We are in the Italian region of Campania, an area that, when it comes to recycling, is often associated with malpractices or mismanagement. For the second consecutive year, however, this region has been the protagonist of a true “Festival of the Environment”, a series of initiatives aimed at raising awareness among citizens and public opinion on environmental issues by giving visibility to centres of excellence that have distinguished themselves in various sectors, particularly in integrated waste cycle management.
The event, sponsored by the Municipality of Pellezzano near Salerno and by Comieco (the Italian National Consortium for the Recovery and Recycling of Cellulose-based Packaging), has been promoted by the Cartesar paper mill and Raggio Verde, a Socio-Cultural Association. This edition has involved 800 schoolchildren from all over Campania who have come to view the industrial cycle of Cartesar, a manufacturer of test liner papers, corrugated papers and specialty papers. The company wanted to show everybody – citizens, media, representatives of institutions and industry and practitioners – a lesser known side of this region developed by people who are truly committed to recycling cellulosic materials and bettering their region. We have talked about it with Cartesar’s Carlotta De Iuliis who has been closely associated with this initiative. Here is what she has to say about it.
New and Unexpected Landscapes
«We knew about some very interesting initiatives and we explored the Campania region to understand the reasons why they were successful both in terms of separate waste collection and the values typical of the areas where they are. By going around the provinces of Naples, Caserta, Salerno and Avellino, we found Municipalities that really caught our attention. At a time when people are talking about the «Land of Fires» and given the numerous difficulties that Campania is facing, initiatives have been launched that are known throughout Italy and beyond. These Municipalities have helped to improve their areas by including their criticalities and launching separate waste collection. Over time they have managed to achieve some truly exceptional results. I am referring to Eboli that is near Salerno, for instance. Eboli has now become one of the centres of excellence in Campania for the collection of paper and cardboard because, in a very short time and thanks to everybody’s cooperation, it has been able to improve the quality and quantity of paper and cardboard to be recycled. Sorrento has created a waste separation and recycling area. Agerola, in the province of Naples but on the Amalfi coast, started from the promotion and development of its typical produce – a famous type of mozzarella called «Fiordilatte di Agerola» – and has managed to create a similar cutting edge recycling and waste separation area. Cetara, on the Amalfi coast too, has tried to optimise separate waste collection and has launched a project called ‘Qui Pizza ecosostenibile’ (Here Environmentally-Sustainable Pizza), a communication campaign asking people who buy take-away pizzas to put their pizza left-overs and the under-pizza sheets, certified as compostable, in organic waste bins. The campaign also asks pizza eaters to place empty cardboard boxes in paper and cardboard recycling bins rather than in the unsorted waste bins». And when everything works, it means that people’s commitment is there because they make sure that everything does work. And there are also some interesting facts worth quoting: the Municipality of Caiazzo (in the province of Caserta), with its unusual separate waste collection system created a bit for fun to raise awareness among citizens who had made mistakes in separating waste. Citizens were warned about their mistake in separating waste at 4am! Or the Municipality of Agerola, whose mayor was riding in the vans used for separate waste collections in the morning to follow operators and ensure they were working effectively».
A Different Perception of the Territory
Thanks to all these information and communication campaigns, ideas have been shared. They have also managed to convey the perception that waste is not really waste but a resource: «Over the last few years, our work as a paper mill has also been to make these initiatives known so that they would enjoy visibility and appeal to people as well as show young people – and not just them – that there is great potential in our region» ends Carlotta De Iuliis. «Campania is all too often associated with mismanagement and we, who believe in our land, have rolled up our sleeves to say ‘no’: this is not what Italy is about, this is a beautiful country with great potential».
Data on Recycling in Campania
In 2012, out of 160,000 tons of paper and cardboard that had been collected, i.e., 27.6 kg per capita on average (the national average being 48.9 kg per inhabitant), the Municipalities of the Region have received from Comieco more than 6.5 million euros. The Province of Salerno, with 31.9 kg per inhabitant, is the most virtuous. It is followed by Benevento, with 31.4 kg/inhabitant, and Avellino (28.9 kg/inhabitant). The Province of Napoli ranks fourth with 27.8 kg/inhabitant; Caserta is the last one with 19.6 kg/inhabitant; this figure, however, was higher than that for the previous year (+11,7%) (source: Comieco).