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17 | July-August 2017 Bimonthly Publication Edizioni Ambiente

Interview with Kate Raworth: The Doughnut Age •• Focus Sea: Stop Plastic Waste •• When Small is Better •• BlueMed, a Sea of Opportunities

Dossier Bioeconomy/Norway : A Treasure at the Bottom of the Sea •• Quality Second-Hand Goods •• The Fairphone Case

Focus Construction Sector: Enviromate, the Digital Marketplace •• The Case of Ecological Tiles •• The Advent of Offsite Construction •• The Links of a New Economy for Italy and Europe

Okja, The Superpig’s Lesson •• New Rules for Reach and Waste •• What a Wheel and a Jacket have in Common

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Diving into Circularity by Antonio Cianciullo

#unsaccogiusto, video watch?v=Y37vj28p53A

Depth, large spaces, long time frames, force of nature, stability: these are the most immediate images which come to mind when we talk about the sea. But these elements are not easily associated with the idea of circularity. However, if considered carefully, the connection between oceans and the circular economy is logical. You just need to look at them in the right way. In this issue of Renewable Matter, that is exactly what we will do. The sea is obviously connected to circularity because it is an essential element of certain fundamental cycles, from that of water to that of coal. However, this is a technical aspect which recalls age-old knowledge, like that of the medieval schoolmen regarding evaporation or the very modern studies into mechanisms, for example, which so far have allowed for the absorption of around half of carbon dioxide emissions, and are now declining due to climate change. But another aspect of the sea-circularity relationship produces a more immediate, more all-embracing emotional impact. Just step onto a beach or take a swim and you will directly experience the invasion of something which is not very circular at all – unwanted objects instead of fish, waste which we thought we had gotten rid of with a hurried, distracted gesture and which returns arrogantly before our eyes. Plastic is the number one culprit. In April 2017, on the La Stampa, Mario Tozzi reminded us of the five garbage vortices, each the size of a continent, which contain 7 billion tonnes of plastic apiece: “In the Pacific ocean, on Kamilo Beach (Hawaii), there are now more fragments of plastic than grains of sand. Most of these come from shopping bags, which we make 500 billion of a year (and which did not even exist in 1970). These make up around 40% of marine litter in the Mediterranean.” These rivers of plastic fragment progressively mixing with sea creatures and getting eaten by fish and turtles that take them for jellyfish and end up suffocating. There are now 7 waste

items for every metre of beach, as shown in the Beach Litter 2017 investigation, carried out by Legambiente this year in April and May in 62 points along the Italian coast. Over 80% of this waste is plastic: pieces of netting, bottle tops, bottles and containers, disposable tableware, bags. How can we contain the marine litter phenomenon which is costing the European Union €477 million a year? There are various options and they are not alternatives. An immediate possibility would be an emergency intervention like that proposed by Castalia, the consortium working in collaboration with the Ministry of the Environment to launch the Sea Sweeper project: a system of fixed nylon nets, which do not impact marine life, to intercept the floating plastic carried by rivers (80% of it ends up in the sea). Then there are best practices like compostable plastic carrier bags which are at the heart of a legal battle, as the campaign #unsaccogiusto (the right bag) – endorsed by Gomorra actor Fortunato Cerlino, alias the boss Pietro Savastano – underlined, launching the alarm against imitation bags. These imitations have led to a net economic loss for the legal compostable bag industry equal to €160 million, in addition to the €30 million lost from tax evasion which damages the whole community. However, the different elements of the proposal must then be put together, in an attempt to define the outlines of a new economy based on sustainable business and the use of biological materials which are continuously recovered, instead of disposable items fuelled by oil wells and mines. That is what two events, which we will consider over the coming pages, tried to do. The first is the UN conference on oceans which took place in June. The second is BlueMed, which aims to release the Mediterranean’s potential to improve its environmental quality. The European Union is moving in the same direction with its new regulations on fish labelling described in the piece by Renata Briano on small-scale traditional fishing which respects the biological rhythms of the sea.



17|July-August 2017 Contents

RENEWABLE MATTER ISSN 2385-2240 Reg. Tribunale di Milano n. 351 del 31/10/2014 Editor-in-chief Antonio Cianciullo Editorial Director Marco Moro Contributors Francesco Ansaloni, Andrea Barbabella, Emanuele Bompan, Mario Bonaccorso, Renata Briano, Arianna Campanile, Giovanni Corbetta, Jean-Luc Da Lozzo, Dag Falk-Petersen, David Gilmour, Roberto Giovannini, Valentino Grandinetti, Marco Gisotti, Arvid Hallén, Roger Kilburn, Traci Kinden, Ernst Kloosterman, Hörður G. Kristinsson, Liv la Cour Belling, Gianfranco Locandro, Emmanuelle Moesch, Ilaria Nardello, Eleonora Paris, Federico Pedrocchi, Francesco Petrucci, Elsa, Raverdy, Kate Raworth, Roberto Rizzo, Sigridur Thormodsdottir, Antonella Ilaria Totaro, Giorgio Zampetti

Think Tank


Managing Editor Maria Pia Terrosi Editorial Coordinator Paola Cristina Fraschini Editing Paola Cristina Fraschini, Diego Tavazzi


Acknowledgments Serena Carpentieri, Giuseppe De Biasi, Yasmina Lembachar, Stefania Maggi, Federica Mastroianni

Antonio Cianciullo


Diving into Circularity

Emanuele Bompan


The Doughnut Age Interview with Kate Raworth

Arianna Campanile


Creating a Network

Mario Bonaccorso


Dossier Norway A Treasure at the Bottom of the Sea

Renata Briano


Focus on the Sea When Small is Better

Marco Moro


Focus on the Sea Twelve and Growing

Ilaria Nardello


Focus on the Sea A Sea of Opportunity

Giorgio Zampetti


Focus on the Sea Ocean SOS

Emmanuelle Moesch


Circular Agriculture

Jean-Luc Da Lozzo and Elsa Raverdy


Organic’Vallée: A Local, Circular Agri-Business

Traci Kinden


Infrastructure: The Missing Link to Close the Loop on Textiles

Design & Art Direction Mauro Panzeri Layout & Infographics Michela Lazzaroni Translations Erminio Cella, Franco Lombini, Meg Anna Mullan, Mario Tadiello

edited by Institut de l’économie circulaire, Paris

edited by Institut de l’économie circulaire, Paris


Executive Coordinator Anna Re

Roberto Rizzo


Quality Second-Hand Goods

External Relations Manager (International) Federico Manca External Relations Manager (Italy) Anna Re

Antonella Ilaria Totaro

Case Studies

Fair Smartphones


Focus Construction Sector The Advent of Offsite Construction

Antonella Ilaria Totaro


Focus Construction Sector Of This House Nothing Will Go to Waste

Francesco Ansaloni, Eleonora Paris and Valentino Grandinetti


Focus Construction Sector The Case of Eco-Tiles

Marco Gisotti


The Links of a New Economy for Italy and Europe

Roger Kilburn


400 Million Pounds in 4 Years from Biotechnology


World Efficiency Supports the Low-Carbon and Resource-Efficient Economy

Emanuele Bompan

Press and Media Relations Contact Edizioni Ambiente Via Natale Battaglia 10 20127 Milano, Italia t. +39 02 45487277 f. +39 02 45487333 Advertising Annual subscription, 6 paper issues Subscribe on-line at This magazine is composed in Dejavu Pro by Ko Sliggers Published and printed in Italy at GECA S.r.l., San Giuliano Milanese (Mi)


Circular by Law New Rules for Reach and Waste

Roberto Giovannini


The Media Circle The Superpig’s Lesson

Federico Pedrocchi


Francesco Petrucci



Innovation Pills What Have a Wheel and a Jacket Got in Common?

Copyright ŠEdizioni Ambiente 2017 All rights reserved

Cover Photo by Federico Manca

The DOUGHNUT Age Interview with Kate Raworth

Deconstructing neoclassical economy is the way to transform the global economy. by Emanuele Bompan

Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership,

The greatest challenge for humanity in the 21st century is fulfilling all humanity’s needs, within the planetary boundaries. How can we ensure everybody the pursuit of happiness, end poverty, make injustice history while protecting the planet and avoid to overshoot our pressure on Earth’s life-supporting systems (soil, biodiversity, atmosphere) on which all the living beings on this planet rely on? The linear, petro-capitalist, neoclassical economy has pushed our world on the brink of collapse. A new redefinition of political economy is very much needed. Over the last year, a lot of attention has been directed to the work of economist Kate Raworth, from the Institute for Sustainability Leadership. But don’t expect hyper-complex graphs and rules that build on traditional economy. “To transform our economy we need to redefine its narratives and symbols.

For this reason I suggest a new model based on the doughnut.” Seriously, you have read correctly. Doughnut. But beware: Kate Raworth is a no-nonsense. Author of one of the most important book of this century, Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist, Kate Raworth has been working on a way to deconstruct neo-classical economy for over two decades, working with the NGO Oxfam, researching on inequality, and authoring the Human Development Report for UNDP. And the doughnut has become the icon of a new economical paradigm. Renewable Matter has met her in the hall of the ancient Palazzo Malvezzi, in Bologna, a true intellectual salotto, to understand how the traditional curves and lines of the neoclassical approach, based on determination of goods, outputs, and income distributions

Think Tank Kate Raworth, named by The Guardian “one of the top ten tweeters on economic transformation,” currently is a Senior Visiting Research Associate at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, where she teaches at the Master’s in Environmental Change and Management. She is also Senior Associate of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and a member of the Club of Rome.

in markets through supply and demand, has totally failed to provide us the ultimate goal of life: a wholesome, happy, respectful existence. And how the doughnut can save us all.

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, Milan 2016.

How did you decide to use the doughnut to represent a new model of equilibrium at global scale? “I know it sounds crazy, but I sat down to try to draw a picture of human wellbeing and the 21st century and it came out looking like a doughnut. I suggest readers take a look at the graphic. In the hole you can represent the shortfall of social foundation, from food and health care, water, education, housing. Whoever is out of the hole can live a life of dignity, rights and opportunity. At the same time we can’t go out of the doughnut, because there we are putting so much pressure on the planet that we begin to cross the planetary boundary (as explained by Johan Rockström, author’s note). We cause climate change, ocean acidification, and then we threaten the very living system that sustains us. So, the 21st century’s goal has to get everybody into this doughnut itself. But today we are far outside of it on both sides. We must live within the planet boundaries: economists in the century before us didn’t recognize the planetary life system on which we depend. To achieve this simply, we need a new economy that fits.” Your book has an interesting take on neoclassical models: rather than understand the way we produce and consume it has created an ideology on how we should produce and consume,

has imposed growth as Manichean goal, theory like the Kuznets curves as perfect physic’s laws. Therefore reality has become copy of model. “We, humans, are deeply influenced by stories, and narratives about how the world works. We are also deeply influenced by pictures, so the pictures we draw in economics and the stories we tell, shape how we behave. Economics shapes the most fundamental story that we tell, a story about who we are. A story where it is said we are driven only by self-interest. This is not the truth, we have to tell ourselves the real story of who we are, and it will actually change who we have become.” It is time to deconstruct the neoclassical and neoliberal economic models? “There’s a huge responsibility that resides in the economists that tell us ‘who we are.’ This shapes who we become. Not only do we have to rethink the story of what the economy is. In mainstream neoclassical economics if I say to a professor ‘show me the biggest picture you have of the economy’ probably the biggest picture they can show is the Circular Flux diagram, drawn 70 years ago, by Paul Samuelson (his book Economics: An Introductory Analysis, first published in 1948, has influenced most of the macro-economics students in the world, author’s note). But it only shows what is monetized, it only shows the flows, it makes absolutely no reference to the living world. There are no references to materials and waste, it makes no reference to the ordinary people, the place where the people live. We have been running our economy by a story that is full of blank spaces and silences, on some of today most important issues. We need to redo the diagram and we need to write new stories to tell ourselves an imagine of the world the we actually want to create and a model of ourselves that is true to the full possibility of the human nature.” Enterprises have always followed the bottom-line rule. How will the 21st century’s enterprises look like? “There are 3 core criteria that shape an enterprise: its purpose, its ownership and its financing. And they are often tightly connected. In the 20th century the purpose of enterprises was to maximize shareholders’ return and maximise profit. ‘The business of business is business,’ was the mantra. The ownership was offered by shareholders, who never even step inside the businesses’ doors and the finance was managed through distant markets and always pursuing the highest rate of return. People only saw flow charts, never met the employees, maybe not even saw the product. This has helped lead us to where we are, pushing



renewablematter 17. 2017

Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist,

Ellen MacArthur Foundation, www.ellenmacarthur

the environment and communities to the side, calling them ‘externalities.’ When you call something or someone an externality, you have already told how unimportant they are. We need businesses with living purpose: pursuing life, restoring the environment. The ownership needs to be rooted, perhaps among the employers or among shareholders who have a long term commitment to the purpose of the company. Finance needs to be committed not just to ‘return on investments,’ but also to the social and environmental value that this enterprise aims to create. So the question at the heart of 21th century’s business is how many benefits can I lure into it, so that we can give some away. It’s a question of generosity: “How can I help to tackle a social or environmental problem using my enterprise?” Neoclassical models have been used by States to shape their political economy. How can the State transform its development model and measurements? “Let’s keep it simple: the goal for the government is to create an economy that is regenerative by design, works in time with the living world, and it’s distributive, so it shares the value created. First, absolute, priority is to transform the energy system from fossil fuels to renewable energies. It would reduce energy costs, it would create jobs, and it would create innovation and

a distributive energy system. “Than it should change the full basis of taxation, stop taxing labour employers, don’t penalize companies for hiring people, tax the use of resources, and tax the use of virgin materials. This would transform the incentive for business, they would employ people and they would be efficient around the use of resources. Encourage the creation of employers’ enterprise, cooperatives, encourage householders to put their own solar panel in their roofs, encourage the use of the creative commons. We need metric to measure regenerative potential, cutting carbon emissions; we need metrics to show that the value is being redistribute among people. I believe it fundamentally needs to transform the finance, which has led us into a degenerative process.”

That’s a massive task, governments are usually afraid to change. How do you think change can be made? “One of the reasons governments are afraid to take on the financial sector is because anytime they are put under pressure they threaten to leave. Which is what we are seeing in the UK. We need a set of governments working together, internationally. A group such as the European Union would be a very powerful starting point. They have to encourage new finances, creating green bonds, incentivizing and supporting banks enabling socially responsible investments funds. These kinds of measures not only shrink old finance, but also actively encourage and enable the new finance models.” What types of economic metrics is needed for the doughnut economy? “The measures we need are both in terms of the state of play where we are today, which is showed in the doughnut. The 21st century is going to be governed by natural and social metrics. Now we all understand water footprints, we can talk about carbon footprints. 20 years ago nobody would have understood what we are talking about, but today we are pushing forward natural and social metrics. It’s an exciting task for those who are creating the metrics to come up with new KPIs and national big data systems. We need to measure whether an economy is regenerative by design, so we need metrics

that reflects the extent to which a business is truly part of the circular economy and whether it is distributive. I think the more we put attention here, the more we see the true sources of wellbeing. We will then realize that GDP, which is mainly the value of goods and services sold in a year, may go up, may sometimes go down in response to the shifts within regenerative and distributive economy, but will no longer be the main and only metrics.” GPD doesn’t measure inequality, which has increased everywhere since the beginning of the century. Do you think wealth distribution has to become a central political issue? “The interaction between how we distribute wealth and how we create a regenerative economy has a lot of trade-offs and tensions but also co-benefits that need to be explored. I believe it’s essential to redistribute incomes so that people who can’t afford housing, food, health care, have the access to all of these things; we need to assure that business models create circular supply chains. The question you ask is a complex one, with no easy answer. This is precisely where 21th century’s economists should focus their attention, to look for the synergies that potentially exist between redistributing wealth and creating a regenerative economy.” In your opinion what should a real circular economy be? “20th century’s industry was based on a linear degenerative design. Where we took earth’s materials, we made them into stuff we want, we use them for a while and then we throw them away. A take-make-use-lose system. We need to bend this linear economy around, so instead of using new resources we have to use them again and again. In two separate strains, the biological materials, that naturally regenerative themselves – this is what earth does – and a similar one for technical materials, like plastics, metals, and materials. We need to restore them, repair them, reuse them and lastly ultimately recycle them. So this is the essence of a circular economy and to have it functioning truly as an ecosystem within an economy it needs to be open-sources and open-materials based. In this way it doesn’t try to stay just within the limits of one company but it becomes an industry-wide system so that many companies are engaged together.” Private businesses are usually afraid of opening sources environment. Can universities play a role in opening sources system? “I believe that governments have a very important role to play in building up the capacity, because that’s where open sources work. So when public money is used to fund research and ideas, surely the resulting ideas and findings

should be put into the public domain. If they were funded with public money then the results should be published with creative licences, not under copyrights, which are intellectual property.” Therefore the transition to a circular economy must be supported by public research entities. “That’s a way in which government can build up the capacity of the common knowledge, while creating digital platforms that citizens fill with data. In Brest, France, the local administration has created a digital knowledge platform, where citizens added all the information. It is a beautiful example of crowd-open source generated information. This can be done for the circular economy.” Are you collaborating with the Ellen MacArthur foundation? “Yes, they are beginning a new economical paradigm. They have quantified this idea that the economy exists within the environment. I worked closely with them, because we realized that together we are helping create a new narrative, a new story and a new picture of an economy that can work for the 21st century. They have been distributing 300 copies of my book to leading industrials. Their work on the circular economy is really strong in England but also internationally. Ellen has got passion and inspires creative innovation.” Who will adopt the Doughnut model? “There is a lot of interest around the world. In Stockholm the public administration is creating a brand new neighbourhood that will be called the Doughnut District. Companies have spontaneously endorsed the model. They are flattered by the power of the image.” But to subvert strong eradicated beliefs you probably need to shape a new economy school, like the Chicago Boys did in the Seventies. “The Doughnut is being taught in development studies, development economics, geography, architecture, and political science. The only ones that are resisting are the economists. “If the Faculty of Economics continues to use models that every other disciplines already knows are outdated – because we saw what happened in the financial crash – either they make themselves irrelevant with their models or they jump into a new vision. We need to bridge the new economists with the mainstream ones. I am trying to do that at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership aimed at executives of world leading companies. But it is a long winding road to change the economists’ world.”

Portail des Savoirs,



How to get Manufacturing Processes closer to Natural Rhythms.

by Arianna Campanile

1. Black Elk speaks: Being the life story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux, John Neihardt, The University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1961.

