RENEWABLE MATTER INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE ON THE BIOECONOMY AND THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY 13 | November-December 2016 Bimonthly Publication Edizioni Ambiente
Trump Warms up the Climate •• Green Corruption •• The Liquid Continent •• The Metamorphosis of Matter
Dossier Bioeconomy: The Danish Model •• (Sustainable) Beer Galore! •• Rare Earths: The Industry’s Vitamins •• Southern Italy Restarts from Green Chemistry
When a Material is Forever •• Filling up at the Treatment Plant! •• An Immense Treasure in a Tiny Grain
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•• Circular Economy Showing off
Regeneration formula found.
REGENERATING MEANS CREATING A NEW FUTURE. Viscolube is the European leader in waste oil regeneration. By using highly innovative technologies, Viscolube produces base oils that remain stable in time, provide oxidation resistance and have a low sulphur content. Drop by drop, Viscolube works for the sustainability of our planet.
green oil, green life.
WE HAVE TAKEN AN ASTONISHING WEIGHT O F F T H E S H O U L D E R S O F T H E F U T U R E.
At Ecopneus, we have recovered 1 million tonnes of end-of-life tyres, the weight of 8 cruise ships, in just 4 years. And we have transformed them into something more. Thanks to ethical and transparent work, 100 million end-of-life tyres have made many athletes sweat and have fun becoming basketball courts, tennis courts and football fields. They have reduced noise in offices, transforming themselves into sound-absorbing walls. They have protected thousands of children as shock absorbent rubber on playgrounds. They have covered kilometres of roads with rubberized asphalt and mitigated the vibrations of numerous tramway lines. They have given sustainable energy to companies in Italy and abroad. But most of all, they have done something priceless: they have made our country a more liveable place for future generations.
ADI Design Index 2015 Selection
RENEWABLE MATTER Networking Partners
Printed by Geca Industrie Grafiche using mineral oil free vegetable-based inks. Geca production system does not produce exhaust and all waste of our manufacture is introduced into a process of collection and recycling. www.gecaonline.it/uk
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Undesiderable Recycling by Antonio Cianciullo
Recycling is a right and proper thing to do. But there are exceptions. And Trump presidency is a case in point. Before the scientific community unanimously asking to secure the atmosphere, Donald decided to appoint president of the Environmental Protection Agency a climate sceptic, a man who for years has fought against this very agency impugning its decisions in the Supreme Court. Choosing Scott Pruitt – the Oklahoma Attorney General defined by Giuseppe Sarcina on Il Corriere della Sera as “the stipendiary spokesman of the energy lobby: oil and above all gas” – as EPA head is not just a mockery but also an insult to California devastated by an endless drought, to hundreds American cities and associations involved in fighting climate change, to stars-and-stripes businesses risking losing their markets and competitiveness. It is also a dangerous kind of recycling: that of social toxins that risk breaking up the USA spreading bitterness and division. Quite rightly so The Times devoted its Person of the Year cover to Trump: “The President of the Divided States of America.” The grounds for this decision read, “With this real estate baron and casino owner who became the star of a reality show and provoker without having ever worked one single day as a public official and having only looked after his own interests, we can only expect the smoking collapse of a vast political edifice that used to house parties, experts in political affairs, donors, pollsters, all those people who did not take him seriously and that had not expected his arrival.” It is difficult to predict the effects of this newly elected administration: many reckon it will be less disastrous than expected. But appointing Pruitt does not leave much room for hope. The former attorney general, a hardliner against abortion and gay marriage, is the voice of an America looking back to the past in tune with that part of Europe most scared by the economic turndown, the loss of jobs and the increase of migration flows.
Will it be a characteristic of the next decade? In this issue of Renewable Matter, Emanuele Bompan takes stock of the reaction in the USA, listening to the suggestions of those who do not give up: from Michael Brune, Sierra Club chair, who envisages “battles in courts, in Congress and in the street,” to Richard Heinberg, Post Carbon Institute fellow, who imagines a dual strategy based on democrat support and on grass-root protests organized by cities and communities. For the circular economy, in particular, it will be a great challenge: it will have to strike a balance in a very hostile environment. A difficult but not impossible mission. Especially because it is played with reverse roles compared to a still rather widespread collective belief that ecologists are romantic people who know everything about endangered species and nothing about balancing the books. In the USA, the contrary seems to be true: it appears rather difficult that Trump can hold up his anti-environmental commitments used during his election campaign without seriously damaging American businesses engaged in the race towards efficiency and clean energy. Indeed, while I was finishing this article, I got the news of a green challenge between two giants. Apple has opened a new line of investments on wind energy by acquiring 30% of China-based Goldwind’s controlled companies. Google announced that as from 2017 all the electricity used by its offices and data centres around the world will be 100% renewable. These are choices driven both by direct economic benefits and the need to strengthen brands with actions attuned to customers: being able to say that an iPhone energy balance is lighter or that you can send Gmails without increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases means improving one’s positioning compared to other companies. While the USA that voted for Trump seem to want to go back to the first half of the 20th century, the USA competing in the market raise the stakes by betting on the future. Interesting times ahead.
13|November-December 2016 Contents
RENEWABLE MATTER INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE ON THE BIOECONOMY AND THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY
Trump Warms up the Climate
The Metamorphosis of Matter
When Plundering the Environment
www.renewablematter.eu ISSN 2385-2240 Reg. Tribunale di Milano n. 351 del 31/10/2014
Editorial Director Marco Moro Contributors Agnese Agrizzi, Piero Attoma, Diego Barsotti, Jeremy Benstein, Emanuele Bompan, Mario Bonaccorso, Simona BonafĂ¨, Filippo Brandolini, Rudi Bressa, Mark Campanale, Luigi Capuzzi, Giacomo Cassinese, Gianfranco Di Segni, Joanna Dupont-Inglis, Simona Faccioli, Sergio Ferraris, Roberto Giovannini, Marco Gisotti, Daniele Gizzi, Global Affairs Ministry & Natural Resources Canada, Irene Ivoi, Josu Juaristi Abaunz, Gianfranco Locandro, Ellen MacArthur, Glenn Mason, Alessandro Massalin, Achille Monegato, Ivana Pais, Mauro Panzeri, Piernicola Pedicini, Federico Pedrocchi, Matteo Piras, Fabio Simonelli, Nils Torvalds, Silvia Zamboni, Luca Zocca
Editor-in-chief Antonio Cianciullo
Becomes Big Business
Acknowledgments Ilaria Catastini, Alessandro Colantoni, Eliana Farotto, Margherita Gagliardi, Patrizia Giuliotti, Stefania Maggi, Emma Mariconda, Federica Mastroianni, Paolo Palleschi, Mario Pinoli, Luigi Radice
Editorial Coordinator Paola Cristina Fraschini
Success Driven by Innovation
Managing Editor Maria Pia Terrosi
The Liquid Continent
Editing Paola Cristina Fraschini, Diego Tavazzi Design & Art Direction Mauro Panzeri Layout Michela Lazzaroni
Restarts from Green Chemistry
Translations Franco Lombini, Meg Anna Mullan, Mario Tadiello
Francesco Ansaloni and Gabriele Giuli
Rare Earth Elements: The Vitamins of Modern Industry
Executive Coordinator Anna Re
Focus Permanent Materials Marco Gisotti
Not Renewable, but Everlasting
Focus Permanent Materials Marco Gisotti
The Secret of Steel
Focus Permanent Materials Letizia Palmisano
5,000 Years of Transparency
External Relations Manager (International) Federico Manca External Relations Managers (Italy) Federico Manca, Anna Re, Matteo Reale Press and Media Relations email@example.com Contact firstname.lastname@example.org Edizioni Ambiente Via Natale Battaglia 10 20127 Milano, Italia t. +39 02 45487277 f. +39 02 45487333 Advertising email@example.com Annual subscription, 6 paper issues Subscribe on-line at www.materiarinnovabile.it/moduloabbonamento
Circular Economy Showing off
This magazine is composed in Dejavu Pro by Ko Sliggers Published and printed in Italy at GECA S.r.l., San Giuliano Milanese (Mi) Copyright ÂŠEdizioni Ambiente 2016 All rights reserved
Filling up at the Treatment Plant!
That Treasure Inside a Little Grain
Innovation Pills Federico Pedrocchi
Stereons and DVD Blenders
Cover Photo by Pavlofox, Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain
TRUMP by Emanuele Bompan
Warms up the Climate
Soon the least green president of all times will take office in the White House. A shrewd communicator but with an unclear line. First, he states he does not believe in climate change and that he wants to restart all coalmines. He also affirms to be open to consider any possibility. In the meantime, environmentalists are getting ready. In an interview with The New York Times on 22nd November, Donald Trump declared, â€œClimate is a topic that I keep an eye on. I am open to any possibility. I imagine there is a link between climate change and man. I certainly am worried, but about how much it will cost our
companies.â€? Extremely artful in recanting his own statements, ready to dismiss the Paris Agreement on climate change and to relaunch coal, it is difficult to determine what stance the newly elected president will take after his installation in office. Renewable Matter
Think Tank has gathered the first reactions of stakeholders and environmentalists on Trump’s statements. Emanuele Bompan, an urban geographer and environmental journalist since 2008. Together with Ilaria Brambilla he authored the book Che cos’è l’economia circolare (“What’s the circular economy”) Edizioni Ambiente, 2016.
At the recent Marrakech Climate Change Conference, the 22nd contractual session for the implementation of the Paris Agreement, Trump was the unshakable dinner guest upsetting the order of things and seriously jeopardizing the most ambitious future plan to stop global warming. His threat to withdraw the USA from the Paris Agreement disheartened delegates and environmentalists. But the real question is: Can Trump really do that? “The president,” explains David Victor from the University of California to Science, “could ask to pull out from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change,” the UN convention governing the implementation of negotiations and the agreement. While according to Michael Oppenheimer from Princeton University, “All Trump needs to do is not to respect agreed commitments and to stop the Obama administration’s global support.” Natural Resources Defense Council, www.nrdc.org
Earth Justice, earthjustice.org
Europe and China vs. USA In Europe, the newly elected President’s statements have been strongly criticized by both ministers and heads of state. Trump’s half backward step on 22nd November offering a glimmer of hope did not change things. Europe’s hard, albeit weak, reaction was to be expected, even China made its voice heard against the newly elected President stating that it intends to carry on with decarbonisation. “By taking a look at the history of climate change negotiations, we can see that they started with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change supported by republicans during the Reagan and the Bush Senior administrations,” stated Liu Zhenmin, China’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. “We hope that America will continue to play a leading role in the fight against climate change since the population is worried that what happened with the Kyoto Protocol, never ratified by the USA, could repeat itself.” Environmentalists’ Mobilization While the diplomatic world waits for his installation in office to better understand Trump’s presidency position, the American environmentalist scene has not wasted a single second to reorganize itself. And to start a long opposition to the man with the orange mane. From comedian John Oliver’s appeal to financially support the Natural Resources Defense Council (one of the leading American green organizations) to the flood of donations to Earth Justice (non-profit environmental law organization) to take to court any possible
renewablematter 13. 2016 counterattack against the new administration. And finally, 9,000 new supporters who joined in a matter of a few days the Sierra Club, and the great global campaigns been prepared by 350.org, the online movement created by Bill McKibben and ready to fight “the most important battle of all.” “All it takes for Trump to stop the Paris Agreement is to do nothing, making sure at the same time that federal agencies quickly approve fossil fuel companies’ applications,” McKibben explains. “Of course, in the next four years we will not just defend ourselves, licking our wounds,” declared Michael Brune, Sierra Club executive director. “If Trump does not reconsider his stance on climate, he will incur great masses of citizens’ protest who will fight him in courts, in Congress and in the streets. If civil society and the business world accept the fact that the new president does not listen to the voice
of science, the new President could thwart current positions,” continues McKibben who for years worked putting pressure on the White House and managed to stop the Keystone pipeline megaproject. According to Richard Heinberg, fellow of the Post Carbon Institute, there is a dual strategy to slow down Donald Trump’s actions. “On the one hand, to support through Democrats in Congress press and social media communication actions and protests. I think that in the next four years there will be great mobilization, and not only on environmental issues.” But what Richard Heinberg is most interested in is grass-root action, action from cities and communities. “The opposition will have to organize itself at local level,” Richard Heinberg explains in his office in Santa Rosa, California. “Many cities have demonstrated that they can quickly move to post-carbon, much faster than at federal level. This effort
Sierra Club, www.sierraclub.org
Post Carbon Institute, www.postcarbon.org
Low Carbon Usa, www.lowcarbonusa.org Forum for the Future, www.forumforthefuture. org
Barry Parkin, Mars Incorporated Sustainability Manager. “It is a crucial moment in the economic and political history and we must stand united to solve this century’s challenge for the planet.” Circular Economy
must now intensify. Urban areas are governed by democrats and this could help. Moreover, republicans are traditionally against federal interference at local level.” Green Businesses
It is crucial for the business community to show its commitment to stop climate change.
Businesses are also reacting. By the end of November, around 400 companies, some of them featuring in the Fortune 500 list, sent a communication to the White House asking not to stop funds supporting the transition towards a low emission economy. “If the creation of a low carbon economy fails, we will put at risk the prosperity of our country,” the letter reads, published on lowcarbonusa.org. The petition was signed by colossuses such as DuPont, Gap Inc., General Mills, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Hilton, HP Inc., Kellogg Company, Levi Strauss & Co., L’Oreal Usa, Nike, Mars Incorporated, Schneider Electric, Starbucks, VF Corporation, and Unilever. We are not talking about minor players in the global economic panorama. Their promise is to invest millions of dollars to lobby in Washington. “It is crucial for the business community to show its commitment to stop climate change,” stated
Considering that Donald Trump is a pragmatic businessman, with a strong protectionist disposition, he could be interested in supporting the introduction of circular economy models anyway. A topic to be presented as a new strategy to his voters, supporting big multinationals active in this sector in order to make their business more resilient and sustainable. After all, the circular economy has been discussed even by the US Chamber of Commerce, traditionally conservative and very close to the new administration. “Talking about climate change and resource shortage has a stronger political connotation in the USA than in Europe,” explains Sally Uren, CEO of Forum for the Future, a non-profit environmental consultancy group. “For businesses wishing to venture into potentially pernicious political issues, the circular economy is neutral, thus reassuring. Moreover it is characterized by a clear business model: if you reuse matter, reduce waste, enhance its useful value, it will help you save. Nobody can deny it. So even with a not-so-climate-friendly administration, the American business world could make room to adopt circular economy models in big companies and corporations, even with the government’s support, if they find the strength to lobby in this direction while some will tirelessly defend EPA regulations and the climate agreement.”
Courtesy of Berengo Studio and Lisson Gallery
The Metamorphosis of Matter
How Today Art and Waste Talk to Each Other. Poised between Ethics and Poetics by Carola Marzullo
renewablematter 13. 2016
2. Forever bicycles opens the tour of the monographic exhibition “Ai Weiwei – Libero” from 23rd September 2016 to 22nd January 2017 at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. In Italy it was presented for the first time in a different version at the “Genius Loci-Spirit of Place” exhibition in Venice in 2014.
Already the Dada avant guarde – in particolar Duchamp Ready Made – with an irreverent and liberating approach towards institutional art redefined the meaning of objects and images rejecting their original context and function. Then, in the late 1950s, New Dada and Nouveaux Réalisme artists revisited the notion of Ready Made reappropriating everything society had to offer. So, not just products,
but also waste. With a new “perceptive approach to reality” 1 the former exalted the economic boom of those years transforming waste into works of art. In this way, ordinary waste and objects became art material in their own right. And nowadays art tackles impacts produced by economic policies on the planet’s ecosystem and our own very survival. Artists become the spokespeople of a condemnation dictating a critical reflection, revisiting our society’s contradictions and lifestyles, encouraging a more conscientious worldview. Thus recycling and artistic creations share the same objective: to give a new life to previously used materials. At times it is a mere conceptual operation embedded in the work of art. On other occasions, it is a more concrete manifestation where the artist uses recycling as a creative method. For instance, Forever bicycles by Chinese Ai Weiwei2 offers food for thought on pullution and lifestyle. Forever bicyles consists of thousands of bicycles, in a tribute to mass mobility. Ai Weiwei reiterates Duchamp’s
1. Manifesto Nouveau Réalisme, 27th October 1960, Paris.
What have a bicycle’s wheel, a stool, a jerrycan and a tin in common? They are all ordinary objects that in some cases do not serve their intended everyday purpose, embracing the world of art. In contemporary art, waste, discarded materials and old objects can begin a new life in a new context. But does finding new meaning mean recycling? Actually, that’s not always the case, since there are several approaches ranging from critical reappropriation of objects and materials, to recycling that becomes a clear exposure of environmental issues.
