• Paola De Bernardi spoke about the paradox and limits of the agri-food system, then suggested possible operational solutions.
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 2 December 2022

    Marine waste supply chain

    During the Re-think event held in Naples in July, Marcella De Martino, CNR’s first researcher, spoke about an exciting project they are pursuing in the marine waste management supply chain. Marcella De Martino began her speech by introducing the FIRM project, which originated from a multi-measure call from the Campania Region under the EMFF, from the old 2014-2020 programming. It is a very ambitious project that seeks to solve one of the great problems of our seas: the presence of marine litter. To better understand the project, De Martino began by presenting the background of the marine litter problem. The data she refers to can be found in the report “Mare Nostrum Mare Plasticum“, which mentions that there are currently 50 million tons of visible waste in our seas. Looking in detail at the Mediterranean Sea, it is estimated that there are about 1.2 million tons of plastic waste, another really worrying piece of information is that still today about 700 tonnes of plastic are spilled into the sea daily. European and national strategies have been particularly active on this issue for several years; it is an ongoing process that will bring results from medium- and long-term perspectives. At the moment, the recycling rate of all industrial waste is around 12 percent and Italy is among the most virtuous countries. Among the European strategies working on this front are the Green Deal, the Circular Economy Action Plan, and the Strategy for Plastics in the Circular Economy, which aim to foster the ecological transition and create sustainable and circular economic models. Italy has transposed the European regulations, adapting them to the national context. At the Italian level, the National Strategy for the Circular Economy, the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, and the National Waste Management Program have been published, with measures...
  • 25 November 2022

    From toilet paper to value paper

    As we know, today it is especially important to be able to transform our economy from linear to circular, and during Re-think in Milan, Coos Wessels presented us with a reality that transforms waste into useful products for the market. Coos Wessels, Managing Director at CirTec, discussed what the business is doing to upgrade toilet paper to value paper. First, he explained that CirTec is an acronym for Circular Technology, in particular, they focus on the recovery of valuables from sewage and wastewater streams, using low-value residual energy for treating concentrated waste streams. His intervention focused on the recovery of cellulose from sewage. While presenting, Wessels tried to avoid the word wastewater, because as he said, sewage should be considered a valuable source of many materials and not waste. In fact, the consumption of all natural resources is still increasing worldwide, underlying the need to recover valuable materials from different sources such as sewage. For instance, in sewage, they found cellulose (which is the main element of their business) together with bioplastics, phosphate, and more. Therefore, sewage can have a significant impact. However yet, up till now only about 1% of what is in our sewage water is used. Italy, Wessels continued, is the largest consumer of tissue papers and in Europe, there are about 9.6 million tonnes of tissues consumed. However, about 6.5 million tonnes end up in the sewage system and come up at the sewage treatment plant while the rest is used for other things. In this context, CirTec can recover approximately 4.5 million tons of material saving about 4.9 million trees a year and producing a forest of 29,700 hectares. CirTec was born while looking at the Dutch water authorities and realizing that it is possible to produce energy while treating sewage. From this idea, they...
  • 4 November 2022

    Reuse wine waste

    During the Re-think Circular Economy Forum in Milan held in February 2022, we had the pleasure of listening to a talk by Silvia Buzzi, HSE and Sustainability Manager at Caviro Extra, who told us about a wonderful circular reality Silvia Buzzi takes us into the world of wine: Caviro is an all-Romagna group that has as its input to enhance the entire wine supply chain. It is also a beautiful tangible example of regenerative capitalism. Caviro is a second-degree cooperative, encompassing 29 members including 27 social wineries. It was founded in 1966 and has recovery in its DNA, because physiologically in the agricultural world it is essential not to throw anything away. The mission is to valorize members’ grapes, not only to valorize the grapes by paying them at an average price above the market price but to valorize all the by-products of winemaking because grapes hold so many surprises. There are 12,000 winemaking members scattered in seven regions of Italy, from northern Italy to southern Italy, because this makes it possible to guarantee a great variety of wines, thus satisfying the most demanding palates. Caviro’s wines range from the daily wine we know, Tavernello, and Castellino, to super-premium category wines such as Amarone Della Valpolicella. These members cultivate more than 36,000 hectares of vineyard area in Italy, this means that where there is a cooperative there is no land abandonment and this is fundamental; therefore, without land abandonment, because the remuneration is certain, we can be sure that land use change does not happen and the biodiversity that our territory needs is guaranteed. Silvia Buzzi explained that Caviro’s supply chain processes about 10 percent of Italian grapes, about 700 thousand tons per year, and makes wine from them clearly, exceeding 220 million liters of wine poured on the market,...
  • 14 October 2022

    Waste as a resource

    A2A Case study During the Re-think Circular Economy Forum event in Milan held last February, there were many speakers who brought their company’s conduct as a case study. In this case, Guglielmo Carra, Innovation Manager at A2A told us about how to manage waste to make it a resource. He started his speech by explaining that A2A is a life company that deals with the environment, water, energy, and all the necessary conditions for life. They take care of people’s well-being by providing them with those services to meet their daily needs. All this considers the principles of long-term sustainability. Looking at their investments they are planning a 10-year industrial plan with 18 billion euros in investment, of which about 60% will be focused on the energy transition, and 40% will be on Circular Economy (CE) projects and activities. In the company, they deal with different business sectors: from power generation to distribution and selling of energy, water, and gas, together with the waste collection as well. A2A business model is an integrated loop of services that allows maximizing the value of resources, such as energy, water, or materials, and for which, innovation, new technologies, and digitalization are all key enablers to accelerating the transition to a CE. On a yearly basis, the company serves about 4 million people, it collects and treats about 3.2 million tons of waste, and interestingly the recovery rate of waste as energy and materials is above 99.7%. This means that only 0.3% of the waste they manage goes to landfill, instead all the rest is processed in A2A plants with the end goal of creating a positive impact on the communities they operate in. To have a correct waste management system all the sorted waste goes into the selection plans which operate to create...
  • 16 September 2022

