Plasteco meets Ecomondo: a natural affinity between a project with ambitious sustainability and circularity goals and one of Europe’s main events in these areas. Ecomondo is an Italian event dedicated to a circular and sustainable economy, meant by the use of renewable raw materials and the adoption of innovative energy solutions. In this scenario, on 28 October Ecomondo became the natural stage for the Lombardy Region to present the Plasteco Interreg Project. The presentation explained how the project supports and shares initiatives from different European Regions, aimed at reducing the amount of plastic waste that is disseminated and has to be disposed of.
Attendees were introduced to how the project’s three-year-long first stage provides for an exchange of experiences and learning of best practices among partners, through meetings at both the regional and interregional levels and with contributions from local stakeholders. A particularly interesting initiative is the Stakeholders Group, where public and private project partners discuss and analyse how sector regulations evolve (the SUP Directive in particular) and share the main findings while also contributing to the new regional waste management programme, an important planning tool to achieve circular economy goals.
After the best practice sharing stage and the interregional meetings, Plasteco will deal in the near future with the preparation of an “Action plan”. Actions will be identified based on four inputs: the main findings from the Plastics Panel; those from the updates to the regional programme – currently in progress at the environmental evaluation stage – where institutional entities and the public affected will take part; the evolution of sector regulations (SUP Directive); and, last but not least, benchmarking activities with the Plasteco project partners, that will be kicked off together with the next activities.
The Action Plan initiatives will have to be applied to a “Policy Instrument” chosen by each partner. Special attention will be paid to communication, as supported by scientific data, and to raising awareness among consumers. A more diversified separate collection will be also encouraged, and the recycled plastic market will be promoted, besides dealing with the issue of treating bioplastics in composting and anaerobic digestion plant. The research will be asked to bring its contribution by developing innovative chemical recycling technologies for plastics, to deploy where mechanical ones are not applicable and as a form of complementary recovery.
Another issue to be dealt with is the availability of recyclable polymers versus the many types of plastic packaging already available, and that of exploring and assessing more sustainable alternatives through LCA studies, both in terms of product lifecycle analysis and management systems. Moreover, our knowledge of the effects of microplastics on human health and the environment will need to be enhanced.
The second stage of the Plasteco project will provide for the application of the above-mentioned initiatives according to the “Policy Instrument” chosen by each partner, after a previous consultation in the next meetings and through the other project activities. A challenging but exciting journey, that was welcomed with great interest by Ecomondo participants.