In the future economy, waste will be used to create materials, knowledge will be distributive and shared, jobs and manufacturing processes will be green and communication will keep on having a crucial role. On June 7 in Bologna the First Italian National Forum on the circular economy took place: a debate among representatives of institutions, companies and consortium associations that also had contributions from economists, jurists and communication professionals, about pivotal factors contributing to the development of a new economic model. The event, organized by Edizioni Ambiente, Renewable Matter and Città Metropolitana di Bologna was held within the frame of #Allforthegreen, a week of events preparing the Environmental G7. “Circularity – Lucio Cavazzoni said – comes from a biologic knowledge and awareness. In nature there is no beginning and no end, just a continuous exchange between the parts.” The chairman of Alce Nero (Black Elk) also quoted an interview to the Sioux chief from which the organic food brand took the name and inspiration. The native Indian chief, forced to live in Indian reserves in a square house, complained about the fact that it could break his flow within the universe, which is totally circular: “Everything the Power of the World

does is done in a circle… Birds make their nests in circles, because theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun always rises and sets down in a circle. The moon does the same, and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. Man’s life is a circle, from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.”1 Special guest of the Forum was Kate Raworth, an influential British economist who explained her vision (see the interview on this issue) of an economy that overcomes the linear model to find an equilibrium in which the needs of world population are met within the planetary boundaries. These needs have been analysed by Luca Mercalli, climatologist and meteorologist, who relied on literature to describe the predominant behaviour about climate change: in The Great Derangement: climate change and the unthinkable, (Amitav Gosh, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago 2016) the author speaks about the indifference – almost bother – that this issue generates in conversations when it comes to the forefront. Mercalli highlighted that newscasts, reciting a daily mantra, inform us about stock indexes, when they should do it about numbers – that are crucial for our survival – related to environmental limits: how much CO2 did we emit today? What’s the level of oceans acidification?

Think Tank And how about the ozone layer depletion? What’s the rate of biodiversity loss? In the Forum, four moments of thematic discussion have been planned. The first one, “From waste to matter,” moderated by Silvia Zamboni, displayed the experiences of consortium associations representatives – Ecopneus, Cobat, Conoe – which in addition to carrying out, each one in their sector, an important action of collection of environmentally dangerous waste, collaborate with companies to find possible useful applications. The legal and regulatory field has often been discussed and blamed for not keeping up with the economy, impeding a circular change in Italy. In addition to a reassessment of the juridical concept of “waste” Paola Ficco, an environmental legal expert, highlighted the need of a regulatory homogeneity within Italian territory, to enable the maximum effectiveness of organizations which include more than one region. “New jobs: roles and professions” is the title of the next panel, focused on the importance of green jobs: journalist Marco Gisotti remarked their economic relevance. Furthermore, green jobs must be both environmentally and socially sustainable; they must be just about wages and occupational safety, too. During the debate, a lot of importance was given to a skilled training in this field, still lacking in Italian and international universities. This is the situation, excluding some

exceptions recalled by academics like the first International Master in circular Bioeconomy, arisen from the collaboration between the universities of Bologna, Milano Bicocca, Federico II in Naples and Università degli Studi of Turin, aimed to the creation of several professional figures for the new jobs. After this some examples of green projects and shifts have been illustrated, like the food farming centre in Bologna, a sustainable and self-sufficient fruit and vegetable market aiming to become a thematic park focused on food and his circularity. And so it was for CAP Holding, a company managing the water supply in the metropolitan area of Milan aiming to circularity as a constant feature along his whole process, that established several partnerships based on sharing knowledge to exploit waste transforming it into fertilizers or, in the case of sewage sludge, into bio-methane. Thanks to this evidences, business has been the main character of the panel “Smart development: from vertical economy to network economy,” moderated by Emanuele Bompan. In order to create a system in which both materials and knowledge are exchanged among stakeholders of different productive chains, making a network is crucial for companies. These are pivotal aspects for shifting to the new model, but a cultural revolution is needed to make them become part of the daily life of every citizen, and this will only be possible after taking action to foster them and make people aware of their importance. The circular economy and sustainability must enter the collective consciousness, becoming “craved” so that industry adjusts to the demand for green products and manufacturing processes. During the panel “Communicating innovation, creating integration,” Regione Emilia Romagna illustrated its commitment in such direction with its network of Ceas centres – Centres for training to sustainability – and the establishment of the First permanent Forum on the circular economy, a tool by which the Region fosters its strategies about it, enabling the different stakeholders to give their contribution to public policies. The launch of the Forum is fulfilled through the participatory procedure Chiudi il cerchio (Close the circle), a digital platform. The moderator of the debate was the journalist Pierluigi Masini. Institutional figures of the territory (Città Metropolitana di Bologna) and the Minister of Environment, Gianluca Galletti, who highlighted the current importance of the economy-environment couple, also attended the convention. Alessandro Bratti, Chairman of Bicameral Panel for inquiry on illicit activities pertaining to waste cycle and Member of The Environmental Panel of the Parliament, concluded that, although there are excellences in innovation and sustainability within the “made in Italy,” there is still a long way to reach the implementation of circularity at a systemic level: the metamorphosis process from caterpillar to butterfly is still underway.




A will to decarbonize the economy, wide availability of raw materials mainly from the sea, excellent research which can be utilised in a network. The Norwegian plan depends on such strengths to promote the development of the bioeconomy. It relies on public support policies and synergy with other countries of Northern Europe.



at the Bottom of the Sea Between now and 2050, Oslo is aiming to raise its bioeconomy-connected turnover to €110 billion – kicking off with a strategy focusing on innovation, cooperation and competitiveness. by Mario Bonaccorso

Mario Bonaccorso is a journalist and creator of the Bioeconomista blog. He works for Assobiotec, the Italian association for the development of biotechnologies.

Outstanding network-creating research, no large industrial groups, great raw material availability, a highly-developed ocean sector and a government that has placed economy decarbonisation at the heart of its growth plan for the coming years. This is an extreme summary of the bioeconomy in Norway, where, in December 2016, the government led by Erna Solberg presented its national strategy, setting a very ambitious objective: to increase turnover from €33 billion (the 2015 figure) to €110 billion by 2050, in the context of the Scandinavian country’s greater commitment to encouraging economic and employment growth, while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and improving sustainable use of biological resources. Norway, tackling the challenges of the constant decline of national gas and oil production and the need to reduce its CO2 emissions, is looking to the future with a firm focus on three key words: transition, innovation and competitiveness. This transition is towards a graduallydecarbonised circular economy. This innovation involves using technological platforms which are able to use renewable biological resources in multiple sectors, efficiently and profitably. Competitiveness is achieved through cooperation between sectors and industries and the creation of a biobased product market. “The bioeconomy’s contribution to a more circular economy, which is environmentallyfriendly and low-emission, is an important prerequisite for public policy initiatives,” reads the “Familiar resources – undreamt of possibilities” strategy, published by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fishing and the outcome

of the joint work of ten ministries. “In this sense – the government document continues – the internalisation of the negative effects on the climate and environment in product prices would be the most efficient way to promote the bioeconomy, in a context of holistic public policies which are coherent in every step of the value chain.” The national strategy The Norwegian government bioeconomy policy aims to raise production of energy and industrial foodstuffs and animal feed (from chemistry to textiles, to pharmaceuticals and materials) through sustainable use of biological raw materials which the country is rich in, supplied by the earth and above all the sea. The Norwegian bioeconomy does indeed have a strong marine flavour. Just consider the fact that out of this metasector’s €33 billion turnover, around a third (€10 billion) came from the ocean sector and aquaculture. And this proportion is expected to increase, since the expected 2050 turnover is €60 billion (out of a total of 110). While, in 2015, the forestry, agrifood and bioindustry sectors contributed €15, 5 and 3 billion respectively, with an expected growth in 2050 reaching €27, 15 and 8 billion. In a system which is greatly based on ocean resources, algae are a fundamental raw material for developing the bioeconomy. One of the most important industrial players in this sector is the company Seaweed Energy Solutions. Founded in 2006 with the objective of cultivating algae on an industrial scale in order to produce food, animal feed, biochemical products and energy, this Norwegian company is one of the largest in the European algae sector, also thanks to



renewablematter 17. 2017

“Familiar resources – undreamt of possibilities,” Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, Nordic Bioeconomy Panel,

it purchased Danish company Seaweed Seed Supply in 2013. Oslo is committed to creating a market for the new biobased products through correct information on public opinion; the introduction of a green public tenders system, accompanied by standards and labels: fair promotion of positive external effects generated by bioproducts; a plan for investing in mature companies not listed on the stock exchange, through public company Investinor, which currently manages a €470 million fund, and the consolidation of strategies funding innovation for startups set up by Innovation Norway. But it doesn’t stop there. Confirmation of the bioenergy initiative is expected through the bioenergy programme and Enova, a company founded in 2001 and run by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy with the objective of reducing national emissions of greenhouse gases and developing new energyand climate-related technologies, strengthening supply certainty. The strategy considers intra-sectorial cooperation essential, entrusting the management of the action plan’s implementation to three organisations: the Research Council, the Industrial Development Corporation of Norway (SIVA) and Innovation Norway. “Those of us working in research – claims Arvid Hallén, Chief Executive Officer of the Research Council – must adopt a broader and more interdisciplinary approach to the bioeconomy

than we are currently applying. Working in a combination of different subject areas is beneficial for research. Many of our bioeconomy programmes already provide for funded projects mandatorily including partners from different fields and sectors.” The key role of public research Further proof of the importance that research has for Norway is the 2015 institution of the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO), one of the most important research institutes in the country. NIBIO comes under the ownership of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and is the result of a merger involving the Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research (Bioforsk), the Norwegian Agricultural Economics Research Institute (NILF) and the Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute (Skogoglandskap). It specialises in food, forestry and forest resources, plant health and biotechnologies, the environment and the climate, and statistics. “Norway – explains Ernst Kloosterman, former Chief Executive Officer of the Norwegian Industrial Biotech Network (IBNN) – implemented national strategies for biotechnologies and ocean bioprospecting between 2000 and 2009. This facilitated the development of biotechnology platforms, excellent infrastructures and training for highly-qualified scientists. This is contributing

Policy greatly to the growth of the biotechnological, biobased industrial sector. There is great potential, since the country is rich in bioresources and highly-educated staff.” Norway is not lacking in public policies which support the bioeconomy. There are financial incentives, measures for reducing financial risks, investments into know-how and knowledge (including education), programmes supporting the development and implementation of new knowledge and technologies in industry, technological platforms which support innovation, as well as plans for informing and educating society and potential interested parties on the positive social and economic impacts. “Norway – Kloostermann continues – has several advanced biotechnology, biobased companies which are international leaders, but are not yet big enough to be able to finance new spin-outs and research programmes. However, it is from this absence of large national industries that the incentive to develop individual skills and public research derives, with collaboration between different subject areas and sectors that stimulate the most innovative development and industrial growth. Furthermore, Norway recognises the importance of international collaboration in terms of development.”

Relationships with Nordic countries The Norwegian bioeconomy is significantly supported by its synergy with the nearby Nordic countries. Beginning with the work carried out by the Nordic Bioeconomy Panel, a transnational forum which deals with policies and strategies, formed in 2014 on the initiative of the ministers for cooperation of Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland. Representatives of government agencies, research bodies, companies and civil society are members. The Panel’s main task is to process strategy proposals and public policies which promote innovation and a sustainable bioeconomy. The Nordic strategy will arrive at the end of 2017 on completion of a journey beginning on 19 January 2017 in Copenhagen, where the Nordic Council of Ministers (the official intergovernmental body for cooperation between Nordic countries founded in 1971) and the Nordic Bioeconomy Panel brings together a number of stakeholders to discuss a context which the seven member countries share and which favours the development of the bioeconomy. This began with the analysis of 25 case studies successful in optimising resource efficiency and creating value. “The bioeconomy – Hörður G. Kristinsson, chairperson of the Nordic Bioeconomy Panel,

Oslo’s bio-flying In January 2016, Oslo airport was the first to offer biofuel to all airline companies through its normal supply system. This was able to come to pass thanks to an agreement with Avinor, the public company owned by the Ministry of Transport and Communications which manages the country’s 46 national airports, and Air BP, British Petroleum’s aviation division. “Norway is transitioning towards being a low-emission society. The initiative undertaken by Avinor and Air BP shows that the aviation sector wants to participate in this change.” These were the words spoken by Minister for Climate and the Environment, Vidar Helgesen, during the presentation of the agreement. “Biofuel is one of the few alternatives which we have which can contribute to significantly reducing greenhouse gases in aviation, providing that the biofuel is produced sustainably.” “We are delighted to be able to offer biofuels at Oslo airport,” claimed Dag Falk-Petersen, Avinor CEO. “This is in line with that established regarding climate by both Avinor and the aviation sector.” The objective – according to Air BP CEO,

David Gilmour – is “to prove that airports can easily access biofuels using existing physical infrastructures. We expect this to increase interest and demand, not to mention contribute to biofuel’s sustainable future in the aviation sector.” Some of the other companies participating in the project are Lufthansa, SAS and KLM, all willing to pay more in order to guarantee that biofuel can be offered at Oslo airport. The Norwegian government itself has lowered CO2 tax rates on national flights for the involved airlines. The Avinor and Air BP initiative is in line with the ambitious environmental objectives set by the aeronautical industry: by 2050, to reduce emissions by 50% compared to the 2005 level. The European Union, on the other hand, inspires to introduce a use rate of 3.5% biofuel out of the total used for aviation by 2020. Air BP receives fuel from Finnish company Neste Porvoo via SkyNrg, a broker specialised in biofuel supply. This is certified biofuel, produced from the Camelina plant. It contains no palm oil. “It is completely safe, just as safe as a fossil fuel,” ensured Air BP.



renewablematter 17. 2017 states – offers extraordinary opportunities for accelerating sustainable growth and development in Nordic countries and will be the world’s tool for achieving the United Nations’ sustainable development objectives. The 25 case studies are very different from one another and come from various industries. Analysis of their environmental, economic and social impact has allowed us to understand the regional bioeconomy’s features and identify some of the best Nordic practices in the sector. This information will be a fundamental element for the joint strategy.” The four cornerstones of the Nordic bioeconomy have been identified around these actions: replace, update, circulate and collaborate. Replace materials deriving from fossil fuels and other sustainable materials with biological

alternatives. Update, that is, create highervalue products and services using resources which come from across industry. Circulate, that is create an economy that uses waste and discards as raw materials and considers the whole system’s sustainability and regenerative capacity. Collaborate, in order to identify the initiatives where intersectorial cooperation is a key factor. The cases in this latter category include strategic public and private partnerships with the participation of industry, the authorities, and research institutes, as well as the communities which have set ambitious objectives for their transformation towards a sustainable, circular bioeconomy. “These four cornerstones are the Nordic bioeconomy’s strong points, but above all they define a direction for sustainable change,” explains Liv la Cour Belling, project manager at the Nordic Council of Ministers. The strategy will consider the different national approaches to the bioeconomy and will encourage increasing cooperation, sharing of knowledge and transfer of technologies beyond borders and among the different bioeconomy sectors. The Norwegian cases The Nordic bioeconomy document considers three case studies. The first stars TreFokus, a company with offices in Oslo that – through a network-based approach – associates multiple players involved in the construction sector (from constructors, to local authorities, to schools) in order to increase the use of wood-based materials. According to the Norwegian company, using wood-based solutions in constructions can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 50% compared to other building materials. The second case regards the Exilva project set up by Borregaard, leading company in the production of biochemicals derived from lignin. In 2016, the project enabled the first industrialscale establishment for the production of micro-fibrillated cellulose (MFC), with a capacity of 1,000 tonnes a year and completely fuelled by renewable energy. There are plans to develop advanced market segments for the use of MFC as an additive for adhesives, upholstery, cosmetics and chemical products for agricultural use. These products come 100% from renewable sources and aim to replace their petrol counterpart. Finally, the third of the case studies is Biomega, Norwegian leader in the salmon market. Specifically, the company, whose offices are situated in Bergen, has developed a project that provides for using the inedible part of salmon (which was previously thrown back into the sea) to produce new bioproducts such as salmon oil and peptides for human and animal food.

Policy Interview

by M. B.

In Norway We Have to Exploit Our Biomass More Sigridur Thormodsdottir, Head of Biobased Industries, Division Sustainability at Innovation Norway

Innovation Norway is the Norwegian Government’s most important instrument for innovation and development of Norwegian enterprises and industry. It has taken a proactive role in the effort of steering companies towards thinking and acting in a more sustainable way. Today, almost 30% of its total financial portfolio has an environmentally-focused profile. Renewable Matter interviews Sigridur Thormodsdottir, who is the Head of Biobased Industries, Division Sustainability at Innovation Norway.

Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Urban Biocycles, Borregaard, Innovation Norway en/start-page

Mrs Thormodsdottir, as far as you’re concerned, what are the strengths and weaknesses of the Norwegian bioeconomy? “One of the strengths is Norway’s access to biomass, especially marine biomass, where we are only at the beginning of utilizing its potential. Norway has strong knowledge and competence within the bioeconomy, related to sustainable management and utilization of marine based bio-resources, animal and plant welfare. There are also some niche areas where Norway has a strong competence and industry in forestry. The weakness is the lack of industry base for full utilization of the biomass. Norway is good at production and harvesting of biomass but a large amount of the biomass is exported as a raw material, both fish and wood based resources. In Norway, we need to process and utilize more.” How is Norway planning to support the development of the bioeconomy in the coming years? “Norway has a new strategy on the bioeconomy which shall lead to increased value creation and employment, reduced emissions of climate gases and more efficient, profitable and sustainable use of renewable biological resources. All bio-sectors are addressed, with four prioritized areas: 1. Cooperation across sectors, industries and thematic areas. 2. Markets for renewable bio-based products. 3. Efficient use and profitable processing of renewable, biological resources. 4. Sustainable production and extraction of renewable biological resources. “In the strategy, the government has asked the Norwegian Research council, Innovation Norway (supporting the industry and companies) and Siva (which facilitates innovation by developing, building and owning infrastructure for industry, startups and research environments) to make a common activity plan enhancing development of the bioeconomy. The plan shall facilitate

a seamless system between research, innovation and need for infrastructure.” Which are the policies you have now in your country to support the bioeconomy. And how is this interconnected with the circular economy? “In addition to the strategy for bioeconomy, strategies and regulation concerning for example fisheries, agriculture and aquaculture do exist. To some extent, this can delay the development of the bioeconomy. It is also important to build and maintain competence in public system and within the institution that are implementing laws and regulations, in order to meet the rapid change and opportunities in the bioeconomy. Here, for example, I’m thinking of digitalization and use of big data in order to maximize utilization or efficiency of the biomass throughout the whole value chain. Another issue is the regulation regarding fertilizers from waste and waste water from the cities (see for example Urban Biocycles by Ellen MacArthur Foundation): the legislation and the operative institution and organization need to be able to meet the opportunities and the need. The bioeconomy strategy is pointing out the need for a national strategy for the circular economy (which is in process), pointing out that the bioeconomy is a part of the circular economy.” Are there measures such as Green Public Procurement and carbon tax in the Norwegian policy system? “There is a new regulation on public procurement focusing on innovation and development, where it is possible to address green/sustainable procurement. Carbon tax is more on a voluntary basis. That said, there are public measures enabling use of electric cars, and wood/wood based materials in public buildings. According to the new strategy on the bioeconomy, developing your bio-potential will help unleash your national resources potential to spur future economic growth and job creation in Norway, reducing climate gas emissions. How is it possible to advance know-how and technology platform capable of using renewable biological resources from several productions and with application in several industries? “It is clear that if you want to unleash the national resources potential to spur future economic growth


What is the role of Innovation Norway regarding the bioeconomy and the circular economy? “We are supporting companies in their innovation, upscaling and investment process. We believe the most promising opportunities for Norwegian companies can be found in the area of green innovation. But other social challenges also require sustainable answers, for example within the healthcare sector. In the intersection between the public and private sectors, innovations can be created that can provide the basis for new business developments.” What are the other bioeconomy players in Norway? “If you mean companies, then it is Borregaard. I would also like to mention SalMar and Nutrimar, two Norwegian biomarine companies that are directly coupled to InnovaMar, the biggest and most efficient salmon processing plant in the world. We have also clusters like Legasea Ålesund, a global power centre for the production of sustainable marine ingredients that promote health, based on working up trimmings from fish processing, and biomass which is not used as food. And Heidner Hamar, which is the leading Norwegian bioeconomy cluster for innovations in sustainable food production, delivers technology and knowledge that contribute to a sustainable food production globally, and also works towards increased food production in Norway.” en/start-page

and job creation, reducing climate gas emissions, you need first to make the strategic decision that this is the vision. For Norway the decision is if Norway wants to be a supplier of biomass/raw material or build an industry and supply more valuable products based on the biomass. We in Innovation Norway have as our vision that more of the resources should be processed in Norway. “Almost 40% of the pulp wood (the part of the tree that cannot be used for making plank in the sawing mill) and approximately 80% of the seafood from Norway is exported very little processed. This is missed opportunities for making diversified industries, valuable jobs, economical welfare and sustainable development. When the decision is made, then the industries, the government and the universities need to cooperate. We need to develop and invest in the traditional industry value chains and create new ones. We need to look at the education system and work on the ‘mindset’ that today and yesterday solutions and business models are not necessarily the right ones for the future. We need also showcases with companies that have changed or developed their business models: ‘The core is killing you’ is also applicable in the bio-based industries.”

