Legambiente campaign on transition stops in Puglia at the Conou company

At the center is the collection and recycling of hazardous waste such as used mineral oil which can only be transformed into an important resource if collected and managed correctly

It took place in Puglia at the plant of Nicholas Veronica of Modugno (Ba), one of the 60 collecting companies of Conou, the National Consortium of Used Mineral Oils, the seventh stage of the national Legambiente campaign dedicated to the ecological transition sites that serve the country and which deserve to be replicated.

In the center the collection and recycling of a hazardous waste such as used mineral oil that only if collected and managed correctly can it be transformed into an important resource, with positive effects on the health of the planet, the ecosystem and citizens and on the reduction of imports and the national energy bill. In this sense, a crucial example is Conou, an Italian and European excellence which in 2022 collected and sent for regeneration 181,000 tonnes of used lubricating oil, equal to 98% of the total produced (on average 61% is regenerated in the EU). Of these, 8,802 tons were harvested in Puglia, the third largest region in Southern Italy by harvest.

Understood as what is recovered at the end of the life cycle of lubricants, they are defined as “hazardous waste”: if eliminated incorrectly or used improperly, they can transform into a powerful polluting agent. Consider that, if poured into water, 4 kilos of used oil (the equivalent of a change of car) can pollute a surface as large as a football field. But, as Conou demonstrates, they can also become an important economic resource for our country: regenerated in refineries they can return to a new life with characteristics equivalent to those of the lubricant from which it derives.

The campaign on the ecological transition construction sites – which will return in September – was conceived as an itinerant journey that will wind along the Peninsula to tell, stage by stage, construction sites, projects and experiences that go in the right direction of the ecological and energy transition and which could bring important benefits in environmental, occupational and economic terms. Projects that deserve to be replicated and that will also be told on the website – cantieridellatransizione.legambiente.it – with fact sheets, insights, photos and videos.

The Nicola Veronico plant is one of the 60 collecting companies which, together with 2 regeneration companies, is part of the Consortium, the first national body dedicated to the collection and recycling of this special waste. It is not just an Italian excellence in the circular economy, but a European one: if in Europe on average only 61% of the used oil collected is regenerated (the rest is sent for combustion), in Italy, thanks to the Conou system, this rate reaches over 98%, thus allowing a dangerous waste to be transformed into a precious resource. In fact, with regeneration, used mineral oils become a new “raw” material for the production of new lubricating oils, thus creating a virtuous circle which is the representation of a complete model of circular economy.

In 2022, Conou collected 181 thousand tons of used lubricating oil. Thanks to the regeneration of almost all of the harvest, 118,000 tonnes of new lubricant bases and over 38,000 tonnes of bitumen and diesel were produced. And of the total 181,000 tonnes collected last year, 8,802 were recovered in Puglia, the third largest region in southern Italy by collection, behind Sicily and Campania (about 10,500 tonnes). The Consortium’s collection and regeneration activity avoided the emission of 64,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere in one year, less soil exploitation of 77%, a lower impact in terms of toxic carcinogenic units of 84% and a benefit in terms of lower incidence of diseases. Without considering a saving of around 130 million euros on the oil bill for avoided crude oil imports and work for 1,216 people (between direct and related employment). Harvesting in the Puglia region sees Nicola Veronico di Modugno as one of the excellences of the Consortium’s supply chain: the company operates in the provinces of Bari, Brindisi, Lecce, Taranto, Matera and Potenza and has a storage and treatment capacity of 120,000 t /year. In 2022, it handled and collected 5,916 tonnes of used mineral oil, plus another 1,586 tonnes from emulsion treatment, for a total of 7,502 tonnes.

The press conference hosted by the company was attended by Stefano Ciafani, national president of Legambiente, Riccardo Piunti, president of Conou, Nicola Bonasia, mayor of Modugno and Nicola Veronico, owner of the harvesting company. “In Italy – Ciafani recalled – the circular economy is finding increasingly fertile ground. Conou is an emblematic example: it is thanks to him that Italy is in first place in Europe in the sustainable management of used mineral oils, guaranteeing that this dangerous waste is not dispersed in the environment and that the circularity of the supply chain is completed.It is in this direction that we must proceed on the circular economy in Italy, overcoming cumbersome regulations, slow authorisations, patchy public controls, projects lowered by To complete the work and archive the season of final disposal, we need a thousand new circular economy plants and innovative projects that go in the right direction, such as those we are presenting and visiting with our national campaign on ecological transition sites. It is time to reclaim our leadership on the circular economy in Europe, to further strengthen the Green Deal, to proceed with the decarbonisation of the old continent by 2050”.

“We are proud to be able to show our Best Practice in Puglia, because the historic plant of Nicola Veronico di Modugno, who has been collaborating with the Consortium for almost forty years, represents one of the examples of quality and safety that allows the region to have performances of excellence.” – declares Riccardo Piunti, president of Conou. “Contributing to the collection of a waste as dangerous as used lubricating oil means above all preserving the environment and avoiding the emission of tons of CO2. If CONOU confirms itself as an Italian excellence and a virtuous example of circular economy, it is thanks to collaboration along the entire supply chain and careful control of each link in the chain, an essential part of which is the widespread coverage of private companies such as that of Veronico, which guarantee safety standards, latest generation technologies and specialized know-how. Because there is no sustainability without the cooperation of all the parties involved”.

” ‘Our part for the environment’ is the motto we have coined and have been applying for 40 years: today, with our two plants in Modugno and Ascoli Satriano, we are proud to be a point of reference in Puglia and in Italy in the collection , transport, storage and treatment of hazardous and non-hazardous special waste, which in addition to used lubricating oil also includes a variety of other types of waste” comments Nicola Veronico, owner of the homonymous company. “Our part for the ecological transition” is our imperative today. In our business we use over 40 collection vehicles and we have recently made important investments to upgrade storage areas and volumes and treatment lines. The used lubricating oil that we collect is stored in our plants, analysed, treated and then taken to the regeneration plants, where it is reborn to new life”.