Global recycling day, Italy is doing well

Conai data: despite lower consumption due to Covid, the virtuous circle has not stopped and our country has recycled 9 million tons of packaging


Proper separate collection is good for the environment and the economy. To emphasize the importance of recycling and raise awareness of citizens and institutions in environmental protection, the Global Recycling Foundation has set up the world recycling day which is celebrated today, 18 March. On the occasion of this anniversary, Conai, the national packaging consortium, drew up a first budget for 2020.

In 2020, the recycling of packaging increases

The pandemic does not stop the recycling chain in Italy, which is increasing by 1%. Despite a 7% decrease in packaging placed on the market (i.e. one million tons of packaging less), recycling goes from 70% in 2019 to 71% by 2020: that is 9 million tons of recycled packaging.

“The release for consumption decreased in 2020, especially due to the lack of packs destined for the commercial and industrial sectors – explains the president of the National Packaging Consortium, Luca Ruini. – Contributions from the circuit of hotels, bars and restaurants have obviously dropped. But, thanks to the growth of urban separate waste collection, we estimate that the reduction in the total quantities sent for recycling is more contained. The recycling of packaging waste of domestic origin, therefore, has allowed us to exceed 70% in 2019: we should have achieved 71% of total recycling, even in such a difficult year “.

Conai is also optimistic for the current year which should show 71.4% of recycled packaging. It is therefore legitimate to expect that 2021 will close with almost 9.5 million tons of recycled packaging.

Sustainable packaging, the perception of Italians

The packaging? Practical and functional, first of all: 48% of Italians, almost one interviewee out of 2, prefer packaging that allows you to easily view the expiry date of the product. Immediately afterwards, attention goes to the ‘sustainable’ characteristics of the pack, especially those related to its end of life such as compostability (37%) and recyclability (36%). These are the data from the survey promoted by Conai, ‘Safe and sustainable packaging: perceptions” by the Waste Watcher International Observatory (Last Minute Market / Distal University of Bologna), based on a survey by Ipsos.

Sustainability and eco-design are increasingly at the center of research and debate for the new characteristics required of packaging: from the reduction of raw materials used to the opportunity to use recycled material, up to a design that ensures its recyclability or compostability. . The European legislation of the last two years has encouraged the sustainable evolution of packaging and companies, in turn, are moving towards increasingly innovative and efficient solutions, compatibly with the key role of packaging. The pack must in fact protect, store the product during transport and favor its optimal conservation, but as soon as it is placed on the shelf it undoubtedly affects the choice of purchase and the perception of the brand by the consumer.

But what affects the decision to buy a product, at first glance? The impact with the quality and safety of the product, from the origin of the raw materials to its provenance are crucial for 9 out of 10 Italians (89%), and so are the guarantees provided between certifications and traceability (88%). Packaging and its environmental characteristics are also elements that condition consumers’ purchasing choices (73% of respondents).

The reason is probably to be found in the dynamics of the relationship between product and ‘sustainability’ in the perception of consumers. The product is sustainable, first of all, if its packaging is recyclable (for 71% of respondents) or if it is made with recycled material (69%). What if a pack is not recyclable? 1 out of 4 Italians (25%) buys it the same; 47% buy it but unwillingly; 22% change their mind and focus on a product with a recycled or recyclable pack, 5% – 1 Italian out of 20 – in addition to not buying it, also discourages its use in the circle of friends and family.

It is interesting to discover how, in addition to recyclability and the use of recycled material, 39% of Italians also appreciate packaging that among their characteristics is reusable or resealable: a sign of the awareness of how much even the reuse of packaging is an important economic lever. circular and environmental protection.

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