Novara – Milan, 1 October 2014 – The circular economy involves moving from a waste society to a model in which materials are reused in their entirety and where waste is replaced by resources. Environmental, social and economic sustainability play a central role in the circular economy, in which resources are primarily recovered by reuse and recycling waste back into the production cycle.
An often forgotten part of the circular economy is the carbon cycle, nature’s biggest circular economy. The optimal valorisation of short cycle carbon is a fundamental step towards the development of a truly sustainable circular economy that achieves the maximum economic and environmental benefits.
The best example of the circular system, as shown in various cases throughout Europe (including cities like Milan), is that based on door-to-door separate waste collection, with a strong commitment to the carbon cycle and organic waste – which represents around 1/3 of total waste produced by each person – an essential element in order to bring the percentage of separate waste reused and recycled up to the target of 70%.
The role of compostable refuse sacks and carrier bags in achieving these results is demonstrated by the various Italian and foreign best practices that Novamont will present to delegates from the principal cities in the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group – including Tokyo, Hong Kong, Moscow, São Paulo, Washington and Johannesburg – as part of the second edition of Milano Recycle City (1-3 October 2014, Milan Civic Aquarium).
The strength of the Novamont model for the management of kitchen waste lies in the use of bags made from Mater-Bi® – the bioplastic which is biodegradable and compostable according to the European standard EN 13432. These products are waterproof, hygienic, breathable and can be processed by anaerobic digestion and composting plants. The bags’ capacity to be composted is an essential characteristic in guaranteeing the quality of the collection of organic waste and its transformation into biogas and quality compost.
Thanks to the kitchen waste collection service, introduced by AMSA, Milan’s public sector waste disposal company since 2012, this year Milan exceeded 50% of separate waste collection (excluding construction and demolition waste), an unprecedented result for a metropolis with over 1 million inhabitants. On average Milan collects over 95 kg of food waste per inhabitant per year, a very high total compared with 45 kg in Vienna or 31 kg in Munich (2012 data).
A key element in the operation’s success has undoubtedly been the support provided by Novamont, which has donated over 1 million Mater-Bi® compostable bags free of charge to Milanese families which, combined with the aerated bins provided by AMSA, have made collection convenient, hygienic and efficient, guaranteeing the organic waste collected is over 95% pure.
For each tonne of organic waste sent for composting, an estimated 94.9 kg of CO2 can be saved. Should organic waste sent for composting in Milan reach around 130,000 tonnes, it would be possible to achieve annual savings of around 12,337 tonnes of CO2.
“The virtuous system implemented in Milan for the collection of organic waste, in which compostable refuse sacks and carrier bags play a central role, involves various players such as the Municipality, the waste management company, the leading Italian manufacturer of compostable bioplastics, large-scale retail operators and, most importantly, the city’s inhabitants. This is one of the first real cases of a circular economy in Europe,” said Christian Garaffa, Novamont’s Marketing Manager for Source Separation and Recycling.
Novamont is the leading company in the development and production of materials and biochemicals through the integration of chemistry, the environment and agriculture. With 370 employees (approx. 20% employed in R&D), it registered a turnover of €136 million in 2013 and made continuous investments in research and development activities (6.2% of its 2013 turnover). It has a portfolio of around 1,000 patents. Headquartered in Novara, Novamont has a production facility in Terni and research laboratories in Novara, Terni and Piana di Monte Verna (CE). Novamont also has subsidiaries in Porto Torres (SS), Bottrighe (RO), Terni and Patrica (FR) and commercial offices in Germany, France and the United States. It operates through its own distributors in Benelux, Scandinavia, Denmark, the United Kingdom, China, Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.