Left: Hopnn, Untitled – Tricycle, 2013, Tour 13, Paris Top: Hopnn, Spintime, 2015, Rome Right: Hopnn, Car, 2016, Trapani area
Previous page: Ai Weiwei, Forever, 2014, Palazzo CavalliFranchetti, Venice
Carola Marzullo is a researcher working on contemporary art and shares her time for her studies between Paris and Milan. In 2015 she graduated in history of art at Sorbonne University and worked with different institutions in the same field including Centre Pompidou.
Right: Henrique Oliveira, Desnaturaleza, 2011, Paris, Wood, pigments, cement
Henrique Oliveira, Momento fecundo, 2014, Centre d’art e de nature de Chaumont-sur-Loire
Bicycle Wheel highliting the importance of expanding our viewpoint on reality: it spurs us to observe how a bicycle can become an object that, paralysed in their entanglement with others, loses its integrity and function, where the sense of movement is achieved only by the optic illusion of superimposition. Oftetimes Ai Weiwei works encourage pondering on the value of individuals amongst the complexity of the social system; in Forever bicycles such reflection bonds with the theme of ecological impacts, of everyday habits and the pace of contemporary cities. These very issues are conjured up, or rather claimed, albeit with a different language, in the works by Yuri Romagnoli, aka Hopnn. For this street artist, the ecological revolution takes place in the forms and colours of the urban space: Hopnn’s work on a wall or a burnt car’s body tells stories intended to inspire the use of bicycles instead of cars. Bicycles become a symbol of a new way to experience cities,
Courtesy of the artist and of the Galerie GP & N Vallois, Paris / Photo: Aurélien Mole
Courtesy of the artist and of the Galerie GP & N Vallois, Paris Photo: Aurélien Mole ©Eric Sander
Top: Henrique Oliveira, Baitogogo, 2013, Palais Tokio, Paris, Plywood and tree branchs
they express the personal choice not to pollute (expressed in the slogan +B.C. = -CO2) and to put community welfare before individual advantages. The very aesthetics of bicycles contrasts with urban traffic’s industrial alienation, in head-on clashes where cars are wrecked, while a myriad of cyclists take flight. In 2013, Hopnn dealt with the theme of waste and recycling during Paris Tour 13,3 when in the apartment 931 used the abandoned living space by transforming in a huge tricycle the dismantled parquet floor. A surprising and ephemeral sculpture that does not hide the recovered material it is made with. Benin-born Hazoumé is another example of how art, thanks to recycling, can draw inspiration from reality. With his masques-bidons4 made with jerrycans, tha artist talks of a world where human portraits become a simulacrum
Hopnn’s website, hopnn.com
3. Tour Paris 13 is the project organized in Paris in 2013 at Galleria Itinerrance where over a hundred street artists used the space of a building soon to be demolished. The exhibition was accessible from 1st to 31 October 2013. 4. “Jerrycan masks” is how Romuald Hazoumé calls his works.
renewablematter 13. 2016 Right: Romuald Hazoumé, Miss Havana, 1999, Plastic can, synthetic hair, copper
Bottom: Romuald Hazoumé, Cargo, 2006, Vespa with 3 wheels, plastic cans, metal
Courtesy CAAC – The Pigozzi Collection ©Romuald Hazoumé
Right page: Romuald Hazoumé, Noix de Coco / Coconut, 1997, Plastic can, synthetic hair, metal, nylon
Courtesy CAAC – The Pigozzi Collection ©Romuald Hazoumé
Romuald Hazoumé, Ati, 1994, Plastic can, synthetic hair, nylon, rubber Courtesy CAAC – The Pigozzi Collection ©Romuald Hazoumé
of oil trafficking between Benin and Nigeria, a symbol of corruption and economic-political inequality between Africa and the West. A conflict that takes shape in the portrait gallery the artist has been organizing for over twenty years. Each mask – despite the standard matrix dictated by jerrytanks – shows a character, a personality and uniqueness expressed through colours, engravings, writings on its skin. Suffice it to look at Ati and Miss Havana’s sculptures to realize how, starting from the very material, the artist is able to manipulate waste, creating characters while telling culture, traditions and contemporay Africa’s current events. To focus the attention on how man interferes with nature, in a recycle of death and rebirth, Brazilian artist Henrique Oliveira uses wood instead. Baitogogo’s curvy and monstruous branches or whole tree trunks spring from the white wall of the White Cube freezing
environment at Palais de Tokyo in Paris. Or from the warm atmosphere of the former Chaumont-sur-Loire chateau’s former barn with Momento Fecundo. Actually, these twisted trees are made with wood panels and planks recovered next to Rio’s building sites and favelas. The artist then reuses them so that matter riappropriates the shape nature had given it and the wood is reunited with its tree form. These are manipulations combining the art of recycling and the act of giving back to the world through waste itself the evolution of lives and things living on it. The cycle of wood lived through its three phases – nature, object and community5 – is a critical and poetic reflection of what happened and continues to happen in our society, leaving us hope that art can give rise to a collective thought that is aware of its own very actions in the world.
5. “Nature” corresponds to the original birth state when wood is a tree. Processed by man wood is the material with which an “object” is made with a specific function, often meeting a single need of one individual. The third “community” phase is when the wood processed by Oliveira becomes a work of art that can be enjoyed by a multitude of people.
Courtesy CAAC – The Pigozzi Collection ©Romuald Hazoumé
Think Tank 17
renewablematter 13. 2016
the Environment Becomes Big
Designed by Gan Khoon Lay – The Noun Project
BUSINESS by Antonio Pergolizzi
80% of all logging in the Amazon forest occurs without permits. Reptile skin trade is also illegal, generating a $8 billion turnover but jeopardizing the very survival of 1/5 of species. In many countries plundering the environment is deemed quite normal economic practice. However, its protection cost 908 activists’ lives, murdered between 2002 and 2013. Antonio Pergolizzi, PhD, is a journalist and expert on environmental issues. Since 2006 he has coordinated the writing of the report Ecomafia, Legambiente.
Green corruption is the circular economy’s sworn enemy: its very anthitesis, its tombstone. A liquid enemy that feeds and grows on red tape inefficiencies and awful governance in the management of environmental resources, of the racket, lack of ethics and collective responsibility. An even worse enemy of those lobbies still firmly clung onto fossil fuels. Everywhere in the world but mainly in countries with institutional and economic fragile or in transition systems, the use
of corruption to pillage environmental properties has always been a normal strategy of economic policy. A quick fix to amass money without too many qualms. In particular, in African and Asian countries and in South America, corruption was instrumental in robbing biodiversity to the advantage of rich Western markets: clearing the land, importing toxic waste from industrialized countries in exchange for weapons, as journalist Ilaria Alpi, murdered in Somalia on March 20th 1994 was trying to disclose.
2. Appendix II includes species whose trading is regulated to avoid exploitation that could compromise their survival. 3. Silvae, Italian Corps of Forest Rangers’ Technical-scientific Magazine, November 2013.
4. Greenpeace, The Amazon’s Silent Crisis: Night Terrors, October 2014 (www.greenpeace. org.uk/sites/files/gpuk/ gp_amz_silent_crimefile_ final_dps.pdf). 5. See findings of TREES (Timber Regulation Enforcement to protect European Wood Sector from criminal infiltration) Project (www.treesproject.eu/downloads/ TREES%20Project%20 Final%20Report/TREES_ Final_LEAs_CD.pdf).
The illegal trade of reptile skins and byproducts has become one of the most deplorable trades, and at the same time one of the most profitable ones thanks to corruption and various criminal systems. According to the UN, it amounts to $8 billion a year and managed to blend in with legal practices, leading one fifth of known species to the brink of extinction so far. The checks on this extraordinary trade tend to revolve around exhibited documents, which more often than not tell a completely different story compared to reality. At international level – between 2008 and 2012 only – the number of traded protected live animals was about 5 million, while 11.2 million skins were exported, with a total of 372 species involved (CFS, 2015),1 all included in Appendix II of CITES.2 It is mainly the luxury market of the footwear and clothing industries (crocodile skins and similar, pythons and similar) that feed the demand for the black market. The corruption’s task is to create profit margins between the various international supply chains, pushing up the monetary value of individual animals, from €30 paid to capturers, representing the first link in the supply chain to €50,000 for a single high fashion garment (Progetto Civic, 2016). As CITES’ investigation sources highlight, corruption is fundamental to circumvent checks and amend required certifications, legitimizing criminal networks mainly in the countries where reptiles originate such as Asia, Africa and South America: from captures to treatment, through to skins wharehouses, before they reach European handcraft workshops, mainly Italian and French. The huge economic gap between countries where the skins originate and those where they are sold adds fuel to the fire: a backhander pocketed by supervising authorities in the first phase of the supply chain may be worth a year’s salary. The timber industry is another key sector in the green corruption, especially fine timber protected by CITES Convention. According to the European Parliament data (2007), 35% of timber imported into the European Union in 2006 came from illegal resources, mainly from Russia, Indonesia and China. And there is more: almost 80% of forest logging in the Amazon is illegal or occurs without permits.3 Between August and September 2014 Greenpeace used in the Brazilian Amazon forest GPS technology to track the criminal market linked to illegal logging and ensuing timber trade, showing how the timber industry in the State of Parà is in part to blame for this trade since it provides
©Italy Forestry Corps
1. Brugnola L., “Il commercio internazionale di anfibi e rettili in pericolo di estinzione,” CFS – Servizio CITES, 2015.
the necessary paperwork to be shipped abroad.4 Illegal logging is thus the first step, followed by the passage from sawmills (often complete and utter “washing machines” of illegally-logged timber), transport and trading (direct or through intermediaries). Usually, criminal groups take advantage of corruped élites, public officials and salaried police officers, essential pieces in the puzzle of cross-border trafficking. In Europe, the Balcan peninsula is one the most exposed areas to illegal timber trafficking through corrupted networks.5 It is from here, from the Balkan route, that most fine timber is dispatched to the rest of Europe for a variety of uses such as maple used in Italy to make the best violins in the world. The easiness of cirumventing checks, the objective difficulty in certifying authorizing
Because of this very corruption series of killings, the CITES Convention, ratified in Washington in 1973 and signed by 182 countries, included over 13,000 species of mammals and birds, thousands of reptiles, amphybians and fish, millions of species of invertebrates and almost 250,000 plants in the list of endangered species.
©CFs – CITES Service
CITES Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, www.cites.org/eng
6. Global Witness, Deadly Environment. The dramatic rise in killing of environmental and land defenders (1.1.200231.12.2013), London 2014.
procedures of movements and in actually applying due diligence and compliance mechanisms, and above all the considerable expected benefits, are tangible conditions smoothing the way for green corruption.
7. Data from ISTAT, Ministero della Giustizia, Legambiente.
The seriousness and spread of corruption in the environmental plunder is further confirmed by the number of people killed due to their commitment to protect natural resources. From 2002 to 2013, 908 people from 35 different countries were murdered; over the last four years, on average two activists a week were killed.6 But impunity for such crimes is extremely high: only 10 criminals have been captured and punished. The worst hit areas are, from what is known, Latin America and Southeast Asia. In many countries, NGOs, political movements and ordinary citizens started to take action to try and stop the corruption drift, of course wherever it is possible to demonstrate. One of the most recent cases is Morocco, where, following the arrival of 2,500 tonnes of special waste from Italy, the national association for the fight against corruption in Rabat caused a huge public protest. The same is occuring in Tunisia and randomly in Eastern Europe, in South Africa, Nigeria, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Lebanon and Afghanistan.
8. If in the first case (environmental crimes and convictions on corruption charges) the Pearson coefficient equals 0.4471, in the second case (environmental crimes and GDP) it is -0.5822. The same linear relationships are true if we take into consideration charges (coefficient 0.4923) and arrest for environmental violations (coefficient 0.4854) with convictions on corruption charges.
Besides investigative evidence, the strong link between environmental crimes and corruption is demonstrated also by using social sciences. Thanks to the quantitative analysis carried out by economist Filippo Reganati at La Sapienza University, using the Pearson correlation coefficient (adjusted on regional level and for the 2007-2011 period)7 between the number of environmental crimes – including people reported to the police and arrested – convictions on corruption charges (artt. 318-322 of the Italian Penal Code) and per capita GDP, there is a positive and statistically significant correlation between environmental crimes and convictions on corruption charges, and a symmetrical negative and statistically significant correlation with the regional per capita GDP.8 This means that ecocrimes and corruption go hand in hand. The Pearson coefficient tells us that the higher the per capita GDP, the lower the rate of proven environmental crimes. From this point of view, environmental crimes appear particularly rampant in the regions with the worst performing economy, where the economy languishes in the old and exhausted patterns triggering a negative spiral with disastrous socio-environmental results. Alberto Vannucci at Pisa University also came to the same conclusions despite using a different and more qualitative indicator, the Quality of Government by Göteborg University, worked out though a survey with questions on the perception and personal experiences of bribes. In this instance as well, using data from Rapporto Ecomafia 2013, the highest number of environmental crimes and charges took place in those regions with the highest number of convictions on corruption charges. These results prove that good environmental governance, quality of company’s capital and the adoption of sustainable economic models with a strong link to local areas are the best tool to protect common goods and stop shady characters. Thus, besides defending ecosystems, the circular economy has in its DNA chromosomes to look forward in the right direction, doing away with green corruption.
©Italy Forestry Corps
©CFs – CITES Service
Link between GDP and Environmental Crimes: The Italian Case
Policy oeconomicus dogma praised to the skies by neoclassical theories, the extremely utilitarian actor, rational and amoral steering the economic enterprise towards the maximization of its own objectives without worrying about the disasters it leaves behind (Karl Polanyi, 1944). By definition, corruption is indeed a rational crime (Gary Becker, 1968). If the economic enterprise is freed from social and ethical considerations and pursues only economic usefulness, it is very likely the environment and common goods will be the first to fall under the axe of cynical and rational market rules and criminal intermediation. The Tragedy of Commons, as Garrett Hardin warned back in the 1960s.
©CFs – CITES Service
Moreover, the corruptive currency is particularly effective amongst the recesses of environmental rules based on the “command and control” paradigm setting the minimum environmental standards (that is, accepted polluting levels) that everybody must respect – and that above all those running a business – but controlled by a technical-bureaucratic apparatus at various geographical levels where subjective discretionary power margins and procedure inefficiencies provide a fertile soil for illegal markets and patronage systems to thrive. The stricter the environmental regulations are, the higher the price of corruption becomes. It is no coincidence that there is plenty of economic literature identifying amongst the conditions favouring resorting to corruption high fiscal pressure, excessive regulation of legal markets and bureaucratic regulation in general and high public expenditure (Centorrino, 2010).
©Italy Forestry Corps
Globalization has also caused the expansion of the green corruption market. As Marco Arnone9 explains, “The more markets expand and interconnect at global level, the more corruption rises taking advantage of different corporate structures present in different countries and actually hindering the application of criminal law.” According to Arnone,10 “Market globalization has also highlighted the fact that some countries are more prone than others to ‘export’ corruption. Some multinationals are indeed more prone than others to corrupt public officials of the country where they operate, thus ‘exporting’ corruption.” Indeed, there is a positive correlation between the level of domestic corruption and the level of corruption exported by single countries: where corruption is rampant, businesspeople have a tendency to export this kind of corporate culture to the rest of the world. Economic and environmental costs are huge. In Italy alone, between 2001 and 2011 10 billion would have been lost due to environmental corruption (Data by Legambiente, Libera and Avviso Pubblico, 2012). In Italy in the last six years, Legambiente has registered 302 enquires of great national importance leading to 2,666 people being arrested, 2776 being reported and involving 68 national public prosecutor’s offices (Ecomafia 2016, Edizioni Ambiente, Milan 2016). Green corruption is basically the tool used to domesticate and circumvent laws and regulations, finding the perfect habitat especially in the meanders of the linear economy by exacerbating the classic mechanism of privatizing profit and socializing both environmental and social costs. It is based on the strength of the homo
9. Arnone M., L.S. Borlini, Corruption – Economic Analysis and International Law, Edward Elgar 2014. 10. Arnone M., “Quanto costa la corruzione,” lavoce.info, 12th December 2005.
