circular Economy Forum last October. He firmly believes that yes, a city could be the first resource for tackling climate change. He thinks of vegetation as an essential element of architecture and this is what makes his projects special.  He started his speech by highlighting how by 2030, 60% of the global population is projected to live in urban areas and that cities consume 75% of the world’s natural resources and account for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions. To avoid producing new CO2 and absorbing the emissions that already exist in the atmosphere, plants and trees are extremely efficient. His Urban Manifesto explains more about this. During our event, Stefano presented an innovative project Smart Forest City in Cancun, Mexico. He chose this city because, in this urban area, a Chinese company has already destroyed part of the mangroves forest in order to build a mall. The idea of Smart Forest City is the concept of Urban Forestry, to contrast deforestation. The main idea behind Smart Forest City is to create sustainable spaces and help the city to become self-sufficient. The city will host up to 130.000 people, it will have 5 or 6 epicenters around a series of University departments. It will be composed of more than 7 million trees and thousands of other plants. The most interesting part of the project is the buffer zone: the perimeter of this new city is composed of solar panels and a place for agricultural fields, where it will be possible to cultivate and produce part of the food for the...
  • 16 July 2021

    Circular Milan

    English Version Lucia Scopelliti, Head of Unit Economic Development at Municipality of Milan, was our guest during our Re-think Circular Economy Forum last October: She explained the actions undertaken by the city of Milan, with the aim to transform the production and consumption flows from linear to circular. Experiences on the circular economy at the city level show that cities have an active role as promoters, facilitators, and enablers of the transition. Cities can act as promoters on circular economy strategies, but they are also facilitators connecting stakeholders operating along the value chains, that are not necessarily used to collaborate with each other. Finally, cities are also key enablers since they provide the conditions for the circular economy to happen, setting up incentives, infrastructures, and mobilizing funds. As cities play a big role in public investment and procurement, subnational governments account for 60% of public investments in OECD countries. Cities can consider green infrastructures, nature-based solutions, and zero energy options. Cities are also laboratories for innovation that generate social and environmental benefits. Most importantly, they play a key role in the circular economy, given the responsibilities for local public services: transports, solid waste, water, and energy. In this sense, cities can really contribute to the circular approach, by developing a forward-looking vision and promoting synergies across all these sectors. Milan has taken a proactive approach on the circularity front, by joining several international organizations, like the Circular Economy 100 led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which also includes the cities of Toronto and London, leading Silicon Valley companies (Apple, Google), and high-profile European businesses (Ikea, Tetra Pak). Milan was welcomed to this program because of three still ongoing efforts. Firstly, the results achieved against food waste and the city’s commitment to creating shorter food chains according to the city Food Policy. Secondly,...
  • By Arianna Sica English Version The term Circular Economy appeared for the first time in Boulding’s article “The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth” in 1966, indicating a planned economic system for the reuse of materials in subsequent production cycles with the aim of reducing waste. Since then, this alternative model which aims to substitute the classic one, characterized by a linear production-consumption relation, has entered the discussions of the round tables of the Public and Private Sector, sometimes provoking forms of resistance to its implementation, fueled by individual and social cognitive biases. The footprint of Circular Economy Although the term was conceptualized only during the last century, circular practices such as Upcycling, Downcycling, and Zero Waste aimed at maximizing the value obtainable from resources can already be seen in ancient times. Through the numerous findings received in archaeological excavations, the footprints of the circular economy of the past are being outlined. The goal of these researches is to examine the know-how that cities of the past hold, so that a long-term perspective can help and inform today’s politicians and decision-makers. For example, while today we often discuss the sustainability of “Consumer Cities”, a large part of urban centers in the past was largely self-sufficient through recycling and reuse of resources. Rome In “Recycling and Reuse in the Rome Economy“, several types of materials that the Romans recycled are identified. In the building sector, there were workers involved in the demolition of buildings, and most of the recovered recycled material was presumably acquired from suppliers of building materials. Garments and other textile items that have been recovered from Roman sites feature patches, additions, and other types of repairs that involved the use of material apparently made from used fabrics/garments. Parts of used fabric were also regularly used as padding to...
  • 9 July 2021

