Italy: An example of bio-economy.
Bioplastics: an example of an economy, that takes care of the environment and innovation. Walter Ganapini, member of the Scientific Committee of the European Environment Agency, talks about this topic.
Article signed by Letizia Palmisano
The Italian regulation about plastic bags for the goods removal and the bio-plastic chain are objects of careful observation not only in Europe but also in countries, that don’t belong to this area: Italy is an example of sustainable ecology. Professor Walter Ganapini, former president of the Environment Protection and Member of the Scientific Committee of the European Agency- who enjoys a deep expertise in deeling with environmental politics, ground’s protection and waste management, has recently published the essay “Bio-plastic: a case of bio-economy studying in Italy”(Ambiente Press), a volume that demonstrates how the public policy can stimulate the innovation both of a process and of a product during its whole life cycle and testify the possibility to modify the citizens habits consumption and to protect the environment, this is an “all Italian project” to draws inspiration from.
When the European Community countries discuss about Italy and its environment, the first thought goes to its numerous pending suits, with its 14% of environmental violations Italy still is “the naughty boy” of EU. This country has a sad supremacy that denounces the indifference of the ruling class on this fundamental issue.
Italy can teach us something .Italian law on plastic bags dates back from Natta’s school up to Gardini, Italian chemistry gained the supremacy over the transformation of organic and natural substances: polymers obtained by recycling are the basic compounds for biodegradable bags.
In that context , bio-refineries, that just exploit on-site renewable raw materials are an example of change in the perspective of eco-friendless and sustainability.
Despite positive innovations, the norm about the plastic-bags, are still having a lot of problems in Italy, and not only.. The resistance in changing it is very strong in Italy, from bureaucracy to the frequent mortification of opportunity of research, development and productive innovation. The industries that, wanted to answer to the challenge of a new environmental quality of their productive process and products on the global markets, today are associated in AssoBioPlastiche. Their daily battle against those oppositions has not finished yet, but their perseverance has been rewarded when the central administration has accepted the orientation of the notification about the conventional “bags ”, in the light of damages caused to the biodiversity and the surrounding- the marine environment in particular. -
The crucial point to be solved regarded a consolidated corpus of communitarian laws careful of not hindering the free movement of goods: it was a very good job that persuaded the Commissioner of the Environment Janez Potocnik, to accept the Italian innovative set of rules. Eventually the reasons of environment and biodiversity won.
Which are the benefits that derive from the rules or the plastic bags, identify to them as an Italian case to be taken as example? Italian bioeconomy case shows a virtuous innovation between the bioplastics sector and the development in the chain of quality of municipal waste collected separately. The connection between this worlds have given the opportunity to start a turn of virtuous behaviours and collaboration between different interlocutors (companies, institutions, research corporations, sector’s associations, consulting associations, regional authorities ), producing a connective web, perfect to promote the change of an economic, social and environmental model based on efficient use of resources.
How has the rule been accepted by citizens and traders?Usually, in Italy, citizens are more sensitive towards the environment than companies and institutions. Banishing the conventional “bag” has recorded a difficult start because of a hard reaction of economic interests regarding the production of fake “biodegradable” bags and the lack of appropriate fines which at last have been established.
There was the risk that the “bad Italy” of counterfeiting would have prevailed on the “serious Italy” which can innovate for the environment. The confusion and lack of information gave their contribution to create serious problems on the distribution and on the market: now, thanks to the first serious union orders about the issue and the beginning of supervisions and fines, a useful set up for the country should go full speed.
Some municipalities have gone much further, banding in parties and festivals plastic plates and glasses leaving as alternative , reusable or biodegradable kitchenwares. In your opinion it would be possible and desirable a new rule with this issue? All serious initiatives that are orientated on lifestyles and consumption that look for a better efficiency of “finished” resources, have a good direction: it is really important that, in the moment of an establishment of innovative juridicial approaches, a coherent behaviour of the institutions and of the local authorities, starting from the distribution of “green purchase”, until the one of the good routine of door-to-door recycling and compost of organic garbage.
Recently Europe gave itself a purpose: to reduce the “disposable and light” plastic bags by the 80% within 2020, giving to the other Member States a packet of different solutions. In your opinion, the Italian case will take place even in Europe? Many Member States , also extra-comunitarian ones such as Australia, US even BRICS, are examining the “Italian example” and testing and providing fiscal instruments and similar rules. We have opened an important way to political industries and social behaviours, really facing sustainability.
As an ecologist I would like to underline that the “Italian case” really represented the concrete fulfilment of the “ precautionary principle” as driving force of the new development , exactly now that the terrible financial, environmental, and industrial crisis on global scale that we are living risks to call into question that principle which is essential for our survival and of the Earth too, as the effects of the climatic change are demonstrating.