Piunti (Conou): “Important material recovery thanks to circular economy”

“I believe that the circular economy in the recovery of materials is important”. Thus Riccardo Piunti, president of Conou, the national consortium of waste oils, at Adnkronos. In the current context of rising raw materials prices, the circular economy offers multiple advantages: from the fewer resources exploited thanks to the recovery of materials to the resulting economic savings up to the environmental benefits of correct waste management. “In the world – recalls Piunti – 101 billion tons of materials are extracted from the planet every year, of these 55 billion tons are dispersed, they become abandoned waste, only 8 are sent for recovery. Think how far we can go and what contribution we can make to the scarcity of raw materials. We do it in our own small way, Conou normally collects about 180-190 thousand t of waste oils and tries to use them as best as possible by directing them, according to EU standards, primarily to regeneration: from this volume we recover lubricating bases, about 130 thousand t, and bitumen and diesel “. Thus used lubricating oil, a waste that would be “dangerous, polluting and harmful” if dispersed into the environment (“the replacement of oil from a car poured into a lake could devastate a surface of water the size of a football field” ), is instead “recovered completely and also totally (98-99%) regenerated and sent back to new life”. An activity that the consortium carries out thanks to its approximately 60 companies “that collect the oil every day, bring it to the deposits where the Conou selects and analyzes it, directing it to the right path which are the regeneration refineries”. For the environment, the advantage is twofold: correct management that avoids dispersion in nature and the failure to exploit further resources. “Since we recover new raw materials from this material, we prevent these raw materials from being extracted from the planet, transported and refined. This is worth about 80 thousand tons of CO2 avoided per year, 36 million cubic meters of water not used for industrial purposes, 1 million tons of carbon that is not depleted from the soil, a reduction in the eutrophication process and in emissions of sulfur dioxide and chlorofluorocarbons ”, he adds. Material recovery, environmental benefits but also economic benefits. “The economic saving varies in the market context: last year energy raw materials had a big decline due to the collapse of demand due to the pandemic and oil was around 30 dollars: the savings of the Conou supply chain were worth about fifty millions. Today, with oil at 110 dollars a barrel, this saving has at least tripled: therefore 150 perhaps 200 million euros of reduced imports thanks to this recovery activity ”.