How relevant is the relation with other Nordic countries? “We consider cooperation with the Nordic countries important. We are already cooperating, but we would like to do even more. A part of the exported raw material is processed in the Nordic countries like Sweden and Denmark. For the marine area, cooperation with the west Nordic countries is the most relevant. For agriculture and forestry is the east Nordic countries more relevant. Denmark is both.” Without the people on board, it’s really difficult to really de-carbonize. What is the perception of the bioeconomy by the Norwegian public opinion? “The general public in Norway is interested and active in sustainable development, including the bioeconomy. Regarding the food, the Norwegian consumer has trust in the food industry: very low use of antibiotics and animal and plant health is very good in Norway. Bio-based materials like wood are also much used and part of everyday life. When discussing bio-based chemicals and materials that are possible drop-in for example in plastic, the consumer gets a little confused. They want to contribute, but the communication of what is good and what is bad is not consistent.”

Focus on the SEA


renewablematter 17. 2017

Focus on the Sea

When Small


80% of fishing boats operating in the planet’s waters are shorter than 12 metres. This small-scale, traditional fishing guarantees the survival of millions of people. The model is fundamental in terms of sustainability considering the reduced environmental impact since it is able to respect the biological rhythms of the sea. by Renata Briano

“Poorly-informed fish consumers” Survey,

Renata Briano is a member of the EU parliament in the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats group and vice-chairperson of the Fisheries commission. Until 2014, she was Regional Councillor for the Environment and Sustainable Development in Liguria.

We eat fish at least once a week. We buy it mainly from the supermarket and we are willing to pay more providing it is from the Mediterranean, fished with sustainable methods and respecting the environment. However, according to a survey carried out for Greenpeace by Ixé, few Italian, Spanish, and Greek consumers know the new labelling regulations that, in order to permit consumers to make a more informed choice, imposes the obligation to indicate both the origin of the fish and the fishing equipment used. While, on the one hand, fishing is one of the oldest pursuits known to mankind, and it continues to guarantee livelihood to 12% of the world’s populations, its sustainability is a relatively young concept. Over the past 50 years, the world’s demand for fish has almost doubled and, in order to satisfy a continuously increasing need, national governments are supporting mostly industrial fishing with public funds. But still, small-scale traditional fishing, carried out on crafts which are less than 12 metres in length and do not use towed equipment, makes up 80% of the fishing vessels currently operating across the world and guaranteeing millions of families work and sustenance. This is a type of sustainable fishing. It has less impact on the marine habitat and respects the biological rhythms of the sea, allowing fish to reproduce and develop. A sustainable fisher

respects the rules, uses only equipment which is permitted and operates in authorised areas and periods. This type of fishing can guarantee a future for the Mediterranean and the 300,000 fishers operating in it. Fourteen years ago, on 23 December 2003, European Union ministers, meeting in Venice, sealed a deal with the south shore of the Mediterranean to create protection zones for conservation, fishing control and combating illegal fishing. That was another era. There were more than 200,000 fishers and over 80,000 fishing vessels, while these days the figures are almost half the aforesaid. So new rules were established to protect highly-migratory species like tuna, swordfish, sardines and anchovies. We must now take another step towards balanced, profitable, sustainable harvesting and afford greater attention to small-scale fishers. These were the matters discussed in Malta on 30 March 2017 at the Ministerial conference on the sustainability of Mediterranean fisheries. Directed by the EU’s Commissioner for the Environment, Karmenu Vella, ministers from eight European countries (Spain, France, Italy, Malta, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece and Cyprus) and seven non-EU countries (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, Albania and Montenegro) representing 80% of the fleets, signed a new declaration, the “Malta MedFish4Ever:”

Greenpeace, Fish consumption habits in Italy, Report 2016; Malta MedFish4Ever Declaration, y8zf22ku #MedFish4Ever campaign,

a political project and a timetable covering the coming 10 years whose objective is better control of the seas and sustainable management of fisheries in the Mediterranean. Some of the commitments made were: combating illegal fishing, developing protected marine areas (up to at least 10% of the Mediterranean basin by 2020), devising a plan for small-scale fisheries by 2018, promoting industries which practice selective, low environmental-impact fishing and systematic, standardised data collection regarding fish stock. Until now the Mediterranean situation has been dealt with through the adoption of certain legislative measures, which provide for,

The surplus value of sustainability (values %) How much more would you be willing to spend, in comparison with a standard product, to buy/consume, at home or elsewhere, fish caught in your country with sustainable methods and respecting the environment?




up to 5% more


up to 10% more


up to 20% more

more than 20% more

no comment

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among other things, limits to the fishing effort, regulating minimum catch sizes and fishing equipment use methods. In any case, these measures are not sufficient because there is no ecosystemic approach to justify it and a global policy for them to be inserted in. Furthermore, other complementary but not less important measures which guarantee fishing diversification are needed. One of these is the promotion of sustainable fishing tourism and awareness campaigns directed at consumers who, through their food choices, can contribute to improving the state of the Mediterranean by, for example, favouring the consumption of local fish species, which are often neglected by wholesale and little known but by no means less good. We must not forget the protected marine areas, that are not just a tool for protecting the environment, but also a way of managing fishing that has the benefit of being ecosystemic by definition. Finally, fishers and their communities must be involved in the decisionmaking process as they are an integral part of the solution, because they are the ones experiencing the sea every day. Their contribution, just like that of all the other involved parties, from scientists to nongovernmental organisations, is an opportunity which policy should take advantage of. The effectiveness of our actions now depends on our degree of cohesion, coordination and collaboration with international bodies which manage fisheries. Finally, we must consider that fishing depends on the health of the stock, but the health of the stock, in turn, depends on the quality of the sea. That is why Europe is working on drawing up an ocean governance plan which is both multidisciplinary and international.


renewablematter 17. 2017 Photo: Carol Meteyer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters. Wikimedia, Creative Commons 2.0

Focus on the Sea


and Growing

by Marco Moro

Stopping plastic waste dispersal onto land and into the sea. How is the activity by the countries of the coalition “Stop Plastic Waste” doing?

Top image: The image show all of the pieces of plastic that were removed from the stomach of a single north fulmar, a seabird, during a necropsy at the U. S. National Wildlife Health Lab

The G7 ministerial summit on the environment – hosted in Bologna last June – was an opportunity to take off-schedule stock on the many themes that should be at the forefront of governments’ “environmental agenda.” Amongst the issues debated in the numerous side events that enlivened the Bologna initiative, that of pollution caused by plastic waste dispersal is extremely serious. Renewable Matter has dealt with the issue of plastic littering on many occasions, in particular with regard to the situation of many African nations.

The scope of the phenomenon, emerged over the last few years thanks to the media evidence showing “the discovery” of ocean trash vortices, had already been exposed in the Stop Waste Coalition’s founding document (see box), with data whose meaning is difficult to visualize: 5 million billion particles and fragments of plastic floating on the surface of oceans. The event, promoted in Bologna in conjunction with the Italian Ministry for the Environment, the French Ministère de la Transition Ècologique et Solidaire and supported

Policy Roberto Giovannini, “Flowers from Africa,” Renewable Matter, 11, July-August 2016; www.renewablematter. eu/art/237/Flowers_from_ Africa “Marine and Lake litter in Italy,” marinelitter/?lang=eng Mario Bonaccorso, “Industrial Renaissance,” Renewable Matter, 14, January-February 2017; www.renewablematter. eu/art/291/Industrial_ Renaissance Jonathan W. Rosen, “Rwanda’s War on Plastic,” Renewable Matter, 11, July-August 2016; art/236/Rwandas_War_ on_Plastic

by Novamont, offered an opportunity for a debate for the coalition, focussing on the acquisition of further elements of knowledge and strategies to reduce the main origin of such phenomenon: plastic waste dispersal onto land. Baptiste Legay – Deputy Director of Directorate General for the Prevention of Risks – was entrusted with the task of opening the event by illustrating the actions taken by the French government that identified marine litter as one of the priorities of its 2014-2020 waste prevention plan. The strengths of such actions are the ban to sell plastic carrier bags at cash registers adopted in 2016, followed by a similar ban on 1st January 2017 extended to other types of single-use up to 50 micron-thick bags, according to which they can only be of biodegradable or compostable plastic. The economic as well as environmental relevance of such legal innovations was confirmed during the conference by Sphere Group, an important French company in the field of food packaging. And by 2020 the same rules will apply to plastic cutlery, plates and cups. Such measures are thought as key for the huge impact they have in terms of raising awareness amongst consumers, as it happened in Italy, a pioneer country. The law for the protection of biodiversity passed in 2016 contains two more measures in this direction: the ban on cosmetic products containing microplastics (by 2018) and cotton buds by 2020. And the strategy also aims at a voluntary plastic waste

The International Coalition “Stop Plastic Waste” Launched during the COP 22 Climate Change Conference held in Marrakech in January 2016, Stop Plastic Waste International Coalition includes national and local governments of countries willing to cooperate in the fight against marine plastic littering through the adoption of shared measures, including “promoting the elimination of single-use plastic bags.” The coalition, founded by France, Morocco and the Principality of Monaco was joined by Australia, Bangladesh, Croatia, Chile, Italy, the Netherlands, Senegal and Sweden. The declaration issued when the coalition was launched stated that in almost thirty countries local or national policies against marine litter had already been adopted. However, according to the UNEP 2016 Annual Report over 100 nations have already taken measures to curb the spread of carrier and plastic bags.

UNEP, Report 2016 Engaging People to Protect the Planet, annualreport/2016/ index.php

management system deriving from fishing (first and foremost nets), at a dialogue with plastic industries in order to eliminate the dispersal of granules during the production process, at the promotion of a study on the toxicity of cigarette filters and at the potential for the creation of a dedicated management system. At international level, the action by the French government occurs within the coalition and amongst other things aims at setting up a toolbox of experiences and tools for decision makers and at the development of an aid programme for countries willing to start reducing plastic pollution on a voluntary basis. Chile too, represented by the Ministry of the Environment Marcelo Mena Carrasco, adopted – with some difficulties – a policy of progressive ban on plastic carrier bags. So, highlighting how the problem we are facing in setting up policies against plastic waste dispersal onto land – and therefore into water – is not at all a technological one, Catia Bastioli, Novamont’s CEO, underscored the role of the huge shortcomings in waste management. Indeed – according to data elaborated by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation with regard to packaging – only 2% of plastic collected to be recycled, which in turn is only a mere 14% of the 78 million tonnes produced annually – enters a recycling process that does not imply a matter downcycling. According to Bastioli, what is needed is a holistic approach towards waste management allowing us to single out in it all possible future resources. The development of biodegradable and compostable plastics – matters which are designed to be recyclable – is a step in this direction, enabling for example the best treatment of the organic waste fraction, besides offering an effective solution to replace single-use plastic bags. In short, a useful solution for the conservation of a fundamental component of the natural capital, such as the quality of soils and to reduce the impact of plastic litter on marine ecosystems. But Novamont’s green chemistry is able to suggest solutions also with regard to other sources of pollution of soils and waters, marketing bio-based, fully biodegradable solutions for lubricants and herbicides. Rossella Muroni – Chairperson of Legambiente, Italy’s major environmental NGO – tackled the issue of the Mediterranean as a laboratory to experiment new grassroots strategies for the prevention and reduction of marine litter. The detailed data collection operation and characterization of waste carried out over more than 100 beaches in collaboration with the other coastal countries’ NGOs achieved results on two levels: better knowledge of what



renewablematter 17. 2017 is dispersed in the environment and its provenance; better awareness on this topic by the whole community, through the involvement of volunteers carrying out waste collection and analysis. The results of the investigations carried out by Legambiente and Clean up the Med network since 2014 are available on a map accessible online.

Other info •• Marine LitterWatch, themes/coast_sea/ marine-litterwatch •• Plastic Pollution Coalition, www.plasticpollution •• Surfrider Foundation, initiatives/plasticpollution •• Ban the Bag, efforts/ban-the-bag-1 •• “Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made,” Science Advances, 3, 7, 2017, advances.sciencemag. org/content/3/7/ e1700782.full

Furthermore, François Galgani – professor at Ifremer (French Institute of marine research) – provided striking data, such as the 25,000 tonnes of plastics that flow into our seas and oceans every day. Where are such plastics? Literally everywhere, from the Mediterranean to Antarctica, scattered on sea bottoms, surfaces, beaches, ice, the biota, sediments, the atmosphere. A good 700 marine animal species are hit by this colossal waste flow into waters, 30% of which is represented by plastic bags. As a result, in certain areas, 100% of marine turtle population has ingested plastics, since they are unable to tell them apart from jellyfish which they feed on. For the Italian Ministry of the Environment, Mariano Grillo (general director for waste and pollution) dealt with the issue of the recent laws on the cleaning of sea beds. The legal provision adopted by Italy includes an agreement for a programme for waste management in harbours, involving port authorities and harbourmasters. Besides the collection of waste from sea beds, according to the agreement, the recovered waste must be transported to treatment plants. The transposition decree of the framework directive on the strategy for the marine environment contains further

measures in this regard: a project for the definition of measures to improve waste management (recycling, recovery, reuse) and the study of the waste collection and management sector. Moreover, a system promoting the recovery of plastic waste in rivers – i.e. before it reaches the sea – is also being researched. Fabio Fava – professor of industrial and environmental biotechnologies and Italian representative in the planning committee on the bioeconomy for Horizon 2020 – reiterated how the actual implementation of the principles of the circular economy and of a circular bioeconomy in particular is an obligatory path to obtain significant advantages both for the environment and for reviving the economy and employment in key sectors such as rural and coastal areas where no other industries could be established. Such guidelines characterize also the recent Italian strategy for the bioeconomy, adopted earlier this year. Gianluca Galletti – Italian Minister for the Environment – reiterated the importance to enlarge the coalition, in order to promote the reduction of plastic waste into the sea and the elimination of single-use plastic bags in all countries. Marine litter is a risk not only for ecosystems, but also for human health and economic sectors depending on the quality of marine and coastal environments. The environment is sending us a clear message, according to Galletti: either we win all together or we lose all together. Especially in closed environments, such as the Mediterranean, the problem is all the more serious. This is why Italy was the first country to ban non-biodegradable single-use carrier bags, risking even a violation procedure by the European Union for a choice ultimately deemed “too green.” Green chemistry, therefore, for the Italian government has a dual value – environmental as well as economic – also for its ability to create jobs that the petrochemical sector is no longer able to guarantee. Following the event, Rwanda too joined the coalition. Renewable Matter has already talked about the “war” on plastic bags of this country. So far, the team seems still far away from being able to represent a really global mobilization to combat sea pollution caused by plastic waste dispersal. 12 nations, 13 including Rwanda, a landlocked country (a membership by solidarity amongst countries polluted by plastic?). A heterogeneous and still limited group of countries. In Bologna the event closed in the hope that the coalition may grow. Otherwise, the first wholly man-made, impervious, water-resistant and unsinkable 7th continent will end up being detected also by Google maps.


Corbetta, 1853 – Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

Focus on the Sea

A Sea of Opportunity

BLUEMED is an event aimed to unlock the Mediterranean region’s potential for Blue Growth and to initiate a strategic think-tank for a cooperative endeavour within the region. And, for the first time, to open up this strategic initiative to non-EU Mediterranean Partner Countries.

by Ilaria Nardello

The context was symbolic, the island of Malta rightfully sitting in the middle of the Mediterrean basin, between the Southernmost European countries and Northern Africa. An ideal communication stepping stone bridging these most diverse realities, which still share the immense wealth of the Mediterranean Sea. The event “BLUEMED – A Basin of Research and Innovation for Sustainable Growth”

BLUEMED Supported by the European Commission (DG R&I, DG MARE, DG JRC), the BLUEMED initiative was jointly developed and agreed between Cyprus, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain, and adopted as a priority of the Programme of the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, in 2014, “working with the Commission and Member States to define a Blue Growth flagship initiative for the Mediterranean.” The information gathered from consultations with the relevant policy, scientific and industry stakeholders, as well as the analysis of about 900 projects, produces a map of the needs and gaps in research and innovation, which formed the basis for the BLUEMED Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA), finally adopted by 10 countries by signing the Venice Declaration on Mediterranean Sea Cooperation, in October 2015.


