NextChem (Maire Tecnimont Group) and the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies present technology and systems breakthroughs for closing the region’s waste cycle. The Green Circular District model brings to the table new circular, low-emissions products for the ecological transition.

Pisa, 11 October 2021 – Today, Tuscany has an historic opportunity to close the waste cycle thanks to new plant technologies that meet the European Union’s objectives for circular economy and decarbonisation. The issue was discussed at the L’Economia Circolare per il rilancio green dell’industria: la chimica verde per la chiusura del ciclo dei rifiuti [Circular economy for the green relaunch of industry: Green chemistry to close the waste cycle] conference held today in Pisa, promoted by NextChem, a Maire Tecnimont Group company, and the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies

Tuscany needs systems solutions that can close the waste management cycle, with 2.28 million tonnes of municipal waste and 10.1 million tonnes of special waste produced each year. Over 33% of municipal waste is still sent to landfill, and around 10% is incinerated at plants which are closing. 

NextChem — the Maire Tecnimont company operating in green chemistry and technologies to support the energy transition and circular economy, based on the know-how and experience of an Italian group with international reach and over 9,000 employees and offices around the world — presented its Green Circular District model and the role it could play in closing the waste management cycle in Tuscany. The Green Circular District can include various technologies to create products from green chemistry — such as hydrogen, methanol and ethanol from recycling plastic and dry waste, from which carbon and hydrogen are extracted to reconstruct “circular” molecules with low carbon content — and to produce green hydrogen using electrolysis from renewable sources.

Chemical conversion technology to produce circular molecules is a NextChem innovation based on consolidated processes,” stated Pierroberto Folgiero, CEO of the Maire Tecnimont Group and NextChem. “This solution helps reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill and promotes the decarbonisation of industry and transport, required to achieve the European targets for emissions reduction”. The model makes it possible to convert industrial sites, which saves jobs and generates new ones, create new industrial supply chains and reduce Italy’s energy dependence by producing materials that are currently imported from overseas. It also creates the conditions for a pilot phase for the use of hydrogen in public transport, one of the objectives of Next Generation EU and the energy and climate plans. The solution being studied is an intersection between bioeconomy and circular economy and is essential to the fight against climate change for overall CO2 savings as well as in terms of waste recovery, with the simultaneous reduction of disposal by incineration and landfill. 

According to Fabrizio Di Amato, Chairman of the Maire Tecnimont Group, “Tuscany has excellent experience and is an ideal laboratory for technological and industrial innovation as well as in the relationship between industry, institutions and citizens. The presence of age-old industries to be converted and the existing logistics infrastructure inspire the identification of solutions that can bring Tuscany to the forefront of the ecological transition while meeting the requirements to protect and increase employment”. 

The transition towards a circular and regenerative economy requires contribution from companies, institutions and citizen-consumers”, stated Marco Frey, Sustainability Laboratory Coordinator (SUM-IDM) at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies. “The challenge is indeed arduous, requiring a strategic systemic vision, shared action and innovative technologies. Every day at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, we look at the opportunities and limitations associated with the ongoing transformations. We do this alongside institutions, called upon to relaunch development that is more sustainable and fairer, and companies like NextChem, which are key players in the transition”.

Italy’s systems deficit is well known”, added Paolo Ghezzi, Scientific Coordinator of the GECA Master at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies. “Tuscany has ongoing plans to develop the separately collected organic fraction, 50% of which is currently sent outside the region, with investments of over 230 million. A topic of the GECA Master's programme in circular economy. With the necessary systems conversion to utilise the organic fraction, in 2030 Tuscany could be self-sufficient and even guarantee a surplus of processing capacity with a potential economic advantage”. 

The conference was attended by a wide participation from the world of industry, research and institutions, coordinated by Monica Paternesi business editor at ANSA press agency. The speakers included: Sabina Nuti, Rector of the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies; Michele Conti, Mayor of Pisa; Marco Frey, Sustainability Laboratory Coordinator (SUM-IDM) at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies; Paolo Ghezzi, Scientific Coordinator of the GECA Master's programme at the Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies; Pierroberto Folgiero, CEO of the Maire Tecnimont Group and NextChem; Mattia Pellegrini, Head of the DG ENV Unit - European Commission; Laura D’Aprile; Head of the Department for the Ecological Transition and Green Investments at the Italian Ministry of Ecological Transition (MiTE); Andrea Sbandati, Director of Cispel Toscana; Alberto Irace, CEO of Alia Servizi Ambientali; Renzo Macelloni, Mayor of Peccioli (PI); Daniele Fortini, Chairman of RetiAmbiente; Riccardo Breda, President of the Chamber of Commerce for Maremma and Tirreno; Simona Bonafè, European Parliament; Manfredi Potenti, Chamber of Deputies; Stefano Ciafani, President of Legambiente; Fabrizio Di Amato, Chairman of the Maire Tecnimont Group; Stefano Scaramelli, Vice President of Tuscany Region. 

NextChem NextChem is Maire Tecnimont Group’s company for the development of technologies for green chemistry and energy transition. NextChem’s roadmap is focused on three clusters: Greening the Brown, for the reduction of emissions; Circular Economy, for mechanical and chemical recycling; Green-Green, for biofuels and bioplastics. NextChem portfolio includes also different technologies to produce low carbon hydrogen: Electric BlueTM hydrogen, produced using traditional technologies but with CO2 capture and electrified process; Green Hydrogen, produced by electrolysis using renewable energy sources; Circular HydrogenTM, produced by chemical conversion of waste.
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