Legal objectives for 2025 already achieved
This was disclosed in the 2021 activity report of the Biorepack Consortium, presented today at the annual general meeting. No fewer than 330 municipalities and delegated operators signed the agreement last year. A total of 38,400 tonnes of compostable bioplastic packaging was organically composted (51.9% of the amount consumed). Legal enforcement activities enabled seizures of non-compliant packaging.
Milan, 30 May 2022 - The number of member companies grew from six to 202 in just one year, with 330 partners for a total of 3,706 municipalities served, with over 36 million residents, or 61% of the Italian population. What’s more: 38,400 tonnes of biodegradable and compostable plastic packaging was organically recycled, or 51.9% of the packaging placed on the market in the same period (74,000 tonnes). In addition, thanks to the mandatory environmental contribution of bioplastic packaging, payments of €7.5 million were made to partners in 2021. These are the key 2021 figures for Biorepack, the national consortium for the organic recycling of biodegradable and compostable plastic packaging.
The data is set out in the report presented by the president of Biorepack, Marco Versari, at the general meeting held today in Milan.
“Only a year since the establishment of Biorepack, these results show how important it was to create this new consortium within the CONAI system to ensure proper processing of innovative compostable bioplastics,” said Versari. “In particular, we are pleased to see that the total amount of packaging recycled compared with the amount placed on the market is already higher than the minimum legal target set for 2025 (50%) and very close to the 55% target for 2030.”
The number of municipalities that have already signed up is also very encouraging: “I would like to remind you,”, continued Versari, “that the technical annex with CONAI and ANCI that gave the official go-ahead for the possibility of joining Biorepack was only signed on 20 October 2021. This is a tangible sign of how our consortium is seen as a valuable ally in managing these post-consumer materials, guaranteeing significant financial resources to municipalities and the operators they contract for separate collection.”
Southern Italy behind with partnership agreements
The breakdown of the 330 partners shows that 209 are municipalities (individually or joint affiliations), a further 102 are delegated managers of municipal food waste collection, 10 are government waste management bodies and 9 are managers of forwarding or organic recycling plants.
It is worth noting the geographic distribution of the municipalities that have so far signed agreements with Biorepack: they represent 79% of the total in the North East, 50% in the North West and 49% in the Centre. Fewer agreements have been signed in the South and the Islands, where affiliations stand at 29% and 14% respectively.
As of 31 December 2021, 67% of the Italian provincial capitals had applied for partnership agreements.
“We hope that the municipalities and their delegated waste collection operators in the South will soon close this gap,” added Versari. “By signing an agreement, municipalities can access financial resources of vital importance, particularly for small and medium-sized territories. And they are an incentive to optimise separate collection of food waste, which is also essential from an environmental standpoint.”
Awareness-raising, research and development
To highlight the environmental benefits associated with the correct disposal of compostable bioplastics together with food waste, in 2021 Biorepack developed a range of awareness-raising and R&D initiatives. For example, a method was devised with the University of Bologna for the statistical representativeness of sampling and analysis of material entering organic recycling plants. Objective: determine the amount of bioplastics actually sent for processing.
Biorepack also participated in the study by The European House - Ambrosetti think tank to present the state of the art of recycling in Italy, its contribution to circularity, to promote the development of innovative solutions and finally to propose a strategic vision to accelerate its development. Meanwhile on the island of Capri, research is being conducted to identify the most efficient, effective and suitable innovations to increase the level of circularity in the two island municipalities.
Combatting illegal activities
In 2021 Biorepack developed synergies with the Assobioplastiche trade association and the main verification bodies in Italy. Objective: act quickly and effectively to counteract illegality in the sector (such as the marketing of compostable bioplastic packaging lacking the technical and environmental characteristics required by law or the use of false environmental declarations or certifications). Besides causing economic damage to the sector, both in terms of unfair competition and increased industrial costs, illicit activities have a clearly negative impact on the environment. Immediately, positive results were obtained: non-compliant packaging was recently seized in Rome and Naples thanks to Biorepack's operational and technical support.
But in parallel with initiatives to combat illegality, the consortium has developed activities to prevent mistakes during the separate collection phase. The focus has therefore been on environmental labelling to make it as easy as possible for the general public to recognise packaging made of compostable bioplastics. Biorepack worked alongside CONAI to define packaging labelling guidelines. Objective: to ensure that compostable materials include appropriate recycling instructions for consumers as well as mentioning compliance with standard EN 13432.
“A year ago, Biorepack was a project full of enthusiasm and ambitious goals. Today we can already look back on numerous positive achievements and concrete activities. We are well aware that this is only a starting point. But we have the will to move forward together with the public, national and local institutions, waste collection companies, recycling plants, the academic and research community and NGOs. We’re always ready for positive debate, and have no time for negative controversy,” concluded Versari.
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