separate waste collection
in an area with 3.3 million
of recovered waste
the share of separate waste
collected, in favour of a circular
tons of recycled plastic
produced by Aliplast

Transition to a circular economy

Scenario and policies

Why it is important

The current economic model is linear: produce, use, dispose of. This involves the use of large amounts of energy and raw materials as well as the emission of the same amount of waste and pollutants. The alternative is represented by circular economy, a system where raw materials stay in the economic cycle for as long as possible, products reach the end of their lifecycle after being used several times and waste is minimised. New business models are required to address this transition. What we need to do is maximise recycling and design lasting products that can be exchanged, reused, repaired, reproduced and, only at the end, recycled.


planets like Earth required to maintain the current lifestyles of the global population in 2050


the percentage of all materials consumed in Europe in 2015 which were not recovered, re-used or recycled


the value of food wasted every year globally, equal to around 6% of global GDP


annual global savings estimated in the consumer goods sector, with a circular economy model


percentage of plastic recycled globally in 2016


estimated growth of European GDP between 2015 and 2030 related to the spreading of circular economy

The European strategy to guide the transition

The European circular economy package sets out some ambitious measures for the entire lifecycle of products: from production and consumption to waste management and the secondary raw materials market. An agreement was reached in December 2017 between the Council, Commission and Parliament to amend some European directives on municipal waste, with a view to increasing recycling and reducing landfill use. Packaging waste recycling: ready for the 2030 challenge.

Municipal waste in landfills: they must more than halve over the next 20 years

The European targets are highly challenging but the recent trend is encouraging, with landfill disposal per capita decreasing between 2011 and 2016 by 31% in Europe and 45% in Italy. This is due to an increase in separate waste collection and to the diffusion of modern waste treatment systems.

Recycling of municipal waste: good results, but the goal is still a long way off

Packaging waste recycling: ready for the 2030 challenge

With regard to the municipal waste recycling rate (especially packaging), 2016 figures show an improvement compared to the past.

The 2025 targets for packaging waste have already been achieved in Italy by all supply chains, except for plastics.

The aluminium and wood sectors will achieve their goals by the end of 2030. In 2016, 8.4 Mt of packaging waste were recycled (3% higher than in 2015) equal to 67% of the amount released for consumption. In addition to this, 1.4 Mt of packaging waste were used for energy recovery, equal to 11% compared to the amount released for consumption. Total recovery in 2016 amounted to 78.2%.