The "National Report on Circular Economy in Italy" 2020, produced by the CEN-Circular Economy Network, the network promoted by the Foundation for Sustainable Development with 14 companies and business associations, and ENEA, confirms once again this year Italy's leadership as an index of circularity among the five leading European economies.
We are the first in the ranking by the degree of efficient use of resources in five categories: production, consumption, waste management, secondary raw materials market, investments and employment.
On average, every human being on the planet uses more than 11,000 kilos of materials per year. A third of those turns into waste and ends up in landfills; only another third of the elements are still in use after just 12 months, and this use is growing at twice the rate of the world's population.
This type of economy is called "extractive" and is responsible for much of the climate and environmental crisis. It is at the origin of the disposable culture. Still, now things are changing with the introduction of the circular economy, which means using materials and even objects that from their productive origin have been chosen and designed to be recycled and reused several times.
In this industrial policy, our country traditionally has a position of undisputed dominance. On the podium, but far away, there are Germany and France, with 11 and 12 points less. The Report, however, draws attention to the fact that we are losing positions. Italy can make the best use of the few resources allocated to technological advancement and is able to maintain a good efficiency index (for every kilo of resource consumed, 3.5 euros of GDP is generated, compared to a European average of 2.24). But at the same time, Italy is penalized by low investments and the consequently limited eco-innovation (we are in the last place for patents).
Another limit is on the regulatory front: a National Strategy and an Action Plan for the circular economy are still missing. There are two instruments that could help Italy to start quickly and to make more effective the way out of the severe economic and social repercussions that we are maturing due to the ongoing coronavirus epidemic.