Strong support to training, substantial investments in research, ability to transfer technological innovation on industrial scale, creation of private/public partnerships. The Danish model for the bioeconomyâ€™s development is based on these elements.
DRIVEN by Mario Bonaccorso
by Innovation With over 3% of GDP invested in research and development, ranking 8th worldwide amongst countries creating green innovation, Denmark is already top of the list in many leading-edge technologies in the bioeconomy. Here are its numerous strenghts but also its impediments to overcome.
Mario Bonaccorso is a journalist and creator of the Bioeconomista blog. He works for Assobiotec, the Italian association for the development of biotechnologies.
“Plan for growth for water, bio and environmental solutions” (March 2013), tinyurl.com/hg34k83
Perhaps the mere name of Novozymes is enough to adequately describe the Danish bioeconomy. The Bagsværd-based giant, 12 kilometres north-east of Copenhagen, holds 48% of the world market of industrial enzymes, having closed 2015 with over €3.3 billion value. But Denmark is not just a leader in the field of industrial biotechnologies. The Scandinavian country boasts a deep-rooted tradition of political support and favourable legislation towards sustainable energy technologies, such as wind power and energy efficiency. This has guaranteed a leading role in many of such green technologies and led to several industrial achievements. Dong Energy is a case in point, today being one of the leading investors in wind and off-shore farms in Northern Europe; or Vestas Wind, the wind turbine giant with installations in over 70 countries. But above all, it is a government’s vision aiming at ditching fossil fuels from the energy and transport systems by 2050 that plays a key role. The Leadership of Industrial Biotechnologies If industrial biotechnologies are the engine behind the bioeconomy, Denmark is the location of its compartment. It is truly difficult to find a biorefinery in the world where Novozymes enzymes are not employed: Mossi and Ghisolfi at Crescentino (Italy), Raizen (JV between Shell
and Cosan) in Piracicaba (Brazil), St1 Biofuels in Kajaani (Finland) are just a few examples. In Northwich, in the North-West of England, a 100% Danish initiative is underway, where the first plant in the world able to treat domestic mixed waste through enzymes to produce bioenergies is being built. Novozymes, which in 2009 featured in Forbes magazine within the 100 companies that would survive one hundred years, will provide the enzymes, but the REnescience biotechnology driving the plant was developed by Dong Energy (like Inbicon and Pyroneer biotechnologies), tested since 2009 in a demonstration plant in Copenhagen. The REnescience facility can manage 15 tonnes of waste an hour or 120,000 tonnes a year. This corresponds to waste produced by nearly 110,000 households in the United Kingdom. The biogas produced in Northwich will be used to generate almost 5 MW of electricity, enough to power almost 9,500 households. The Danish leadership in the field of industrial biotechnologies stems from a historical vocation to support training, research and innovation. The Scandinavian country invests over 3% of GDP in research and development, according to EC data and is ranking 8th in the 2016 Global Innovation Index drawn up by WWF and Cleantech Group analyzing countries creating most green innovation. The national government’s plan for the development of the economy is also based on technological leadership. It is not a proper national strategy, but something very similar such as “The Plan for the growth for water,
renewablematter 13. 2016
A Panel of Experts on the Bioeconomy To make the most of such strenghts and convert the country into a hub for growth in the field of knowldedge, technology and production – and effectively promote the development of a Danish sustainable bioeconomy – in 2013 the government created the National Panel of the Bioeconomy, bringing together 27 experts representing companies of the whole production supply chain, research world, non governmental organizations and various authorities. This Panel’s main task, working along the lines of the German Bioeconomy Council, is to draw attention to the need of specific measures in favour of a sustainable bioeconomy, where resources and products are used to the benefit of the environment, climate, growth and employment. One of the main topics dealt with by the Panel, meeting three times a year, is about economical and sustainable biomass availability, regarded as a vital element for the development of the Danish bioeconomy on a par with the promotion of research and creation of a market for biobased products. Biomass is key for the Danish bioeconomy stakeholders, not just for the national agricultural system and for the processing and biorefinery sectors, but also for cattle farming, which can benefit from access to new and better types of proteic feeds, ditching once and for all costly imports of GMO-free soy. “In Denmark – as a Panel document of September 2014 reads – we are well placed in the development of the bioeconomy: we have the raw materials (biomass) from agriculture, from silviculture and fishing; we boast a strong biobased industrial sector and the necessary ability to research and innovate.” However, there are a few weaknesses, impediments that must be overcome to garantee adequate development for the bioeconomy. First of all – the Panel complains – there are no measures promoting market growth. “Currently, products from renewable sources cannot compete with equivalent products made using crude oil or other fossil materials. The price of fossil fuels does not take into account the real cost on the environment and climate, while many
Børge Mogensen, Spanish Chair, 1959
“Denmark – as the document reads – boasts a strong position on the international market for water, bio and environmental solutions. It produces technologies and solutions in a variety of ways to increase the efficient use of water and resources, to improve the environment and to reduce air pollution. Industrial biotechnologies are another strong point for Denmark.”
Material Iconic Value of Danish Design World famous for its quality, functionality and elegance, Danish design stems from its materials, shaped with extraordinary skills. Above all, wood, treated artfully by expert carpenters. Seats often dovetail rather than being nailed together; compact and long-lasting, they are anything but disposable objects. Danish design is “timeless,” it is iconic beyond fashion and introduced into industrial objects a sensitive and ecological approach, a metaphor of those who conceived and produced it.
value chains of the bioeconomy are still in a development phase.” So, clear and stable political objectives able to encourage national and foreign investments in this sector are lacking: for instance a system of Green Public Procurement or certification schemes for solid biomass with transparent and operational sustainable criteria. Lastly, the Panel points out, there are some objective difficulties in going from the research of pilot and demonstration plants, to industrial-scale and commercial scale. “Technology must be totally able to compete with fossil-based products from day one, since there are no provisional niche markets where the investment for development can be recovered. Consequently, the threshold to reach commercial scale is technically high, while the possibility to attract the necessary private start-up capital is limited by the ensuing difficulty to recover the development costs through the market.” The Alliances for the Bioeconomy To overcome obstacles to the bioeconomy’s full development a series of public-private alliances have been formed in Denmark, on some occasions by the government itself. Biorefining Alliance is one of them, an organization operating to promote the country’s bioeconomy, created in 2011 by Dong Energy, Novozymes, Haldor Topsoe (a Danish company specialized in catalyisis) and by the Danish Agriculture & Food Council, representing Denmark’s agrobusiness, farmers’, companies’ and trade associations. “Our objective – director Anne Grete Holmsgaard claims –
Arne Jacobsen, Ant, 1952
bio and environmental solutions,” presented in 2013.
Hans J. Wegner, chaise longue, 1950
The National Bioeconomy Panel, Denmark as growth hub for a sustainable bioeconomy (2014), tinyurl.com/zrdqjww
Verner Panton, Panton Chair, 1960
Poul Kjærholm, PKO chair, 1952
Policy is to strengthen Denmark’s position and to create employment in the value chain of the production of sustainable biomass for advanced biobased products.” State of Green is a proper public-private partnership, founded by the Danish government, the Confederation of Danish Industry, the Energy Association, the Danish Food & Agriculture Council and The Danish Wind Industry Association. Supported by no less than Prince Frederik, State of Green brings together all the leading actors of the Danish bioeconomy, of the circular economy and the efficient use of resources. “Through State of Green – says executive director Finn Mortensen – we offer decision makers, the international commercial community and the media an opportunity to get to know and benefit from technologies and lessons learnt from the Danish green community.” So, State of Green is an advocacy but also a showcase for the Bioeconomy made in Denmark. Its members include Arla Foods, Scandinavia’s major dairy industry and the seventh in the world. The Aahrus-based agricultural company
Bycicles Are Bioeconomical The bioeconomy is not only an economic revolution. It is also – perhaps mainly – a cultural revolution. In this respect, Denmark’s strong vocation for the bioeconomy is testified by the vast use of bycicles as a means of transport. The Scandinavian country boasts 12,000 kilometres of cycle paths. In 2009, the Danish parliament allocated €134 million for the National Cycle Fund, which funded 388 projects. In June 2014, the government made available €24 million for a cycle superhighway project and to improve cycle parking. The Danish Cyclists’ Federation boasts 16,000 members. And there is more: Using bycicles is also beneficial for business. According to a study by COWI, a consulting company [...] cyclists and pedestrians contribute to 50% of retailers’ takings in big cities centres and to 25% of takings in small, medium-sized cities. Indeed, cyclists visit a higher number of shops compared to motorists. Once again, the idea that closing cities centres penalizes business is debunked. The investigation has instead shown that cyclists and pedestrians have a positive influence on business because they spend their money in restaurants and shops.
State of Green, stateofgreen.com/en
There are some objective difficulties in going from the research of pilot and demonstration plants, to industrial-scale and commercial scale.
anchored its growth strategy on environmental sustainability. The 2020 strategy, launched in 2011, covers the whole of the value chain (“from cows to consumers”) and aims at reducing CO2 emissions by 30% per kilo of milk produced in the farm compared to 1990, and 25% of processessing, transport and packaging compared to 2005 levels. All this thanks to 50% use of renewable energy, to a reduction of the same percentage of food waste, aiming to achieve 0% waste in the facilities and 100% recyclable packaging. “Today – highlights Anna Flysjö, Life Cycle Sustainability Manager – 18% of total energy used by Arla comes from renewable sources and greenhouse gas emissions has been reduced by 14% compared to 2005. All this despite an increase in production, meaning that the reduction per unit produced is even higher.” Even the Beverage and Toy Industries Turn Green Denmark’s green footprint is also shown by two industrial giants in their own respective fields: Carlsberg and Lego Group. Carlsberg, fifth world group for beer production, operating in 50 countries with 31,000 employees, in 2015 announced the development of the first fully biodegradable wood fibre bottle for beverages (Green Fiber Bottle). The announcement was made during the World Economic Forum in Davos, where the Danish multinational was asked to take part in a debate on food waste. It is an all-Danish three-year project: indeed, besides Carslberg, other institutions are involved such as Technical University of Denmark, ecoXpac, a packaging company providing its own “thermoformed fibre” technology and a Danish fund (Innovation Fund Denmark) funding the project, in sinergy with the Horizon 2020 European programme. All materials used in the bottle, even the cap, will be developed with biobased and biodegradable materials, first of all from wood fibre from sustainable sources. “If the project is successful, as we believe, it will mark a change of course in our options for liquid packaging and it will be another important step in our way towards a circular economy, with zero waste,” declared in Davos Andraea Dawson-Shepherd, then Vice President Corporate Affairs. The Green Fiber Bottle project falls within Carlsberg’s strong strategy towards a circular economy, promoted through the Carlsberg Circular Community, a collaboration between the Danish multinational and other selected partners aiming at achieving a zero waste economy using the Cradle to Cradle® platform, created by Professor Michael Braungart, for the development and marketing of new products. Basically, products must have
renewablematter 13. 2016 a better quality for consumers, not involving health risks and be both economically and enviromentally efficient. According to what stated by Jørgen Buhl Rasmussen – Carlsberg Group’s President and CEO – “packaging is responsible for over 45% of all Carlsberg’s CO2 emissions.” The objective to reduce its own CO2 emissions also pushed the toy giant Lego to invest in research, development and implementation of new sustainable raw materials, to be used in the production of its famous colourful bricks and packaging. The company, created in 1932 in Billund, in June 2015 announced within its sustainability targets a series of investment plans of a billion Danish Krone by 2030 (about €135 million) and the employment of over 100 workers, thanks to the inauguration of Lego Sustainable
Materials Centre, which will become fully operational by the end of this year. Lego Group’s great challenge is to achieve completely biobased brick marketing by 2030. “A challenge that is both complex and thrilling” according to Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO and President of the Danish group, which will guarantee “research and development of new materials that will allow to continue to offer experiences of high-quality creative play in the future, without compromising the environment and the future of generations to come.”
edited by M. B.
Beer (sustainable) Galore Alberto Frausin, Carlsberg Italia’s CEO
Producing beer sustainably. Carlsberg, the beer giant with a turnover of €10 billion a year with its various brands – Carlsberg, Tuborg and Birrificio Angelo Poretti – and its Danish people made a proper motto out of it. Renewable Matter talks about it with Alberto Frausin, Carlsberg Italia’s CEO. What does sustainability mean for Carlsberg? “It means producing beer at the highest possible level of quality, without affecting the retail price
Our company in Italy, restoring a Carlsberg’s Group’s patent, introduced on the market [...] recyclable PET kegs (as opposed to steel) where tapping can occure withouth added CO2.
for consumers. For Carslberg, sustainability falls within the concept of quality. It takes into consideration an assessment of the environmental impact of the product’s whole life cycle, the so called Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).” To what extent, in your opinion, Carslberg’s attention for sustainability depends on the fact that it is a Danish company? “To a very large extent. Environmental sustainability
Give Me a Draught Beer... and I’ll Cheer up the World
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is in the Danish DNA, on a par with the great attention given to research and development, to which our company allocates 25% of profits. In a way, the attention for the environment is so deep rooted in Denmark that is taken for granted in everything that is made, from individual choices to political and collective ones. In February 2015, Carlsberg launched the Green Fiber Bottle project, a 100% biobased bottle produced with fully biodegradable wood fibre.” When will we be able to see this bottle on the market? And more importantly, will it be able to preserve the aroma and taste of beer? “The launch is expected to take place on pilot markets in 2018. In fifteen-twenty years all glass
bottles will be replaced. We are certain that the new bottle not only will be able to keep the quality and freshness of beer, but consumers will be able to buy it at the same price. Green Fiber Bottle will be produced with fibres from responsibly-managed sources, with trees replaced at the same rate as those felled. Despite the fact the bottle can naturally decompose and be thrown away with organic waste, our intention is to devize a specific waste management system, just as it happens today with bottles and cans.” What other projects is Carlsberg developing in the field of the bioeconomy, of the circular economy and sustainability in general? “I would like to quote a project I am very proud of,
renewablematter 13. 2016 because Italy is the leader. Our company in Italy, restoring a patent by Carlsberg Group, introduced on the market the DraughtMaster™ Modular 20 system using recyclable PET kegs (as opposed to steel) where tapping can occur without adding CO2. In this way, the quality of beer improves considerably while avoiding saturation and oxidation processes; beer itself is kept unchanged and garanteed for over a month since the opening of the keg, compared to 3-4 days of traditional kegs. “According to LCA analysis, the new system with PET kegs reduces CO2 emissions by 29% per 100 litres of beer produced, compared to steel kegs. A comparison between DraughtMaster and the bottle systems shows that every 100 litres of beer CO2 emissions drop to 36 kg compared to 131 of glass, while with regard to waste produced, they go from 29 kilo to just 5, just as water consumption which is halved (609 compared to 1,150 litres). “Against the wider picture of environmental sustainability the PET keg supply chain has a much lower footprint compared to glass bottles, if the European Commision Environmental Footprint is used as a parameter. If, on the other hand, circularity is taken into account, the PET keg’s contribution is represented by de-materialization and the more efficient use of resources, thanks to the fact that a particularly light material is used to package and distribute similar quantity of beer.
Steel kegs must return to the factory to be refilled, while our system uses a very light PET that is then recycled, even though it is still produced using fossil fuels.” In your opinion, what is Denmark’s distinguishing feature with regard to support to innovation and environmental sustainability? “Danish people are aware the economic development is underpinned by a country’s ability to innovate. That’s why there are ongoing investments, both public and private. Universities are excellent, with great ability to attract qualified staff. Moreover, there is a technological transfer system in place able to turn basic research into industrial innovation. This system has only one little drawback: the slowness in the implementation of policies. That’s the reason why, despite Denmark being the leader in the bioeconomy, a national strategy in this regard is still lacking.”
