Diana Group (Recycling Economy)

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INTERVIEW WITH Antonio Diana (Chairman of Diana Ambiente Group) and Vincenzo Conte (Commercial Manager at Diana Ambiente Group)
 

“PLASTIC IN CIRCULAR ECONOMY

Premise
When each of us fills his ‘plastic cup’ with the water contained in his ’plastic bottle,’ he does not know there is a huge difference between recycling them or not. Recycling is the first step towards the so-called ‘Circular Economy’, an essential factor for a sustainable world. But we also need businesses, organizations which can enhance the results of our recycling. One of these companies is Società Recupero Imballaggi (SRI) which, located at Caserta (Italy, near Naples) and controlled by D&D Holding (in this paper also Diana Group), works on the fields of recovery and recycling of waste, logistics and environmental services. Its ‘mission?’ Give birth to a new business model, based on integration, social and environmental sustainability and enhancement of local resources.
Recycling of plastic packaging grew enormously in 2016, with 960,000 tons gathered in Italian municipalities (+6.9% compared to the previous year). However, it is not enough. We need to do more… Indeed, the benefits arising from a Circular Economy model are remarkable: in 10 years, 7 million tons of CO2 have been saved, 3.3 million tons of packaging recovered, the reliance on landfill sites significantly reduced (0.8% in 2015), a turnover of 668 million euro from sales of recovered materials, with spin-off valued at 3 billion euro (Athesys 2014).
 
We had an interview with Antonio Diana, founder and Chairman, and Vincenzo Conte, sales manager at D&D Holding 
 
Antonio Diana: Since 1988 he has been engaged in the fields of Logistics, Construction, Recycling and Environmental Services. Founder, Chairman and Managing Director of D&D HOLDING, he has maturated a big expertise in the field of recycling and is highly engaged in spreading the culture of recycling and Circular Economy in Italy with the  MARIO DIANA Onlus Foundation  (of which he is Chairman).

Vincenzo Conte: his career as a sale manager began in 1987 with an a job at the department of Marketing at Fiat Auto in Turin. When he met Antonio Diana, decided to join Erreplast as a Sale Manager. Now he is Sales Manager, marketing e raw material purchase corporate manager (2015- ongoing) at D&D Holding.

Diana Ambiente Group: it is a network of companies engaged in the field of sustainability, with the ambitious goal to develop a strong model of Circular Economy. The Group is based in Campania (Italy).

 
  
 
The interview was made in July 2017 and published in October 2017 on  www.lteconomy.org  
Subject: Recycling of plastic and pther materials 

by Sofia Tramontano (voulonteer, writer and researcher at  Long Term Economy) 

 

Highlights 

  • Plastic recycling! It was our starting point in the 1980s and our current main activity. In particular, it was in 1998 when we opened our first plastic recycling plant… In 2005, we created SRI, extending business to the recycling of other materials: paper, cardboard, and glass…

  • SRI can handle 180,000 tons per year of materials (80,000 in plastic, 30,000 in paper and cardboard, the rest in aluminum, steel and glass).

  • Our plant is equipped with a complex recirculation system that reuses processed water up to the salinity limit; that means less water consumption and less use of chemicals..

  • So-called sleeves labels, generally seen as an up-to-date packaging, are actually an obstacle to the recycling industry; they reduce recyclable indexes by 25-30%. Fortunately, in Erreplast, we have now an innovative automated system (called ‘delabeler’) for removing such sleeves labels..

  • …An important new raw material is obtained: PET recycled, with a fiber used in the automotive and clothing industry..

  • In fact, introducing environmental-friendly policies icreases efficiency and reduces cost of production. That is the logic of Circular Economy. An example is Energy and water efficiency. 

 

Question 1. SRI (Società Recupero Imballaggi).  What is its business model?
 
Plastic recycling! It was our starting point in the 1980s and our current main activity. In particular, it was in 1998 when we opened our first plastic recycling plant; then, in 2000, Erreplast was born. In 2005, we created SRI, extending business to the recycling of other materials: paper, cardboard, and glass. SRI is now part of D&D Holding. Oure aim? Transforming packaging waste into new products.
 
 

Box: D&D Holding

  • D&D Holding controls:
    D&D Immobiliare: real estates
    - FINDI: real estates
    - TD: it takes over the entire waste management cycle (made by Industry and Large Distribution).
    - SRI (Società Recupero Imballaggi): it is the company where the process of recycled materials takes off. 
    - ERREPLAST: The recycling plant produces 20,000 tonnes of PET scrap annually, called RIPET.

