One of the tasks of the Circular Economy (CE) is to recover materials from residues to save non-renewable resources while minimising long term emissions from waste landfilling. To achieve this purpose, the recycled waste must undergo to a specific assessment, the so-called “End of Waste” (EoW) procedure. This procedure, introduced by the European Directive 2008/98/EC, legally establishes whether these materials can cease to be considered as a waste thus obtaining the status of marketable products. In practice, it allows to assess whether the materials under investigations are compliant with the End of Waste criteria, these latter defined, specifically for each material, in terms of environmental and performance-related requirements.
Currently, at the European level, specific regulations were established just for few specific materials (e.g.: metal scraps, glass cullets, paper&cartboard, and others). In Italy, many plants aimed at treating residues that could be remarketed thanks to innovative recycling /upcycling processes, still need to be authorised by the competent authorities through specific End of Waste procedures, established on a “case by case” basis. The proposed project will focus on the definition of the End-of Waste criteria for specific material streams of recycled/upcycled residues obtained from the innovative processes proposed within spoke 3 and 4 (like plastics, bioplastics, ceramics, textiles, metals) and other from companies involved in the project. Both legal, analytical, and technical aspects will be considered. The experimental activity will be designed and performed to cover all the aspects of material characterization useful for the End-of-Waste procedure, while considering chemical-physical, ecotoxicological, structural, morphological characterization of the new recycled materials. Life cycle sustainability performances of recycling/upcycling options will be quantified, including environmental, economic and social aspects associated to the processes related to the second life of new materials, including the duration of new circular materials and End-of-Life processes to manage them as waste. In the project some companies too will be involved to test specific recycled materials already produced like Thales Alenia Space. Further developments are in progress.
To fully assess the circularity and the feasibility of new recycled materials, the Life Cycle thinking approach will be adopted at the recycling processes: LCA, LCC, and Life Cycle Social Assessment to consider the whole life cycle of product and synergic interactions of streams among different industrial context; dynamic Carbon, water Footprint, Cumulative Energy Demand and Circularity Index to underscore the transition from Linear to CE.
Finally, the project will develop indicators of industrial symbiosis and circularity, starting from the analysis of real case studies. Depending on the types of EoW developed in the project, different situations of symbiosis will be simulated and the environmental benefits deriving from the implementation of symbiosis, facilitated by EoW, will be calculated.
The End of Waste criteria and the assessment in terms of long-term impacts of the recycled materials will be discussed and shared with the local and national entities, entitled of the authorisation and control of the new recycled materials, like:
ARPAV – circular economy & EoW units
MASE-DiTEI Department for Ecological Transition and Green Investments
ISPRA- Department for environmental assessment, control, and sustainability
The project aims to attest the circularity of the new recycled materials studied. End-of-Waste criteria, which legally establish when recycling materials cease to be considered as waste and obtain the status of marketable products, is a fundamental step to allow circular reuse of materials reducing the amount of waste to be landfilled and contributing to save non-renewable resources. To define the status of the EoW, for each of the new materials leaching tests, chemical-physical, structural, morphological characterization and ecotoxicological assessment will be carried out.
The tangible results of the activities will be the protocols describing all the phases for the required analysis of each end-of-waste and the further possibility to put the new materials in the market. A database of the characterization of end-of-waste also will be prepared and shared with the local and national Entities like ARPAV, ISPRA and MASE to ensure its official status.
A second task of the project is to assess the circularity and the feasibility of new proposed recycling processes, the Life Cycle thinking approach will be adopted: LCA, LCC, and Life Cycle Social Assessment to consider the whole life cycle of product and synergic interactions of streams among different industrial context; dynamic Carbon, water Footprint, Cumulative Energy Demand and Circularity Index to underscore the transition from Linear to CE.
Results of this part of the project will be the guidelines to support the SC and market to adopt the life cycle sustainability approach in decision making processes. The final outputs will be the criteria for the comparative life cycle assessment and life cycle costing to quantify the convenience of recycling processes and new indicators of industrial symbiosis and circularity.
The results can then be listed as follows:
– the recycled materials tested can cease the status of waste and be considered for the authorisation and the market
– the physical, ecotoxicological, structural, morphological characterisation of recycled materials and the assessment of duration of the second life of recycled materials will indicate short- and long-term environmental impacts, highlithing the avoided ones, also in terms of costs
– the assessment of the economic impacts and the development of circular economy indicators will give impulse to recycling districts.