The LIQUID Continent Pivotal in the European Economy – 30% of global trade runs through its waters – the Mediterranean has all it takes to become the true protagonist of Southern Europe’s bioeconomy, guaranteeing development and employment. But there is a need for a shared vision amongst the countries in that area and a stronger connection between its shores. by Mario Bonaccorso
“The bioeconomy in Italy: a unique opportunity to connect economy and society and the environment,” tinyurl.com/zmle3dc
A liquid continent. This is how Fernand Braudel, a famous French historian of the Annales School, defined the Mediterranean. A continent made of water surrounded by three different continents, heavily threatened by the effects of climate change. If there ever was and there still is a Mediterranean economy, then there is also a Mediterranean bioeconomy, strictly connected to its territory, able to build a new bridge between the North and South rims of the Mediterranean, characterized by a widespread and eco-friendly economic development. 2016 is handing down to us a Southern Europe that is protagonist in this sector. Spain and Italy’s governments have at last accepted the challenge issued by the European Union in 2012, when the “Innovating for a sustainable growth: a bioeconomy for Europe” challenge was presented, when the bioeconomy became part of their political agenda. The Spanish strategy in March and that of Italy in November were followed by those of France and Great Britain, both based on the agribusiness and green chemistry, which is already proving a driving force for growth and employment:
from Montmeló in Catalonia, where there is the plant for the production of bio-succinic acid by Succinity GmbH, a joint venture between BASF and Corbion, in Porto Torres in Sardinia where there is Matrìca’s biorefinery, a joint venture between Versalis and Novamont, to Gela, Sicily, where the conversion to green chemistry of Gruppo Eni’s refinery is underway. And the Mediterranean is the true great protagonist of Southern Europe’s bioeconomy, a reservoir of still largely untapped renewable raw materials and at the same time direct beneficiary of the new biobased economy, which will allow a lower impact on its waters. The Mediterranean is also the location where one of the biggest migration phenomena of the last decades is taking place, a route towards freedom for millions of refugees. A place that often turns into the scene of tragic events. “The Mediterranean Sea – as it reads on the ‘The bioeconomy in Italy: a unique opportunity to connect economy and society and the environment” strategy – is a basin with unique bio/geophysical characteristics. It offers key contribution to the European economy, supporting 30% of the global trade by sea with over 450 port terminals, home to the world’s
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Migration compact, tinyurl.com/ho6whzl
Biobased Industries Joint Undertaking, www.bbi-europe.eu
second largest market for cruise liners, half of the EU’s fishing fleet and a unique cultural and natural heritage. At the same time, the Mediterranean is also faced with important environmental challenges linked to climate change, the growing maritime traffic and pollution, overexploitation of fish resources, invasion of alien species, for instance. But local biodiversity and deep water resources, tourism, energy production from renewable resources, marine aquaculture represent important local opportunities for still unexplored blue growth and employment opportunities.” Moreover, the Italian strategy, is a reminder of how the Bluemed initiative, started in 2014 on an initiative by the Union’s Italian Presidency by involving the area’s member States and Portugal managed to “benefit from having a common strategic policy of research and innovation. Soon, such initiative will be extended to the Southern rim, so that the whole area will be able to share the duties and opportunities of a sustainable and long-term economic growth in the Mediterranean. The bioeconomy could thus greatly contribute to regeneration, to sustainable economic development and political stability in the area, reducing also migration phenomena. For instance, through the creation of local investment projects with a high social infrastructural impact, as expressed in the Migration Compact document proposed by the Italian government”
(a contribution for a European strategy on immigration sent to Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Union, Editor’s note). The drafting of the strategy represented also a key opportunity for Italy to strengthen its competitiveness and role in promoting sustainable growth in Europe and the Mediterranean basin. It is the result of an interministerial collaboration, involving the Ministry for the Economic Development, of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies, the Ministry for Education, of Universities and Research and the Ministry for the Environment and the Protection of Land and Sea. Besides the major national actors of the bioeconomy, including the Agency for Territorial Cohesion, the Conference of Regions and national technological clusters of green chemistry (Spring) and Agribusiness (Cl.an). The bioeconomy offers a great opportunity for growth and employment in Europe, although the Mediterranean region is lagging behind compared to Northern Europe, despite the great potential in terms of availability of agricultural, forest and marine biological resources as well as rural and marginal land. This is the unequivocal message that emerged last November 9th during an event organized by Spring, the Italian Cluster of Italian green chemistry, by Biobased Industries Joint Undertaking, the European Commission and the Bologna University at Ecomondo 2016 in Rimini. As Philippe Mengal, BBI JU’s executive director, more interconnection amongst Mediterranean countries is needed, as it happens in Northern Europe. From this point of view, Horizon 2020
Policy Cluster Spring: Strategy and Targets Created in response to the announcement promoted by the Ministry of Education, of the University and Research in 2012 for development and the strengthening of Italian technological clusters, green chemistry’s Italian cluster (acronym for Sustainable Processes and Resources for Innovation and National Growth) includes about one hundred entities operating within the bioeconomy and represents the whole supply chain of the chemical sector from renewable sources, as a guarantee of a multidisciplinary approach, necessary for the sector’s development. The cluster, presided by Catia Bastioli, Novamont’s CEO, promotes activities of research, demonstrations, technological transfer, popularization and training, in constant dialogue with players throughout the territory, encouraging a model of circular economy at local, national and international level focused on integrated, sustainable and multi sectorial supply chains, starting from a collection of local areas’ needs and interaction with all other situations in the biobased industry. It is an associate member of the Biobased Industries Consortium and takes part as an observer in the Expert Group on Biobased Products of the European Commission. www.clusterspring.it/home-en/
The bioeconomy represents a great opportunity to reconnect the economy with society and the promotion of diversity [...] The bioeconomy is democracy.
EY, “BaroMed Report 2015,” tinyurl.com/znqnlk4
and BBI JU offer important opportunities to support local initiatives of Research and Innovation, creating interconnections between sustainable agriculture, forestry, industries and growth of the sea economy.” “The thing is – adds Jose Manuel Gonzalez Vicente of the Centre for technological and industrial development, reporting to the Spanish ministry of the Economy, of the Industry and Competitiveness – that the bioeconomy is not yet adequately recognized as an opportunity in the Mediterranean.” Fabio Fava, a professor of Industrial Biotechnolgies at the Bologna University and Italian representative for the bioeconomy in Horizon 2020 and in BBI JU, shares this point of view. He believes that “the potential for the bioindustry in the Mediterranean is huge, but more coordination amongst the countries of Southern Europe of the Union is needed, starting from the three biggest States: France, Italy and Spain.” “In the area – Fava highlights – there are 3.5 billion hectares of degraded and abandoned land which could be used to further rural development, a well established agribusiness and integrated biorefineries over the territory, which could be powered with abundant agricultural waste, fishing and aquaculture. A shared vision amongst the countries of the area is fundamental, though, in order to
enhance and complete what has already been done by the BlueMed inititive devoted to the growth of the economy of the Mediterranean sea and the Prima programme (Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area) for agriculture, inland waters and the agribusiness, involving also the countries of the Southern rim, such as Morocco, Lebanon and Egypt.” The economic signs in this area are encouraging. “If integration and collaboration within the Mediterranean countries will be promoted – guarantees Donato Iacovone, EY’s CEO in Italy and managing partner of the Mediterranean area – over the next years the world map will enjoy the creation of a new emerging market.” The BaroMed Report drawn up by EY expects a positive growth in the near future and investors seem to be interested in the region. “Thanks to not yet saturated market and to its resources, not only Europe and the United States, but also China and India consider the Mediterranean a very attractive area for investments.” EY’s research involved 156 executives from 20 countries around the world. They see the Mediterranean as the most attractive are of Europe (51%), of Africa (60%) and of Asia (52%). According to Iacovone, “thanks to a strategic position compared to Europe, Africa and Asia and with a growing labour market and with the considerable resources it has, the region offers an excellent compromise between costs and growth. In the immediate future, more efficient infrastructure and more stability will help create more jobs both in the industry and other sectors.” So, the bioeconomy can be the keystone to guaranteeing economic growth and new jobs, keeping the Mediterranean’s wealth of biodiversity, which is one of the world’s most important ecosystems. “The bioeconomy’s prerequisite – reiterated Catia Bastioli, Novamont’s CEO and President for Cluster Spring – is that soil, water and air must not be damaged because they represent the natural heritage on which the natural heritage is based. Destroying such resources means destroying the very economy. This is why we must focus on supply chains respecting the sustainability of the territory, able to supply sustainable biomass. The bioeconomy is to be intended as territorial regeneration, as efficient use of resources. Competing for food is not an option. There should be synergy. The bioeconomy represents a great opportunity to reconnect the economy with society and the promotion of diversity.” As Bastioli herself stated at the inauguration of the Bottrighe di Adria’s biorefinery, the first in the world for the production of butanediol from biomass, “the bioeconomy is democracy.” For the Mediterranean this could not be a better opportunity.
renewablematter 13. 2016
Restarts from Green Chemistry
Matrìca in Sardinia, GFBiochemicals in Campania, Mossi Ghisolfi in Apulia and Versalis in Sicily: These are some prime examples of a new industrial flurry in the green chemistry sector characterizing Southern Italy. Another chance for economic recovery in regions where the agricultural sector is starting to grow again. by M. B.
Non-repayable funds that often enriched Southern politicians’ entourage and led to white elephant projects, plants with no connection with their areas and in many cases with no consideration
for their negative impact on the environment and human health. This could sum up the history of Southern Italy’s forced industrialization in the years after the Second World War.
Policy But today, this part of Italy, still very far from the North in terms of employment and wealth, as bluntly shown year after year by the National Institute of Stastics (ISTAT) analyses, seems to have found in the bioeconomy a new means of economic development able to revive, in line with the local agricultural and rural environment, dismantled industrial sites. Matrica in Porto Torres, GFBiochemichals in Caserta, Mossi Ghisolfi in Modugno, Versalis in Gela are excellent examples of how it is possible to combine economy and ecology to create wealth. Orange Fiber, www.orangefiber.it/en
To transform feedstock from renewable non-food sources, suitable for the area and grown on marginal land, into bioproducts: all this without affecting the food chain and depleting other resources.
Southern Italy has a new chance to restart, a last train that it must catch at all costs. Last June new positive ISTAT data came in showing that after 7 years of uninterrupted contraction, GDP has started to increase again (+1%) together with employment (+1.5%). This recovery has been driven especially by substantial growth in the agricultural sector (+7.3%) while the industrial sector per se has seen hardly any change. A shot in the arm that the green economy, strongly connected to the agricultural and forestry sector, must now spread to the industrial sector. The model to follow is that of Matrìca in Sardinia, a joint venture between Novamont and Versalis, that in Porto Torres is building, according to Novamont itself, “the world’s biggest and most innovative green chemistry hub, a new model of economy involving industry, agriculture, environment and local economy in a great redevelopment and innovation project.” Once finished, by 2017, the project will cover an area of 27 hectares with different plants capable of processing about 350,000 tonnes a year of bioproducts (bioplastics, biolubricants, household and personal care products, phytosanitary products, additives for the rubber and plastic industry and food aromas). “Our aim is,” states Giulia Gregori, Novamont Strategic Planning Manager, “to collaborate with local players to transform feedstock from renewable non-food sources, suitable for the area and grown on marginal land, into bioproducts: all this without affecting the food chain and depleting other resources. Matrìca strengthens local competitive capacity and innovation on several fronts: from the primary sector (agriculture, farming, just to give you some examples) to the secondary sector (agricultural vehicles and tools, logistics, bioproducts processing sector) and the tertiary sector (collaborations with local universities and research centres).” On the other coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea, in Caserta, there is the world’s first plant producing levulinic acid from biomass.
It was built by GFBiochemicals, a company founded in 2008 by two young entrepreneurs, Pasquale Granata and Mathieu Flamini (a well-known French footballer, who joyned Milan and Arsenal, and now at Crystal Palace) that is now competing with big chemical colossuses at global level producing a 100% renewable chemical intermediate with several industrial uses: from medicines to cosmetics, to paints and fuel additives. In 2015, the Caserta-based company produced 2,000 tonnes aiming at reaching 10,000 tonnes in 2017 and 50,000 tonnes by 2019. An actual revolution, if we think that the company’s top management is confident that they will able to offer in a few years biobased levulinic acid at $1 per kg compared to the current price of $4-5 per kg for oil-based levulinic acid with the same performance characteristics. “The bioeconomy,” Granata claims, “has an enormous potential, it creates jobs and helps the local economy. Levulinic acid obtained from biomass can facilitate the manufacture of a broad range of more sustainable products. We can revitalize rural regions, expanding markets in which farmers can sell their products. This is the very reason why in 2008 with Mathieu Flamini we decided to start this incredible project and invest to transform GFBiochemicals into the company it has now become.” To consolidate its leadership position in the levulinic acid market, last February, the Casertabased company bought Segetis’ assets and intellectual property rights (over 250 patents), the main producer of levulinic acid derivatives in the USA market. “This buyout,” Granata says, “represented a crucial moment for GFBiochemicals marking the beginning of our market growth strategy. We will carry on our development plan based on organic growth, on the creation of important partnerships, on future acquisitions of technologies for the production of levulinic acid derivatives.” Novamont’s biotechnological research centre is also located near Caserta, in Piana Monte Verna. Another case of how green chemistry can relaunch crisis-ridden industries. As a matter of fact, the research centre of the company managed by Catia Bastioli is a branch of Tecnogen’s biotechnological research centre that was wound up for months before being bought by Novamont at the end of 2012. “Tecnogen’s shutdown,” Catia Bastioli declared after the buyout, “would have caused the loss of an extraordinary plant and technological heritage gained over the years in Campania. Our initiative aims at proving that the bioeconomy sector based on continuous innovation can accelerate development while using a knowhow for the growth of the country that would be otherwise lost.”
renewablematter 13. 2016
Basilicata is the first Italian region to have combined green chemistry and agribusiness clusters to create a bioeconomy cluster.
From Campania to Apulia, Modugno, near Bari, is home to the Biochemtex (Mossi Ghisolfi Group) for lignine exploitation to produce paraxylol and from this, paraxylene, one of the constituents together with ethylene glycol (already available from biomass) of polyethylene terephthalate (PET used to produce ordinary plastic bottles). The objective of the research is to obtain PET entirely from resources not competing with food. While the building of the demonstrative plant of Moghi technology for the transformation of lignine, a bioproduct of biorefinery, into biochemical, in particular into aromatic compounds that can be used in the production of plastics is in a stalemate. The same industrial scale demonstrative plant (2,000 m2), should process the raw material (lignine cake) from the industrial plant in Crescentino (Vercelli). The demonstration ENEA plant is already operational in Rotondella (Basilicata, Southern Italy). Here, Canadian Comet Biorefining is testing its technology for the production of cellulosic glucose from non-food biomass. In the field of green chemistry, ENEA’s Trisaia Research Centre represents Italy’s pride and joy, recognized at global level, especially for its use of biomass as an energy source for the production of electricity and heat in small-scale plants (agro-energy sector) and in the secondgeneration biofuel sector. So Basilicata is the first Italian region to have combined green chemistry and agribusiness
clusters to create a bioeconomy cluster (Biogreen), officially presented last March in Metaponto together with the first regional strategy finalized within Regione Basilicata’s S3 framework (Smart Specialization Strategy). “Our aim is” declared Raffaele Liberali, Basilicata’s Production Activities councillor until last June, “that of being a leading player, both at national and European level, in the development strategies of this sector turning Basilicata in a pilot region in the field. The bioeconomy’s objective is that of turning waste into an important raw material. This is the concept underpinning the circular economy where nothing is wasted and everything is recycled. In Basilicata we do have a waste problem: we must stop perceiving it as something to dispose of and start seeing it as raw material to use.” Sicily is also heading this way despite lacking a regional strategy. Here the green chemistry path runs through the reclamation, the rehabilitation and reconversion of Gela’s refinery, a committal to trial was issued last March by public prosecutor’s office in Caltanisetta against 22 managers and engineers of ENIMED and ENI “Raffineria Gela” accused of environmental disaster. All of them will also be accountable for reclamation negligence, dangerous discharge of materials and violation of environmental laws. The way out for Gela is the Green Refinery Project included in the memorandum of understanding signed on 6th November 2014
Policy at the Ministry of Economic Development amongst ENI, union organizations, institutions and Confindustria (the lead organization representing the manufacturing, construction, energy, transportation, ITC, tourism and services industries in Italy) intending, through the optimization of existing plants and the use of proprietary technologies, to transform raw materials (first generation such as palm oil or second generation such as animal fats and frying oils) into green diesel, green LPG and green fuel oil. Moreover, the memorandum provides for the construction of a logistic hub for shipping locally-produced crude oil and green fuels. Green Refinery, which at full capacity will employ 400 ENI’s workers, should be operational by the end of 2017. In the meantime, in February, a letter of intent was signed by ENI, ESA (Rural Development Agency) and Regione Sicilia committing themselves to prepare a feasibility study for the experimental cultivation of guayule, with the aim of starting a project for the production of natural rubber latex following the development of the agricultural supply chain. To this end, at the beginning of June, ENI communicated that they carried out the replantation of 100,000 guayule seedlings in two farms belonging to Regione Sicilia’s Rural Development Agency. The first data will be available as of the second half of 2017.
