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Extending the Life Cycle of Products

Circolar Economy

The sectors that offer the greatest potential for the joint reduction of raw material inputs and climate-changing emissions through circular practices are the building sector, mobility and food (Circularity Gap Report, 2022). 

In March 2022, the European Commission adopted a circular economy package of proposals to promote circular business models in different sectors, including an eco-design regulation for sustainable products, the revision of the construction standards regulation, a new EU strategy on sustainable textiles, and new rules to empower consumers in the green transition and tackle greenwashing. A specific regulation concerns plastics, also in relation to the fight against littering and the protection of the oceans.

At the Italian level, the National Strategy for the Circular Economy was approved in June 2022, defining the actions, objectives and measures to be pursued in policies for the transition to a circular economy. 

In this context, waste management systems are going through a phase of innovation to respond to increasingly ambitious collection and recycling objectives. As regards packaging waste, Directive 2018/852 mandates that by the end of 2025 at least 65% in weight of all packaging materials be recycled and the percentage rises to 70% by the end of 2030, with quotas differentiated by kind of waste. Directive 2019/904 sets for the collection for recycling of single-use plastic bottles at 90% by 2029 and a content of at least 30% of recycled plastics in the production of PET bottles. The proposed EC Regulation of 11/30/2022 aims to make all packaging recyclable by 2030 and gives priority to reuse. In this context, the possible use of Deposit-Guarantee Systems (DRS) is also envisaged.

To this end, a growing commitment to waste management that responds to the principle of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is required. Recent research by the Bocconi GREEN research center has evaluated the degree of effectiveness and efficiency of various organizations of producers for the management of packaging waste in Europe, highlighting the excellent performance of the Italian model coordinated by CONAI.

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