CONAI is a private system, created and designed by companies: with 830000 members, between packaging producers and users, CONAI is one of the largest consortium in Europe. Its task is to manage the recycling and the recovery of packaging in all of Italy and to pursue the recycling and recovery objectives set by European legislation, first acknowledged in Italy by the Ronchi Decree (legislative Decree 22/97), which was replaced by the legislative Decree “Environment Regulations” in 2006 (legislative Decree 152/06).
The CONAI management was entrusted by law, on the basis of a unique model through which private effectively manage a matter of public interest: the protection of the environment.
CONAI safeguards the environment by embracing the entire packaging lifecycle, from production to end-of-life management. To this purpose CONAI promotes the adoption of environment-friendly packaging at source, and then co-ordinates the recovery and recycling of packaging after use.
The CONAI model is based on the principle of “shared responsibility” which assumes the cooperation of all participants involved in waste management: from companies, which produce / make and use packaging materials, to the Public Administration, which make the regulations for waste management,
The CONAI System is based on the activities of six consortia that represent materials that are used in the production of packaging: steel (CONSORZIO RICREA), aluminium (CIAL), paper (COMIECO), wood (RILEGNO), plastic (COREPLA) and glass (COREVE). Each consortium must, for each material, coordinate, organize and increase: the take back of packaging waste (mainly from separated waste collection), the recycling and recovery processes.
The ongoing environmental contribution made by the members provide the resources for CONAI’S activities.
Consorzio Nazionale Imballaggi
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The consortium system in Italy and Europe
Legislative Decree No 22/97, or the Ronchi Decree, assigned the consortium system the task of achieving the overall target of recycling and recovery packaging across the whole of Italy and, at the same time, ensuring that targeted management policies are implemented, including prevention policies, through eco-innovation. The CONAI System guarantees compliance with the principle of extended producer responsibility, allocating the CONAI Environmental Contribution (CAC) among producers and users.
By joining CONAI, the producer/user is obliged to pay the CAC, which varies depending on the type of packaging put onto the market. CONAI retains a minimum amount to carry out its work, while a considerable part is given to the Material Consortia which, in turn, pay compensation to the agreement Municipalities, in accordance with the provisions of the ANCI-CONAI Framework Agreement, to cover the additional charges resulting from the separate collection of packaging.
On an international level, CONAI is a member of EXPRA, the Extended Producer Responsibility Alliance, which serves as the European reference organisation representing non-profit systems for managing packaging and packaging waste.
According to the final data published in the last General Programme for the Prevention and Management of Packaging and Packaging Waste, in 2021 Italy sent 73.3% of the packaging placed on the market for recycling: 10 million 550 thousand tonnes. This percentage is slightly up compared to the record of 2020, when a level of close to 73% was reached, and a result that far exceeds the 65% total recycling required by Europe from its member states by 2025.
All this despite a year of strong recovery in consumption, which saw an exponential increase in the amount of packaging released for consumption: over 14 million tonnes, about 8.5% more than the previous year. The 10,550,000 tonnes of packaging sent for recycling is a result achieved 50% thanks to the work of the supply chain consortia of the CONAI system, 48% thanks to independent recyclers and the remaining 2% thanks to the work of independent systems.
If we add to the recycling figures those of energy recovery, which uses packaging waste as an alternative fuel to produce energy, the numbers grow: in 2021 Italy will exceed 82% of recovered packaging, i.e. more than 11.8 million tonnes. The national data could not be so positive if it were not for the work carried out by CONAI with Italian municipalities through the national agreement with ANCI, which allows the interception of flows from urban collection, as well as with a network of 579 regeneration, repair and recycling platforms that deal with commercial and industrial packaging, in agreement with the supply chain consortia.
In 2021, 7,583 municipalities signed at least one agreement with the consortium system, with 98% of the population served.
To cover the higher costs that municipalities incur in collecting waste separately in 2021, the CONAI system paid the country’s local administrations almost EUR 727 million, about EUR 70 million more than the previous year.
445 million, on the other hand, were allocated by the system to finance treatment, recycling and recovery activities.
Download the abstract of the CONAI PGP 2022: General Programme for the prevention and management of packaging and packaging waste 2022 – Abstract
Download the executive summary of the CONAI PGP 2022: General Programme for Packaging and Packaging Waste Prevention and Management 2022 – Executive Summary
Download the full version of CONAI PGP 2022: General Programme for Packaging and Packaging Waste Prevention and Management 2022
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At the heart of CONAI’s work is the role of raising awareness among citizens about creating a culture and environmental education that focus on the importance of separate waste collection, recycling and the recovery of packaging materials.
This role comes straight from the legislation laid down under Legislative Decree No 152/2006 (Title II, Article 224, paragraph g), which entrusts CONAI with the task of organising, in accordance with Public Administration, any information campaigns deemed necessary to achieve the goals of recycling and recovering packaging that have been assigned to the consortium system.
Citizens have a key role in the recycling process. They are essential players since without their help in correctly sorting out household waste, the entire material collection and recovery system would not be able to run smoothly.
In recent years, CONAI has run many campaigns and initiatives across Italy aimed at citizens, public bodies and businesses, as well as school education projects to promote a culture of recycling and respect for the environment.
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Prevention is a set of policies, programs and best practices, taken before a substance, material or product has become waste. In reference to packaging solutions, one of the most important challenge is to minimize environmental impacts with a life cycle approach. All the activities carried out by CONAI, in accordance with current legislation, aim to promote specific measures of prevention, first of all for members. Moreover, every year, CONAI draw up a “Programma generale di prevenzione” sent to the Italian Authorities by the end of June. In this document CONAI describes measures and results of prevention activities and recycling, defining a 5-year implementing program.
CONAI promotes prevention through two different kind of measures:
- Structural initiatives: economic incentives and fees modulation in order to consider reuse and recyclability of different packaging solutions;
- Awareness initiatives: like “Pensare Futuro” project to promote and support business strategies with the aim to improve sustainable packaging solution, starting from eco design.
The CONAI’s purpose aims to raise awareness on prevention topic for all the supply chain, from producer to consumer, to realize the transaction toward both circular economy criteria and sustainable development goals.