©Novamont – Piana di Monte Verna
From big to small companies. Another green chemistry project was started in Sicily by two
youngsters from Catania, Enrica Arena and Adriana Santanocito, who in February 2014 created a start-up called Orange Fiber with the aim of producing a sustainable fabric able to satisfy fashion’s innovation requirements using 700,000 tonnes of by-product from the citrus processing sector. The first prototype of fabric obtained from citrus fruits was presented in September 2014 thanks Trentino Sviluppo’s Seed Money funds. Then, in December 2015, thanks also to funding from Smart&Start Invitalia, the first pilot plant for the transformation of citrus pulp into cellulose for spinning was opened. The Sicilian start-up has been the recipient of several awards including the prestigious Global Change Award, an initiative devoted to the fashion industry and launched by the Swedish non-profit organization H&M Conscious Foundation. According to the harsh data on Southern Italy’s economy submitted by the Svimez Report 2015 (Southern Italy Development Association), from 2000 to 2014, Southern Italy grew by half compared to Greece. From 2008 to 2014, investments plummeted by 38% while Central and Northern Italy decreased by 27%, an 11% difference. In the same period investments §in the industrial sector decreased by 59.3%, three times that of the already significant drop (-17.1%) in Central and Northern Italy. Southern Italy is trying to restart from here. The bioeconomy is really its last challenge. It must be won at all costs.
RARE EARTH ELEMENTS: The Vitamins of Modern Industry As leader Deng Xiaoping said back in 1992 “There is oil in the Middle East; there is rare earth in China.” Technology metals are now essential for modern industry which uses 125,000 tonnes a year. However, the future is uncertain due to production monopolisation and lack of recycling. by Francesco Ansaloni and Gabriele Giuli
Francesco Ansaloni is associate professor of Environmental Economy at Camerino University’s School of Sciences and Technologies. Sustainable production is his current main research matter. Gabriele Giuli is a university researcher and professor of Mineralogy at Camerino University’s School of Sciences and Technologies. His main research focuses on the synthesis and structural characterisation of crystalline materials and silicate glasses.
Demand is increasing. Production is almost completely dominated by China. Recycling margins are inadequate. This is the current context of the market of Rare Earth Elements (REE) or “technology metals” which are essential for a wide range of applications, from smartphones, to microphones, electric and hybrid vehicles, headphones, earphones and X-ray machines, to name just a few. However, while the demand for Rare Earth Elements, and their price, is subject to significant fluctuations, reuse is virtually impossible because of their low return and the high costs of the recovery process. REE are considered such due to their essential function as the vitamins of modern industry. Over the past ten years, demand has tripled, reaching 125,000 tonnes in 2015. The USA, Japan, Korea, Russia and several EU countries are the principal importers while China is the main supplier, with almost 95% of global production, as well as the greatest consumer. There are two ways of obtaining them: extraction and recycling. In theory, by recovering REE contained in different disused appliances, we could satisfy the whole of the Old Continent’s demand. That is why we use the term “urban mine” when we refer to the rare earth metal recovery process for recycling Waste of Electric and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). However this process is highly limited by its great cost.
Recycling: The Advantages Still, let us begin with the numerous economic advantages of WEEE recycling: metal value recovery, REE extraction, transport and production cost containment, market presence growth and an improvement in corporate competitive capacity. There are other benefits connected to the reduction of mineral exploitation, industrial processing and WEEE disposal monitoring, as well as the improvement of conditions for the environment and the people who live in the vicinity of extraction sites. Last but not least, we have the reduction of land and air pollution. Recycling REE from electronic waste is complex because, when several rare earths are present at the same time, separating them from each other is very difficult due to their chemical properties. What is more, reducing oxide in individual elements is extremely expensive. At the moment, REE recycling techniques are just beginning to develop and the whole industry is hampered by the nature of the product and the dispersion of the material. Above all, the lack of a standard method affects the cost of recycling. This means that extracting Rare Earth Elements from WEEE is problematic and the process is long. Additionally, complex processing plants and great professionalism is needed. That is why, in 2011, less than 1% Rare Earth Elements were recycled from WEEE.
Policy Figure 2 | China’s share of exported rare earth elements
Figure 1 | Rare Earth Supply and Demand 2005-2015
With rare earth oxide tonnes equivalent
Demand (tonnes per annum REO)
180,000 160,000 140,000 120,000 100,000 800,000 600,000 400,000 200,000
60,000 50,000 40,000 30,000 20,000 10,000
0 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
National producers and traders
Sino-foreign joint venures
Source: Panneflek 2013.
Those working with rare earth elements
Gems designed by Stephanie Wauters – The Noun Project
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Despite the fact that a number of research projects into the extraction of rare earth elements have been active for years, an economically-advantageous protocol has yet to be identified. Italian and European researchers are working towards this objective in order to identify efficient REE separation processes. For example, large companies such as Osramag (Germany), Solvay Group (France) and the Aerc Recycling Solutions and Global Tungsten & Powders (USA) partnership are conducting projects concerning fluorescent bulb recovery. Many efforts are being made regarding research into processes for neodymium and dysprosium recovery from permanent magnets. The wide use of magnets in applications such as computer memories, compressors, loudspeakers, hybrid and electric engines, as well as wind turbines, makes this research sector strategic. Projects are currently underway in the Ames Laboratory (USA), Dowa Metals & Mining (USA), Mitsubishi (Japan) and Hitachi (Japan). Experimental research projects underway in Europe are described in the document “Recovery of Rare Earths from Electronic Wastes: An Opportunity for High-Tech SMEs.”
Source: Pui-Kwan 2011.
European Pathway to Zero Waste – EPOW Report, March 2011, tinyurl.com/hz4hyoa
“Recovery of Rare Earths from Electronic Wastes: An Opportunity for High-Tech SMEs,” tinyurl.com/oqc7qad
Recovering magnet powder is even more complex. According to a study by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Bristøl, 2012), there are few Rare Earth Elements in the material. Together, the four rare earth element oxides (neodymium oxide, yttrium oxide, lanthanum oxide and holmium oxide) totalled, on average, 0.311% of the magnets in the sample examined. This clearly indicates that their recovery is not yet economically advantageous. Although, in the future, perhaps thanks to a higher WEEE supply rate and improved recycling and magnet separation techniques, REE recovery could become more economically advantageous, the situation is quite the opposite for the moment. The lack of development in recycling techniques depends on the low returns, high costs and the lack of WEEE available. If we do not identify alternative methods, these factors will continue to represent the most significant obstacle to economically-advantageous recycling. REE Deposits A 2015 study evaluating the distribution of Rare Earth Elements in terms of type of use highlighted their presence mainly in the specialist sector of catalysts (60%), followed by the sectors connected to metallurgic and alloy applications (10%), and permanent magnets and glass polishing (10%).
renewablematter 13. 2016 Table 1 | Metals present in some WEEE All the other areas share the remaining 10%. Magnets containing Rare Earth Elements (neodymium-iron-boron and samarium-cobalt) are the strongest and most used. They are used in personal computer hard disks, loudspeakers, headlights, wind turbines and hybrid electric engines. The magnets in the generators associated with wind turbines contain high quantities of Rare Earth Elements, while neodymium is an element in personal computer and tablet hard disks.
Cobalt (in batteries)
WEEE contain iron, steel, aluminium, glass, lead, mercury and special and precious metals, including gold, silver, platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, copper and cobalt. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, by recycling a million mobile telephones we could recover 22.65 kilos of gold, 249.15 kilos of silver, 9.06 kilos of palladium and 9,060 kilos of copper. Batteries and circuit boards are the technological waste with the most interesting rare earth element content which includes gold, silver, copper, platinum and tantalum. Cerium and europium are to be found in computer, smartphone and television liquidcrystal displays. Strong permanent magnets made from alloys of neodymium-iron and boron installed in computers and loudspeakers contain praseodymium, neodymium, samarium with iron, terbium and dysprosium with iron. In addition, magnet powder contains yttrium, lanthanum and holmium.
Nd, Eu, Ce and Tb
The Market Trend Over the Past 15 Years In order to guarantee REE supplies, technological-sector companies are willing to purchase at a higher price than current rates, so the market is extremely dynamic. Due to global scarcity and the fact that supply is largely controlled by China, REE prices change continuously. China’s privileged position in the REE market is the result of a specific policy. It is no coincidence that, in 1992, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, already an important member of the People’s Republic of China’s political system and a pioneer of economic reform, declared: “There is oil in the Middle East; there is rare earth in China.” Since then, Chinese policy has aimed to stabilise prices and set a production cap, support the national sector by reducing export and hindering foreign company access, conserve natural resources by imposing sustainable-production rules, develop the sector also through joint-ventures with foreign companies. Between 2001 and 2009, due to growing
1,000 Source: Various authors, “Remedia 2012 E-waste Lab, Report finale, Politecnico di Milano.”
Table 2 | Value of product recoverable from 1 kg of printed circuit board – 25 January 2016 QUANTITY (g)
PRICE Euros per g
TOTAL AMOUNT (Euros)
9.46 References on quantity: •• Jirang C., Z. Lifeng, “Metallurgical Recovery of Metals from Electronic Waste: A Review,” Journal of Hazardous Materials 158 (2008) 228-256. •• Umicore Precious Metals Refining. “Metals Recovery from e-scrap in a global environment,” Geneva 7 September 2007; archive.basel.int/ industry/sideevent 030907/umicore.pdf
Price sources: •• finanza-mercati. ilsole24ore.com •• www.kme.com/it •• oro.bullionvault.it •• minerals.usgs. gov/minerals/pubs/ commodity •• www.goldbroker.it
Policy Table 3 | Value of some REE recoverable from a WEEE notebook weighing an estimated 3 kg on 1 May 2015 (average values for cold cathode and LED display backlighting)
PRICE Euros per kg
PRICE Euros per mg
PARTIAL AMOUNT (Euros)
TOTAL AMOUNT (Euros)
1.02 References on quantity: •• Average values contained in a cold cathode and LED notebook [mg] source cited by Giuli G., Rare
Bibliography •• Bristøl L. M. L., Characterization and recovery of rare earth elements from electronic scrap, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, 2012. •• Panneflek E., Why Investing In Rare Earth Elements?, www.pgm-blog. com/why-investing-inrare-earth-elements, 2013. •• Ungaro A. R., “Il mercato delle terre rare: aspetti politici e finanziari,” IAI documents, International Affairs Institute, 13/4 July 2013; www.files.ethz.ch/ isn/178533/iai1304.pdf
Earth Elements (REE): from resource to WAste, from waste to REsource (REEWARE), Presentation of the REEWARE research
demand from companies, prices – according to Argus Rare Earths, London Metal Exchange and InvestmentMine information sources, reorganised by Mineral Prices (mineralprices.com/default.aspx#rar data accessed 25 January 2016) – remained substantially stable. During the following three-year period, the market’s monopolistic conditions caused world prices to increase significantly and Chinese prices to decrease in parallel. The increase in prices outside of China stimulated the creation of new projects concerning foreign companies’ exploitation of alternative resources to Rare Earth Elements, thus determining increased supply and a further price drop. Between 2005 and 2012, the average quantity of REE oxides supplied totalled 120,000 tonnes. In 2012, the Rest of the World (RoW) supply increased, contributing to an increase in the total quantity of REE. In this period, the demand, mostly from China, had a constant tendency to increase (figure 1) In order to consolidate the national sector and apply environmental-protection standards, China fixed export prices. This decision created two REE markets: the first within China and the second in the RoW. Chinese exportation represented the most part of RoW supply. This can be demonstrated by the price peak that occurred in 2011 and the decrease in exportations (figure 2). This situation was also accentuated by contingent events. For example, according
project, University Research Fellowship 20142015, Camerino University, 2016 (sites.google.com/a/ unicam.it/reeware)
100 Price sources: •• mineralprices.com/ default.aspx#rar 1st May 2015 euro/kg
to some experts, in 2010, reduced exportations were also conditioned by the collision between a Chinese trawler and two Japanese coastguard patrol boats in the vicinity of the Senkaku islands, in waters disputed by the two countries. The Chinese vessel’s captain was arrested by the Japanese authorities for having “invaded” their territorial waters. The occurrence set off a wave of nationalism in China and led to the consequent block on REE exportation into Japan. Starting from the first half of 2011, prices dropped by 50-70%, even reaching 90%. The market was so shocked that a restructuring of the world REE industry came about. In 2012, Moycorp (Colorado) sold REE concentrates at an average price of 36 dollars a kilo, in comparison to 82 dollars in 2011. In 2014, the prices of most REE compounds decreased due to excess supply. REE consumption in the fluorescent material industry dropped because of the increase in LED lighting use. The quantity of metals in WEEE depends on the type and period of construction while their monetary value is connected to the price trend of the individual metal (table 1 and 2). Between May and December 2015, due to the reduction in REE oxide prices, the total estimated value of REE which can be recovered from a WEEE notebook, weighing an estimated 3 kg, dropped by 52.9% shifting from 1.02 to 0.48 euros (table 3).
Focus Permanent Materials
Not Renewable, by Marco Gisotti
BUT EVERLASTING “Nothing is created, nothing is destroyed, everything is transformed.” The old Lavoisier’s postulate is ever so true today for permanent materials that can be reused ad infinitum. Aluminium is an excellent example. Its recycling also offers a 95% energy saving.
Left page: Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), Portrait of Monsieur de Lavoisier and his Wife, chemist Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze, 1788, Oil on canvas, detail, Metropolitan Museum of Art, N.Y., Public Domain, C.C.
Virtually, the aluminium of the beer can you had last night is everlasting, even if its use is a very recent application. Aluminium is not found in nature, for centuries its value rivalled that of gold. Only at the end of the 19th century, its extraction became sufficiently cheap to start its commercial use. Once extracted, aluminium can be used for a plethora of applications. A “permanent” material – like glass and steel – that is not
consumed and can be used and reused endlessly. “The Italian aluminium industry,” explains Cesare Maffei, chair of CiAl (Italian Consortium for the Recovery and Recycling of Aluminium Packaging), uses material derived quite exclusively from recycling. Aluminium is increasingly seen as a permanent material, nearly unbeatable when it comes to performance and industrial, environmental and energy costs. In our case, the closed loop approach,
renewablematter 13. 2016 MATERIAL
OVERVIEW OF PROPERTIES
Paper and Cardboard
Fibres shrink with each use
Properties can change during transformation
Natural Fibres (cotton, wool, etc.)
