Italy leader in recycling in Europe

Today the National Conference of the Recycling Industry

In 25 years, with the reform launched with Legislative Decree 22 of 1997, Italy has gone from the waste emergency to excellence in recycling and today Italy is the European leader in waste recycling and the recycling industry has known constant quantitative and qualitative growth. In 1997, separate collection of municipal waste was only 9.4% and 80% of waste ended up in landfills. Only 21% of industrial waste was recycled and 33% ended up in landfill. In 2020, the separate collection of municipal waste reached 63% and landfill disposal fell to 20%, while the recycling of industrial waste exceeded 70% and landfill disposal fell to 6%. These are some of the data Report Recycling in Italy 2022created by the Foundation for Sustainable Development and presented on the occasion of the National Conference of the Recycling Industry ‘The excellence of recycling and future challenges’, promoted by the Foundation in collaboration with Conai, with Corriere della Sera’s Planet 2030, with the patronage of the Ministry of the Environment and Energy Security and of Ispra.

This change in waste management has fueled the growth of the Italian recycling industry which has become an important and strategic sector of the national production system which counts 4,800 companies, 236,365 employees, generates an added value of 10.5 billion (increased by 31% from 2010 to 2020) and which produces large quantities of recycled materials. It is 12 million and 287 thousand tons of metals, mostly steel; of 5 million and 213 thousand tons of paper and cardboard; of 2 million 287 thousand tons of chipboard panels; of 2 million and 229 thousand tons of recycled glass; one million and 734 thousand tons of compost and 972 thousand tons of recycled plastic. Overall, the production of recycled material increased by 13.3% between 2014 and 2020. In 2020, Italy recycled 72% of all urban and special-industrial waste, a European record, (the EU average is 53% and that of Germany is 55%), with a rate of use of recycled materials on the total consumed materials of 21.6% (EU average 12.8%, 13.4% in Germany) . Also for the management of packaging waste, Italy is a European recycling excellence with more than 10.5 million tonnes sent for recycling, with a rate of 73.3% in 2021, higher not only than the European target by 65% ​​by 2025 but, 9 years in advance, also by the European target of 70% by 2030.

“The recycling sector, a fundamental pillar of a circular economy – he said Edo Ronchi, president of the Foundation for Sustainable Development – it is strategic in order not to waste precious resources, not to fill the country with landfills, to recover materials useful for the economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For this reason, in a moment of negative economic situation, incisive measures are needed to strengthen the demand for MPS, the secondary raw materials produced with recycling and structural interventions to face the sharp increase in energy costs which constitute the largest share for the recycling industry of production costs”.