The green economy is growing. Thus, we read in an article published on La Stampa and also appeared on Forbes in June. The topic is the 50×30 club, the elite of American States that have decided to aim for a 50% target of energy from renewable sources by 2030. It comprises four American states: New York, Hawaii, California and Vermont. New Jersey has now joined the group of four and has declared its intention to reach the threshold of 100% renewables by 2050. But the real news is that the choice of field of this club of “virtuosos” has generated, from 2009, a gross domestic product higher than that achieved overall by the US. In the symbol state of California, La Stampa writes, the green economy has created 520,000 green jobs: such a massive development that it has become the fifth largest economy in the world after having climbed over the United Kingdom. Only Germany, Japan, China and the United States have a higher GDP. And while economic growth and the Californian population have had increasing rates over the past 25 years, CO2 emissions have held steady per capita rates. Since California, in 2006, under the leadership of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, has approved an important global warming law, per capita GDP has increased by $ 5,000, more or less twice the national average. The increase in employment has surpassed that of the first economy in the world by 27%, while per capita emissions of carbon dioxide have decreased by 12%, according to the Green Innovation Index of the think tank Next10. California is the state that emits less greenhouse gases in the US. Thanks to constant improvement coupled with a growing attention to the environment, homes consume 75% less energy than in the ’70s, despite the impetuous growth of the Californian economy has recorded an increased rate of 80%.
The Circular Economy Network – the circularity observatory created in Italy by the Foundation for the Sustainable Development and a group of 13 companies and business associations, including the GRT Group – has launched the first National Prize “Circular Economy Startups”, dedicated to all startups that develop projects and activities inspired by the principles of circular economy. In order to participate, the startups should submit their ideas by September 24th, 2018: starting from this date the Award Commission, chaired by the GRT Group CEO and Vice President of the Circular Economy Network, Luca Dal Fabbro, will begin to select the ten most innovative ideas in the field of circular economy. The projects and activities of the participating companies will be judged on the basis of specific parameters including the effectiveness of the expected environmental results, the innovative content, the potential economic results and the possibility of diffusion, both in Italy and abroad. Among the ten finalist ideas, the three winners identified will be given the opportunity to join the Circular Economy Network on a free basis. The award ceremony will take place on the occasion of a public event organized by the Circular Economy Network and there will also be a publication containing the references of the companies selected and the reasons that led the jury to award them.
For more information and registration: http://circulareconomynetwork.it/premio-economia-circolare/
In the last few years, the European Union has focused particularly on the issue of pollution of the seas and beaches, caused mainly by the increasingly widespread use of disposable plastic. With the aim of limiting this phenomenon, in fact, the European Commission recently met in Brussels to consider new measures that include banning the ten categories of plastic products that are most commonly found in European seas and beaches. Among these products are, for example, polystyrene cutlery and plates, straws, cotton sticks for the ears and disposable glasses. At this meeting, the European Commission has also selected the new targets to be met by the 28 Member States by 2025, which include recycling of at least 55% of urban waste, a reduction in the use of landfills (up to a maximum of 10%), recycling of 65% of packaging and, finally, the separate collection of textile waste, dangerous waste and biodegradable waste.
The CEO of the GRT Group Luca Dal Fabbro will participate on 22 May to the meeting “The Hearth of the Circular Economy”, in the context of the “Sustainable Development Festival 2018”, that will be held from 6.30 pm at the Samsung Smart Arena (Via Mike Bongiorno 9, Milan). During the Executive Meeting, the main themes regarding the circular economy will be analyzed and discussed, highlighting how this paradigm represents a winning model that can generate value while ensuring sustainability. In particular, the Round Table will focus on one of the least explored aspects of the circular economy: the valorization of intangible resources. During the debate, Luca Dal Fabbro will present the ideas and observations contained in his recent book “L’economia del Girotondo – Dalla plastica ai satelliti: il futuro è nei rifiuti”. He will also support the need to tackle the environmental challenges, of which the issue of plastic in the seas is the emblem par excellence, resorting to concrete solutions: new systems for energy efficiency, advanced storage systems, recovery of non-recycled plastic. At the meeting, moderated by Maria Luisa Pezzali (Radio24, Il Sole 24 Ore), will attend also Sonia Cantoni (Board Member Cariplo Foundation), Mario Calderini (Vice President Milan Polytechnic Foundation), Luca Angelantoni (Board Member of the Cassa di Risparmio Foundation of Turin), Karina Litvack (Board Member of Eni) e Tommaso Santini (Managing Director of the Ca’ Foscari Foundation). The round table is sponsored by the Cariplo Foundation, the Ca’ Foscari Foundation and the Milan Polytechnic Foundation.
To use lignosulfonate to produce energy? It is now possible thanks to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
The need to find innovative solutions to produce energy from alternative sources to fossil fuels continues to grow. An exemplary case is the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the United States, where a team of researchers has studied the potential of lignosulfonate – one of the waste products of the paper industry – in the field of energy storage and has developed an effective and sustainable method to use this biomass in order to build rechargeable lithium-sulfur batteries. Sulfur in its elemental form is not conductive but becomes conductive when combined with carbon at high temperatures. However, it can easily dissolve into the battery electrolyte, causing electrodes to deteriorate after only a few cycles. This technique provides an easy way to create an optimal sulfur cathode from a single raw material. But above all it allows sulfur to be trapped in carbon, preventing it from “mixing” with the electrolyte. The team of researchers also stated that the prototype of lithium-sulfur battery, which currently has the size of a watch battery and can be recharged about 200 times, will be further refined in the future by resizing the device to increase the charge/discharge speed and duration of the battery cycle.
According to the “Italy of the Recycling 2017” report, the recycling sector, with 8.4 million tonnes of waste being recycled and an average growth over the previous year of the 3%, has reached a value of 23 billion Euros, which is equivalent to 1% of the country’s GDP. The reuse of recovered waste materials, through the separation of urban waste, is a brilliant example of the advantages of the circular economy: at the end of their life cycle, products and materials are processed and transformed into new resources, from which to generate new consumer goods. There are many positive aspects: the reduction of the cost of raw materials, the minimization of the quantity of waste going to landfills and, last but not least, the reduction of environmental pollution. Plastic is at the top of the most recycled materials in Italy; according to the data collected by Legambiente and the Corepla Consortium, 550 out of the 960 thousand tonnes of plastic waste collected have been reused, thus avoiding their accumulation in landfill and their dispersion into the environment.
The European Commission declares war against plastic waste. The new plan for the complete recycling of plastic packaging by 2030 includes a clearer labelling to distinguish compostable and biodegradable polymers, rules for the separate collection of waste on ships, and waste management in ports. The strategy aims to reduce the 25 million tons of plastic waste produced per year in Europe, by increasing the share of plastic residues destined to recycling and reuse, which is today only 30% of the total. At the moment, a significant portion of this percentage is eventually treated by third markets, such as China, which has, however, announced a crackdown on the import of plastic waste. All plastic packaging placed on the EU market must be designed to be reusable and recyclable by 2030. In order to reach the set-goal, the Commission intends to review the legislative requirements for placing of the packaging on the market. New fundings are foreseen as a support to this strategy and spending will be mainly on research and development, with 100 million euros invested by 2020. Finally, the intentionally used microplastics will move towards a total ban, while the measures to reduce unintentional ones, such as tire wear rubber particles or polyester and nylon residues, released into washing waters, are still under study.