Italian government releases strategic paper on the circular economy

Publication Date: 

Thursday, 21 December 2017 - 2:12pm


Joe Iles

The Italian government has published a strategic paper on the development of a circular economy in Italy, with a supporting manifesto signed by leading businesses.

Verso un modello di economia circolare per l’Italia ‘Towards a circular economy model for Italy’ – was recently presented in Rome at an event organised by banking group Intesa SanPaolo and energy company Enel. The two organisations have also signed a Manifesto for the Circular Economy, along with a group of businesses from different industries including materials company Novamont, consumer goods group Fater and the food marketplace Eataly. The aim of the manifesto is to promote collaboration and knowledge sharing, in order to support the development of a circular economy outlined in the paper from the government.

Hugh McCann of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation speaking at the event in Rome. Photo: AgrPress Marino Paoloni – Maurizio Riccardi

The new paper has been published by the Italian Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Economic Development, and seeks to provide an overview of the circular economy and clarify the strategic positioning of Italy on the topic. It also links the circular economy with other commitments that are on the agenda of not just the Italian government, but policymakers and industries around the world, such as the Paris Agreement, UN Sustainable Development agenda, and the European Union.

It builds on existing momentum towards the circular economy in the country. Italy held the 2017 presidency of the G7, and has used this role to push forward activities that encourage better use of resources and energy, and the elimination of waste and pollution. In June of this year, the G7 launched the “Bologna roadmap”, which identified common priority areas for group members, including criteria for extending the life of products, tackling food waste, improving plastic use and the digitisation of production.

In the new report Towards a circular economy model for Italy, the authors claim that the Italian economy is indeed becoming more ‘circular’, due to increasing waste separation and a reduction in overall use of resources.

Now is the time to shift from the perspective of ‘need’ to ‘opportunity’ in the circular economy, leveraging Italy’s technological capabilities and the momentum in Europe, according to the report. This means redesigning products and business models, looking for new connections through industrial symbiosis, creating a regenerative bioeconomy, moving towards a model of product responsibility, and offering new financing models to support this ‘circular innovation’.

Speaking at the launch event in Rome, Mauro Micillo, Head of Intesa SanPaolo’s Corporate & Investment Banking Division, said that the circular economy has become a “significant commitment” for the company, “which has led to us receiving several accolades, such as being included on various indices and, in particular, on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.” He continued: “the circular model represents a positive breakaway, which could create new value and growth. It is for this reason that since 2015 we have been the sole global partner in financial services of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the largest private institution in the world engaged in this field. What we see in the circular economy is an innovative and strategic challenge that will bring significant benefits on a global scale.”

With the strategic pronouncements from the Ministries of the Environment and of Economic Development, as well as growing support from businesses, Italy is building circular economy momentum at a national level. By connecting the circular economy to priorities shared by countries around the world, the impact of this activity could reach far beyond Rome.