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The conference held in Rome by Ecopneus on the value of recycling defined the guidelines for the development of a recycling economy. The event brought together institutions, law enforcement agencies, firms and the Minister for the Environment

Paolo Castiglia

COMBINING the culture of legality with the creation of new markets and environmental sustainability is now, perhaps, one of the most important challenges that society and industry are facing for the construction of a real recycling society in Italy. It is an epoch-making change that has been accelerated by the economic and energy crises and the depletion of resources. The end-of-life tyre recovery industry can and wants to play a leading role in these issues by contributing to freeing the country from illegality and to creating a new economy and jobs. This was the far-reaching significance of the Ecopneus Convention entitled “The value of recycling goes beyond what can be seen”, which was held at the Casa del Cinema in Rome on 6 June and was attended by the institutions, law enforcement agencies and firms and closed with a talk by Minister for the Environment Corrado Clini.
It all began from the ascertainment that in effect end-of-life tyres are being “snapped up”. In recent years, the illegal trafficking of refuse involved 19 regions in Italy and, as transit ports as well as destinations for final disposal, 23 countries including China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Russia, India, Egypt, Nigeria and Senegal: end-of-life tyres (ELTs) are among the materials that are most popular with traffickers: this type of waste has been at the centre of over 10% of all the investigations that have been carried out from 2002 to the present day.
To best cope with and prevent the phenomenon of illegality, during the Conference a protocol of understanding was signed by the Customs Agency and Ecopneus, Italy’s main non-profit association that has been working on managing the country’s ELTs on behalf of its members since 2011. Peleggi and Corbetta signed a document by which the consortium will be the Customs Agency’s technical partner for monitoring international ELT trading flows. Ecopneus will provide the Customs Agency with information from its databank for controlling and ascertaining cross-border movement.
After the opening speeches by the chairman of Ecopneus, Andy Davies, and by director general Giovanni Corbetta, Prof. Marco Frey presented Ecopneus’ first sustainability statement of the results not only of sustainability, but also of the use of the financial resources from the environmental contribution.
The culture of legality was the starting point of round table discussions with Enrico Fontana of Legambiente, Giuseppe Peleggi director general of the Customs Agency, and magistrate Donato Ceglie of the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Naples. The second part of the conference began with a description of America’s ten years of experience of using rubber powder for road construction by Mark Belshe, executive director of Rubber Pavements Association. It was followed by a discussion of the mid- to long-term development of an industrial strategy that meets European Union directions with regard to Green Public Procurement.
During the round table, Silvano Falocco, GPP Net coordinator, Senator Andrea Fluttero,  secretary of the Senate’s Environment Committee, the Hon. Ermete Realacci, and Edo Ronchi, chairman of Fondazione Sviluppo Sostenibile, outlined and analyzed the strategies for fostering the creation of a strong, stable and wide-ranging market for reusing ELT derivatives that will rebalance the ratio between energy recovery and recycling in favour of the latter.
After the talk by the Hon. Angelo Alessandri, chairman of the Environment Committee at the Chamber of Deputies, the Minister for the Environment, Corrado Clini, announced that Ecopneus had begun the collection of about 3,000 tons of ELTs that have accumulated at Oristano. The operations are funded by 30% of Ecopneus’ surplus income for 2011. The decree governing the activities of the manufacturers and importers of tyres and their associated forms in fact envisages that every year 30% of any surplus income must be allocated for the collection of old stocks in order to eliminate the large number of dumps that still exist in Italy, with communication of the same to the Ministry for the Environment.

The Ministry announces clearance of dump at Oristano
The Minister for the Environment, Corrado Clini, announced that work has begun on removing the 3,000 tons of end-of-life tyres that have accumulated at the Stagno di Santa Giusta, the protected wetlands at Oristano. Carried out in collaboration with the network of Ecopneus partners, clearance work began on 15 June 2012 and will continue for about two and a half months. The 790-hectare area is situated in the industrial zone south of Oristano and the Stagno di Santa Giusta wetlands are the third largest in Sardinia and host particular species of flora and fauna. The ELTs accumulated following the failure of the company that should have recycled them. As it is no longer suitable for recycling, the majority of the material will be used to provide energy for the cement factories. After appropriate treatment, the heat it generates is equivalent to that of pet coke or top quality coal.

The map of irregularities
Illegal exportation and illegal dumps are among the main areas monitored by Ecopneus with regard to flows of ELTs. According to data collected by Ecopneus and Legambiente’s Environment and Legality Observatory, since 2005 no fewer than 1,415 illegal ELT dumps have been identified, a total area of over 7 million square metres. Illegal dumping is more widespread in Puglia, Calabria, Campania and Sicily, where 58 sites were found during the past 8 months, 62.4% of the total of those found in Italy as a whole. During the same period, six dumps were found in Emilia Romagna, the first region in the north, and the same number in Molise, the first region in the centre.
At provincial level, Taranto had the biggest number of illegal dumps found during the past 8 months - 10 sites in an area of 81,650,000 square metres. Cosenza came next with the same number of dumps but in a smaller area (36,000 square metres), followed by Lecce, Brindisi, Campobasso and Syracuse. However, the data for the past 7 years show that the classification is headed by Puglia (304 illegal sites, 3 million square metres), followed by Campania (231), Calabria (218) and Sicily (192). Lazio is the region with the most dumps in the centre of Italy (97), but those covering the largest area are in Tuscany (408,554 square metres). In the north, the worst case was Piedmont (41 sites, 181,650 square metres), but 52 illegal ELT dumps were found in Sardinia (456,000 square metres).

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