    Cirplus: making plastic waste history

    How creating a global marketplace for plastic recylates make plastic waste a thing of the past In 2018, cirplus’ journey began off the unlikely coast of Colombia. After building and scaling BlaBlaCar Germany – today’s largest ridesharing platform in the world – co-founder, Christian Schiller took himself on a well-deserved break. His idea was a beautiful trip around the world, sailing from coast to coast through the Caribbean to Colombia and Panama. However, on the open sea, he didn’t just have to consider the dark depths of the ocean and the irregular weather caused by global warming, he was face-to-face with a problem of magnitude – a hundred meters long dense carpets of plastic waste. Shocked, yet determined, Christian knew he had to do something to tackle this crisis. With co-founder, Volkan Bilici, web technologies veteran and blockchain expert, the idea of cirplus was born. The ambition of the founders was to create a global marketplace for circular plastics and take on the impressive task of making plastic waste history. Cirplus is the world’s-first global AI-enabled marketplace for circular plastics. Its software simplifies the currently complex trade of recyclates and plastic waste by digitalizing the complex, and largely offline, transactions of plastic waste feedstock, regrind and regranulates. Created for companies in the plastic and recycling value chain, cirplus mission is to build a platform for finding, negotiating, contracting, shipping, insuring, and paying for recyclates and plastic waste trades across the globe – a solution to the world’s plastic waste crisis. Its digital procurement platform connects waste managers, recyclers, and product manufacturers to buy and sell plastic recyclates in a reliable and cost-effective way. Using its software, it brings high-quality recyclates back into the supply chain at a lower transactional cost by using AI-enabled smart matching of supply and demand based on volumes, quality and price. Over time, AI...
  • 27 July 2022

    Recovery of Organic Waste

    During the Re-think Circular Economy Forum event held last year in Taranto among the guests who spoke was Maurizio Cianci the CEO of ASECO S.p.A – Acquedotto Pugliese began his speech by sublining that not only did he want to recount the results achieved so far by Acquedotto Pugliese (AQP) and Aseco in the field of sewage sludge treatment and the organic fraction of Municipal solid waste, but also to bring to the general attention to what can still be done and the projects in the pipeline. Acquedotto Pugliese is the manager of the integrated water service in Puglia and in addition to providing excellent drinking water to its more than 4 million inhabitants, it tasks also includes the removal and treatment of sewage. It can be said that sewage sludge constitutes the most significant processing waste in AQP’s industrial process. Taking an overview of the amount of sewage sludge produced by AQP, it emerged that in 2009, the 183 managed sewage plants produced about 160 thousand tons per year and this amount has gradually increased to reach 250 thousand tons in 2016. This was a very significant growth trend which in 2017, led to an estimate in the absence of significant interventions in 2021, an amount of sewage sludge in the range of about 380 thousand tons would be produced. Interventions to contain and reverse this trend were necessary and, therefore, additional treatment sections were introduced downstream of the purification process, such as, to mention the most significant; high efficiency dewatering, natural greenhouse sludge drying, anaerobic digestion and cellular hydrolysis. Thanks to these interventions, Acquedotto Pugliese has been able to counteract the expected increase in the production of sewage sludge, even in the face of the strong efficiencies of the managed plants and the consequent strong increase in their...
  • 29 June 2022

    International Plastic Bag Free Day

    Did you know it takes 1,000 years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill? Even so, the bags don’t break down completely but instead photo-degrade becoming microplastics that absorb toxins and continue to pollute the environment. According to The World Counts, 5 trillion plastic bags are used per year, which is 160,000 plastic bags per second, which can cause major environmental challenges and active measures must be put in place to minimize its usage. International Plastic Bag-Free Day is a movement started by Rezero in 2006. The campaign against single-use plastic bags began in Catalonia by a group of people to fight for the elimination of plastic bags. It is celebrated on every 3rd July to promote environmental conservation and spread awareness on the consequences of the use of plastic bags. The birth of Plastic Bags Interestingly, Polythene, the world’s most popular plastic used as carrier bags was first discovered by accident. In 1933, a team of chemists at the ICI Wallerscote plant were working on polymers. During the process, the experiment went wrong yielding an unintended result: a white waxy residue which was polythene. This invention served a good purpose to the British military during the second World War. Polythene was used as an insulating material for radar cables during the war, and the substance was a closely guarded secret until after the war. In 1960, a Swedish company called Celloplast filed a U.S patent for tubing for packaging purposes using polythene. The initial design was better developed and in 1965, the team of three at Celloplast obtained a patent for what is now called “the T-Shirt Plastic bag”. Plastic bag quickly replaced grocery bags made from fabrics in Europe. Supermarket chains in the United States of America and all around Europe switched to single-use plastic bags...
Social Share Buttons and Icons powered by Ultimatelysocial