Month: February 2023

  • 24 February 2023

    Life Cycle Assessment

    Let us consider a commonly used object: a plastic water bottle. Before ending up on the shelves of our trusted supermarket, the object in question will have to go through several stages. First among them is the extraction of the materials needed to produce the bottle. Then there is the actual manufacturing stage, where the product takes shape, which is followed by the transportation and distribution stages. However, the life of the bottle does not end there: the bottle will in fact be used by the final consumer, and then it will be thrown in the trash and disposed of, recycled, or transformed into a new product according to the principles of the circular economy. Each step in this process has its own impact on the environment. Life Cycle Assessment (generally known by its acronym LCA), is a detailed analysis used to estimate what effects a product or service causes on the environment, throughout its life cycle, from material extraction to disposal. LCA helps us understand that there is much more to it than what appears on the surface and helps us look at the big picture. Considering the life cycle of a product in its entirety can be critically important – both for consumers who want to make increasingly informed choices and for companies who want to make their products less and less impactful- in identifying areas for improvement and in making sustainability decisions. A product life cycle analysis generally consists of four steps. The first is to define the objectives (for example, that of reducing the environmental impact of a product) and the scope of the assessment, and then identify the methods to be used in the analysis. The next step is to create the so-called LCI, or Life Cycle Inventory: a list that includes all inputs and...
  • 17 February 2023

    How to reduce agricultural waste?

    During the edition of Re-think Circular Economy forum held in Taranto last October, there was a lot of talk about how to make agriculture more sustainable and circular, about this subject spoke Raffaele Fasano, Project Manager of AgriSmartIOT, which offers a 100% made in Italy product developed by the company Neetra S.r.l. operating for more than 30 years in the field of design and production of BROADCAST, ISM (Industrial Scientific and Medical) and IoT (Internet of things) technologies. In recent years, Neetra S.r.l. has been offering its expertise with excellent results to private companies operating in the ICT, industry, agriculture, commerce, logistics, energy, and personal services sectors. Introducing his talk, Raffaele Fasano highlighted how once upon a time the concept of circular economy was a trivial one. In the past, no resource was wasted, as all resources, water, light, or energy were scarce, and “common sense” led farmers to widely use circular economy models. It is precisely this concept of “common sense” that must be, in his view, placed at the basis of what could be called the first source of the circular economy, namely, the reduction of waste. In fact, by wasting less, one has fewer products to recycle. The speaker later recounted his journey that led him from being an electrical engineer employed in the telecommunications world to using his knowledge and technology in the agricultural world. From this point of view, it was pointed out that the world of agriculture is one in which technologies are at hand and only need to be known and applied by actors in the sector. Applying technologies to agriculture, however, involves the use of a lot of energy and resources. The idea developed by AgriSmartIOT, then, is to technologically transfer information to users in the agricultural world so that they can...
  • 10 February 2023

    Recycled Yarns

    During the latest Re-think Milano, Simone Gaslini, owner of Astro Spinning Company, spoke. Simone Gaslini began his talk by introducing Filatura Astro, a family business based in Vigliano Biellese, founded in 1956. It produces 2 million kg/year of recycled yarn and has 30 employees, with a turnover of 7 million euros equally divided between Italy and abroad. Filatura Astro’s yarns are used in the apparel sector to create outerwear, pants, sweaters, and T-shirts, and in the furniture industry where using the yarn in both warp and weft, they create seating for sofas, curtains, and carpets. The core business is recycled yarns, in which the starting material is waste material: scraps from clothing and knitting cuts, spinning mill scraps, and post-consumer material are used. Anything that in the sight of many is non-usable material, in Astro Spinning we look to see if it can be reused by giving it new life and creating new fiber. All raw materials purchased are analyzed both at the level of composition, to guarantee a specific composition to the final consumer, and at the level of chemical substances; in fact, the products created by Filatura Astro are certified with both Oeko-Tex Standard 100 class 1 appendix 6, and GRS, a certification that attests to the real percentage of recycled raw material that makes up the yarn. Recovering fibers from garments or fabrics is only possible with mechanical steps, in which the fabrics are broken down until the fiber is obtained and then transformed into yarn. Simone Gaslini talks about “creating,” not “producing”; Filatura Astro creates fibers and colored yarns from colored knitting yarns. This means that they create colors from colors, they choose colored fibers to create new colors, all without using water and dyes. One has to think that in addition to the water that...
  • 3 February 2023

    Microplastics: let’s find a solution

    They have been found on the bodies of worker bees, at the bottom of the Mariana Trench (the deepest of known ocean depressions), and even in our blood. Microplastics have been detected in thousands of places in recent years, and are now suspected to be everywhere. Certainly complicit is their size: plastic particles less than 5 millimeters in diameter are defined as such. The origin of microplastics can be diverse: some, so-called primary microplastics, are intentionally manufactured to that size for commercial use and account for about 15-31% of total microplastics. Due to their abrasive properties, they have been crucial to the cosmetics and oil industries for years. In contrast, the majority of microplastics are secondary microplastics: these are formed from larger plastic objects abandoned in the ocean (such as a water bottle or straw) and exposed to environmental factors (such as wind, waves, and sunlight) that cause them to degrade into smaller and smaller fragments. The main source of global microplastic pollution is found in our closets: 34.8% of it is caused by microfibers. The latter is a type of microplastic that is released during the washing of synthetic fabrics (such as polyester and stretch denim). The mechanical and chemical stress to which fabrics are subjected in the washing machine causes the microfibers to detach from the yarns that make up the fabric. It is estimated that up to 700,000 microfibers are released during an average wash. And these particles are so small that they are not intercepted by washing machine filters or sewage treatment plants. That figure is not sustainable: experts have calculated that continuing at the same rates, as many as 22 million tons of microfibers will populate the oceans between 2015 and 2050. Microplastics can be fatal to the entire marine ecosystem. Given their size, these...
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