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How the CONAI system works

Conai (Consorzio nazionale imballaggi, the national packaging consortium) was founded in 1997 to achieve packaging material recovery and recycling targets. This is a private, non-profit consortium to which some 1 million packaging producer/user companies belong. Work is performed by 6 consortia that manage steel, aluminium, paper, wood, plastic and glass recycling respectively.

These consortia enter into local agreements with municipalities to help them increase their separate waste collection and ensure that packaging waste from urban collection is effectively fed back into the recycling/recovery system.

The Consortium is mostly financed by the fees paid by packaging producers. Further Consortium earnings come from the sale of materials obtained via separate waste collection. In turn, Conai, pays municipalities and companies that run separate waste collection schemes an amount that goes towards the cost of such services. This amount is established on the basis of the quantity and quality of the collected packaging as per 5-year agreements. The operators can, though, decide on a yearly basis whether to send collected waste to the consortium, which ensures it is immediately recycled on the recovered material market, or send it on for recycling themselves. In the latter case the company benefits from the sale of the materials but loses its contribution from Conai. In recent years Conai's efforts have focused on improving the quality of the collected materials; a goal that has, for operators, led to investments aimed at making waste collection and initial selection systems more efficient.