Category

sdg 12

Visiting a recycling plant

By ecology, sdg 12

One of my first pieces for my TV gig Occhio allo Spreco was shot in a plastic recycling plant. I am fascinated now as I was then by the potential of circular economy. I took advantage of this “throwback” to dig up fresh data. What I found is encouraging on one hand, discouraging on the other, because this pandemic is also putting waste management systems in crisis. And circular systems clash with linear ones.
According to a study by Corepla, the Italian consortium for the collection and disposal of plastic waste, with the Fondazione per lo sviluppo sostenibile, the lockdown in March and April 2020 led to an 8% increase in plastic packaging for food, compared to the same period in 2019.
However, this coincided with the export freeze of 16 thousand tons of waste, due to the limitations imposed by Covid-19. Furthermore, construction activities have slowed down, reducing the amount of non-recyclable plastics used in cement factories, which in turn has saturated the capacity of the national recycling plants. Add the fact that three is less demand for recycled materials. The result is that the share of waste-to-energy waste has increased, but the incinerators are also overloaded, so about + 42,000 tons of waste ended up in landfills compared to last year. And these are partial numbers, because they refer to the first part of the year. And what about the immense volume of disposable masks, considered hazardous waste.
Looking at the pre-Covid trend, in 2019 the collection of differentiated plastics increased by 13% compared to 2018, with an average of about 23 kg / person, which puts Italy among the countries that recycle the most in Europe. However, according to the WWF, Italy is also the first producer in Europe of plastic products and the second for the volume of waste. It is up to us consumers to reduce the consumption of disposable plastic products and packaging. Now.

Cristina: Follow me. Now let’s get into the heart of the plant. Here you see garbage bags that have already been sorted.

Fabio Masotina: Most of the packaging consists of plastic bottles, shopping bags, cans and tinplate – our can of tuna. The first step consists in opening the bag, by a machine that tears them apart.

Cristina: As you can see, all the materials from our packaging are separated here thanks to modern technologies. The cans are identified by a magnet and this activates a compressed air device that pushes them into a dedicated container. The plastics remaining on the belt are separated by a vacuum which lifts the lighter bags. The trays and bottles are divided into various colors by an optical reader. See, what you separate at home arrives here. Fabio what do the bottles and the trays become?

Fabio Masotina: Tables, chairs, sweaters, furnishings and various gadgets.

Cristina: Do you see how many things can be made from plastic materials? Thank you Fabio! I’m Cristina, back to you in the studio!

On air November 8,2008

Recycled Design with Paolo Ulian

By ecology, sdg 12

Creative recycling is in theme with the demands of our times. I dug up an old story with designer Paolo Ulian because his solutions are clever, they look good and are easy to make. Have fun!

Cristina: This pen was designed to be disposable, but today, we try not to throw everything away. When the ink runs out, let’s see what it can become.

Paolo Ulian: We take the clear barrel and insert a nylon cable, one by one. You can string up to four, five barrels and then attach a very simple decorative bead. We take this little crimp, which is a small clamp, stretch the nylon and tighten it with pliers. At this point we have a jointed arm. We take the cap, any color we choose, close it and then the arm can be slipped into the base of a lamp.

Cristina: And with a bottle like this Paolo, what do you do?

Paolo Ulian: We crush it as if we were going to dispose of it, then I go attach the bottle by screwing it in, so that I can use it as a coat rack.

Cristina: Very beautiful. And when they’re not crushed, they fit together.

Paolo Ulian: They fit together to make this screen, simply by mounting them like this. And then with a little imagination and creativity and the same system, you can also build a very simple lamp.

Cristina: And this is a swimming cap, which in Paolo’s hands becomes…

Paolo Ulian: By thinking about the environment and having some good ideas, you can do many things that help us live better.

Cristina: Long live your ingenuity and occhio allo spreco!

On air May 16, 2009

Alisea – circular design

By ecology, sdg 10, sdg 12, sdg 15, sdg 17, sdg 8, sdg 9, technology

Susanna Martucci Fortuna, founder of Alisea, turned a crisis into an opportunity. She created an all-Italian supply chain of advanced engineers, designers and craftsmen to give new life to industrial waste.

Cristina: Today we’re meeting a woman who turned a crisis into an opportunity. She was losing her company, and grappling with what to do, she remembered a conversation about recycling and questioned how she could give new life to industrial waste, which abounds in her district of Vicenza. She took her idea to the experts and created an all-Italian supply chain of advanced engineers, designers and craftsmen. Let’s go meet her and see what she does. Good morning Susanna, what are we looking at here?