Fibres shrink with each recycle
While being used, molecules can be damaged and contaminated
No further recycle possible
They cannot be recycled due to their molecular properties
Intrinsic properties do not change
Intrinsic properties do not change
Copper, Cadmium, Lead, Platinum
Intrinsic property do no change
Their concentration is normally low in applications
Their concentration is normally low in applications
Basic components do not change during transformation, but different types of glass must be recycled separately
Minerals (limestone, ceramic, granite)
A certain amount of recycled material can be added to raw materials
Marco Gisotti is a journalist and adviser. He heads Green Factor, an environmental communication and studies agency.
or endless recovery, enables us to keep chemical-physical performance unchanged and to recover it with every recycle. What other material can boast such characteristic? Surely not materials derived from fossil sources.” Aluminium cycle starts with bauxite extraction, a normally red mineral that got its name from Les Baux-de-Provence, a French area where in 1822 the it was mined for the first time. Despite being one of the most abundant substances on our planet, aluminium is not available in its pure form and must be extracted from rocks. A simple process but requiring industrial technologies and, on a global scale, a considerable amount of energy. An aspect that, unless we resort to renewable sources, requires fossil fuels. This is what went on for nearly a century and a half at global level: decades in which aluminium, in energy terms, had very high costs no longer sustainable today.
Source: “Permanent Materials – Final report,” Carbotech, 2015.
And not only in economic terms, but above all from an environmental point of view because, due to energy production, millions and millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases were emitted into the atmosphere. For instance, it is estimated that at European level, the current recovery and recycling of 28 billion aluminium cans used every year offers a saving, in terms of greenhouse gas, of 3.2 million tonnes, equivalent to the emissions generated by cities such as Bilbao, Cardiff or Nice. This is because the recycling of aluminium offers an energy saving amounting to 95%. The remaining 5% is what is needed to manufacture aluminium products from aluminium already in existence. In other words, this tantamount to saying that aluminium extracted over the last century is nearly enough for all our uses and needs. And since aluminium does not deteriorate, we have enough aluminium for times to come and we could no longer need bauxite mines.
Italy in Numbers
To this end, “European Parliament resolution of 24th May 2012 on Europe’s efficient use of resources” – overcoming the distinction between renewable and non-renewable resources, including durable or permanent materials – becomes particularly significant. Letter G of this resolution calls for a conceptual revolution: “Whereas a future holistic resource policy should no longer merely distinguish between ‘renewable’ and ‘non-renewable’ resources, but should also extend to permanent materials.” What does it mean in practice? That these resources are not consumed. Once introduced into the cycle, the same resource can be reused many times, because this is its intrinsic nature. While for instance, oil is burnt or chemically transformed to produce energy or plastic materials and it cannot return to its original state, aluminium can. And this is one of the reasons why today the concept of “permanent material” is spreading,
According to data from CiAl’s last annual report, in 2014 in Italy the total production capacity of secondary aluminium amounted to 808,000 tonnes, an estimated turnover of €1.87 billion with 1,600 workers. These numbers make the Italian market important at European level from an economic, strategic and employment point of view. Over the last few years, at least since 2010, Italy has regularly overtaken Germany, another big European producer of secondary aluminium. The estimate for 2015 amounts to over 710,000 tonnes, a number that amply exceeds Germany’s 605,000 tonnes. At global level, Italy and Germany rank third and fourth respectively behind the USA and Japan. Aluminium recycling offers a 95% energy saving. And this datum does not change whether we are talking at global, European or national level. This is the energy gap between the production of aluminium packaging from virgin metal and packaging from recycled aluminium. This is no small difference, neither in terms of energy nor in terms of economic cost e above all the environmental impact due to gas emissions. Thus, recovery activity becomes crucial. For instance, in 2015, CiAl-managed recovery, together with the activities indirectly managed through “recycled aluminium” smelting works companies and export flows, guaranteed a total recovery of 75.5%, recycling 69.9% of aluminium that entered the market. More than 90% is aluminium for the food industry, with a 4.9% increase of packaging items compared to the previous year. In 2015, recycling 46,500 tonnes of aluminium packaging prevented greenhouse gas emissions amounting to 345.000 tonnes of CO2eq and offered and energy saving of 148,000 TOE (Tonnes of Oil Equivalent). In its second life, aluminium has no problem in finding an adequate use. Italy’s data are very similar to European ones, with uses in different sectors, in particular in the production of durable goods. 55% in the transport industry, 19% in mechanics and electromechanics and 26% in the construction and household sector.
renewablematter 13. 2016 a material that cannot be consumed and can be reused ad infinitum, conserving, in all its numerous applications, the necessary energy for future and new uses. The assessments on which the European Parliament resolution is based, explains CiAl, derive from some considerations put forward by metal packaging European representative systems. In particular, they state that when considering the sustainability of different types of packaging, we must be clear about the link between natural resources used to produce materials that are then transformed into each packaging item. Indeed, a very important point must be taken into consideration. We often say that natural resources are dwindling. Technically this is true. Aluminium itself, despite representing 8% of all matter present on the planet, is not infinite. “Normally,” explains Gino Schiona, the Director General of CiAl, “we do not take
into account that materials such as aluminium and iron are elements and therefore they cannot be destroyed. Earth has not undergone any loss of metallic elements: they have simply been displaced and appear under different forms. Aluminium and steel are materials that can be transformed into packaging and use in many other applications, for instance in the construction, car, aerospace sectors. At the end of their lifecycle, used aluminium or steel, can be recycled and reused for other products. This creates a virtuous cycle.” This enables us to fully understand why the definition of permanent material has not only a linguistic but also an economic value in the European debate on the circular economy. It is a further classification of a good that is not regenerated like renewable resources, but neither can it be consumed like non-renewable resources. And it is perfectly integrated into the concept of the circular economy. CiAl is currently committed in several projects aimed at highlighting the main characteristic governing post-consumer packaging management and aluminium in general: the metal-to-metal loop scheme and the concept of permanent metal. The principles of the circular economy are indeed intertwined with those of aluminium. The fundamental law of Antoine Lavoisier, the French chemist who lived in the second half of the 18th century, postulating that “nothing is created, nothing is destroyed, everything is transformed” is absolutely true for permanent materials and particularly for metals which, once extracted, can be reused ad infinitum. Aluminium is a good example. And this aspect, as far as the need to reduce waste production is concerned, becomes extremely important. In his speech at the States General of the Green Economy 2016 at Ecomondo, Gino Schiona was very clear: “In packaging, a more intensive use of permanent materials could contribute significantly to preventing waste production. Aluminium in particular has shown for quite some time the highest prevention performance: for each type of packaging, the quantity of material used equals that needed to guarantee the required features. From a few microns (a tenth of a hair) of an aluminium sheet to make drink packs to thicker materials such those used in cans and aerosols. It is clear that aluminium means ‘prevention’ if we take into consideration its complete and endless recyclability. Moreover, aluminium packaging, thanks to its capacity to protect food, drinks and other products from light, air and microorganisms, has the most efficient barrier effect currently available on the market of materials. From design to its use in construction and transport, this metal helps make a product durable, giving it its characteristic of permanent material, overcoming built-in obsolescence and the disposable logic.”
Focus Permanent Materials
The Secret by Marco Gisotti
An old invention that has changed history of mankind, steel is still a fundamental resource in our economy as demonstrated by the 1,623 million tonnes produced in the world every year. The creation of an endless material. When Jared Diamond wrote his essay Guns, Germs and Steel. A Brief History of Everybody for the Last 13,000 Years purported to show a picture of the history of mankind from an ecological rather than an exclusively cultural viewpoint. His work â€“ which later was awarded a Pulitzer Prize â€“ focused on a question: why did the civilizations that developed along the Fertile Crescent somehow conquer the rest of the planet?
A series of environmental advantages in the history of humankind allowed those civilizations to develop advanced war techniques and technologies, to select resistance to diseases that at a later stage would exterminate, for instance, populations in the Americas and above all to establish a system of cultural exchanges that helped the development of the iron and steel industry. Steel, therefore, as a crucial discovery or invention for humanity.
renewablematter 13. 2016 Steel Packaging ... Hello Stranger! Tins, cans, canisters, caps, capsules, drums and cylinders: steel packaging comes in a variety of ways. All of them are 100% ad infinitum recyclable. Waste from steel packaging belongs to the big world of secondary raw materials made of scrap iron although in a small percentage (about 3%). But it is an important share nonetheless, since in Italy, the availability of scrap to meet steel plants and smelters’ needs is decisively scanty, which demands considerable imports (from 25 to 30%) both from Europe and overseas. Indeed, the types of aluminium packaging we see on a daily basis are countless. Open top Steel packaging (with a maximum capacity of 5 kilo) generally used for food products: from tuna to fruit in syrup, from coffee to peeled plum tomatoes. Over the last few years, this sector has enjoyed most of the technological development, together with refreshment cans. General Line Steel containers (with a maximum capacity of 40 kilo) used both in the food industry (for instance for oil) and in the chemical sector (for paints, inks, varnishes, mastic, lubricants, etc.). They are cylindrical or rectangular cans but also drums or kegs. Miscellaneous Containers often used for gift items: for sweets, liqueurs and fragrances. They come in all shapes and sizes; they can be decorated with lithographs. Drums and Aerosols Large drums made of sheet steel with a maximum capacity of 250 litres. Once used mainly in the oil and chemical industries, they are now widely used also in the food sector. Tops Crown caps for beer bottles, or various metal caps for bottles and jars as well as ring pull or easy open cans (partial or total opening), whose use is closely linked to the production of open top cans.
Today, according to preliminary data for 2015, 1,623 million tonnes of steel per year are produced. A little less compared to the previous year (in 2014 it was 1,670 million, 3% more), a huge quantity nonetheless. In Europe, where the production dropped from 313 million tonnes to 304 million, according to RICREA’s Report data – “Italy’s national consortium for steel packaging, recycling and recovery” – Italy is the second producer, after Germany, with 22 million tonnes, 13% of EU28’s overall production. “Steel is the world’s most recycled packaging material: it is a permanent material that can be reused an infinite number of times without compromising its quality,” explains Domenico Rinaldini, RICREA’s President. “Once used, cans, drums and tops are collected, recycled and reintroduced in the production cycle to manufacture new products: a perfect example of circular economy.” After all, already one year ago, Eurofer’s Director General Axel Eggert, had enthusiastically hailed the EU “Circular Economy Package” publication, conferring steel a very important role. “Steel – Eggert said – is 100% recyclable. It is a permanent material and this is precisely what underpins the circular economy.” The “Circular Economy Package” meant a step forward in bestowing a new status to industrially co-generated products
RICREA Report, 2016, www.consorzioricrea. org/wp-content/ uploads/2016/09/Rgps2016.pdf
Steel is the world’s most recycled packaging material: it is a permanent material that can be reused an infinite number of times without compromising its quality.
and above all, in encouraging the use of durable goods. Today, being able to say that steel is a permanent material is a major conceptual as well as commercial leap forward. “In Italy – explains Domenico Rinaldini – last year 73.4% of steel packaging for consumption was recycled, one of the best results at European level. Our aim is to get as close as possible to 80% recycling by 2020, through agreements with Italian municipalities and thanks to awareness campaigns helping us promote the culture of separate waste collection, a very important tool to recycle steel packaging.” Just as it happens with other materials – for example glass or aluminium – in theory steel can be reused ad infinitum. That means huge savings in energy, economic and environmental terms, thanks to its widespread use. It is a resource – a metallic alloy – that influenced the history of humankind, to which modern industrial society is indebted. As RICREA’s Reports reminds us, steel has had an important role, so much so that the beginning of the industrial era is often thought to coincide with the onset of great iron and steel production facilities.
According to 2015 data, the iron and steel production is as follows: 51% is represented by long rolled sections (beams, tracks, reinforcing bars, wire rods) and the remaining 49% by flat products (coils, hot or cold rolled sheets, including tinplate, tin-free steel and lamination used for the packaging production). Steel is mainly used in electric furnaces, melting scrap iron as secondary raw material, representing over 50% of Italian production. Indeed, Italy has historically always been poor in raw materials but has always had a good quantity of scrap iron which is recovered on the domestic as well as international market. Moreover, the steel on demand must have lesser qualitative requirements because it is meant for products requiring, so to speak more simple standards, such as wire rods, which can be profitably manufactured in small capacity facilities, such as the electric cycle ones. Scrap arrives quite homogeneously from industrial, civil and even railway or navy demolitions. But also from industrial processing waste and authorized
renewablematter 13. 2016 centre collection (car scrap, electric appliances, other domestic waste and packaging.) The packaging world is particularly varied ranging from bottle crown caps up to tuna and tomato cans and cylinders. The RICREA consortium, with regard to prevention and packaging recovery, pays particular attention to reconditioning and regeneration. For instance, kegs and steel drums, due to their sturdiness, can undergo several processes of regeneration in order for them to be reused. Starting from reshaping (repairing of edges and dents), cleaning (draining, washing and drying) up to watertight and internal surfaces testing and lastly external brushing and painting. Conversely, other scrap undergoes de-tinning (separation from tin), crushing and volume reduction. Then, packaging processed through all these phases is ready to be transferred to steel plants and smelters using electric furnaces, suitable for the treatment of this scrap. In the furnaces, melting occurs and thanks to other
metallurgical activities to eliminate non metallic impurities, production will take place, with or without the addition of other metals or new types of steel. Unfortunately, all this goes mostly unnoticed by end consumers, let alone the concept of permanent material. This is why communication activities revolving around steel and recycling should be part and parcel of the industry. A good example is “Riprodotti,” a RICREA project now under study aiming at offering useful tools to point out what the products made with recycled steel are, from steel packaging sent to separate waste collection and then r ecycled through a network of actors linked to RICREA consortium. “The aim of this operation – the 2016 Report reads – is to show citizens commitment to separate waste collection leads to actual recycling and reuse of material. It also means that the choice to reuse a recyclable and reusable material brings advantages to the system as a whole.”
Focus Permanent Materials
by Letizia Palmisano
5,000 Years of TRANSPARENCY Glass has been used for 5 millennia, but only now has started benefitting from a precise calculation of the economic and environmental advantages deriving from its characteristics: 100% recyclability, without losing any mass, potentially ad infinitum.
Environmental journalist and social media manager, Letizia Palmisano deals with communication, training and development of web communication strategies. She teaches these subjects in Masterâ€™s courses, also in Universities.
We could define glass as a noble material. Made with naturally-derived raw materials, has been used for as many as 5,000 years and today it can be separated and recycled â€“ with economic and environmental advantages â€“ potentially ad infinitum. Glass does not change its physical and chemical characteristics in its recycling and processing of new products phases: this makes 100% recycling possible, without any loss of mass and of its intrinsic
properties and with no need of more virgin raw materials. Basically, products made through glass cullet will have the same characteristics as the recycled ones and at the end of their life will be sent to the glass producing factories, thus achieving a virtuous circle that could potentially last forever. Thanks to its properties, glass can fit in perfectly with the definition of circular economy.
renewablematter 13. 2016 What Is Glass Made of? Glass is made with a blend of minerals widely available in nature. The most commonly used material is silica (sand) which melts at high temperatures and when it cools down it solidifies. To lower the melting temperature, during the processing network modifiers or melters are used. So, in order to obtain containers or food contact materials a blend of raw materials (mineral) containing vitrifiers or melters, i.e. silica, sodium and calcium through a blend of sand (SiO2), soda (sodium carbonate Na2CO3) and marble (calcium carbonate CaCO3) is used. Glass has a structure similar to that of a liquid, so much so that it is defined as a highly viscous fluid, at its rigid state at room temperature. The viscosity curve, from the fluid to solid state, varies directly on the temperature. In order to know more on glass, you can visit the Friends of Glass portal, a European community, promoted by FEVE, supporting information campaigns on glass properties.
