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.