Ilaria Nardello is the Executive Director of the European Marine Biological Resource Centre (EMBRC), the European infrastructure for scientific and applied research on marine biology and ecosystems.

was held on the 18th – 19th of April, 2017, in Sliema (Malta). The meeting aimed to open up this strategic initiative to non-EU Mediterranean Partner Countries, for the first time, with the aim to initiate a strategic thinktank for a cooperative endeavour within the Mediterranean region, and unlock the area’s potential for Blue Growth, at local, regional and international level. This marine cradle, which bred among the most influential cultures of the planet, now faces the challenges of the Anthropocene, with the overheating of its waters, pollution, and overfishing. It is also an area that has shown lower inclination to innovation, perhaps due to the long stance of the traditional sectors such as fishing and maritime transportation. However, the marine biodiversity, deep-sea resources and tourist interest, make the Mediterranean a major sea of opportunities of blue growth. Fully consistent with the aims of the EU Blue Growth strategy, the BLUEMED initiative is based on a strong coordination between research, industry and policy at national, regional and EU level. The two-day event programme was effectively crafted to provide an eagle-eye view of the area’s potential by showcasing a large number of relevant projects and initiatives connecting the Mediterranean actors and promoting further collaborative actions on innovative activities along the value chain. From research infrastructures based on marine stations along the EU coastal perimeter, furnishing the instruments for advanced investigations of the marine environment and its potential for new biomaterials and aquaculture; to basin wide commercial transportation initiatives looking for solutions to improve their energy



renewablematter 17. 2017 efficiency or otherwise greening their brand; to education initiative which can help citizens understand the value of the sea; and much, much more.

European Marine Biological Resource Centre, European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and water-column Observatory,

The importance of having an ispirational strategic project emerged, for instance, in the sector of aquaculture. Fish productivity in the Mediterranean is far different to that of the Atlantic, bordered by many EU countries. So, sea aquaculture requires strict rules and regulations. The variety of fish species and a different use of coastal areas lead to very different production volumes between the two areas. However, this is not due to lack of technology or methodology. Still, missing a strategic framework provided a sense of being inadequate to compete with the high-achiever in the Atlantic. The representation of the Northern African counterpart was rather poor. The scene was ideal to bring in a broader audience from those countries and learn about their interests and needs, while pitching for the knowledge and the technology Europe could offer. Coordination and Support A Coordination and Support Action (CSA BlueMed), funded with €3 million by the European Commission, has started in 2015, under the coordination of the Research Council (CNR) of Italy, to enable the BlueMed mission and activate a sustainable “blue” innovation and growth in the Mediterranean basin, by integrating the knowledge and efforts of relevant countries, connecting the research community, the policy makers, the private sector, and the civil society. During the kick-off meeting, in November 2016, in Rimini, Italy, in the setting of Ecomondo, the international exhibition on Green and Circular Economy, John Bell, Director for Bioeconomy of the Directorate General for Research and Innovation of the Commission, remarked

that “growth and solutions have to happen where people live, i.e. locally.” In particular, considering the nature of the Mediterranean economies, strongly depending on activities like tourism, fisheries and aquaculture, and the maritime transport, it is time for deploying the full potential of the maritime sector and “for the BLUEMED to emerge, moving from concept to realization also engaging non-EU countries.” During the event, Ms Sigi Gruber, Head of the Marine Resource Unit of the EU Commission’s Directorate for Research and Innovation, chaired the various sessions on research project and activities and highlighted how the synergy between research projects and Research Infrastructures (RIs) is key to delivering on the innovation agenda at a local level. This appears particularly true in the case of those distributed Research Infrastructure that have their installations in remote coastal regions, far from main university centres or cities. These installations are on the other hand connected into an European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) of pan EU and international interest, and part of the ESFRI (European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures) landscape of RIs. The cases presented were those of the EMBRC – European Marine Biological Resource Centre; and EMSO – European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and Water-Column Observatory. The former has the ambition to act as a regional innovation engine, working in collaboration with the local authorities to support an innovation ecosystem based on marine bioresource. EMBRC provide the state of the art instrumentation and the biological and ecological knowledge to support the needs of small-medium enterprises in terms of technological support and scientific advice. From the conversations around the various communications, it also emerged that the collaboration among the various RIs is essential to set up the monitoring tools and organize the information to assess the state of the ocean in a way that will be useful in some 25 years.

BLUEMED: Responding to Challenges The BlueMed Vision Document, written in October 2015, indicates the following “key challenges” to be addressed to achieve project goals: 1) Enabling technologies and capacity creation •• Guarantee environmental sustainable performances, as well as maritime surveillance and security by “greening” vessels, ports and other maritime platforms; •• Combine renewable energy production, aquaculture, maritime surveillance and environmental monitoring at off-shore platforms. 2) Enabling support knowledge •• Explore the vulnerability of Mediterranean Sea ecosystems, including the deep sea ecosystems;

•• Improve regional and sub-regional scenarios for climate changes and impacts; •• Use multipurpose observatories and early warning/defence systems; •• Address the sources, distribution and evolution of emerging pollutants and promote remediation actions. 3) Sectorial enablers •• Support sustainable exploitation of the Mediterranean biodiversity for bio-based innovative industries and services; •• Pursue the ecosystem-based management of aquaculture and fisheries; •• Develop sustainable tourism.

Focus on the Sea


The state of the seas’ and oceans’ health on which the survival of a great number of populations depends directly, was at the heart of the UN Conference. Focusing on the Mediterranean, one of the six greatest areas where the planet’s floating waste accumulates.

by Giorgio Zampetti

Giorgio Zampetti is the Head of the Scientific Office of Legambiente.

Five days of talks to reach shared initiatives and commitments to stop the decline of the oceans, preserving them from threats and the serious environmental state they are in. This is, in short, the analysis of the first top-level conference – the Ocean Conference – that the UN organised at its Headquarters in New York from 5 to 9 June – on a specific Sustainable Development Goal, the SDG14 (“Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”). Thousands of participants, hundreds of delegations from all over the world, associations, environmental bodies and experts met up to identify problems, define the urgent matters and plan future initiatives. The approval of the “Call for Action” and the conclusions of the 7 partnership dialogues (specific conferences on priority matters identified in the preparatory work) had this very objective. This testing ground, since it is the first time that a top-level conference completely dedicated to one of the United Nations’ programme Sustainable Development Goals has been organised, involving all UN member countries, UN agencies operating in different sectors and all the parties that are currently taking care of the sea and the oceans, their protection and their future development. Legambiente, which has been working on these

matters for a great many years, certainly could not miss out. Nowadays, the oceans and seas suffer the negative effects of pollution and human activity, leading to repercussions which are not only environmental but also about employment and development, and, above all, climate change which is putting the existence of countries and populations closely dependant on the ocean and its state of health at serious risk. It is no coincidence that the Conference was opened with a marvelous Fiji Islands’ ceremony – the Islands co-chaired the event along with Sweden, and they are one of the countries mostly exposed to climate change and ocean pollution. Over the past years, the government of the Fiji Islands has intervened several times, fiercely calling attention to decisive, effective and immediate action in order to pragmatically face these problems whose effects are already evident. The New York Conference was also intended to be an answer to these appeals. The key matters were referenced right from the very first words spoken at the opening plenary session: resolute intervention on climate change, following up on the Paris commitments without hesitation; freeing the oceans and seas of plastic, which is now ubiquitous, also in the most contaminated areas of the sea and the oceans where fauna, ecosystems and sea productivity


renewablematter 17. 2017 suffer devastating effects. And, above all, moving on from talk to action in order to prevent these processes from becoming irreversible, thus undermining all shared efforts. The Mediterranean Sea: Legambiente’s focus The Mediterranean – one of the richest areas in the world in terms of biodiversity – is one of the six greatest areas where the planet’s floating waste accumulates, with evident risks for the environment, health, and the economy (the others are in the north and south Pacific ocean, the north and south of the Atlantic, and the Indian ocean). The framework of the UNEP (the United Nations’ Environment Programme) has also been confirmed by the new data from the monitoring carried out by Legambiente since 2013 in the seas and on the Mediterranean coastlines as part of the “Clean-up the Med” campaign. Beached plastic makes up 81% of all the waste found. This emerged from the last Legambiente investigation into beach litter performed on 62 Italian beaches in spring 2017 and 43 Mediterranean beaches, over the past 4 years. The percentage of plastic rises to 96% if we consider the floating waste monitored by Goletta Verde over an 80-hour period of direct observation during the summer of 2016. The poor management of municipal solid waste (and thus the lack of prevention) causes 54% of beach litter, mostly formed by disposable materials. 64% of the waste found on Mediterranean beaches are items which were designed to be used for a short time and which remain in the environment for a long time when not disposed of correctly. The top ten is led by cigarette butts (12%), bottle lids (10%), plastic bottles and containers, as well as mussel farming netting (8%). Plastic bags make up 3.5% of the almost 60,000 waste items found on 105 beaches in 8 countries. It seems that the Italian ban on plastic bags has been somewhat effective, since in Italy an average of 15 bags are found for every 100 metres of beach, while for other Mediterranean beaches the average almost doubles reaching 25 bags per 100 metres of beach. On the other hand, in terms of floating waste, bags are the number one waste item in Italian seas: Legambiente’s Goletta Verde spotted one plastic bag every five minutes of sailing, equal to 16% of the waste found. These are the main results of the investigation, recognised by the same UNEP as one of the main voluntary initiatives of citizen science internationally, which Legambiente presented in a specific event entitled “Multi-stakeholders Governance for tackling marine litter in the Mediterranean Sea,” organised by the association in collaboration with UNEP/MAPBarcelona Convention, the European Parliament, the European Environment Agency, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN-Mediterranean), UFMS (Union for the Mediterranean Secretariat), the University of Siena, European Bioplastics, Novamont and Kyoto Club.

Out of the 150 parallel events programmed during the UN Conference, Legambiente’s was the only one to provide contributions and experiences regarding the matter of marine litter in Italy and the rest of the Mediterranean, highlighting how there are already several tools for dealing with the emergency and acting on a Mediterranean level. The most important being: the Barcelona convention, which regards Europe and all of the Mediterranean’s coastal countries, which originates from a regional plan with the objective of minimising the impacts of marine litter and its presence in the seas and along the coasts. What is lacking, however, is coordination between States, backed by governments which are more advanced or at least more involved in this matter. What better opportunity is there for Italy, also considering its particular conformation and position in the Mediterranean sea, than to take a lead role in protecting Mare nostrum? The Mediterranean was at the heart of Legambiente’s talk in the plenary. This extremely important moment allowed years of work to be brought to the heart of the Conference debate and for the assembly to hear proposals for matters to be worked on as a priority. The main proposals were: •• to recognise the strategic role of citizens and associations in environmental monitoring in terms of spreading awareness and promoting initiatives and policies on local and international levels; •• to adopt policies which involve all of the Mediterranean coastal countries with resolute government action, regarding two priority matters: a. the Mediterranean is an international biodiversity hotspot. To preserve it, we must protect at least 10% of it, based on the Italian

The Ocean Conference, Legambiente, “Beach litter 2017,” default/files/docs/beachlitter-2017-legambiente.pdf Progetto Plastic Buster,

Policy model (target taken from the Conference’s conclusive document, expanding it to a global level); b. the pollution coming from the coast – as well as waste floating at sea and along the coastlines or unpurified drainage – is an enormous problem in the Mediterranean sea. We need effective policies to prevent it, with the aim of creating greater circularity, recycling, or banning the most polluting products (such as disposable items which are not biodegradable) and establishing effective waste water processing. •• to afford particular attention to the risk deriving from illegal activities (such as illegal disposal of toxic waste, illegal drainage or illegal fishing), which are a threat to the marine environment and a growing problem to be faced on an international level. We must adopt international legislation, based on the European directive model approved in 2008, regarding environmental protection through enforcement of criminal law or the Italian law on eco-crime approved in 2015.

The Mediterranean – one of the richest areas in the world in terms of biodiversity – is one of the six greatest areas where the planet’s floating waste accumulates, with evident risks for the environment, health, and the economy.

Finally, we raised a very hot issue which we had not found in the Conference’s preparatory documents and which inexplicably does not appear in the “Call for action.” In order to stop climate change, we must immediately implement a fossil fuel exit strategy. To reduce oil pollution risks on a global level (there are currently over 900 extraction platforms in the seas and oceans), halting extraction and exploration and applying legislation which allows very close control of oil transport is of the utmost importance. We do not want any more environmental catastrophes like those caused by Deep Water Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, Exxon Valdez in Alaska, Prestige in Spain or Haven in Italy. If we really want to be part of the ocean’s history,

we must put a stop to petroleum extraction and oil dispersion in the sea. The commitments made at the Conference How can we overcome the governance impasse and the lack of consequent initiatives and create an effective strategy for remedying the decline of the oceans and their environmental state? These factors are currently hindering the launching of a serious policy for protecting the seas and oceans, their ecosystems, the frontier populations and the economy. Consideration of synergic action emerges from the first initiatives indicated in the “Call for action.” The key is, thus, cooperation between countries, institutions, nongovernmental associations, research bodies, and economic and productive stakeholders. We must go ahead with creating protected areas, redeveloping marine ecosystems, planning maritime practices (beginning with transport) and reducing marine pollution, intervening on the emission of polluting substances, waste, unpurified drainage, as well as matters such as alien species or noise, which are now a great threat to ecosystems. The matter of marine waste was particularly evident in both the document and in the different talks and appointments taking place during the Conference. Specifically, correct waste management (reuse, reduction, recycling), prevention using innovative materials (literally “products biodegradable to natural conditions”) was discussed. In this regard, the Italian experience (which other European and Mediterranean countries are following) regarding banning traditional plastic bags which have been replaced with compostable ones must be underlined, in particular considering that one of the preventative measures to be implemented, underlined by UNEP, is certainly banning the most polluting products, such as noncompostable plastic bags and disposable products which are now easily replaceable with more innovative materials with less impact. In addition to official documents, the Conference had another focal point, that of voluntary commitments - over the coming years, 1,328 initiatives will go ahead which many advocates have worked hard to implement. The United Nations have great faith in this tool to overcome the stalemate which international policies for protecting the sea and the ocean are experiencing. Legambiente proposed two for the Mediterranean, both of which focus on marine litter. The first is about the need to ban noncompostable plastic bags in all coastal countries. The second, in partnership with the University of Siena and the Plastic Buster project, intends to combine scientific research with active citizenship: the commitment has materialised over the past week, with Goletta Verde starting up its travels around the Mediterranean sea once more.



renewablematter 17. 2017 edited by Institut de l’économie circulaire, Paris

CIRCULAR Agriculture

by Emmanuelle Moesch

The circular economy is a crucial tool to use as leverage to tackle French agriculture’s issues.

Emmanuelle Moesch is Project manager at Institut de l’économie circulaire.

21st century agricultural and agri-food systems are facing unprecedented challenges. The planet’s 7.5 billion inhabitants must be fed, with a need for better food quality at affordable prices, and the difficulty of supplying growing cities. Bio-based products are also needed for a more sustainable supply of other uses, including energy or raw materials. At the same time, natural resources essential to production grow scarce: water supplies are over-used or polluted and agricultural lands are declining in both availability and quality. Production is also impacted by global warming, and the sector must reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions. How can we aim for a food and non-food production which meets our needs in quantity and quality while preserving and regenerating natural eco-systems? The circular economy is a lever to address these issues in a comprehensive approach. With this in mind, the Institut de l’économie circulaire launched a multi-stakeholder working group in 2017, which has identified 3 priority areas. •• Defining circular economy as applied to the agricultural and agri-food sectors, identifying best practices and working together to advance knowledge and implementation both on government and industry level. •• Increasing the return of organic material to soil to maintain its quality and biodiversity, identifying every player along the value chain to channel biowaste flows. •• Developing territorial approaches to advance synergies, both within the agricultural and agri-food sectors and with other sectors, and to rethink the supply sources of urban areas.

States General of Food, www.economie.gouv. fr/etats-generauxalimentation-20juillet-2017

1. The Bioeconomy Strategy and Resource Programming plan are both the results of interministry working groups.

This implies identifying the right scales of action. On a national level, the timing is right to push the circular economy agenda forward in the agricultural and agri-food sector. In early 2017, the Ministry for Agriculture presented a Bioeconomy Strategy for France, with aims to “guarantee food security and sustainable living standards for current and future generations by preserving natural resources and the ecosystemic functions of habitats” and to “be efficient, resilient, circular and productive over the long term,” through innovation and local development. Biomass and soil are two of the three priority sectors addressed in the wider Resource Programming Plan1 produced by the Ministry of Environment in May. More recently, agriculture was an important part of the 3rd National Conference of Circular Economy held in Paris and opened by the Minister of Environment. Finally, in July, the government will hold the States General of Food, which should include a workshop on bioeconomy and circular economy. A €5 billion investment plan will then be launched, which we can only hope will feed the transition to a circular economy.


ORGANIC’VALLÉE: A Local, Circular Agri-Business by Jean-Luc Da Lozzo and Elsa Raverdy

Jean-Luc Da Lozzo, co-founder & managing director, Organic’Vallée. Elsa Raverdy, project lead, Organic’Vallée.


Organic’Vallée was officially created as a cooperative of collective interest in June 2015. This is, in France, the only legal form that enables the capitalistic integration of companies from the so called “classical” business sector, business from the social solidarity economy, NGOs, public bodies, citizens. That is to say, the full range of stakeholders that may be concerned by local economic development or territorial preservation, and may want to take part in the life and governance of our cooperative. The project develops a cluster of agro-activities based on bio-wastes and organic material streams with a holistic and territorial approach. Our goal is three-fold. •• Divert discarded organic materials from incineration or landfilling. Discarded organic materials are water-rich: it is a scientific, economic, environmental and social nonsense to aim at recovering energy from such material streams through incineration, or to let organic matter accumulate in landfills. •• Channel these material streams out of their generation areas towards local material recovery to grow, breed and produce local resources. The cooperative’s productions are marketed through short distribution channels. •• Train the people, because the challenges that we are facing remain widely ignored by the majority of citizens and urban dwellers. That makes training and awareness rising key to changing people’s mindset and consumer culture. We take action at our level by teaming up with partners to offer training sessions

on circular economy, agroecology, organic waste recovery. Organic’Vallée sits on 55 ha of rural land. The cluster is designed so that each and every single activity that joins can benefit from synergy effects by connecting with the others.


renewablematter 17. 2017 A local and circular economy E PAN LS (24














Some of the activities are held by the cooperative due to their experimental nature or structuring impact – e.g. implanting an agroforestry system on 7 ha. Others are developed by farmers and entrepreneurs, such as free-range pig rearing, partly fed with former food stuff from local supermarkets. Yearly metrics: 160 metric tons of recovered material, 15 hectares, 150 Gascon pigs. In a nutshell, Organic’Vallée is all about transitioning towards a more local and circular economy, to revitalize

rural areas and reconnect city dwellers to the countryside. We hope that someday other areas can capitalize on our experience, and develop similar clusters elsewhere.










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Case Studies


The Missing Link to Close the Loop on Textiles Circularity in the textile industry is a very profitable business for companies, consumers and the environment. Even recovering just 10% of clothes currently thrown away would allow huge savings in greenhouse gas emissions and water and would greatly boost the economy of brands. But a piece of the puzzle is still missing – infrastructure – time has come to intervene to overcome this bottleneck. by Traci Kinden

Traci Kinden in 2013 launched Revolve Waste and in 2016 joined Circle Economy to manage major developments in Europe that will create a new standard for circularity of sustainable textiles.

