Circular economy

What is and what means at Fedrigoni

The circular economy is a production and consumption model based on a series of actions, and values, including sharing, reusing, and recycling materials. It requires careful design, aimed at increasing the life cycle of goods as much as possible, facilitating their repair and then separation into a range of components.

From linear to circular economy

The principles of the circular economy are the opposite of those of the traditional linear economy, whose typical pattern is based on the steady extraction of raw materials, to produce goods that soon become waste. This model has been based on the assumption of an endless availability of large quantities of energy, materials and resources, often at low cost. However, the supply of raw materials is limited, and have to be balanced with increasing levels of consumption and demand for raw materials. The most tangible answer to ensuring this balance seems to come from the circular economy, which is based on a regenerative logic that allows for growth, while not sacrificing the resources available.

When was the circular economy born?

In recent years, attention on the circular economy has grown significantly, crediting this model as the only viable way for current and future economic activities to truly meet the demands of sustainable development and decarbonization.
The earliest trends date back to the British economist Kenneth Boulding, who in a 1966 article laid the groundwork for an evolutionary economy, with an emphasis on recycling, from which new raw materials and energy could be obtained. Major research published later in 1982 outlined the vision of a circular economy, with its impact on resource saving, waste reduction, and job creation. Subsequent developments have increasingly underscored the idea that economic systems should function as organisms, in a “regenerative cycle” where there is no waste: biological materials can be reabsorbed by the biosphere, and technical materials are transformed into new products. Waste is new resource.

Ellen MacArthur Foundation

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization promoting the circular economy in the economic system, annually investing more than $200 million in related projects and initiatives. The Foundation has identified three basic principles for a transition of companies to such a model:

  • elimination of waste and pollution. Fedrigoni has set a goal of zero waste to landfill by 2030, ensuring 100% recovery. By 2021 we have achieved 86% recovery of our waste through targeted initiatives involving both divisions.
  • Keeping products in use: the first step in extending the life cycle of products is to design according to eco-design principles, aimed at reducing resource extraction and recyclability. At Fedrigoni, we try to reuse many of our production waste internally.
  • Regenerate natural systems: it is necessary to create processes capable of supporting regeneration as well as not harming the environment. Cellulose consumption is a significant issue for our business, that’s why we set specific goals: 100% of our cellulose is FSC certified, more than 90% of the water taken for our production processes is returned to the environment after being recycled several times and purified of the organic and inorganic substances contained.

The circular economy in the paper industry

The paper industry has a unique recycling history: the first paper in medieval era came from recycled textiles, and when demand grew, cellulose fiber was introduced in the 19th century. The circular economy approach continues to serve the industry well in modern times, so much so that more than 70% of all paper consumed in Europe is recycled ( Fedrigoni invests in innovation in order to improve this aspect, making recycled papers perform better and better and studying new solutions to use renewable materials.
From a waste standpoint, in the paper industry the main trash is sludge, the result of water purification activities used in product processing. At the Verona production site, we have promoted in 2021 the pilot project (soon to be extended to the Fabriano and Arco production sites) of a dryer that makes the reduction of the mass of sludge waste possible, turning it into something useful in other supply chains such as, for example, agriculture and green building.

Learn more about Fedrigoni Special Papers circular economy processes

The circular economy in the self-adhesives sector

The circular economy in the self-adhesives sector
The market for self-adhesive materials is booming worldwide ( and, as an integral part of packaging, is evolving toward greater sustainability. Several aspects are environmentally relevant (materials used, solvents, production process), but the waste management is one of the key ones. The main wastes produced are raw materials and semi-finished product waste (mixed waste) and the washing water used to clean the coating heads (both with water and solvents). In Fedrigoni, all waste is collected, segregated and, increasingly, sent for energy or material recovery, zeroing out waste intended for landfill. By 2021, Fedrigoni Group has achieved 86% recovery of our waste by promoting initiatives such as solvent recovery from washing water and circularity initiatives to offer customers a third-party supported service to collect self-adhesives waste (siliconized glassine).

Learn more about the circularity of Fedrigoni Self-Adhesives