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Circular Economy Report 2022 presented: Italy first in Europe

Circular economy in Italy: data

(Sustainabilityenvironment.com) – The National Report on the Circular Economy 2022 was presented in Rome (pdf). The event started as part of the National Conference on the circular economy. And it saw the presence of the Italian Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Orlando, and Paola Migliorini, deputy head of the circular economy unit for the Environment Directorate General of the European Commission. The conference was sponsored by the Italian Ministry of Ecological Transition and the European Commission.

The Report was funded by the CEN (Circular Economy Network), a network composed of the Foundation for Sustainable Development, companies, business associations and Enea. The study was illustrated by CEN President Edo Ronchi and the Director of the Sustainability Department of Enea Roberto Morabito.

According to Edo Ronchi, the CEN president, the negative events of recent years must be a stimulus to improve: “The climate crisis and the events of the last two years, with the surge in prices of many raw materials, show that the waiting time is over. The time has come for European policies in support of the circular economy to take off without further uncertainty. Our economies are fragile because strategic aspects depend on raw materials located largely in a small group of countries. It is a knot that risks not only stifling the recovery but destabilizing the entire economy with an inflationary spiral. And this is where the circular economy can make a difference by finding within the country the resources that are increasingly expensive to import. The objective that Italy must set itself is to achieve the decoupling between growth and consumption of resources”.

The report

In Europe we consume 13 tons of matter per person: this is the average in 2020, but this is not a homogenous figure. The report takes into account the circular performance of the five largest European economies (France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain) and the differences are significant. If in Italy we use 7.4 tons per inhabitant, in Poland they are 17.5. Better, progressively, Germany (13,4), Spain (10,3) and France (8,1).

The study shows a decline in global data, with the circularity rate falling from 9.1% to 8.6% between 2018 and 2020. If consumption, in fact, has grown by 8%, the rate of reuse is just 3%. Bad also for Italy, which has not been able to separate economic growth and resource use. Italy ranks among the countries that have worked the most in the circular economy: in the first place – on equal footing with France – according to the main indicators of circularity.

The performance of the Bel Paese is slightly better than the rest of Europe.
In 2020, the utilization rate of recycled material in the EU was 12.8%. In Italy it was 21.6%, occupying second place after France (22.2%). The indicator measures how much recycling responds to the demand for the matter. In 2020, in fact, in Europe 2.1 euros of GDP were generated for every kg of resources consumed. In Italy, at purchasing power parities, the figure rises to 3.5 euro.

The percentage of waste recycling is also the highest in Europe, close to 68%. This concerns both industrial and urban waste. The average of landfill waste is also good, for which Italy is third after Germany and France, below the average of 22.8% of the rest of Europe.

The shortcomings

If Italy does a good job with regard to the circular economy and waste, there is however some difficulty in other areas. First of all, land consumption. In 2018, the European average was 4.2% artificial land cover. Italy has the highest percentage among others, with its 7.1%, second only to Germany (7.6%) while France (5.6), Spain (3.7) and Poland (3.6) perform the best work. Since 2010 the nation has lost almost 5,000 companies (20%) engaged in the repair of goods, both electronic and personal. In 2019 there were 23,000, compared to almost 34,000 French and 28,300 Spanish. Eco-innovation was also bad: in 2021 we were the thirteenth for investments in the sector.

Circular economy: references and perspectives

The report used indicators from the Bellagio Charter, an evaluation tool developed in Europe to measure the circular economy. The publication is also relevant to the request for monitoring of the New European Action Plan for the Circular Economy. The purpose of the CEN is that it is useful to the public debate also in the light of the entry into force, in 2022, of the National Strategy on the circular economy.

2022 could be an important year for the circular economy, also for the implementation of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. The plan has in fact two objectives related to circularity: recycling and recovery of raw materials second and reduction of the use of raw materials on the other.
Mission 2, Green Revolution and Ecological Transition, in its Component 1, Circular Economy and Sustainable Agriculture, invest 2.1 billion euros, but other parts of the plan also include investments in this direction.

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