A systemic transition is necessary for the textile industry to reclaim the human, economic, and environmental value lost in today’s linear system. Brands, retailers, innovators, and governments are looking for solutions to reduce the negative impact of textiles, and they have begun to focus on creating a circular industry to displace the use of virgin fibers upstream and eliminate textile waste downstream. Increasing consumer awareness has also lifted the curtain on the unpalatable practices of apparel manufacturing, adding pressure to brands and retailers to find better solutions. The moment for incredible transformation has come, and it’s time to address infrastructural developments to widen the bottlenecks standing in the way of a new, circular textile industry. A garment’s life cycle has many stages: resource extraction, product design, manufacturing, distribution, use, and end of life. The first five are the most accessible for brands and retailers, and as a result, much of the industry’s sustainability efforts have been focused here. This has left

end of life, where the value of these items is lost, largely unaddressed. Today, take-back programs are the primary instrument for brands and retailers to reclaim their used products, but these efforts are only collecting a small fraction of unwanted garments. In an effort to find more solutions to a rapidly escalating global problem, the industry is shifting into action: during the first two quarters of 2017 the Fashion for Good initiative was launched, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation announced their Circular Fibres Initiative, and the Copenhagen Fashion Summit (quite literally) put circularity on the global fashion agenda. Innovators are another important enabler for circular textiles, and they are deeply engaged in the research and development of new chemical recycling technologies. If these researchers and entrepreneurs succeed in introducing their groundbreaking processes into the textile supply chain at a commercial scale, the current range of textile recycling options would expand, and significantly more textile could be returned to the supply chain. This would enable garments



renewablematter 17. 2017 Revolve Waste, Circle Textile Programme, com/textiles “Transforming our World,”

1. European Commission, Sustainable Garment Value Chains Through EU Development Action (2017); 2. Eurostat, 2016. 3. Bureau of International Recycling citing University of Copenhagen study (2008).

that have reached the end of their useful life to become garments once again. Governments are beginning to recognize their role, as well. In 2015, 193 global leaders in the UN unanimously agreed on a single agenda, set forward in the document “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) articulated within are now the common roadmap for efforts and programs across multiple sectors, including textiles, to mitigate human impact on the planet. The European Commission has also just released a new policy document1 focused on sustainability in the garment sector. These recent developments show that governments are beginning to understand the importance of maximizing the human and environmental value of the textile industry, and they are starting to take action. Until recently, consumers have had little exposure to the product creation side of the textiles industry. Because information is now highly accessible – 70% of Europeans now acquire the bulk of their news through the Internet2 – and because the environmental and social repercussions of the textile industry are increasingly gaining exposure, the consumer blindfold is finally falling away. Engaging consumers in the conversation is now both easier and more important than ever. This growing awareness coupled with a global focus on climate change, the increasing threat of resource scarcity, and the promise of new chemical recycling solutions has allowed circularity to gain significant ground in the textiles arena. These are incredibly valuable steps toward transformation, however, a systemic bottleneck still exists.

About Circle Economy Circle Economy is an Amsterdam-based social enterprise that aims to accelerate the practical and scalable implementation of the circular economy. They believe in a visionary future for the planet – one in which we do not have to compromise between economic, social, or environmental prosperity. Alongside an international network and through their open source ethos, they enable cross-industry collaboration and aim to create the conditions for disruption and innovation. Their main focus is introducing businesses, cities and governments to the circular economy, by helping them identify opportunities to make the transition and providing them with practical solutions to turn these solutions into reality.

If we recycled just 10% of the 20 million tonnes of post consumer textiles thrown away in Europe and the United States, we would save 7.2 billion tonnes in CO2 emissions, 12 trillion litres of water, and 1 billion kg of fertilizers and pesticides every year.

A critical success factor for circular textiles is often overlooked: infrastructure Circularity in textiles has been labelled a “chicken and egg” problem, and which element should come first is a common discussion. The reality is, two critical components of a circular system, post consumer consumer textiles and a range of re-processing methods and technologies, already exist. The development of next generation of recycling technologies is also beginning to accelerate. Unfortunately, a transparent and connected infrastructure of automated textile sorting capabilities, matchmaking between feedstocks and recycling technologies, and logistics to move the materials between stakeholders does not yet exist. As a result, the textile industry has a very limited volume of circular products on the market. From an environmental perspective, this is a massive missed opportunity. The Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) estimates that collecting 1 kg of used clothing (as opposed to incineration or landfilling) reduces 3.6 kg of CO2 emissions, 6,000 litres of water consumption, and 0.5 kg of fertilizers and pesticides used in raw material production.3 If we recycled just 10% of the 20 million tonnes4 of post consumer textiles thrown away in Europe and the United States, we would save 7.2 billion tonnes in CO2 emissions, 12 trillion litres of water, and 1 billion kg of fertilizers and pesticides every year. Recycling technologies can return non-rewearable garments to the supply chain, and a transparent infrastructure to connect recyclable garments to recycling technologies is the missing link in a new, circular system. Circle Economy’s Textiles Program is addressing this challenge head on with two important and related projects: Fibersort and Circle Market. Both tackle core infrastructural innovations that are needed to achieve a circular textiles industry and are being developed in close collaboration with the necessary eco-system of collectors, sorters, chemical and mechanical recyclers, manufacturers, and brands. Textile recycling innovations are getting more attention and investment, forward thinking brands are proactively looking for ways to address post consumer textile challenges, and governments are exploring policies that will help mitigate further impact. Unfortunately, a lack of infrastructure can only amount to incremental change. Now it is time to collaboratively develop transparent, market-driven solutions to connect the players and facilitate the movement of materials back into the supply chain. These are the digital tools and technologies that will help us to overcome bottlenecks, streamline processes, and accelerate the necessary and burgeoning transition to a new industrial paradigm. Change is inevitable. Falling behind is optional.

Case Studies


Second-Hand Goods A new regenerated lubricant base oil with enhanced performance and low levels of pollutants. The new Viscolube product will be used in the automotive and heavy transport industries. by Roberto Rizzo

Roberto Rizzo, scientific journalist, CEM (Certified energy manager) and EU Commission expert for the UN programme “Sustainable Energy for ALL” (SE4ALL) in Sub-Saharan Africa.

To innovate in order to achieve even higher performing products, without added costs for clients and enhancing the environmental value of the finished product. With such objectives, Viscolube – Europe’s leading company for the regeneration of used lubricating oils – decided to install a third catalytic reactor in Pieve Fissiraga (Lodi) to produce a new type of finished base oil. The plant’s annual treatment capacity – about 170,000 tonnes, equalling all of the collected used oil in Italy in a year – will stay unaltered, but quality will be considerably improved. This is already the case, thanks to the process of re-refining of Revivoil used oils, patented and developed by Viscolube in collaboration with Axens – a French company amongst the world leaders in the construction of refining plants – since the Viscolube’s regenerated base oils have identical properties, sometimes even higher, to those produced with first refining lubricating bases.

The New Group 2 Plus Base The base oils (see box) are divided in five categories, in pecking order (Group 1 bases are the simplest and cheapest). Before the third reactor installation, Viscolube produced Group 1 base oils, so with intermediate characteristics between Group 1 and Group 2. Thanks to the third reactor, developed in collaboration with Axens, the overall catalytic surface will more than double (the three reactors are connected) and Viscolube, besides improving the Group 1 Plus base, will be able to produce, without penalizing the yield of the plant, a new Group 2 Plus base, i.e. with characteristics close to Group 3. “The new Group 2 Plus base will be made available at a price in line with that of a Group 2 one – explains Gianfranco Locandro – Viscolube’s sales and marketing manager – to a clear advantage for customers. The new product, which will have applications in the industry, the automotive and heavy transport sectors, will be able to replace



renewablematter 17. 2017 certain blends between Group 1 and Group 3 and will be characterized by the HG registered acronym (High Grade), to highlight the further hydrogenation step compared to other bases.” The new Viscolube HG Group 2 base oil will be marketed in the 3N, 4N and 5N versions, with growing levels of viscosity: the 5N being the most viscous and expensive (between the 3N and 5N the price will vary by €40/50 per tonne). Comparison with Group 2 standards There are various technical characteristics peculiar to the new Group 2 Plus base as opposed to the Group 2 base, as highlighted in Table 1.


for example in rubber: if the oil is too dark, the rubber turns yellow or green. “Colour is also important for market acceptability – continues Locandro –. In the past, the poor colour of regenerated base oils led to mistrusting these products and still today we can find on the market low-quality regenerated base oils, very dark in colour and not very clear. On the other hand, our base oils have a very good colour thanks to high-pressureand-temperature industrial processes: Viscolube reactors reach a pressure of 100 bars and a temperature of 350 °C.” A Low Level of SAPS

First, the high viscosity index, thanks to which the use of some additives as improvers of the viscosity index can be avoided. “A high viscosity index is important to guarantee that oil in car and lorry engines does not oxidize, thus avoiding temperature peaks – explains Locandro –. In some engines, it is necessary to use lubricants containing Group 3 base oils, particularly stable and oxidation resistant; for the majority of new generation vehicles it is recommended to use a product containing at least 30% synthetic base oils (conventionally, Group 3 and above).” The second important parameter is colour, it must be L 0.5. This means that the base oil is transparent. A light colour is important

Modern engines have several post-treatment systems to reduce CO2 and NOx emissions thus respecting limits imposed by law. These post-treatment systems are easily polluted by SAPS (“Sulphate Ash, Phosphor, Sulphur”). “For several years, additives producers have had to use low-medium SAPS formulations to meet manufacturers’ specifications – explains Locandro –. Our Group 2 Plus base oil contains very low level of sulphur so it is compatible with the use of these additives in such formulations. Early Market Reactions “We carried out our first industrial tests with limited quantity of product, 3N and 5N base oils

Table 1 | Comparison of technical characteristics of the new Viscolube Group 2 Plus 5N base and the market benchmark for Group 2 base oils Method

Unit of measurement


Viscolube HG-5N

Market Benchmark Group II Base Oil


ASTM D 1500


L 0.5


Flammability C.O.C.






Viscosity cin. @40 °C

ASTM D 445


Typical value



Viscosity Index

ASTM D 2270




Pour Point






CCS Viscosity

ASTM D 5293



-25 °C



-20 °C



Noack Volatility

CEC L-40-A-93

% mass





ASTM D 5453

% mass




Aromatic Carbon

IP 451

% moles




Case Studies API Classification of Base Oils API (American Petroleum Institute) divides base oils into five main categories: •• Group I base oils are solvent-refined, a simple refining process. This is the reason why they are the cheapest available on the market. •• Group II base oils are often manufactured by hydrocracking, that is cracking with hydrogen. Since all the hydrocarbon molecules of these oils are saturated, Group II base oils have better antioxidation properties. They also have a clearer colour in comparison to Group I base oils. •• Group III base oils are refined even more than Group II base oils and generally are severely hydrocracked (higher pressure and heat).

In the past, the poor colour of regenerated base oils led to mistrusting these products and still today we can find on the market low-quality regenerated base oils, very dark in colour and not very clear. On the other hand, our base oils have a very good colour thanks to high-pressure-andtemperature industrial processes.

This longer process is designed to achieve a purer base oil. •• Group IV base oils are polyalphaolefins (PAOs). These synthetic base oils are made through a process called synthesizing. They have a much broader temperature range and are great for use in extreme cold conditions and high heat applications. •• Group V base oils are classified as all other base oils, including silicone, phosphate ester, polyalkylene glycol (PAG), polyolesters, biolubes. These base oils are at times mixed with other base stocks to enhance the oil’s properties.

Table 2 | API Classification of Base Oils Group

Saturated Compounds


< 90%


Sulfur, weight in %

Viscosity Index



> 0.03


Solvent refining

> 90%


< 0.03




> 90%


< 0.03




> 90%


< 0.03

> 120



Polyalphaolefins (synthetic petrochemical products)

Chemical Reaction

All other synthetic base oils

– continues Locandro –. Our Italian and foreign customers who used them have been positively impressed and have already asked us to take into consideration an allocation for next year (we will produce base oils to order and not for stock.) We have already submitted a sample of Group 2 Plus base oil to the USA for characterization and pre-screening in order to obtain API approval and in September, we will submit base oils from our third reactor. Simultaneously, we are seeking the approval of European manufacturers. We are confident our Group 2 Plus base oil will get all the American and European approvals by the beginning of 2018. Our Group 1 Plus base oil has already been approved according to API and the main European manufacturers’ specifications, the most widespread worldwide.”


Starting from material origin, the creation of the first ethical smartphone, based on modular design and repairability, not to forget workers’ conditions: the Fairphone. by Antonella Ilaria Totaro

FAIR Smartphones

Can we build a smartphone that is made to last, without having to choose between quality and production-chain ethics? There is no doubt in the Dutch Fairphone offices: the answer is yes. For a number of years, this constantly-improving company has been making consumers and big companies aware of the hidden costs of modern production. Fairphone is now a B-corp, a certified benefit corporation with 70 employees in the heart of Amsterdam. However, the first ethical smartphone’s journey began back in 2010 when Bas van Abel, the company’s current CEO, launched an awareness-raising movement relating to a more ethical electronic-device production chain. The movement, originating from the Waag Society, a Dutch foundation involved in experiments concerning art, science and

technology, proposes itself as an awareness company. Over the course of several campaigns and laboratories, hundreds of smartphones have been taken apart to show consumers the complexities and incoherences hidden between the screen and the casing. But, by 2013, awareness raising was no longer sufficient. Founder Bas van Abel and co-founders Miquel Ballester and Tessa Wernink decided it was time for action. A €400,000 seed investment into hiring the company’s first employees and a crowdfunding campaign completed the picture. With a focus on metal and mineral sustainability, the Fairphone 1 came to be, selling double its initial target. At the end of 2015, the Fairphone 2’s launch further raised the bar no longer with the sole objective of sustainable material use, but also of stretching product life through modular design.

Case Studies Material Origin The minerals and metals in common smartphones reach the supply chain from the mineral sector. This demanding industry is rarely sustainable for the environment and workers. Fairphone was created with the objective of certifying the ethical origin of all the materials contained in smartphones. Specifically, the aim is to trace back along the production chain in order to analyse the materials and discover the connected critical elements. So-called conflict minerals and their derived products are the first focus in this process. The companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s interest arose also following â&#x20AC;&#x153;Section 1502â&#x20AC;? of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, regulated by the SEC (US Securities and Exchange Commission) in 2012 and approved by the United States Congress, which was intended to discourage the use of minerals from (or extracted from) the Democratic Republic of the Congo and/or neighbouring countries (Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, the Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia). With the original objective of preventing the electronics industry from funding violent conflicts in Central

Africa, the Dodd-Frank Act ended up indistinctly damaging both clean trade and otherwise, with the unintended consequence of extractions in these countries being halted by many companies. The negative result was that even more people, now unemployed, ended up enrolling and taking part in the conflict. Fairphone accepted the challenge of sustaining economic development and responsible extraction practices in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but there is more. After years of local work and industrial collaborations, the whole production chain can be traced back to mines where four conflict minerals (tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold) are extracted. The Fairphone 2 contains forty different minerals. Along with The Dragonfly Initiative, Fairphone has developed a reference system for evaluating 38 of these materials and the relative opportunities and problems generated on a social, environmental and health level. The tungsten industry (used to create mobile phone vibration systems), for example, involves twenty different companies. In order to achieve conflict-free tungsten, the whole chain has to be traced back, via the refinery in Austria, to mines in northern Rwanda.

Antonella Ilaria Totaro is a circular economy and sustainability expert operating in Italy and the Netherlands. She is involved in startups and new business models, renewable energy, mobility and sustainable food systems. She plants trees with the Land Life Company, which she oversees in Italy.

The Dragonfly Initiative, Where do the materials of a Fairphone come from? how-we-work/mappingphone-made



renewablematter 17. 2017 Working Conditions

The real, detailed costs for producing and marketing the Fairphone 2: our-goals/how-we-work/ fairphone-cost-breakdown


Modular, Long-Lasting Design The Fairphone is an open book, not an incomprehensible black hole which cannot be decomposed as is the case for many electronic devices. Owners can easily understand how it works and change the parts over time. All the parts of this modular box are replaceable (battery, screen top and bottom module, which contain the rear camera, head phone jack and USB port for instance). When you open a Fairphone up (which can be done in just a few seconds), there are six distinct modules, each of which can be replaced autonomously in the event of faults and/or can be bought separately. Online tutorials offer assistance on repairing the most commonly damaged parts. This modular smartphone also has the potential to be upgraded and developed. The Fairphone’s expansion port, which is connected to the rest of the phone, allows for integrating additional functions. From a software point of view, it goes without saying that the Fairphone source code is open to owners and developers.

Initially focusing on the environment, Fairphone’s scope has extended and now incorporates workers’ conditions and the protection of human rights in supplying companies. China is the largest smartphone producer in the world, manufacturing 771.4 million in 2015. At the same time, China is well-known for its bad working conditions and low salaries. In order to continuously improve conditions for the workers involved in the production chain, Fairphone works closely with its suppliers, using local experts and putting its direct employees in the company. At the beginning of the trade relationship, Fairphone performs a transparent assessment of the company (based on working hours, safety, workers’ representation, etc.) and the problems detected. This assessment becomes a starting point for a joint development plan. Improving the existing processes within the supplying companies is one of Fairphone’s strong points. It is a delicate job, also considering the many factors to be balanced: the economy, workers, local laws and how all this interacts. It is essential to have a complete understanding of certain trade practices. This is a constant learning process for Fairphone and its local partners. Absenteeism during specific periods and high turnover are, for example, some of the critical points which have been most detected in producing companies. In China, these critical points coincide with Chinese New Year celebrations. At this time of the year, many workers receive cash bonuses and return to their families in their villages relatively rich and then do not go back to the factory since they are thinking of getting a new job. So, when the factories open up again, the company owner has to invest huge amounts into training to avoid risking lower production quality. Keeping the worker in the factory is fundamental. These are hidden problems which change from area to area. Fairphone is trying to resolve them, along with other partners, experts, researchers and NGOs, by developing innovative programmes which increase worker satisfaction and representation and favour communication between workers and managers. Product End-of-Life Maximum exploitation of the materials used in consumer electronics, repeated reuse and recovery of as much as possible form another Fairphone cornerstone. A study currently underway is examining the effectiveness of different ways of recycling the Fairphone 2. Its results will be shared with the whole sector and will help manage the conclusive lifecycle phase of current products better and improve the design of those to come.

Today, along with its local partners, Fairphone supports telephone collection in developing countries, sending them to Umicore, a Belgium company known for its efficient recycling processes. This is a perfectible process (sending telephones from Ghana to Europe is not very sustainable, after all), however it is always better than seeing precious materials disappear from the production cycle forever, abandoned or wrongly disposed of. In the long term, Fairphone aims to create local jobs with on-site recycling and plants. This project is partly hindered by informal recycling practices, above all as regards copper, in some developing countries. This is an ongoing, developing process, and completely Fairphone-style. Fairphoneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s transparency along the value chain, from material extraction to smartphone design and construction, until end-of-life and new client relationships, has had a positive impact that goes beyond the 135,000 smartphones (80,000 Fairphone 2) sold until now. While the market makes way for companies based on ethical values, Fairphone is changing the way products are created and seen.


renewablematter 17. 2017 Interview

by A. I. T.