FEVE (European Container Glass Federation), “Permanent Materials in the framework of the Circular Economy concept: review of existing literature and definitions, and classification of glass as a Permanent Material,” June 2016; feve.org/glass-ispermanent-material
Glass Containers Collection for recycling in Europea (2004) Sweden
Europe (including Norway, Switzerland, Turkey)
Friends of Glass, www.friendsofglass.com/ gb/?setlan=gb
In this respect, the European Parliament Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) has recognized something important with regard to the circular economy. From a study of materials and recycling supply chains, in Europe some research is being carried out on those materials that, besides allowing a production and recycling supply chain within the circular economy, for their intrinsic physical and chemical characteristics can be defined as permanent materials. And glass is a candidate for this status. The Committee itself recognizes a higher value to these materials. The legal opinion of 20th October 2016 about the changes to the 94/62/CE draft directive on packaging waste reads: “Wherever possible, member States should promote the use of permanent materials with a higher value for the circular economy, in that they can be classified as materials that can be recycled without losing their intrinsic value, regardless of how many times the relevant material is recycled.” Within the debate of the so called “Circular economy package,” the Committee has voted in favour of the proposal to introduce incentives for the use of all permanent materials. Such stance has thus triggered a debate on future European measures regarding recycling,
incentives for permanent materials and their legal recognition. According to their promoters, such legal measures should encourage such an efficient use of resources, by favouring really circular business models thanks to the possibility to use more than once resources obtained through separate waste collection. Is Glass a Permanent Material? The study “Permanent Materials in the framework of the Circular Economy concept: review of existing literature and definition and classification of glass as a Permanent Material” led by the Experimental Station for Glass and commissioned by FEVE (European Container Glass Federation) is answering this question. Glass represents one of the best examples of permanent materials now being used both for its intrinsic physical and chemical properties, and in relation to its current recycling supply chain (from separate source collection, to treatment and reuse of the secondary raw material in glass packaging-producing factories), and the widespread knowledge amongst European consumers of its recyclability. The document of the Experimental Station for Glass has identified the essential criteria for its definition – in the absence of a legal one – of a permanent material and analysed the presence of such requisites in the production of the glass recycling supply chain. In doing so, the Experimental Station
has taken into consideration the following studies: British standard BS 8905:2011 “Framework for the assessment of the sustainable use of materials – Guidance,” the first document to ever propose a definition of Permanent Materials; Carbotech Final Report 2014 “Permanent materials, scientific background.” Below you will find the characteristics that must be present and according to which glass falls within the definition of permanent material. It must be degradable during its life cycle and its recycling must be possible ad infinitum. Glass does not undergo significant degradation during its life cycle, nor during its recycling phases. From glass cullet the same original products can be obtained and in the same quantities, in terms of weight. Glass chemical composition, its viscosity curve in inverse proportion to the high temperature, allow melting possible glass cullet to create new products without any loss in mass nor in its intrinsic characteristics and glass quality. Just to give you an example: from a kilo of glass cullet a new object of the same weight can be made. So, ten glass bottles can become fifteen jars and then go back to ten bottles of the same quality as the original ones, without adding any new primary materials. Recyclability must be technically possible. In order to talk about a permanent material, recyclability must not be only theoretical, but also technically feasible. And this applies to glass for which in Europe information campaigns have been organized and a separate waste collection well distributed supply chain
renewablematter 13. 2016
(albeit with different results, but with high rates anyhow) and a recycling industry has been established, whose technology allows the removal of impurities (ferrous, organic, glass-ceramic etc.) and 100% recycling of landfilled glass. Indeed, it must be said that in some EU countries such as Denmark, Sweden or Belgium, glass container recycling exceeds 95%, meeting the target of a closed circuit on a national scale (FEVE data).
The material must be useful (and not a hindrance) to sustainable development. Recycling glass cullet produces great benefits for the environment, in view of sustainable development and the green economy. The recycling supply chain reduces exploitation of non-renewable mineral resources, it involves energy saving – because glass recycling requires less energy compared to energy produced with raw materials – a reduction of CO2 and less landfilling. Thanks to the use of cullet to produce new glass products, in 2014, in the EU over 12 million tonnes of raw materials have been saved, CO2 emissions have been reduced by over 7 million tonnes, equivalent to removing 4 million cars from our roads. In terms of energy to power furnaces, there is a 2.5% saving every 10% or recycled glass. The process must be compliant with the law. The use of material, its recycling process and possible disposal must be compliant with current regulations.
All the advantages for the industry
Thoughts by Vitaliano Torno, FEVE’s President and Adeline Farrelly, FEVE’s Secretary General
We asked Vitaliano Torno what the advantages for the environment and for the glass industry of the recognition of permanent materials by the European Union might be. “By using recycled glass in a closed circuit, the industry reduces dramatically the use of other virgin materials. Legislative measures should encourage a genuinely efficient use of resources, concentrating on truly circular business models, in other words, the same productive resources time and time again. Permanent materials, which can be recycled ad infinitum without losing their intrinsic properties, should be supported and promoted. Their recognition will contribute to the reduction of Europe’s dependence on the mining industry, soil and fossil fuel consumption for packaging production, but also for the manufacturing of other products and tools. Moreover, industries committed to using such materials in their production systems should be supported. This – Torno concluded – would be a very important step forward for a truly circular economy in Europe.” The proposed incentive mechanisms for permanent materials include their
adoption within the EPR (extended producer responsibility) schemes. Adeline Farrelly, FEVE’s Secretary General will explain the advantages such recognition would entail. “One of the basic conditions to allow recyclable materials to be permanently recycled in the form of new products is to have a perfectly functioning EPR scheme. EU legislation on waste – currently being re-examined with the Circular Economy Package – should help the EPR schemes act as support and incentives for separate waste collection of permanent materials, through investments aimed at infrastructure and at information systems addressing citizens about the correct ways to collect.” Farrelly adds: “As an industry, we are already heavily investing in order to reuse recycled glass within the production cycle. This is indeed the main raw material for us, with important environmental as well as economic benefits. As an industry we would like to use more of it, provided it is of a high quality and in a competitive market. We believe that the recognition of a higher status to permanent materials in EPR systems, will be the incentive necessary for the market to increase the use of permanent materials, such as glass.”
SHOWING OFF by Marco Moro
Video “ExNovo Materials in the Circular Economy,” www.youtube.com/ watch?v=10hitUvByIo
Photos ©Sergio Ferraris/ www.sergioferraris.it
Creating a free frame of an inherently fast moving phenomenon: this is the challenge that Ecomondo 2016 tried to overcome. With an exhibition. In order not to risk sending a weak signal, it chose the most prominent position: the fair’s entrance hall, impossible to go unnoticed. So the “ExNovo Materials in the Circular Economy” Exhibition was up to its task, bearing witness to a crucial change in the economic culture and reality and in politics, of which Ecomondo is the main fair in Italy, in other words the world of clean and green technologies. At its 20th edition, the exhibition which started as a fair for technologies for sustainable waste management wanted to give maximum visibility (strengthening the concept with a rich programme offering a plethora of events) to a topic: the recycling economy that has expanded over the last two decades has reached a turning point.
The very concept of waste is taking up a new identity: the coming of age of several factors (technological, market, environmental without overlooking political and social pressure) allows us to overcome the virgin material/secondary raw material dichotomy, and sometimes to overturn their market value. With the added bonus of the growth of a new family of materials, more renewable since “extracted” from bioresources. Recycling – in other words policies and practices that have led to the increased capacity to reintroduce into production cycles considerable share of what at a certain point of its life is classified as “waste” – in the circular economy vision is just one of the many strategies helping substantially reduce the excessive extraction of virgin raw materials and their waste in linear
renewablematter 13. 2016
Bressa R., “From Waste to Green Building,” Renewable Matter, 12/2016; www.renewablematter.eu/ art/262/From_Waste_to_ Green_Building
processes of collection, transformation, use and disposal. The integrated vision of different processes helping reshape the relationship between the economy and resources (the “biological and technical nutrients of the economy,” according to McDonough and Michael Braungart’s definition) thus becomes the objective that from now on will characterize Ecomondo’s exhibition and cultural strategies. “ExNovo Materials” is just a taste of things to come and a successful showcase. Relating a transition through static images could end up in a paradox that visitors could have spotted straightaway. So the chosen formula was a mix of material and immaterial: videos that animated the walls of each room and materials, the “renewable matters” physically present in each exhibiting space included products and raw materials. The exhibition was organized in three areas according to different developing fields of the circular economy. In the first one – “Maze of Rooms” – each exhibit was devoted to one of the materials that over the last years have become the focus of the recycling culture and that now represent the strongest industrial sectors of the circular economy: aluminium, glass, steel, plastic, bioplastics, paper, wood, mineral oils and tyres. At the centre of the journey meandering through several rooms, there was an area devoted to packaging, a sector that in recent years has taken an important leading role
in developing circular processes in matter management. For each material, the exhibition tried to highlight its “renewability” properties, that is its capacity to keep its value unaltered while passing from use to another. The nature of these materials was made readily perceivable by holograms that offered a dynamic visualization of the transformations they are capable of. The stars of this section were the Italian associations for packaging management: aluminium (CIAL), wood (Rilegno), steel (RICREA), glass (CoReVe), plastics (COREPLA) and paper (COMIECO), as well as COOU for mineral oils, Ecopneus for tyres and CIC (Italian Composting and Biogas Association) with Assobioplastiche and COREPLA with its project “Di che plastica sei?” (“What plastic are you made of?”). The next area presented a series of testimonials: companies that truly embody this new innovative change. Such as Novamont, with its net of production and research centres making it a leading company at the forefront in the production of biochemicals and biobased products, showcasing several application at Ecomondo. Officina dell’ambiente, Hera and Federbeton represent an entire circular sector that starting from “waste residue,” such ashes produced by incinerators, produce material usable in green building.
Case Studies Who’s who in ExNovo Materials The exhibition is the brainchild of Italian Exhibition Group, Edizioni Ambiente and Centro Materia Rinnovabile. All the participating companies and associations actively contributed to the contents of this project, also providing the materials exhibited. Visual aids were made possible thanks to the collaboration with Phantasya, mounting with Prostand and graphic design by Mauro Panzeri-GrafCo3.
Phantasya, www.phantasya.it Prostand, www.prostand.com/en
Mauro Panzeri-GrafCo3, www.linkedin.com/in/ mauro-panzeri-81963919
Nespresso presented its programme for recycling aluminium capsules and their content, the latter sent to composting. Mosaico Digitale offers coating resins from renewable sources. There were also Syndial, a company of Gruppo ENEL, specialized in soil decontamination, and REMEDIA, with a project to promote WEEE collection in Africa. The journey ended with a vast exhibition area devoted to a selection of innovations by start-ups involved in the circular economy and in the bioeconomy. German Equipolymers presented a project for the development of a plastic bottle containing 20% recycled PET, suitable for drinks produced on a very large scale, that would offer considerable matter savings while meeting mandatory qualitative standards. Werner & Metrz Italia developed a technique to recycle plastic from separate
waste collection offering a product suitable to produce high performance containers characterizing the company’s line of cleaning products. Start-ups also offered a selection of materials, semi-finished products and “circular” products obtained from a wide range of resources: recycled basalt fibres to manufacture boat hulls (GS4C), milk processing waste used to produce fabrics (Acquastyle – DUEDILATTE), agricultural and food waste becomes an ingredient for mortar (Calchera San Giorgio) or plastic material (Mycoplast – Mogu), non-food biomass to produce polymers (AEP Polymers), wool processing waste to produce fertilizers (TCP Engineering – Fertilana), cosmetics obtained from wine making waste (Poliphenolia), construction materials derived from stone cutting sludge (Stonebricks). Examples of practical uses of anything that has become waste or residue, paying particular attention to local resources and economies. Tested during Ecomondo 2016 Fair, the exhibition aroused a lot of interest, highlighting a popularizing quality exceeding organizers’ expectations. They now have in their hands a successful and repeatable format that can help spread the culture of circularity.
at the Treatment Plant! The first filling up station offering methane produced by sewerage waste of Milan’s metropolitan area has been opened in Bresso. It could produce 341,640 kilograms of biomethane a year, enough to power 416 vehicles for 20,000 kilometres. by Rudi Bressa
Rudi Bressa is a freelance journalist and naturalist, who writes about the environment, science, renewable energy and circular economy for various national newspapers.
A treatment plant in Milan’s metropolitan area turned into a biorefinery. A treatment plant for the sewage of part of Lombardy regional capital turning into a filling up station. Local and with very limited environmental impact. The project was carried out by Gruppo CAP, a company managing the integrated water service of the city of Milan and other municipalities in the provinces of Monza and Brianza, Pavia, Varese and Como – in the Niguarda-Bresso treatment plant in the North outskirts of Milan. And it is here, that thanks to CAP knowhow, in collaboration with Austep SPA and under the scientific supervision of CNR and the technological supervision of FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) the first methane filling up station was open, using waste water, that is from sludge deriving from sewage. Methane was then really used to fill up a car. “With this project we managed to exploit all the potential energy from sludge treatment,” explains Alessandro Russo, President of Gruppo CAP sewage and treatment management. “We believe it to be a sound and circular cycle because we use something that we already produce and that can be further exploited.”
equivalent inhabitants (by equivalent inhabitant, or specific organic loading rate, we mean the quantity of biodegradable organic matter deriving from households or assimilable, fed to the sewage system every day, editor’s note).
The Niguarda-Bresso treatment plant collects wastewater through a miscellaneous intermunicipal network (household, industrial and rain water); it serves a population equivalent to 220,000 actual inhabitants and can treat up to 300,000
By examining data provided by CAP, we can see that Bresso treatment plant alone could produce 341,640 kilograms of biomethane per year, enough to power 416 vehicles for 20,000 kilometres. “Or the whole vehicle park of Gruppo CAP,” points out Russo.
A Renewable and Inexhaustible Source Biomethane is a gas produced by the anaerobic digestion of biomass in huge “bellies” called digesters working in given temperature conditions, with no oxygen and thanks to the presence of specific bacteria. This process is the same for wastewater entering the treatment plant: once the liquid part is separated from the solid component, sludge is treated in digesters where biogas is produced containing on average 65% of methane. Thanks to normal upgrading technologies, methane is then “wasted” until obtaining a gas with a purity index exceeding 99%. Once compressed, it is ready to be used in cars. “It is a fuel produced locally. It is sustainable because its source is practically inexhaustible,” Russo points out. “As a matter of fact, with the increase of sludge treatment plants, gas production will also increase.” A Sustainable Fuel
Case Studies But by broadening our horizons, we could envisage a production at national level. By adding up the various evaluations provided by ENEA and ISPRA, at national level, 208 million kilograms could be produced each year, enough to power over 250,000 vehicles (based on average consumption of a methane-powered Fiat Panda driving on average 20,000 km per year). CIB Opinion
Consorzio italiano biogas www.consorziobiogas.it
“It is a fuel produced locally. It is sustainable because its source is practically inexhaustible.”
Biomethane, as well as the whole biogas supply chain, is a fuel showing the highest growth potential. The aim according to CIB (Italian Consortium for Biogas) is to produce, by 2030, 8.5 million m3 of biomethane, increasing 1.5 times the quantity of natural gas self-produced in Italy. This would meet a quarter of the Italian yearly need. “Biogas-biomethane supply chain will play an important role in the future of sustainability in the Italian energy and agricultural sectors,” explains Piero Gattoni, chaiman of CIB. “The last few years have been difficult because of delays and the lack of a long-term vision that our political establishment has often got us used to, but our associated companies, thanks to their existence, prove that despite
Methane and Biomethane in Italy Used Fuel
Filling up Stations
Vehicles in operation
980,000 (7th country worldwide, 1st in Europe)
% fuels from renewables by 2020
Current total biogas production:
2.5 billion m3/year
Total potential production 8 billion m3/year of biomethane by 2030 Source: “Biometano: la partenza di una filiera italiana,” by CIB – Italian Consortium for biogas (2015).
this complex period, our sector is very much alive and ready for business in Italy, with that positive attitude characterizing our agricultural and industrial productions.” And numbers prove CIB right: Italy is currently the second European producer of biogas, behind Germany, and fourth at global level, behind China, Germany and the USA. According to data provided by CIB, around 80% of operating plants runs on animal slurry, agro-industrial residues or supplemental crops while the rest uses the urban fraction of solid urban waste, sewage sludge and biogas derived from landfills. As soon the law will allow the sale of biomethane derived from sewage, the transformation taking place at Bresso-Niguarda plant will no longer be alone. Gruppo CAP intends to gradually transform the main treatment plants – amongst the 61 currently in operation – into biorefineries able to produce not only biomethane but also fertilizers, electricity and nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen. Integrated digestion of water creates new sources still untapped. This is how the cycle can be closed and soon we will be able to fill up our cars by collecting and treating sewage.