Susanna Martucci: This is all about graphite: these are graphite electrodes and this powder is the unavoidable waste of the production process, recovered from the factories’ ventilation systems. We reclaim this dust and make it into a new material. This is a granule made with 80% of this waste. This new material, which comes from circular economy, has led us to design an innovative process to make pencils, without wood or glue to attach the eraser. Each pencil removes 15 grams of graphite powder from landfills and in a year we save 60,000 trees – we don’t think about all the wood that goes into your normal pencil.

Cristina: Did you do anything else with graphite?

Susanna Martucci: Yes, we clearly fell in love with this material. In this other case we always start from graphite powder, but add water, a process we use to dye fabrics. The young designers we work with dye all sorts of materials – wool, denim, silk, organic cotton – in a totally non-toxic way. This here, is instead recycled plastic, which we turn into rulers, record sleeves, and more, all from recycled post-consumer bottles.

Cristina: All this thanks to Susanna’s creativity and determination. These children’s puzzles are made from recycled fair stands and so are these bags. We’re running out of time, but this is also graphite with recycled cork. These are made from coffee bags and leather scraps. Susanna’s work addresses 6 of the 17 SDGs: 8, 9, 10, 12, 15, and 17. Occhio al futuro!

On air February 29, 2020

Econyl – regenerated nylon yarn

By ecology, fashion, sdg 12, sdg 13, sdg 15, sdg 16, sdg 4, sdg 6, sdg 7, sdg 8, technology

We know that the textile industry, as a whole, is among the biggest polluters. However, there are those who are turning the tide: Aquafil, with its regenerated nylon yarn Econyl, produces textile fibers from scraps, waste and new materials. Producing positive actions and changes for the economy, society and the environment, along their entire production chain.

Cristina: We know that the textile industry, as a whole, is among the biggest polluters. However, there are those who are turning the tide by producing textile fibers from scraps, waste and new materials.
In this company, the factories are powered 100% by renewable energies and closed cycle water is used in every phase of production. They’ve implemented environmental protocols throughout the supply chain and educational projects for employees and in schools.
Research is carried out on new biomass materials, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced every year, programs to protect the seas are promoted and life cycle analysis are carried out for all products. Together, these actions fulfill 8 of the 17 SDGs – the UN Sustainable Development Goals. For every 10,000 tons of raw material from the recycling process, 70,000 barrels of oil are avoided and the equivalent of 57,100 tons of CO2 are saved.
This is how fishing nets are transformed, along with other nylon waste. In 2018, 78 tons were recovered from NGOs operating throughout Europe. Once cleaned, the nets are chemically transformed, the liquid becomes polymer and the polymer becomes yarn. The result is that more and more yarn comes from a regeneration process. To become carpets, glasses, bags, clothes, swimwear.
Dr. Bonazzi, can you imagine fulfilling the nylon market demand with only recycled and reclaimed materials?

Giulio Bonazzi:No, unfortunately not, even if all nylon could be recovered, it would never be enough to guarantee future needs. In addition, recycling has its own environmental impact, we try to constantly improve it, but it’s important to understand how we recycle and how to minimize impacts during the process.

Cristina: What does it mean for you to innovate? Both as a citizen and as an entrepreneur?

Giulio Bonazzi:For me, innovating means quitting something that’s outdated to do something new. Before recycling you have to reduce raw materials, reuse and then, recycle.

Cristina: Do you already have a new family of materials ready?

Giulio Bonazzi:Yes, we want to produce nylon from renewable sources or from biomass, actually we’ve already produced the first kilos.

Cristina: Could we notice the difference between yarn derived from oil, recycling or biomass?

Giulio Bonazzi:No, the finished products are perfectly identical but the difference in environmental impact is huge.

Cristina: What a fine example of circular economy. Thanks Dr. Bonazzi. Occhio al futuro!

On air January 18, 2020

Investigating e-waste

By ecology, sdg 12, sdg 13, sdg 15, sdg 9, technology

Precious metals in electronics present three problems: damage to the environment during extraction, the short life span of the devices themselves and not being properly recycled at the end of their life cycle. It’s estimated that by 2080, the largest mineral reserves will no longer be underground, but on the surface – in the form of ingots or as parts of building materials, appliances, furniture and devices.
Simone Farresin and Andrea Trimarchi of Studio Formafantasma conducted an ambitious survey on the recycling of electronic waste with their Ore Streams project – on display during Broken Nature at the Milan Triennale.