Because a Telephone Cannot Be Forever Miquel Ballaster, Fairphone cofounder Product & Resource Efficiency Manager

From your point of view, in addition to materials and working conditions, what industry elements need changing? “I believe that a very interesting matter, which is not spoken about enough, is client companies’ procurement. They get supplies in producing countries like China or Bangladesh. In developed countries, everything is decided very quickly and orders are changed just as fast, so suppliers end up crushed. Let us take the fashion sector as an example. If a designer suddenly decides to change the colour of a shirt’s buttons, the suppliers have to change all the shirt buttons and they do not have enough bargaining power. This results in work

peaks that do not allow suppliers stable production. The same goes for the Christmas peak, which the production industry experiences between September and October. These peaks of work are a nightmare. Producing companies need to hire new employees that have to be dismissed at the end of the period. This mechanism is the outcome of how the supply system is organised by multinationals enjoying disproportionate power.” How can we change this mechanism? “Consumers also have great power. They need to understand that the situation is much wider-reaching than what they see on the market.

Case Studies

Consumers also have great power. They need to understand that the situation is much wider-reaching than what they see on the market.

The consequences behind buying a €3 T-shirt must be understood. These consequences multiply for a smartphone with hundreds of elements inside, built by many different companies which the consumer is never in contact with. In this regard, we have programmes currently underway on social and environmental sustainability, along with the six or seven most stable companies of the production chain. “Another thing to do would be simply eliminating Christmas marketing campaigns. We could do a campaign in November and explain why. Inventing a new Christmas in October would be the perfect gesture to make to our suppliers. What is more, we could simply accept that our telephones have a little scratch. That way, we would contain a good amount of waste created in the production phase, due merely to aesthetic reasons.” Can a telephone last forever? “No, it is impossible. This is a defeat but that is the way it is. From a technical point of view, a smartphone can last a really long time if you analyse its hardware. In any case, the obsolescence problem derives from suppliers that stop producing a certain chip and, at the same time, stop providing software support. Every time that Android releases a security patch which must be installed, a chip or camera producer is needed to create the software portion that controls this component. If this software portion is not created, the product can no longer be updated. Thus, it become insecure resulting in the software part no longer working while the hardware part works. Suppliers are an element of risk. The further we look into the industry, the more suppliers we find because suppliers, in turn, have their own suppliers that create individual elements. The wider the radius, the less control we have. “Managing this complex system is a great challenge

which we, as Fairphone, are obviously interested in. In any case, in order to have greater control and bargaining power we must increase sales. Focusing on scalability allows us a more comfortable position in terms of liquidity but, it makes us a more interesting company for suppliers, partly in terms of our influence on the production chain.” What limits the current system? Where can we improve? “Product design must allow individual elements to be disassembled quickly in order to direct different materials towards the best recycling line. We can currently recycle only 40% of a smartphone. Magnesium, for example, found in the back of the screen, is currently completely wasted in the foundry. If screens were removable, we could put the magnesium through another type of process, recovering 80%. “Durability-based design is totally detrimental to repairability. A waterproof telephone is very difficult to repair. On the other hand, a repairable telephone is certainly not water resistant. It is difficult to design based on repairability and modularity. It is all a matter of balance. We decided to take the challenge to extremes, showing that the screen can be removed in ten seconds. It has been an enormous amount of work, but we have achieved a great goal.”



renewablematter 17. 2017

Focus Construction Sector

The Advent of Offsite


Walls manufactured on a production line, robots assembling facades, 3-D printed interior components preassembled in a warehouse: the construction site of the future will be inside factories 4.0. Only in this way will the vast and often not very efficient European real estate be transformed. by Emanuele Bompan

Top: Offsite construction stadium by Rubner. Duration of building site: 6-8 months

There is a new and visionary way to conceive buildings bubbling up in Europe. Enough with costly and complex construction sites, managed with 20th century modalities and knowledge. The construction work, both for new builds and renovations, will be planned and carried out off-site, pre-assembled in a factory and then fitted within a short period of time in selected sites, using robots. This is offsite construction, which comes with many advantages: from minimizing waste of matter to reduction of construction and disassembling costs (up to 25-30% less), a building’s life extension and shorter duration of construction sites (up to half the time, and so minimum impact on people and services) and reduction of emissions throughout a building’s whole life cycle. Against this background, offsite construction seems a promising aspect of the circular economy and a potential element to relaunch one of the Union’s most negative sectors

(constantly in crisis since 2003) with a slight rebound in 2016. This theme certainly attracts lots of attention, as some may have noticed during the new edition – the sixth – of REbuild, the only international event together with EcoBuild, in London, to look to the middle and long term future of the construction sector from an original and unconventional viewpoint. From robotics to modular planning, from drones to IoT (Internet of Things) planned maintenance, the building sector is in for an unprecedented leap forward, modernising itself after almost thirty years of limited innovation, thus equipping the sector with 21st century economy’s epoch-making transformations. At REbuild the building sector and sustainability’s intelligentsia analysed these new trends, discussed them with the market’s top players and worked on radically transforming the sector, with a view to making it more circular.

Case Studies “There is a lot of interest in this topic from the whole of the building sector,” explains Thomas Miorin, REbuild inventor. “Today we can carry out offsite construction with wood, steel and even cement: the flexibility of options is a peculiarity of the new construction industry. This way to build 4.0 shows that very high quality can be combined with low costs, industrialization with variety, sustainability with architectural taste, new competences with automation, solutions for the regeneration of our cities with unprecedented export opportunities.” The bible where to find detailed information is Outlook REbuild 2017, the analysis document produced by REbuild’s scientific committee for participants. “Offsite construction, prefabricating and other modern building methods – reads the report – reduce the intensity of work on site and concentrate it mainly in factories, enabling a restructuring of technologies and processes aimed at a higher efficiency and quality.” This requires companies able to carry out detailed planning of all production and assembling phases, standardizing processes so that total control over times and costs can be achieved. Buildings constructed in this way will have constant performance, the only system variables being the external environment and users. Outlook REbuild 2017, outlook-rebuild

There are many examples of companies that have embraced prefabricating and offsite construction. For instance, Maurizio Focchi, Gruppo Focchi’s CEO, specialized in casings for large architectural projects in the USA and the UK, such as the new Atlas Building,

a 40-storey residential tower in London, started at Rovereto (Trentino), through its subsidiary IAMEC Srl, a new industrial initiative within metal technologies. Or Giovanni Spatti’s work, Wood Beton’s Chairman, who in only 30 days constructed Bio and Sea Residence in Jesolo, 11 flats on six floors, entirely made of wood. A record for a building that also embraced all the principles of sustainability. Other important examples are Ergodomus Studio’s building site, specialized in wood engineering, at the innovation Hub project at the University of Parma: a multi-storey building, also entirely made of wood, which will become the new VisLab’s headquarters, a cutting-edge company in the field of research in self driving. The wood load-bearing structure has been fitted in only four weeks by a team of four carpenters without the aid of a tower crane in the building site. Thanks to prefabricating and BIM, offsite construction and “what you draw is what you get” concepts have been taken to the next level. Furthermore, Rubner Holzbau company has conceived a modular stadium, made of plywood, with low environmental impact and totally green. A middle-capacity structure can be fitted in 6/8 months at €1,500 per seat (€2,000/seat for smaller ones) as opposed to 18/24 months necessary to build traditional stadiums at €2,500/3,000 per seat. “Throughout the world there is an increase in the demand for middle capacity stadiums, from 5,000 to 20,000 seats, representing 80% of the world’s total demand for this type of structure,” explains architect and inventor Jaime Manca Di Villahermosa.

REbuild 2017: this edition’s topic was offsite construction



renewablematter 17. 2017 A professionals’ play

Report Ellen MacArthur Foundation SystemiQ, Achieving “Growth Within,” www.ellenmacarthur publications/achievinggrowth-within


According to Thomas Miorin, offsite construction is characterized by five elements. First and foremost productivity, which has been constantly dwindling in the building sector over the years, as opposed to a comparative increase of 2.8 in the manufacturing industry. Then there is the issue of scale, seen that offsite construction must be able to tackle any size of project: from bungalows in a camping site to a large 450-room hotel. The third element is environmental sustainability, because offsite construction can (and must) promote and accelerate real estate requalification in a sustainable way. Quality and security follow suit, guaranteed by measurable standard processes, verifiable and reducing risks for employees (over 20% of work accidents in Europe, according to Eurostat, are in the construction sector) and the certainty of performance. Last, the fifth element, is digital infrastructure, which is key for managing efficiently offsite construction, a pre-requisite of industrialization of this sector. While for new buildings offsite construction is a great opportunity to launch circular building, for many, the real market is requalification. Currently, in Europe, 35% of buildings is over 50 years old. Working on the introduction of efficiency measure in buildings, electrical consumption could be reduced by 6%, with a 5% CO2 emission cut. However, retrofitting existing buildings, occupied or used, is not simple. Compulsory relocations are often complex and the longer they are, the higher the probability that various problems may arise, from extra costs of the impact on mobility,

University of Parma’s innovation Hub, multi-storey wood building. Duration of building site: four weeks

quality of urban life, emissions, etc. “The correct way is to suggest solutions technologically able to guarantee limited operational times of the building site allowing tenants to stay in their homes, with limited inconvenience during the transformation phase of buildings,” explains Ezio Micelli, scientific director of REbuild. “Similar measures are obviously not possible without offsite construction which is merely assembled on site, with a radically discontinued approach compared to the past.” There is some criticism, though: Mike Leonard, Building Alliance CEO, claims that most materials for offsite construction are imported (mainly from Asia), while in traditional building 80% of materials are domestic. “This could cost many jobs in the UK and affect the quality of buildings,” claims Leonard in an article on the Guardian. But today being protectionist is a wrong move. For offsite construction’s forerunners this phase could spur the number of companies already specialized in semi-finished products (present throughout Europe), while creating a limited cycle of secondary raw materials for prefabricating derived from regeneration and requalification processes, typical of the circular economy. According to a report by SystemiQ and Ellen MacArthur Foundation, modular building will help the development of circular building projects, making the use of regenerated or recycled materials more simple and efficient, reducing its reliance on the American or Asian sectors and promoting recycling of end-of-life secondary raw materials. Moreover, in order to carry out the new offsite construction, the vast amount of matter available within the real estate market and other sectors of secondary raw materials can be tapped. Politics too is interested in offsite construction: from Sweden, where in Stockholm the real estate crisis worsens by the day, to Italy, where the Ministry of the Economic Development sees in this new construction method an offshoot of industry 4.0, which is essential to relaunch the building sector, to the UK which is pushing for a sectorial industrial revolution. According to BuildOffsite, the sector’s association, innovation in modular construction will determine the future of the British and European sector. With virtual construction software simulating building sites, integrated with an integrated production line process, expect no less than Google or Tesla on the market, which will rewrite the rules of the construction sector. We need to act before these foreign companies from America or Asia arrive, burying the national industry, states Gianni Silvestrini from the Kyoto Club. Trowels and mortar could soon end up in a museum of anthropology. Ministers of Economic Development, builders’ associations and businesses are warned.

Focus Construction Sector


Nothing Will Go to Waste by Antonella Ilaria Totaro

From the UK, the Enviromate experience, a digital marketplace allowing users to buy, sell or donate leftover building materials. Since 2015, 8,000 tonnes of “waste” have been reintroduced into the market, worth about £1 million.

* “Upcycling” goods by reusing them or giving back to nature raw materials to produce other goods, goes much further than recycling. While overtime, recycled goods loose value till they become waste, “upcycled” goods enter a new production cycle increasing in value or in quality (see the nearly textbook case of Patagonia), editor’s note.

Building and refurbishing buildings through a closed-loop marketplace based on surplus and reusable materials, this is the idea behind Enviromate. Created by Reiss Salustro-Pilson and Nigel Van Wassenhoven in the UK, Enviromate is an online marketplace, a digital platform where people can share, upcycle* and reuse building and DIY materials thus effectively reducing the impact of the construction sector. The construction sector is one of the major waste producers at a global level, now producing one third of waste worldwide. And given that the world’s building market is expanding, the leftover problem could get worse and worse. In the UK, 32% of waste landfilled every year comes from the building sector, amounting to 120 million tonnes of waste. Wastage, especially if we consider that half of this waste could be easily reused and

that about 13% of these materials end up in a landfill without having been used thus losing, according to some estimates, the equivalent of £1.5 billion. In 2015, Reiss Salustro-Pilson and Nigel Van Wassenhoven – both witnessed vast amounts of wastage through experience in the construction sector, thus knowing how much reusable material is landfilled – decided to exploit digital technology to create Enviromate, a peer-to-peer marketplace connecting supply and demand and increasing the product lifecycle of reusable leftovers and materials. This is a platform open to all, from builders to DIY lovers. It allows people to buy and sell with no quantity restrictions: you can sell or donate small quantities of paint or entire pallets of bricks, wood or roof tiles. Since 2015, through Enviromate, 8,000 tonnes


renewablematter 17. 2017

Exploiting both the potential of digital technology and that of the sharing economy, Enviromate manages to avoid materials ending up in waste flows. Their value is not destroyed but preserved and eventually created by sharing unused material resources.

of materials have been reintroduced into the market, thus avoiding them to end up in the waste stream, amounting to a gross merchandise value of nearly ÂŁ1 million. Enviromate offers both a Free profile and a Premium Profile (ÂŁ9,99 per year). The Premium Profile allows you to get exclusive discounts from partners, to upload as many pictures as you like and to publish 3 ads per months promoted for free. Once registered, you can browse what is available on the market both at local and national level and contact other members through a dedicated messaging system. Selling is equally simple: you upload on the platform a picture of the object you want to sell, provide a description and the asking price. If the item is not sold straightaway, the Enviromate Ad Bump allows you to bump up the ad in order to increase your chances of selling it. At the same time, you can create ad hoc ads aimed at the community if the material you are looking for is not listed on the platform. There is also a dedicated area, Enviromate Donate, where charitable associations or/and communities list materials they need for certain projects. Since the platform launched over 20 projects


across the UK have received donations of leftovers by British construction companies. Enviromate helped Rebuilt4U, a non-profit organization, to refurbish disused residential buildings and to provide affordable accommodation in some of the poorest areas in the UK. Another association used paint surpluses, recovered thanks to Enviromate, to create multisensory services for special need children and young adults. Soil from a local construction project was used to create cultivable areas in a community. Exploiting both the potential of digital technology and that of the sharing economy, Enviromate manages to avoid materials ending up in waste flows. Their value is not destroyed but preserved and eventually created by sharing unused material resources. An efficient model that reduces the need for extracting new natural resources in the construction sector and also satisfying the new awareness of some consumers more and more interested in the benefits of secondary markets as sustainability factors. This is encouraging the growth of new generations of services and marketplaces and the transition towards a more thriving model less focussed on the exploitation of raw materials.

Case Studies Interview

by A. I. T.

Why Enviromate Is a Revolutionary Platform Reiss Salustro-Pilson, founder of Enviromate

Transforming building waste into resources. Can this model be applied to other industrial sectors? “Yes, absolutely. The marketplace model and secondary markets are key factors in the field of sustainability and circularity. They can preserve value and avoid landfilling of resources. Suffices to take a look at what eBay has done for many years in order to extend the lifecycle of a product, horizontally between many sectors and products. A specific sectional platform vertically oriented to the market can have a sensational effect on an industry or a sector, managing to change society and promoting growth. For instance, I believe this model could be easily adapted to the electronic and textile sectors. “To meet today’s challenges, we need sensational and regenerative solutions, but also sustainable

in order to curb natural resources depletion, reduce poverty, fight income inequality, guarantee access to clean water and protect endangered species. Reinventing existing companies is normal and our natural human progress. I think we need to change and move towards a cooperative world able to redefine current norms and where the economy will be able to grow while respecting the planet and people.” What will the key elements of this change be? “Technology will surely play a fundamental role. We must use it and include it in our activities in order to harness resources ethically and sustainably while inspiring others to do the same. Education will be another crucial element of this transition: it will help us to seize opportunities and train the future agents of change and the pioneers our world needs. We will become this change when we understand that our planet can be a prosperous place for all.” What was the biggest challenge in setting up Enviromate? “Along with being in full-time employment throughout the first six months of Enviromate going live, one of the biggest challenges for any startup not just ours is gaining awareness in your target market, especially working with limited budgets and experience. So these issues have been quite challenging for us. Additionally, launching a marketplace business has the added challenge of balancing out supply and demand in the early stages, it is a classic chicken and egg situation. This situation makes it imperative that we hit critical mass early on, whilst making sure the platform can make live adjustments to cope with this growth stage period. We have overcome these challenges with a positive work ethic and lengthy working days whilst not letting any adversity deter our interest and desire to make this brand have a direct impact on our environment.” Are you planning to expand outside the U.K.? “Whilst our immediate focus is on scaling and achieving critical mass within the UK, Enviromate will very soon be released and expand to additional countries initially the US and Europe to achieve our brand mission of a global marketplace that keeps material resources in circulation.”


renewablematter 17. 2017

Focus Construction Sector

EcoTiles Unicam, glass


The Case of

ECO-TILES by Francesco Ansaloni, Eleonora Paris and Valentino Grandinetti Francesco Ansaloni is an associate professor of Environmental Economy at the School of Sciences and Technologies at the University of Camerino. He is currently committed to researching in sustainable production. Eleonora Paris is an associate professor of Mineralogy at the School of Sciences and Technologies at the University of Camerino. She deals with the study and chemical and structural characterization of crystalline materials (natural and synthetic), silicate glass, pigments, ceramics and cements. Valentino Grandinetti is sole director of Grandinetti Srl in San Severino Marche, a leading company in the cement agglomerate sector specialized in research and design.

It contains all that in the construction industry is normally landfilled: waste from marble and stone processing, broken bricks, glass and ceramic shards. Everything bound together with ecological cement. Result: an eco-tile that is extremely pleasing to the eye, an example of how circularity can be achieved. At first glance it seems like any terrazzo tile but it actually is a mix of cement and building waste: shingle fragments, broken bricks, ceramic shards. So far EcoTiles – that is the name of the eco-tile – is just a prototype stemming from a research project between university and private companies, but the objective is to market it soon. Compared to traditional terrazzo and ceramic tiles, eco-tiles use a vast array of secondary raw materials derived from construction industry waste (including marble fragments, ceramic materials) and glass. EcoTiles base is indeed made of everything that – normally – in the construction industry is landfilled; the top part is made of recycled glass shard. Moreover, even the cement used is ecological, with up to 30% content of recycled secondary raw materials.