“Well-to-wheel” CO2 emissions: comparison between a Fiat Panda and a similar electric car 100%
1.9 T METHANE
1.9 T METHANE (40% biomethane)
1.9 T ELECTRIC METHANE (EU energy mix) (100% biomethane)
ELECTRIC (100% from wind farms)
renewablematter 13. 2016 Interview
edited by R. B.
“Developing a biomethane network on a national scale” Alessandro Massone, Austep CEO
Austep – an engineering company specialized in designing, production, management and supervision – is active, amongst other sectors, in the field of process water and sewage treatment. In Bresso plant, it provided the upgrading technology to transform biogas into methane. What was the role of Austep in the creation of this plant? “Austep’s aim was to tackle the sewage sludge problem and to find a solution able to exploit this waste. Gruppo CAP, managing over 60 plants, showed great interest in our technology putting forward a collaboration proposal leading to the development of innovative and state-of-the-art solutions. Over the last few years, thanks also to the introduction of regulations providing incentives for the production of biomethane from renewable sources, the interest in these technologies has grown exponentially. So we decided to apply our b:UP technology to biogas derived from sewage sludge, reacting to the market’s strong demand while solving the problem of sewage treatment waste.”
Tell us about the technical characteristics of the plant. “The pilot module used in the Bresso plant has a treatment capacity of 25 m3/hour. Our b:UP technology, exploiting the different sizes of molecules, thanks to a series of membranes, divides biomethane and carbon dioxide into two separate flows. Carbon dioxide molecules, smaller compared to those of biomethane, can pass through the membranes and carry on while the latter, bigger, are blocked and channelled into a secondary flow. In this way we have two flows coming out of the module, one rich in biomethane and the other rich in carbon dioxide.” At national level, what’s the potential of biomethane production from sewage sludge? “Once the tests that we are currently carrying out at the Bresso plant are over, hopefully returning the expected results, we will be able to open the first biomethane filling up station at national level. The idea is to find a solution that can be applied in a modular way in all sewage treatment plants as to facilitate the spread of this technology with all the ensuing advantages.”
CAP21, sustainability according to CAP Every day, Gruppo CAP, though waterworks, provides water to 2,186,450 people and through the sewage system to 1,916,589 people. A catchment area that must be constantly and adequately monitored, also by employing the latest technologies available (optic fibre, WebGIS, MIbSit and smart metering): in this way CAP guarantees an efficient, transparent and quality service. But it is also thanks to CAP21 Programme, with which the company decided to endorse 21 real sustainability promises, that the question of sustainable water management has caught on. It is a clear stance on topical questions: climate change, management of extreme weather phenomena and reduction of natural resources’ availability. Amongst these, sustainable water management is and will be extremely important. This is why CAP has implemented 21 actions, that as a matter of fact include many others, representing its everyday commitment to an efficient integrated industrial water management. A €600 million investment over five years in order to reduce consumption, reuse water, recover its nutrients, rechannel energy and rebuild the surrounding environment.
Up to 95% less CO2 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Group offered its technical support to power the first vehicles using biomethane produced by the treatment plant in Bresso. Methane can be an alternative even in the transport sector. Europe very much believes in the potential of natural gas for sustainable transport, considering it an efficient, readily available technological choice to solve pollution problems in urban areas and to reduce CO2 emissions. In this panorama, Italy is seen as an example of best practice for the development of natural gas amongst alternative fuels, as shown by the continuing growth of sales of gas powered vehicles and the number of methane filling up stations: between 2005 and 2015 the latter more than doubled while the number of methane vehicles sold more than tripled, a sector that in Italy employs more that 20,000 people with an annual turnover of â‚Ź1.7 billion, involving more than 50 small and medium enterprises with nearly 5,000 specialized garages. Thanks to biomethane produced from urban waste or agricultural and farming activities, even natural gas rightfully becomes a renewable energy source. Thus biomethane helps solve the problem of waste recovery in a circular economy perspective, also contributing, without subtracting food resources, to reducing our energy dependence on oil. It also offers great benefits to farmers who can use the fuel obtained from the waste of their activity to power farm machinery or production processes; they can also use it as a biofertilizer or sell it. A scenario very much in line with the EU target of using 10% renewable fuels by 2020. Moreover, from an environmental impact
point of view, biomethane produces about 20% less direct CO2 emissions compared to petrol. But the real advantage is noticeable when we take into consideration its whole lifecycle â€“ in this case the reduction of CO2 can exceed 95% depending on the raw material used. In a well-to-wheel situation, biomethane vehicles produce more or less as much CO2 as an electric vehicle powered with energy derived from renewable sources. Moreover, taking into consideration a 40% methane-biomethane mix, CO2 emissions equal those of an electric vehicle using energy derived from European energy mix production plants. FCA is one of the European leaders in the field of methane vehicles: between 1997 and 2015 it sold over 690,000 cars and commercial vehicles. Thanks to DAFI (European Directive on deployment of Alternative Fuels Infrastructure) implementation, we expect a further increase in the number of methane filling up stations in the coming years. In this context, in November 2016, FCA, CNH Industrial and SNAM signed a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at further developing natural gas as transport fuel in Italy.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Group offered its technical support to power the first vehicles using biomethane produced by the treatment plant in Bresso. www.fcagroup.com
That Treasure Inside
A LITTLE GRAIN
In order to produce a tonne of white rice, 1.3 tonnes of straw, 200 kilos of chaff and 70 of bran are generated. These are not waste but, rather, resources for realising products for the pharmaceutical, cosmetics and food industries. As well as for making insulation panels and tyres. by Ilaria Nicoletta Brambilla
Ilaria N. Brambilla is a geographer and an environmental communicator, collaborating with research institutes, communication agencies and with Italian and international newspapers on sustainability issues.
Nabekura T., “Overcoming multidrug resistance in human cancer cells by natural compounds,” June 2010; www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ pubmed/22069634
Meeting with Nicoletta Ravasio, professor of general and inorganic chemistry at the Department of Chemistry within the faculty of Agrarian and Food sciences at the University of Milan, at the end of a working day. Our conversation focuses on the research project “From waste to resource: an integrated valorization of the rice productive chain residues,” funded by Fondazione Cariplo. This project, now in its final phases, has involved a team of 20 researchers including Claudio Tonin of Biella’s Institute for Macromolecular Studies (ISMAC), Giordano Lesma and Giovanna Speranza (also professors at the Department of Chemistry). The aim of the project is clear: to fine tune all the processes and technologies which are able to valorise all the waste connected to rice production. That is, straw (the residue of the plant after it has been removed from the sheaf), the chaff (the casing of the rice grain), the bran (the coat which is rejected after bleaching). Let us begin with the data: in order to produce a tonne of white rice, 1.3 tonnes of straw, 200 kilos of chaff and 70 of bran are generated. However, managing this waste is problematic. “Normally, farmers take it to biogas producers or those who valorise it energetically” Ravasio tells us. “Rice residue must be pretreated due to the high silica content in the plant which would damage furnaces since it vitrifies at high temperatures. Therefore, not being able to revalorise this waste, farmers generally adopt two lines of behaviour. They either burn the straw directly in the fields, despite the fact that it is an illegal practice also considering that the combustion produces a very high quantity of particulate (Pm10) and nitrous oxides or they bury it with the intention of fertilising the land. However, when the paddy fields are flooded again,
the buried straw ferments, and due to the lack of oxygen, produces methane. According to CNR (National Research Council) data, globally, this practice produces between 10 and 15% of greenhouse gas emissions.” The project thus has two main aims: to remove the straw from these polluting practices and at the same time guarantee a profit for Italian rice farmers, threatened by the competition of duty-free rice importations from southeast Asia (Myanmar, Cambodia), recovering from rice cultivation waste all the elements valorisable in new productions. Because rice contains true natural capital. Let us begin with bran. This thin film which covers rice grains can provide oil, which represents between 18 and 20% of its weight so, globally, we would have 6 million tonnes of rice bran oil a year, which could be sold (just like cottonseed oil, for example) as a commodity. Vegetable oils are premium goods for the industry. Specifically, rice oil has some particular features: while, while, on the one hand, it contains, it contains lipase which makes it difficult to conserve, tending to acidify quickly and thus not being very suited to food, on the other hand, it also has gamma oryzanol, that is, a mix of sterols and acid esters which, separated from the oil and bound to a milk-based product (normally yogurt), act on the body, lowering cholesterol in the blood. That is not all. Recent research has proven that some molecules present in sterol esters are multidrug resistant, that is, they are able to reinforce the cells under antitumour treatment because they continue to correctly assimilate the administered medicines (Nabekura, 2010). And lastly, the sterol esters contained in rice oil can be used in cosmetics, for example, substituting synthetic UV filters.
Info www.fondazionecariplo.it/ en/index.html
Davifil, www.davifilbioisol.com Equilibrium, www.equilibriumbioedilizia.it
But the team of researchers have also fine-tuned a method for extracting monoglycerides from rice oil and these could substitute the trans fatty acids present in many packaged foods, cosmetics and medicines as emulsifiers. “Currently – continues Nicoletta Ravasio – monoglycerides are represented on labels with the code E471, which, in any case, does not specify their origin. In the majority of cases, we are talking about byproducts extracted from animal waste which thus excludes certain consumer categories (for example, vegetarians, vegans and those following a kosher or halal diet). In this sense, if companies were to use plant-origin monoglycerides, the market would increase as would the related industries.” What is more, rice oil contains waxes which may be used to produce oleogel (margarine), which can substitute trans fatty acids as thickening agents and give products that “spreadable” consistency. Lastly, rice oil can be used to make dimer acids for realising biodegradable stickers for the packaging industry. Once the oil has been extracted, proteins remain in the bran. These are highly nutritious, can be valorised thanks to an enzymatic hydrolysis process and used in artificial milk for newborns or in cosmetics. They can even be used as flavour enhancers instead of the disputed monosodium glutamate. That, Ravasio specifies, “in addition to the matters connected to its healthiness, is produced exclusively in Asia: having an alternative would allow new markets to open in Italy.” Lastly, a further branch of research, which, however, has not provided definitive data, regards a polysaccharide also extracted from the bran which seems able to protect patients undergoing radiotherapy from gamma rays. Moving on to the chaff: while, until now, it has mainly been used for animal litter or for pipe insulation thanks to its great absorption power, the possibility of grinding it and putting it in compounds (also of plastic) used for outside, nonslip flooring is being studied. Plant silica extracted from the chaff can also be used to create new compounds with traditional plastics and bioplastics. Unlike mineral silica, since it is composed of smaller particles, it can be mixed with rubber to make tyres with a lower friction on the road, greater resistance on wet surfaces, which are quieter and allow for less fuel consumption. Pirelli and Goodyear are already experimenting its use. Lastly, straw. A previous study’s research team working on hemp developed thermal and acoustic panels, created by combining wool and plant fibre. “Many people do not know that the wool that is used for yarn all over the world comes from Australia, because European and American wool is not suitable for making good quality clothes. In any case, the animals need to be sheered and the wool, which cannot be
burnt because it releases sulphur, is, to full effect, true special waste” explains Nicoletta Ravasio. The researchers, experts in fibre, put the wool through a delicate alkaline treatment, hydrolysing the keratin present which thus becomes adhesive and integrates with the plant fibre, creating an extremely resistant, self-supporting material, with the plant part providing mechanical resistance and the wool acting as a thermal and acoustic insulator. A further feature of these panels is that the treatment of the wool makes it mothproof. They are currently fine tuning plant-based panels using rice straw which, thanks to the silica, should be even more fire-resistant and insulating. Furthermore, these panels are suitable for use in earthquake-resistant structures – and this is important, in particular in a country like Italy. “This research project is demonstrating that numerous economic, environmental and health advantages derive from all rice production waste. Some are certainly more profitable than others, but, to the end of a biorefinery, where we would suppose there is a portfolio of products with different added values, we could actually increase the income of rice farmers and, above all, create employment in the context of the bioeconomy,” specifies Ravasio. Some companies are already moving in this direction and some very interesting Italian productive industries have sprung forth from the hemp project which Ravasio worked on. Biella’s Dadifil produces thermal and acoustic insulating panels made of wool and hemp. Lecco’s Equilibrium, which realises products for green building with hemp bricks, following the recent law for the reintegration of hemp production in Italy, began using raw material from new plantations. Considering everything that the team demonstrated can be extracted from rice, it is not hard to imagine the impact using this cereal would have. “This is the approach, the professor concludes, that we have to have with this waste. Before burning it or throwing it away, we need to look at what is in it, how it can be reused, and how we can valorise its components. We have an immense quantity of molecules and components produced in nature and, sometimes, these cannot be reproduced synthetically. What is the point in not using them?” And above all, for how much longer can we afford this luxury?
renewablematter 13. 2016
Columns Innovation Pills
Stereons and DVD Blenders Federico Pedrocchi, is a science journalist. He directs and presents the weekly programme Moebius broadcast by Radio 24 – Il Sole 24 ore.
Let’s start with a stereon. No, it is not a spelling mistake. Take an iron and bring it to Elettroevoluzione (an engineering team based in Rome) and they transform it into a radio. But watch out: after such transformation, by observing the object, before your very eyes all you can see is just a traditional iron. No external detail has changed and this is a hard and fast rule of electroevolutionists strongly characterized by culture and design. They choose objects that over time have influenced the world of design (so as a matter of fact you don’t bring them any old electrical appliance). The great make Braun is widely used in their projects. A toaster becomes a radio, but only when you press the button to get the toast out a small amplifier will appear. There is also a frying plate that becomes a turntable and a blender that turns into a DVD player.
Elettroevoluzione, www.elettroevoluzione. com/en
A theoretical consideration: maybe one aspect of project development though reusing should bear in mind that an external shell has its own importance. I know a numerically significant community asking itself: “Why can’t we have a beautiful Volkswagen Beetle with a hybrid or fully electric engine?” A smaller community asks the same question about a 1970s Morris 1000 with a wonderful bodywork, a sort of Goofy’s car. There are countless examples. Then I know that people start to say that the original must preserve its integrity, so I will stop right here.
AT Media, www.at-media.it/indexeng.asp
But it is a completely different story when it’s all in the head. AT Media, an Alessandria-based software house, has come up with an algorithm acting on a tablet’s or computer’s web camera and that can be used in any website. When fully developed, the idea is very easy to describe – you sit in front of a screen offering a museum visit, as soon as you slightly move your head forward you start to walk from one room to another. By turning your head to the left, you see objects displayed on the left, and the same if you turn right or move your head down to admire a Roman mosaic floor. No mouse, no keys. Obviously, it can be
used for any exploration offered, not only in museums. So the search for new revolutionary man-machine interfaces is rapidly developing. They all point towards an ambitious objective: by adding voice controls and hand movements, all computer’s functions can be used. According to experts, there are no basic obstacles. Very good. And what about the digital divide? Could digital natives become an endangered species? Will traditional equipment need to be made in order for them to be able to express themselves? One thing is for sure: the current knowhow on computer fiddling is almost useless when it comes to solving problems and snags deriving from the overall chaotic complexity of the interface. If driving a car required the same level of competence, the global turnover of this sector would equal that of date trade.
IN COLLABORATION WITH THE ITALIAN NATIONAL TEAM OF WATER POLO
IF YOU THROW AWAY USED OIL FROM YOUR CAR YOU POLLUTE SIX OLIMPIC SWIMMING POOLS. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to pollute: a change in your car’s oil thrown in a manhole or a field. A senseless act which could pollute a huge surface of 5000 square meters. Instead, if collected correctly, used oil is a precious resource: once it’s recycled it becomes a new lubricant. This way, we can save on importing oil and the environment will also benefit. Help us collect it, don’t throw away our future: toll-free number 800.863.048 - www.coou.it LET’S COLLECT USED OIL. LET’S DEFEND THE ENVIRONMENT.
Renewable Matter is the International Magazine focused on the changing relationship between Economy, Society and the Environment. It focuses...
Published on Dec 29, 2016
Renewable Matter is the International Magazine focused on the changing relationship between Economy, Society and the Environment. It focuses...