Food, fashion and digital technologies with a single focus: the circular economy

The 5th edition of the Re-think - Circular Economy Forum, an event promoted and organised by Tondo, an international organisation operating in the Circular Economy sector, has just come to an end. It was held on 10th and 11th February at the Milan Monza Brianza Lodi Chamber of Commerce and the Milan Triennale in a hybrid mode between a physical and online event.

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© Mac Mullins on Pexels

Companies, organisations, institutions, start-ups and research bodies showed their circular path to encourage the birth of innovative and entrepreneurial activities at national and international level.

Five themes were covered during the two-day event: Agri-food, Textiles and Fashion, City, Materials and Digital Technologies with a single common focus, the Circular Economy.

More than 60 companies, startups and institutions were involved, presenting and describing their paths and projects in the world of the Circular Economy and sustainability.

Not only testimonials of Italian circular products and services, but there were also contributions from cutting-edge European players that enriched the forum, giving a more international flavour to the event.

Among the partners of the event were the Chamber of Commerce of Milan Monza Brianza Lodi, Esselunga, ATM, A2A, UniCredit, the Consulate General of the Netherlands in Milan, Teads Italia, EPM, Fondazione Pistoletto РCittadellarte Fashion B.E.S.T, CUEIM, representing the Interreg MED Green Growth Community with the projects PEFMED plus and ARISTOIL pluse ALMED РAlta Scuola in Media Comunicazione e Spettacolo of the Università Cattolica.

We are very satisfied with the success, in terms of both participating companies and the public, of Re-Think, a forum that UniCredit decided to sponsor with great enthusiasm because it is fully consistent with the sustainable development strategy of UniCredit Unlocked, the bank’s 2022-2024 Strategic Plan,” said Marco Bortoletti, UniCredit’s Lombardy Regional Manager – Through these events, too, we want to increase attention to the processes of transforming economic activities from an ESG perspective to greater environmental and ecological sustainability, which represent growth drivers for both UniCredit and the Italian system”.

The first day began with greetings from the institutions and an introduction to the current state of implementation of the Circular Economy at national and European level and the future prospects we are facing.

Then we got to the heart of the matter, dealing with Agri-food, a sector of strategic importance for the Italian economy.

Many ideas emerged, such as the need for a change in the production, processing, distribution and consumption of food, which must be the result of joint governance at local, national and international level, through the adoption of measures aimed at having an impact on the resilience and sustainability of agri-food systems.

Another key economic sector for Italy, explored during the first day of the event, was Textiles and Fashion, which is increasingly undergoing profound cultural and strategic transformations. These changes, as well as being necessary to mitigate the environmental impact of the sector, can enable fashion brands to understand how their supply chain operates and then transform the elements of uniqueness and value into a narrative that enhances the brand, its people and the territories in which it operates.

The first day was also enriched by 2 round tables where the main projects implemented by companies and organisations were highlighted, as well as the communication strategies of the new circular approaches.

The second day, conducted entirely in English, opened with institutional greetings and then gave space to the Cities, microcosms where 85% of GDP is produced and 75% of resources are consumed.

© Tondo

However, their role is changing, as they face numerous challenges such as achieving zero emissions, developing and increasing resilience to cope with external shocks, such as Covid-19.

As cities increasingly aim to be circular and smart, they must rely on materials, technologies and flows that optimise and connect infrastructure with the human and social capital of those who inhabit it.

We were very pleased to be a partner in this edition of Re-Think and to participate, discussing a topic that is central to our government and to Europe,” commented the Consul General of the Netherlands in Milan, Mascha Baak. “The Netherlands wants to be a fully circular economy in 2050. In order to achieve such an ambitious goal, collaboration between public and private sectors, research and civil society is essential, even beyond national borders.”

Also during this day, there was no lack of opportunity for dialogue. In fact, a further round table was held on the topic of circular innovation and startups, highlighting how different companies and funds are doing and what the future investment opportunities are. During this roundtable, the birth of a new Startup Studio was also announced: Tondo Venture.

The roundtable continued with a focus on the topic of Circular Materials, which are extremely useful for reducing supply chain shocks and enabling key, low-emission technologies such as digital, renewable energy, e-mobility and much more.

Another important topic covered in this session was design, with an emphasis on ‘Distributed Design‘ that ensures local production with local raw materials and extended product life, making products universally manufacturable and accessible to designers worldwide.

The day ended with a discussion on the most promising Digital Technologies and trends of the moment, with a focus on platforms, waste management and blockchain.

Most Circular Economy initiatives are individual projects focused on materials and physical resources. Scaling these solutions globally requires building digital foundations to support globally attractive circular business models and accelerate the process towards circularity.

“This edition of Re-think was also a great success in terms of the depth and breadth of topics covered and actors involved. – said Francesco Castellano, Founder of Tondo and Tondo lab – It was certainly one of the biggest events we have ever organised from all points of view; we had never reached such numbers in terms of audience and participation. It is clear that everyone’s interest is shifting towards these areas. We strongly believe that now is the time to act, to turn words into projects and to implement what we call Circular Disruption.

The Re-think event was sponsored by: European Commission, Ministry of Ecological Transition, Lombardy Region, Municipality of Milan, ASviS, AISOM, University of Gastronomic Sciences, LIUC – Cattaneo University and University of Milano-Bicocca.

Mediapartners of the event are Prometeo of Adnkronos Group, Materia Rinnovabile, Greenplanner, SmartGreen Post, SmartRicicla and Non Solo Ambiente.

For further information, you can view the videos of the speeches made during the event at this link: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLarQF1QLckGwdcLF1scuynMhpapB8Rn_x

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