Paper from the South

Interview with Carlo Montalbetti, Managing Director of Comieco

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Comieco Consortium is a historic protagonist in the collection of pulp paper. His managing director, Carlo Montalberti, explains how recycling developed in Italy and reveals to us the next strategies of his Consortium.

How were such paper recycling high percentages made possible in Italy?
“Thanks to two key and synergetic aspects. The first was the need to overcome waste disposal in landfills, since we were Europe back-markers. The second is linked to the demand of the material: Italy is rich in ‘poor forests’ and over time the paper industry had first to resort to rags, then to agricultural waste and since the 50’s to pulp paper. But that was not enough. In the packaging sector, up until 2005, we imported 1.2 million tons of pulp paper. Then, with the increase of separate waste collection, we cancelled such imports and we are now pulp paper exporters.”

Is there still room for improvement?
“Yes. We reckon there are at least 500,000 tons of cellulose fibre in urban waste that can still be used. The areas where this can be achieved are certainly Rome and most of Southern Italy, where we are focussing at the moment.”

How?
“We launched a special plan for the South in which we invested money as well. For the first time we are investing €7 million to help the municipalities of the South to achieve an efficient collection system. This is in addition to the national contribution worth €100 million a year. It has to be said that the South boasts some positive examples as well: Bari, for instance, collects 68 kg of paper pro capita yearly, comparable to that of Milan.”

Info www.comieco.org

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