Cristina: This drawer is made with an old computer case. Did you know that electrical and electronic waste are the fastest-growing sector and only 30% of it is recycled. Working on the remaining 70% is very complex because the objects we are talking about are complex, as are their supply chains.

Simone Farresin: Dismantling the objects is fundamental, therefore a universal screw system would be very useful. Then, the color black, used for electrical cables, can’t be detected by the optical readers used to separate them. Simply changing the color would help identify them and recover the copper. It would also be fundamental to establish a labeling system that tells the user, when they buy electronics, how long the product will last. These objects are recycled but in a slightly more sophisticated way in our countries, while developing countries need color codes to help them detect the dangerous components so they don’t dismantle them manually and they’re recycled properly.

Cristina: Have you met keyplayers for your project along the entire supply chain? Where have you encountered the greatest resistance?

Andrea Trimarchi: I must say that one of the most complex things was actually getting in touch with the electronics manufacturers. We spoke with universities, producers, recycling companies, even people who deal with laws. They were available and welcomed us, while the manufacturers didn’t.

Cristina: Why aren’t they willing to be part of the solution?

Simone Farresin: Probably because right now it’s very complex to invest economic resources and really change things. They take baby steps which are used symbolically as an advertising strategy instead of showing real interest in recycling these products.

Cristina: You have a solution for the problem at hand, what is it?

Andrea Trimarchi: One of the most likely solutions would be to organize tables where the various players in the production chain, from electronics manufacturers to recyclers and also designers, meet to discuss these issues.

Cristina: It seems absurd, isn’t this already happening?

Andrea Trimarchi: Unfortunately not, even in the legislative sphere recyclers and producers are often brought together, but most of the time us designers, people who actually transform raw materials into objects, are not part of the conversation.

Cristina: Design can and, in this case, does have a political role, let’s be inspired. Occhio al futuro

On air 30-3-2019

Airlite – the air purifying paint

By ecology, sdg 11, sdg 12, sdg 13, sdg 3, sdg 9

Airlite developed a paint that purifies the air and can be used both indoors and outdoors. It neutralizes odors, bacteria and prevents mold, it repels dust and dirt and reduces air pollution.

Cristina: Don’t we all feel better when the air is light? Today we’re featuring a technology that allows us to breathe better. Hello Massimo, tell us more.

Massimo Bernardoni: It’s a paint that contains various technologies. It purifies the air, eliminates bacteria and molds from surfaces, it works over time and eliminates odors. Through nanotechnology our paint transforms pollutants into salts. Through other processes it gets rid of bacteria, mold and it keeps walls clean and smog free.

Cristina: Does it prevent the black streaks over radiators?

Massimo Bernardoni: Yes those too, no more dark corners.

Cristina: Is it all mineral-based? Any petrochemicals?

Massimo Bernardoni: We do not have any petroleum based ingredients, only mineral-based, and when applied it doesn’t smell.

Antonio Cianci: Outdoors, with this technology, painting a 150 meter stretch of roadside, both left and right, is equivalent to planting a forest as big as a soccer field. 12 meters of a painted surface with our technology, reduce the pollution produced by a car in one day.

Cristina: Does it also absorb particulates?

Antonio Cianci: In an indirect way. Particulate matter is generated by nitrogen oxides through photochemical synthesis, we lower its levels and reduce it significantly.

Cristina: It also reduces energy consumption. How?

Antonio Cianci: We have the amazing ability to reflect the warm component of sunlight, therefore painting the wall with this product can reduce the surface temperature up to 30 degrees. This way less heat passes through therefore reducing the need for conditioning the room.

Cristina: So it creates a protective but permeable coat?

Antonio Cianci: Yes, the paint is permeable, it allows the passage of all the components without causing stagnation, such as those bubbles we sometimes find on our walls, which trap mold. Our paint creates a natural conditioning system.

Cristina: How many colors are available?

Antonio Cianci: 180. I must say that architecturally the performance is beautiful, suited also for high-end finishes. And it cleans the air.

Cristina: This is what happens when two brilliant Italians come together. Occhio al futuro

On air May 5, 2018