Actually, eco-tiles are derived from those traditional terrazzo tiles, one of the first flooring materials created by using marble and stone processing waste, bound together with cement and dyed with natural pigments. Terrazzo eco-tiles are mainly used for floor coverings, but terrazzo is also a modern material and an ideal product for bioarchitecture, which lured the market, thanks to the endless possibilities offered in terms of creativity. EcoTiles, ecological tiles EcoTiles designed two prototypes. •• Standard – presented at Cersaie 2016 – where up to 70% of raw material is replaced by recycled secondary raw materials and C&D waste (Construction and Demolition waste). It consists of a double layer: a foundation and an upper noble treading layer. •• Design, a product extremely pleasing

Case Studies EcoTiles,


to the eye conceived to meet the demand for architectural uses in particular. Thanks to the use of recycled glass and pigments added to the cement, it can be manufactured in a vast range of colours. EcoTiles tiles are currently being tested for quality and performance in order to meet UNI EN 13748/1 regulations, the CE marking of tiles defining the standard of terrazzo indoor flooring. Moreover, EcoTiles take part in meeting the criteria of the voluntary certification system of the environmental sustainability of LEED buildings (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), allocating points to buildings according to, amongst others, the use of green materials. Eco-tiles are LEED compliant, i.e. they contribute to obtaining LEED credits while contributing to the overall sustainability of the building. Last, they meet the demands of green public procurement to optimize and turning public administration expenditure and the eco-innovation market greener. How an eco-tile is produced Terrazzo tiles were created as a cheap product, both for the type of raw materials used and because they are not fired at high temperatures. So, their production is already characterized by low energy consumption and reduced CO2 emissions,

far lower compared to the production of ceramic tiles (Table 1). Compared to traditional terrazzo tiles, EcoTiles show an even more sustainable production process, while maintaining the same technical performance. Indeed, the use of waste materials not only further reduces the environmental impact of the production compared to ceramic, but the use of energy is limited to low energy consumption operations such as: preparation of the cement mixture, distribution of materials in moulds, mechanical pressing, drying, polishing and packaging. EcoTiles production goes through a series of steps: selection of utilized waste and chemical and physical characterization of secondary materials, from the applicability of intermediate materials, up to the choice of size/colour/ quantity of products to manufacture. In the production process, a new type of press and an innovative method for aging (drying) have been patented. The so-called microchamber method enables tiles to dry in their own humidity and heat: such production technique, unlike that of traditional terrazzo tiles where it is necessary to saturate the aging chamber with steam, uses about 50% less energy, from 6.46 to 3.23 kWh per square metre of tile (Report LCA EcoTiles, preliminary data, June 2017) as well as less water. EcoTiles are proof of the possibility of producing tiles preformed with recycled material up to 70%

Table 1 | Technical and compositional characteristics of tiles Parameters



Terrace tile

Porcelain stoneware tiles



room temperature

room temperature


Energy used2

kWh per square metre of tiles




C02 emissions2

kg of CO2 eq. per square metre of tiles




Waste from C&D, dust3,4

% of total weight

max 75



Glass, aggregates3

% of total weight




Glass, dust3

% of total weight




Ceramic, aggregates3

% of total weight




Ceramic, dust3

% of total weight

max 40



Quarried natural raw materials3

% of total weight





% of total weight





% of total weight




Average firing temperature. Source: Report Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) for EcoTiles, preliminary data due June 2016. Data refer to 25 cm X 25 cm single-layer tiles with a final weight of 32.5 kg. Starting data of raw materials and consumptions must be confirmed and verified in the coming months of research. 3 For double-layer tiles as per research project demo experiment. 4 Source: data from Life EcoTiles project, University of Camerino (2017). 2


renewablematter 17. 2017 Terrazzo tiles by Grandinetti Srl


of their weight. The secondary raw materials used derive – as mentioned above – from recycled glass and C&D waste. Glass waste must adhere to the cement mixture and therefore must be free from impurities (paper, plastic, metal etc.) and pristine. As a result, selecting suppliers of raw materials able to guarantee a high quality standard is key. In addition, chemical composition (absence of lead and other potentially toxic metals), must be identified, as well as the colour and the size of granular employed. EcoTiles resistibility to abrasive environments is high, while a terrazzo tiles’ disvalue is represented by increased absorption of acids and fats compared to ceramic tiles, unless protective layers are applied. Ecological Cement Experimental studies highlighted the fact the cement employed in eco-tiles can be partially replaced by ceramic waste material, finely ground (Raval, et al., 2013; Perugini, et al., 2014; Mas, et al., 2016) which can contribute up to 15% of the tile’s weight. Such replacement makes for a cement with pozzolanic properties and an ecological connotation compared to traditional cement, thanks to the possibility to reuse waste material. The aim is to keep cement properties and tiles characteristics unaltered. Besides, with this innovative

methodology, a business production costs can be cut, thanks to reduced use of cement representing the most costly component of tiles. The use of secondary raw materials obtained from waste enables to avoid the extraction of new raw materials from quarries, therefore reducing energy consumption and the production of new CO2 emissions. From a company’s point of view, limiting energy use and CO2 emissions represents a reduction of production costs. An interesting application is then offered by the possibility to enrich cement making up the terrazzo tile blend with TX Active photo catalytic active principle (Italcementi Group) able to abate air pollutants. Synergy between Universities and Industry The idea of an ecological tile met the interest of the EU that funded LIFE14 ENV/IT/000801, a two-year project. The funds enabled to support both research, carried out within the university, and innovative industrial production carried out by private companies. Two young researchers and two PhD students participated in the project that gave them excellent experience of industrial research and European planning. The research was carried out by researchers from the mineralogy group of the University of Camerino, dealing with chemical and structural

What Politics Can Do The first step to promote the use of eco-sustainable products is improving its acceptance by consumers, spreading knowledge on benefits deriving from the adoption of production methods with lower environmental impact. To do so, the Eco-label proposal could be promoted, especially for flooring. On this subject, please bear in mind that the EU voluntary Eco-label – the so-called “Flower” – came into force by 880/92 EEC regulation of 23rd March 1992 and revisited by EC regulation 1980/2000 of 17th July 2000 (Ceramica Italiana, 2016). The eco-label testifies that the product has a limited environmental impact throughout its whole life cycle (LCA, Life-Cycle Assessment). Even further popularization of LEED certification could make eco-sustainable products more easily recognizable by consumers. There are a number of possibilities to promote secondary raw materials recycling and reusing in the construction sector: •• funds for the adoption of techniques for selective demolition; •• reduction of tax and red tape streamlining for the purchasing of secondary raw materials (transport); •• use of Building information modelling

(BIM) to monitor the buildings’ whole life cycle. In order to create a market for secondary raw materials it is imperative to create a network of operators for C&D waste collection, disposal and transformation. In order to corroborate such policy, the supply of pure and quality secondary raw materials should be encouraged. Without European standards it is difficult to promote recycling competitiveness. Even streamlining environmental rules and regulations on the one hand and their stricter application on the other encourage an increase in the use of secondary raw materials. By contrast, the building sector has always had access to virgin raw materials at a very low price, with negligible royalties paid to Regions. As a result, investing in waste recycling is not very luring (Pergolizzi, 2016). Moreover, at EU level, the low costs for landfilling jeopardized alternative uses. Hopefully the use of materials with high environmental standards will be taken into consideration both at national and EU levels. This can be achieved for example by promoting the adoption of minimum quantities of recycled materials to be used in new buildings.

Case Studies

The main factors that can influence market demand of ecological tiles are represented by price (often higher than that of traditional products), by technical performance,

by aesthetic value, by the level of craftsmanship of tiles and by that of environmental sustainability of the production process. As for costs, it must be noted that if the cost of terrazzo tiles is higher than that of ceramic ones, that of installation is lower thanks to less labour required. Moreover, eco-tiles can be characterized as a customised and tailored product, meeting individual needs of customers. The differentiation originated by the level of craftsmanship of the production influences consumers’ choice. Every processing phase, even if it stems from industrial innovations, is to a certain extent still manual and therefore products are one of a kind. A further differentiating factor consists in the recognition by consumers of the nature of environmental sustainability of the production method. Last, the potential of circulation of ecological tiles and the production process is high because the technology is widespread and businesses are eager to innovate.

Bibliography •• Ceramica Italiana 2016 www.laceramica •• EcoTiles, •• Grandinetti Srl 2017 (, EU LifeEcoTiles research project partner

of a Lesser God,” Renewable Matter, n. 11, July-August 2016, www.renewablematter. eu/art/234/Children_of_a_ Lesser_God •• Perugini V., E. Paris, G. Giuli, M. R. Carroll, “The Use of Urban

•• Mas M.A., J. Monzó, J. Payá, L. Reig, M. V. Borrachero “Ceramic tiles waste as replacement material in Portland cement,” Advances in Cement Research, 28 (4), 221-232, 2016 •• Pergolizzi A., “Children

Ceramic Wastes in Eco-Sustainable Durable Cement,” Proc. International Conference 34th Cement and Concrete Science 14-16 September 2014, Sheffield UK •• Raval A. D., I. N. Patel,

Tecnica GrandinettiSrl, processing detail

The main types of customers potentially interested in EcoTiles are: •• residential sector users; •• suppliers of intermediate raw materials (cement); •• suppliers of services of the building sector (construction companies, architects, engineers etc.).

Terrazzo tiles by Grandinetti Srl

Market Demand

Terrazzo tiles by Grandinetti Srl

characterization of minerals and rocks, glass, pigments, ceramic and cement. The industrial partner to the project is Grandinetti Company, a leading business in the production of terrazzo tiles. The experience and inclination to innovation helped the company to establish itself on the national and international markets of conglomerates and coverings.


J. Pitroda, “Ceramic Waste: Effective Replacement Of Cement For Establishing Sustainable Concrete,” International Journal of Engineering Trends and Technology (IJETT), 4, 6, 2324-2329, 2013



of a New Economy for Italy and Europe

6,000 new jobs, €400 million in added value, reduction of emissions equalling those produced by 300,000 cars and saving of natural resources. This is why recycling ELTs is a winning choice compared to their energy recovery. by Marco Gisotti

Report Ecopneus 2016, Fondazione per lo sviluppo sostenibile, www.fondazionesviluppo

Where is it that the circular economy knits together with the ethical economy? To casual observers – those interpreting recovery and recycling of materials exclusively taking into account only the savings in raw materials on the final invoice – the question may seem bizarre. But this would be an incorrect and incomplete interpretation. It would be a balance that overlooks all possible dividends, direct and indirect social and environmental consequences. As for many years Edward Goldsmith – one of the fathers of ecology – has tried to explain, it is not possible to tackle any event or problem without considering the chain of events and players involved in it. Reduction and therefore the disappearance of waste or rather of discarded stuff has far wider and longer lasting implications than the mere recovery of matter. The data and examples offered by the latest report by Ecopneus help us answer the initial question, i.e. where the circular and ethical economy intersect.

They intersect when we talk about employment. Job creation, whether it is ex-novo employment or qualitative improvement of part of the existing employment, is already quite a social result. In this regard, Ecopneus informs us that if 100% of end-of-life tires were recovered to obtain matter, today, in Italy, new conditions could create 6,000 new jobs. Or the events occurred in Scampia, the so-called Land of Fires. In these areas devastated by crime and adopted in the collective imagination as an example of border land where law and health surrendered to violence and pollution, precisely here, the circular and social economy knit together as links of the same chain. Here, Ecopneus collected over 16,000 tonnes within the “Protocol with the Ministry of the Environment for extraordinary interventions to collect ELTs and in the Scampia neighbourhood in particular, as the tail operation of a tire recovery dumped in the Naples and Caserta provinces and a proper football field is under construction, made with recycled rubber granules from ELTs. “This is a sign of the will to fight degradation of abandonment

Case Studies and illegal fires, bestowing a new future to materials that were once waste and new opportunities to young people that are the future of this Land” explains Giovanni Corbetta, Ecopneus’ General Director. “Over the last few years, Ecopneus has committed to maximizing matter recovery, following the EU indications and the principles of the circular economy” says Corbetta. “Full recognition from non-waste to rubber granules and rubber powder, would allow a qualitative leap in the recycling/energy relation, better environmental, economic and employment benefits.” Also, in more detail, over 6,000 workers from this resource could contribute 400 million of added value and CO2 savings equal to the emissions by 300,000 cars, natural resources equal to 106 Eiffel towers and water of 500 Olympic-size swimming pools. Over the last year, Ecopneus collected more than 245,000 tonnes of ELTs, 1 million and 400,000 since the beginning of its operation. On average, it manages 250,000 tonnes of ELTs yearly, 56% of which destined for matter recovery. The overall value of such system is €63 million of economic value distributed each year to a growing industrial supply chain already employing about 700 people.

Made available for consumption by members

Legal target

226,225 tonnes

264,891 tonnes

Collection legal requirement: 100% of tires marketed after tread wear and tear (-10% of total weight of new tires) and of the share of exported used tires

Quantity of tires made available for consumption by Ecopneus members in 2015

Extraordinary collection

Ecopneus with the Foundation for the sustainable development has also carried out a study to measure the potential advantage of ELTs recovery in environmental, economic and employment terms. The intersection between circularity and ethics we mentioned before. “The study – explains Andrea Barbabella, of the Foundation for the sustainable development and responsible for the study – reveals that the main benefit in economic and employment terms of ELTs recovery is the savings in current expenditure associated with avoided imports of raw materials, which would make available economic resources for new investments on a national scale followed by higher incomes and domestic consumption, making for substantial “systemic” advantage for Italy.” ELTs management throughout Europe, Italy included, occurs through two recovering ways: the first is about recycling materials and in particular rubber polymers, which can be used as secondary raw material as a replacement for virgin rubber for the production of new goods; the second is about the recovery of fuels derived for the production of energy, thanks to the high calorific value of rubber.

ELTs collection

+ 6,662 tonnes ELTs collection within Land of Fires project and other institutional initiatives

Ordinary collection total

245,722 tonnes Collection carried out at every ELTs’ production point nationwide (tire repairers and dealers, garages etc.)


252,384 tonnes

Quantity of ELTs deriving from ordinary collection exceeding the legal target



renewablematter 17. 2017 6,000 Jobs from Tire Recycling The study, carried out by the Foundation for sustainable development on behalf of Ecopneus, with regard to employment analysed the two scenarios – Full Energy Recovery and Full Recycling – to try and understand which one is able to create most jobs. We won’t give too much away if we say that even here the comparison has shown that recycling offers a higher number of jobs, although such transition needs a conceptual leap. To understand, not on an ideological but rather on a scientific level, that environmental conservation is more advantageous even in social terms. As far as the employment and economic balance is concerned, the study analysed the direct, indirect and induced effects of expenditure associated with the management of the supply chains, i.e. considering both the direct effects of management and those induced and indirect that such expenditure causes on the economic system through the purchase of intermediate and semi finished goods and services and of the effects produced by the rise in the income of those involved in activities of consumption. The study also considered the time (a few years) necessary for the development of infrastructure and supply chains for a complete recycle or for a whole energy recovery of 400,000 tonnes of ELTs. Once up to speed, as the analyses say, the new added value produced by the Full Energy Recovery scenario would amount to €91 million,

There is no comparison between recycling and energy recovery; the former wins with €19 million of added value and over 300 more jobs.

compared to the 110 million offered by the Full Recycling one. Similarly, added employment (calculated in standard work units) would go from 1,433 units when sending ELTs to cement factories to 1,727 with the same 400,000 tonnes of ELTs recycled. As we said before, there is no comparison between recycling and energy recovery; the former wins with €19 million of added value and over 300 more jobs.


Regarding direct, indirect and induced effects deriving from savings for Italy associated with the reduction of imports of raw materials replaced from ELTs recovery in the two scenarios, figures are more significant. The avoided expenditure for imported raw materials, rubber, steel, carbon coke etc. allows, as the study explains, to make available economic resources to free new investments on a national scale, followed by higher available income and domestic consumptions. The real benefit in economic and occupational terms of recycling would lie precisely here. The difference in added value and new employment produced in the two scenarios is beyond an order of magnitude, with €30 million for Full Energy Recovery as opposed to €392 million of Full Recycling and 494 new jobs as against over 6,000. To achieve full recycling of ELTs compared to the mere energy recovery would allow to generate over €360 million of extra added value every year and almost 6,000 new jobs. A true revolution.

It goes without saying that the European policies regarding the circular economy push for the first solution and, as the figures on the study by the Foundation for sustainable development and Ecopneus show is just as well, in terms of obtained and obtainable environmental results. Then, if we analyze the impact on human health, the recovery of 400,000 tonnes of ELTs with the use in cement factories, there is a positive although modest balance, with a saving of about 30 years. While the Full Recycling scenario, thanks to avoided emissions, the saved years soar to 749 – as the study shows – and recycling is by far the most preferable option in terms of life cycle from a health point of view. It is true that the so-called “discarded stuff” is high and that 250,000 tonnes of ELTs may tempt the market of energy recovery of cement factories but in Italy it has a limited absorption capacity. However, in other parts of the world such as North Africa, Korea, Eastern Europe, the demand is higher. Not only would it be easy

because there is already demand for ELTs, but it would also be efficient from the viewpoint of costs because it would allow savings for the business sectors and with everything connected with granulation, from staff to certification, just to give you an example. But the immediate benefits of such process go against the far higher and longer lasting economic, environmental and health advantages of the model proposed by the circular economy, as shown with many examples by the Ecopneus study. Figures and analyses, accomplished on the Italian sample but that can apply to the rest of the Union and that confirm the direction in which the European policy is going. Sometimes some member States, including Italy, is faced with red tape obstacles that make it difficult to let it accept. “To go down the path of matter recovery instead of that apparently easier of energy recovery is the underlying reason of the activity of our consortium: i.e. guaranteeing, through collection and recovery of ELTs, maximization

Case Studies of environmental and social benefits for the community, together with minimization of economic costs for the community, with full application of ethical, liability and legality principles in compliance with institutional, European and national policies,” explains Giovanni Corbetta, Ecopneus’s general director. “The circular economy is possible and the advantages are tangible. In order to implement it – warns therefore Corbetta – a cultural change is needed involving everyone, including citizens, companies and institutions. A cultural leadership is also necessary, which today is lacking.”


from our partners ©Andre Klaassen


400 Million Pounds in 4 Years from Biotechnology by Roger Kilburn

Appointed CEO of IBioIC in January 2014, Roger Kilburn brings with him a wealth of experience as an international business leader and a proven track record in business turnaround, growth and leadership. His background is within the chemical and fine chemicals sectors where he spent over two decades working for industry giants such as ICI and Johnson Matthey in the UK, Australia, Germany and USA.

