How the CONAI system works
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Conai (Consorzio nazionale imballaggi, the national packaging consortium) was founded in 1997 to achieve packaging material recovery and recycling targets. It is a private, non-profit consortium of about 1 million packaging manufacturers and users. Work is performed by six 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. Another revenue item of the consortium is the sale of materials coming from separate collection. In turn, Conai, pays municipalities and companies that run separate waste collection schemes an amount that goes towards the cost of such services. The figure is determined by the quantity and quality of packaging waste delivered, on the basis of five-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 proceeds of the sale of the materials, but loses the contribution from Conai. In recent years, Conai's efforts have focused on improving the quality of the material they collect; a goal that has, for operators, led to investments aimed at making their waste collection and initial separation systems more efficient.
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