    Giovani circolari: EVE1

    By Sofia Fisicaro ‘’Quando ero bambina mi chiedevo spesso come avessi potuto lasciare la mia impronta, contribuire al cambiamento, all’evoluzione, per un mondo migliore. Man mano che crescevo mi rendevo conto che la creatività, l’arte, in particolare la moda, potesse essere il mezzo con cui esprimere questa mia esigenza di trasformare e migliorare ciò che mi circondava. Così, durante una giornata di lockdown, ho capito finalmente come poter essere parte del cambiamento.’’ Mi chiamo Sofia, ho 21 anni, frequento il terzo anno di Fashion Design & Accessories, sono anche la creatrice e designer del brand genderless e sostenibile: EVE1. Durante il percorso di studi all’università, ho iniziato il percorso di avvicinamento al mondo della sostenibilità. Spinta dal desiderio di conoscere i lati “oscuri” del mondo della moda, ho cominciato a evidenziare quante crepe esistessero all’interno di questo sistema produttivo. A partire dall’eccesso di merce prodotta senza una reale necessità o gli sprechi di materiale che dopo qualche tempo venivano ammassati in un magazzino buio e dimenticato. Tutto ciò mi ha reso cosciente della necessità di creare un’alternativa sostenibile e circolare. Cominciando a scrivere la mia tesi di laurea, ho acquisito consapevolezza nel dettaglio dell’universo di sprechi che genera il mondo della moda, tanti purtroppo. Concentrarmi su cosa non posso fare però, non è mai stato il mio forte e lo considero un dispendio inutile di energie, così lasciando da parte i macro-ambienti non controllabili direttamente da me mi sono focalizzata su cosa invece io potessi cambiare nel mio piccolo. A ottobre 2020, durante un pomeriggio di lockdown decisi di sfruttare i momenti di pausa in casa per riordinare tutti i tessuti rimanenti dai vecchi progetti universitari, erano davvero tantissimi e mi sono subito resa conto di quanto fosse stressante l’idea di doverli gettare via inutilmente, così mi sono chiesta: ‘‘Perché...
  • 6 July 2021

    Circular Entrepreneurship

    Versione Italiana La Prof.ssa Antonella Zucchella dell’Università degli Studi di Pavia è stata nostra ospite in occasione di Hacking the City lo scorso aprile. Il suo intervento, riassunto in questo articolo, si è concentrato sulla relazione tra marketing imprenditorialità circolare. L’Economia Circolare ha bisogno dell’impegno di diversi attori: tra questi, le imprese dovranno giocare un ruolo tanto importante, quanto denso di sfide. Proprio per questo motivo, la Prof.ssa Zucchella ha introdotto il termine “imprenditorialità circolare” (circular entrepreneurship). L’imprenditorialità circolare si ispira ai principi dell’Economia Circolare per capire e anticipare il cambiamento in condizioni di incertezza, introducendo innovazioni, che possono riguardare diversi aspetti: prodotti, processi, modelli di business, eco-sistemi. L’imprenditorialità circolare riguarda due casi principali: le cosiddette imprese “born circular”, ossia le start-up circolari, che hanno la circolarità nel loro DNA e in quello dei loro fondatori. Queste realtà scrivono la propria storia e il proprio modello di business a partire da un foglio bianco. Vi sono poi le imprese già consolidate, che hanno avviato la transizione verso la circolarità. Entrambe le tipologie di aziende hanno dei problemi specifici da affrontare e delle barriere di cui tenere conto, che sono in primo luogo tecnologiche e finanziarie. È però molto importante anche il ruolo del marketing: ciò potrebbe sembrare paradossale in quanto spesso si tende ad associare il marketing al fenomeno del greenwashing. Sarebbe però certamente un errore non considerare le numerose barriere che ci sono in questo settore, anche al di là del greenwashing: spesso sono proprio queste barriere, di cui raramente le aziende sono consapevoli, a limitare la capacità di azione di quelle realtà che vogliono divenire più sostenibili. Questo fenomeno è definito dalla Prof.ssa Zucchella la “marketing blindness”, ossia la cecità di chi gestisce un’azienda, che non è capace di comprendere i veri bisogni del marketing e del mercato. Questa problematica...
  • By Claudia Fabris English Fairphone is a company that manufactures smartphones by paying special attention to the materials used and the conditions of workers throughout the supply chain. The smartphones are designed to last longer thanks to a modular design that allows for the separation of components to be repaired or upgraded. This extends their life and allows waste parts to be collected and recycled, promoting the idea of a circular economy. That cellphones’ manufacturing relies on practices that are not always sustainable or ethical, as it is sadly known. Fairphone is a model and an example for other companies working in the same field of how it is possible to produce smartphones while respecting the environment and the workers throughout the production process, from the extraction of raw materials to the recycling of components. The “coltan”, a mixture of minerals composed of columbite and tantalite, is used in the production of small high-capacity capacitors for devices such as cellphones and computers. Tantalum has a particularly high commercial value and, for this reason, its extraction in areas such as the Democratic Republic of Congo has led to fighting between paramilitary and guerrilla groups for control of the territories where this material is found. These practices have led to uncontrolled exploitation of resources and the population employed in the extraction of these minerals. By committing to purchase materials directly from producers, Fairphone seeks to create positive change to ensure fairer working conditions and increase the amount of recycled and responsibly extracted materials. Together, these practices are designed to increase awareness in the industry and consumers of possible solutions to the problems associated with smartphone production. By 2040, the communications sector will contribute 14% of the total global footprint. The contribution of smartphones will exceed that of computers, displays and laptops combined....
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