Top, left: Xanthella experimentation for microalgae production Top, right: Biorefinery plant

Over a few years, industrial biotechnology will enable the Scottish economy to grow by £400 million. Being able to rely on 27 billion tonnes of bioresources, Edinburgh regards this sector as a priority. Industrial Biotechnology (IB) is the process of using natural resources to create new chemicals and ingredients; taking micro-organisms and enzymes to generate industrially useful products in a growing range of sectors including chemicals, food and drink, textiles and biofuels. Although processes involving fermentation (brewing) have been around for millennia, it offers one of the most promising new approaches to industrial resource conservation. IB creates opportunities to develop new markets and accelerate existing ones while protecting the environment. In pharmaceuticals for example, IB-driven products have revolutionized our ability to treat rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and diabetes. They now make up seven of the top ten best selling drugs globally. IB processes can even make use of the waste they produce, creating usable by-products while even generating the very energy with which to power the process itself. Biotechnology moves us away from fossil fuel intensive petrochemicals and instead uses renewable raw materials to make the same or similar products. The global IB market is predicted at £365 billion and with an estimated £400 million

to be added to the Scottish economy alone in IB sales over the next four years, it’s no wonder the sector is a priority for the Scottish government. Since it launched the National Plan for Biotechnology in 2013 there have been several major achievements, including the launch of the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC). As its CEO, I’m proud to say that we’re aiming to do something remarkable: facilitate access to the equipment, education and expertise that will grow the nascent biotechnology industry into a powerhouse of Scotland’s economy, delivering more than £1 billion a year in new added value by 2030. IBioIC’s role in the IB sector puts over 100 companies in contact with 200 academic teams, solving industrially led problems to create economic impact in Scotland and beyond, thereby playing an important key role in delivering the National Plan. The results are already apparent with an 18% increase in Scottish IB turnover to £230 million, exceeding the original 2015 target of the National Plan by £30 million. From the beginning, our mission has been to accelerate and de-risk the development of commercially viable, sustainable solutions for high-value manufacturing in the chemistryusing and life science sectors. To that end,

from our partners National Plan for Biotechnology, Scottish%20IB%20 Progress%20Report%20 2015.pdf Technical Network, Open access equipment centres, Cellucomp, Xanthella, Zero Waste Scotland, www.zerowastescotland. Making Things Last – A Circular Economy Strategy for Scotland, Publications/2016/02/1761 European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform, environment/circulareconomy/index_en.htm


we also offer a Technical Network: an on-demand consultancy service that is changing the way our members qualify IB opportunities, scale projects, and most importantly accelerate research and development times. Technical Network consultants are working with our members right now on a range of tasks, from helping de-risk development programmes by providing direct technical and commercial advice; advising on precedent, to competition and position in the IP landscape. The IBioIC Technical Network is very much grounded in what we know to be the real and present challenges facing our member companies, who range from small-scale IB start-ups to multinational chemical companies. The Technical Network is a logical complement to the equipment facilities we offer members. IBioIC has in fact invested £2.7 million in open access equipment centres. The Rapid Bioprocess Prototyping Centre (RBPC) and the Flexible Downstream Bioprocessing Centre (FlexBio) will support the £30 million research programme planned by IBioIC over the next five years, providing significant opportunities for Scotland to increase its competitiveness in the global industrial biotechnology market. IB success relies on biorefining to convert underused natural and discarded resources into valuable products – meeting the goals of the National Plan rely on developing a network of biorefineries. The opening of Scotland’s first biorefinery was actually by an IBioIC member company, CelluComp. The material science company produces sustainable materials from waste streams of root vegetables such as carrots and beets. Their product Curran has properties which could be used for a variety of applications from paints and coatings, paper and packaging and personal care. Another member, industrial design company Xanthella is pioneering a novel and highly energyefficient means of producing microalgae. The microalgae produced are required by Scotland’s aquaculture industries – for hatchery use and addition to fish feeds – but can also be used for a wide range of products such as nutraceuticals, pigments, and biofuels. Xanthella’s ASLEE project (Algal Solutions for Local Energy Economy) is exploring how its photobioreactors – which capture CO2 emissions to grow microalgae – can be powered from overspill electricity generated from local renewable sources, such as wind farms. These are ground-breaking ideas and product which not only offer their own unique properties, but also highlights how IB is best placed to tackle one of the biggest global challenges we face today – that of maximising the use of waste.

The immense potential of Scotland’s bioresource Rather than just a single product, the concept of biorefining allows us to make optimal use of the feedstocks we use and as such the mix of compounds being made in our processes will contain smaller volume, high value and larger volume, lower value streams – but are we there yet? Scotland’s compact geography is a strength that provides a centralised concentration of population and industry. The length of Scotland’s coastline, increasing forestry production and access to principally Scottish bioresources, provide a range of feedstocks for biorefining. Areas in Scotland where novel supply chains are developing include waste management, renewable energy, forestry and even food and drink – many companies in these sectors are already engaging with the bioenergy and sustainable chemicals sectors. The challenge in exploiting these strengths lies in mapping the scale and shape of the opportunity for the bioeconomy sector to embrace the Scottish Government’s desire for a more circular economy. As a unique facility for the promotion of biological substances, systems and processes – with 100-strong membership – IBioIC is well-placed to enable delivery of the Government’s vision. Zero Waste Scotland is a Scottish organisation supporting the delivery of the Scottish Government’s circular economy strategy and the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform, as such many of our objectives align. We are currently working on a bioresource mapping exercise with them which is due to be launched later this year. It analyses material waste streams such as commercial & industrial waste; agricultural residues; food & drink by-products; waste water sludges and other bioresources to map the potential of untapped bioresources in Scotland. The material waste stream is estimated to be in excess of 27 million tonnes. We believe that this is the first time any country’s bioresources have been assessed in such a thorough way, and we expect that the volume of bioresources will confirm that there is sufficient feedstock to enable Scotland to be confident in developing opportunities for biorefining. Bringing a new concept, new infrastructure and new products to market will take time but we are well down the track of positioning Scotland as a key player in this increasingly important global industry.



from our partners

World Efficiency Supports the Low-Carbon and Resource-Efficient Economy Are you an economic player who is convinced we need to act now to ensure a successful ecological and energy transition? Then join the WE community and help us create a market place for low carbon, resourceefficient solutions!

At COP21, Reed Expositions France launched World Efficiency Solutions, the very first international community dedicated to the low carbon, resource-efficient economy. This year, World Efficiency Solutions is taking on a whole new dimension, offering professionals from all countries and sectors involved in combating climate change and preserving resources the opportunity to come together to help get their projects off the ground and hasten the deployment of solutions. This initiative means that World Efficiency Solutions is lending its support to the commitments made under the 2030 Agenda (Sustainable Development Goals) and the Paris Agreement. World Efficiency Solutions bases itself on an “ONLINE – On LIFE” approach, which involves both digital solutions and real-life events. These include: •• an international community platform, WEConnect, which is a highly effective relationship-building tool. It brings together all the projects looking for the right resources to get them off the ground and matches them with the solutions offered by companies and other innovation and knowledge providers; •• a presence at COP23 in Bonn, in connection

The following have already confirmed their attendance at World Efficiency Paris 2017 Paul Simpson, CEO CDP – Andre Schneider, CEO Geneva Airport – Per Boersgaard, partnership and innovations coordinator for the city of Copenhagen – HRH Princess Abze Djigma, CEO Abze Solar – Simon Upton, Environment Director at the OECD – Graciela Chichilnisky, CEO and co-founder of Global Thermostat. Do you have any projects to put forward? Join the low-carbon and resource-efficient community on WEconnect More information: + 33 (0) 147 56 51 92 |

with World Climate Solutions 2017 from 14-16 November, in partnership with World Climate Ltd. This will allow us to identify other project owners and solutions providers from among the international delegations attending; •• a three-day forum of meetings and discussions from 12-14 December in Paris. World Efficiency Paris 2017 will combine a summit for decisionmakers with discussions and talks, an exhibition of solutions and a platform to showcase innovations and training in new usage and practices linked to the ecological and energy transition. Unprecedented linking-up of projects and solutions on a global level For the last few months, the World Efficiency Solutions team has been explaining its approach and looking to different countries worldwide, including Japan, Ivory Coast, the US, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK, to seek out project initiators sharing its objectives. In Italy, it has brought together key players from the city of Milan and Italy’s Lombardy region and various experts from clusters and specialist companies to help identify the most relevant topics to be discussed at WE Paris in December. The topics selected include mobility and logistics, energy efficiency of buildings, urban planning and land development. In addition, as part of its partnership with ICLEI, World Efficiency Solutions has joined forces to organise several workshops on the circular economy. The different sessions will focus mainly on the circular economy strategies of various European cities and regions and how a number of Franco-Italian economic players are putting them into practice. A delegation of Italian eco-start-ups is also expected to attend World Efficiency Paris 2017 in December.


Columns Circular by Law

New Rules for Reach and Waste Francesco Petrucci,* environmental legal expert and a member of Edizioni Ambiente’s legal editorial staff.

*In collaboration with “Rifiuti – Bollettino di informazione normativa” magazine and Osservatorio di normativa ambientale,

The path to a real circular economy promoting actions to reintroduce into the economic cycle materials at the end of their life is paved with clear and strong European regulations poised between development and environmental protection. European regulations, interpretative documents and operational guidelines are crucial tools for decision makers, companies and private citizens who cannot ignore “the rules of the game” to operate effectively in the European Single Market. In this new Column, we will update readers on European latest developments that can be of interest to those operating in the circular economy. While on 1st July 2017 Estonia started its six-month presidency of the European Union Council (made up by the various ministries in charge of this matter) and the Estonian Minister for the Environment announced that his presidency will focus on eco-innovation and sustainable finance, the representatives of European institutions (Parliament, Council and Commission) are debating an agreement on the draft of the “circular economy package” including changes on European regulations on waste, already passed by the Parliament on 14th March 2017. This document represents the real challenge to solve by the end of the year, even if the positions of the different member states remain far apart, at least according to what emerged from the investigation carried out by the European Environment Bureau and released on 16th May 2017. As far as the circular economy is concerned, the European Parliament seems to be more sensitive than the Council as demonstrated lately by the 4th July 2017 document addressed to the Council and the Commission, “A longer useful life for products: Advantages for consumers and enterprises.” According to the European Parliament, concrete actions are needed to support repairable products and promote design extending their life. Product design improvement also relies on European certification systems, but companies seem little sensitive to this as demonstrated by the poor use of the European Ecolabel quality label; according to a document released by the Commission on 30th June 2017 it is not very widespread in Europe. As of 2019, European consumers will enjoy electrical appliances with efficient and easyto-understand labels with the adoption of the

regulation of the 4th of July 2017 – n. 2017/1369/EU, in force since 1st August 2017 but effective from 1st January 2019 replacing the “old” EU Directive 2010/30, while many companies producing or dealing in dangerous goods and mixtures will take on new environmental protection obligations. As of 1st June 2017, all substances and mixtures put on the European market must have labelling in conformity with Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008, which will be changed as of 1st December 2018 in line with new aspects introduced by Regulation (EC) No 776/2017. In addition, over the last few months, producers and importers of chemicals regulated by the so-called Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 “Reach” (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation of Chemicals) have had to adhere to new obligations. As of 18th May 2017, 20 new methods to establish physicochemical properties, toxicity and ecotoxicity of chemicals have been introduced (Regulation (EC) 735/2017): while 12 more chemicals have been included in the authorization list provided for by Regulation (EC) 999/2017. Correct classification of waste is extremely important in order for companies to deal with it according to the law. This is why the recent changes on the characteristics of waste dangerousness is so important. Regulation (EC) 997/2017 replaced “HP 14 Ecotoxic” classification included in Regulation (EC) 98/2008 on waste. In order for companies and authorities to adjust to this important change, this new classification will come into force on 5th July 2018. Mercury is one of the most dangerous chemicals for the environment and human health. We are very pleased then that Regulation (EC) 852/2017 passed on 17th May 2017 on use, storage and trade of mercury will replace as of 1st January 2018 the “old” 2008 Regulation. Still on the “war on mercury,” on 18th May 2017 the EU ratified the Minamata Convention on mercury aiming to wipe out man-made mercury emissions. The first meeting of the signatories of the Convention will take place in Geneva from 24th to 29th September 2017. We finish this article with a backward step on energy efficiency. On 26th June 2017, the European Council in passing the proposed amendment to Directive 27/2012 rejected the compulsory 30% target proposed by the European Commission, the target remains optional for the 28 member states. Let us see whether the European Parliament that must debate and pass the wording will agree.



renewablematter 17. 2017

The Media Circle

The Superpig’s Lesson Roberto Giovannini, journalist, writes about economy, society, energy, environment, green economy and technology.

There is no telling whether it will ever reach movie theatres, and that has already wreaked havoc at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where the film – expressly produced to be broadcast in streaming – was officially presented. Okja, the latest work by Bong Joon-ho – a visionary South Korean director – will be available on Netflix that also produced and sponsored it. A fantasy film, poised between a fairy tale and horror, between science fiction and exposure of the excesses of a science enslaved to turbocapitalism that has completely lost track of life and the environment. The story line revolves around Okja, the name given to a species of genetically-engineered superpig, created in the labs of a company (fictitious, but only up to a point, since it is clearly a parody of the giant Monsanto) called “Mirando.” Mirando/Monsanto created this very special beast because it must contrive its “environmental” virginity after the previous management’s blunders while marketing a killer product able to multiply the company’s profits. The new CEO – a terrible and great Tilda Swinton – states she intends to give humanity a farm animal that uses fewer resources and produces less pollution compared to ordinary cows or pigs. A really green move, since it is common knowledge that meat-producing animals use huge amounts of water, land, grains and through their waste generate considerable quantities of greenhouse gases. And while they are at it, Mirando’s scientists create an easily-processable superpig, with lots of lean meat, good for every religion and culture and above all tasting very good. In short, what could rightly be defined as greenwashing of planetary proportions. Without giving away too much of the plot, the storyline is about the meeting between Okja – a superpig – and Mija – a Korean little girl living in the mountains with her farmer grandfather – who is initially entrusted with the care of Okja with whom she built a friendship. But soon, of course, Mirando needs to retrieve its prototype in order to conclude its experimentation by butchering the poor animal. And by revealing from the very beginning the company’s intended fate: ending up in a monstrous slaughterhouse/lager, where the poor animals are tortured, humiliated and then killed to become a pork chop or a steak

on consumers’ plates. In some clips, the movie bravely puts all humans in the evil side of the scale: food corporations, environmentalists carried away by their own short-sighted vanity, and even the young Mija. This is not the first time that Bong Joon-ho tackles confidently and creatively the encounter/ clash between humanity and the environment. We all remember the fantastic Snowpiercer, set in a future where, after a disastrous glaciation caused by trying to stop global warming, a tiny fraction of humanity has managed to “survive” and lives on board a train that never stops, governed by a rich elite who takes up the front carriages and exploits the enslaved working class living in the rear carriages. This time Bong Joon-ho has tackled another crucial political and ethical knotty problem of our times: is it fair to meet current environmental challenges trying not to change our daily habits while aiming at carrying on living as usual? Can we really talk about sustainability when we merely define it from a technical point of view, without embarking on a profound ethical debate on man’s actions, which are causing simultaneously both a climate catastrophe, mass extinction, resource shortage and (accidently) scientific and industrialized destruction of the animal kingdom? Can we really talk about “sustainable choices” when we are merely opting for cynical and calculated choices? Big questions that at the moment we are not addressing. Suffice it to think about the paradox emerging from our supporting the so-called “good sustainable fishing practices” to avoid emptying our oceans of fish. As a matter of fact, we are only trying to save some marine species from extinction in order to aptly kill and eat them in a not too distant future. Questions that Okja confronts us with blatantly. Forcing us to think.


Innovation Pills

What Have a Wheel and a Jacket Got in Common? Federico Pedrocchi is a science journalist. He directs and presents the weekly programme Moebius broadcast by Radio 24 – Il Sole24 ore.

Radici Group,

I interviewed Filippo Servalli, from Radici Group, a company boasting frontier innovations in the textile field. He told me about a new product, a sports jacket made of just one material. This means that, when no longer used, the jacket is completely recyclable thanks to some simple operations which restore the initial raw material. And it does not look bad either. This is a fundamental step because circularity must not produce suffering. This product can even think of epistemologically, that is, considering how ideas are produced in the scientific-technological field. It may seem an incredibly tough way to think about it, but it can be translated more simply this way. Developing innovation involves a mental journey – not always, but typically, in the most important cases – which can be defined as changing outlook. Take the wheel. Someone must have understood, perhaps observing a mass which was rolling down a hill, that if an object, or rather, a weight, lays on the ground only in part, then there is minimum friction and the weight becomes an engine. Cubic masses do not roll off embankments. The wheel works because its roundness touches the ground minimally. So, just like the times when pumps extracted water from the British coal mines (at the beginning of the 19th century, in order to build the immense fleet’s ships – the tallest trees remaining in Great Britain were daisies and people were dying from the cold) they realised that a steam piston creating a vacuum in a cylinder could become a contraption for moving wheels. Servalli told me that, on average, there are 25 different materials in today’s jackets. Thinking about wearing one means looking at all existing technologies as tools for producing variations with the same composition, like a Bach fugue, and the composition is one single material. This approach opens up a land of enormous proportions for Research and Development. And it is here that something particular, very cultural, and very psychological occurs. I do not believe there will be problems accepting mono-material jackets. Let us consider a high-end car, on the other hand. It contains

leather, fine textiles, root wood, various metals, and so on. That is the interiors. But what about if we could process a polymer to transform it so it appears to be root? What about yachts, not necessarily those owned by Russian magnates, but the ones where we find stiffened camel ears used as door handles? How would that work? This is not a new matter. A few decades ago it appeared in the art production field. Obviously, the artistic message behind a Donatello sculpture is perfectly conserved in a great copy. Even more so in many modern art productions, where a high-definition photograph provides perfect visions, why should the creative message evaporate just because we can tell its a copy? As we have been saying for some time, we do not have a copy of the planet, and so we should find all the innovative ways for preserving the original. So I think that we should develop basic research directed, without immediately evaluating its applications, at identifying the variations of the composition of a single material, as I said before. Very free and across-the-board, exploring all the hues from soft to stiff – this is the essence of the jacket – from rough to smooth, from temperatures -X to +X, for all possible alchemies. Material science should be committed to moving in this direction. Without, however, neglecting all the others where significant results are being produced.


Largest bioc om conference in posites 2017

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Biocomposites Conference Cologne

7th Conference on Wood and Natural Fibre Composites 6 – 7 December 2017, Maternushaus, Germany

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Following the recent trends of the wood and natural fibre composites market we have changed the name of the conference from 7th Conference on Wood and Natural Fibre Composites into Biocomposite Conference Cologne. It will be the largest conference on biocomposites worldwide this year. More than 250 participants and 30 exhibitors mainly from industries are expected!

Market opportunities through intersectoral innovation in biocomposites ■ The world’s most comprehensive biocomposite exhibition ■ Vote for “Biocomposite of the Year 2017” ■ Gala dinner and other excellent networking opportunities ■ Wood-Plastic Composites ■ Biocomposites in Automotive ■ Injection Moulding: Granulates and Applications ■ Biocomposites in 3D Printing


■ Structural Applications ■ Raw Materials for Biocomposites – Wood and Natural Fibres and Polymers

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Renewable Matter #17  

Renewable Matter is the International Magazine focused on the changing relationship between Economy, Society and the Environment. It focuses...

Renewable Matter #17  

Renewable Matter is the International Magazine focused on the changing relationship between Economy, Society and the Environment. It focuses...