These companies represent a network unique in its activities and capabilities in Central and Southern Italy.

 

Question 2. Let’s focus on SRI’s core business di SRI. How do you handle the process of recycling and transformation of waste?
 
SRI is the starting point of the recycling process. SRI can handle 180,000 tons per year of materials (80,000 in plastic, 30,000 in paper and cardboard, the rest in aluminum, steel and glass). It has three treatment-lines:
- selection of  mono and multimaterial packaging waste (plastic, aluminum, steel);
- recovery of cellulosic-waste (paper and cardboard);
- selection of glass packaging.
 
SRI is part of the CONAI (Consortium for the Recovery of Packaging). SRI has modern facilities. They combine automatic and manual techniques of selection, which separate plastic from PET bottles, HDPE detergent containers, LDPE liners, aluminum, iron, and other materials. The plant has a treatment-capacity of 14 tons / hour. Compered to systems of manual selection, SRI plants reach high performance with very competitive costs. Its selection lines are among the most innovative in Italy (second in Europe) and are sited for further development in the business of recycling.
 
CAPABILITY
95,000 tons/year
Paper and cardboard      45,000 tons/year
Glass                           40,000 tons/year
 
Waste packaging (in the SRI plant) coming from the waste collection of the various Municipalitie
 
Source: our elaboration
 
Packaging of HDPE material (detergent containers)                 Manual selection process
ready for processing
                  
Subtle materials                                                                   Ballistic separators with optical selection system  
                   
Source: our elaboration
 
 
Question 3. Today more and more PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) bottles are used to carry water. How do you recycle this material?
 
Erreplast is one of the major producers of PET flakes from recycling in Italy. We have a sophisticated technology that makes us one of the most important structure in the treatment of polymeric materials: it treats over 20,000 metric tons of post-consumer PET bottles per year, from waste collection. The treatment process includes three phases: a) Unpacking and automatic selection; b) Grinding; c) Rinse. One word more about the operation of Rinse: our plant is equipped with a complex recirculation system that reuses processed water up to the salinity limit; that means less water consumption and less use of chemicals. The environmental impact is highly shrunk!
 
 
Question 4. What kind of problems do you meet during your process of transformation?
 
Thank you for the questions. In fact, the process is not so simple; there are many difficulties, but thanks to technology improvement we are facing them successfully. First of all, let me say that, statistically, from a bale of plastic packaging, only 70% of the content can be recycled. In fact, some packaging proves to be incompatible with recycling (i.g.,  polyacrylates, high in polyamide, with labels that dress the bottle completely). So-called sleeves labels, generally seen as an up-to-date packaging, are actually an obstacle to the recycling industry; they reduce recyclable indexes by 25-30%. Fortunately, in Erreplast, we have now an innovative automated system (called ‘delabeler’) for removing such sleeves labels. We are the only Italian company with this kind of technology. Thanks to it, we  are able to recover 80% of the material, thus reducing the environmental impact.

Example of 'sleeves label'                                                         Innovative automated system of removing  'sleeves labels'                  
Source: our elaboration
 
 
Question 5. What kind of products do you get from your recycling process?
 
With our process of recycling we create new materials: pre- and post-consumption waste become new products, second raw materials:
- PET bottles (colorless, blue, colored, light);
- plastic boxes and bottles made of HDPE;
- LDPE film;
- mix of PE packaging;
- mix of PP packaging;
- aluminum;
- iron;
- tetrapack boxes.
 
In particular, an important new raw material is obtained: PET recycled, with a fiber used in the automotive and clothing industry.
 
Examples of 'second raw materials'
       
 Source: our elaboration
 
Question 6. Do you have an ethical code which goes beyond circular economy?
 
Yes we have. And it is very important, as without it we couldn’t have succeeded. Let me quote part of it:
 
'Corporate Social Responsibility is our capacity to integrate our business activities with the respect and protection of the interests of all stakeholders, business partners and people we are relating with, while safeguarding our environmental resources for future generations. In other words, we pursue our ‘business object’ while respecting people and things.’
 
These some of the initiatives sprung from our ethical code:
- the renewal of the fleet, every 3 years, in order to reduce  CO2 emissions;
- increasing renewable sources for producing our energy;
- monitoring constantly energy efficiency;
- promoting social projects with the Fondazione Mario Diana Onlus.
 
 

Box: Fondazione Mario Diana Onlus 

The Group have founded the ‘Mario Diana Onlus’ foundation, established  in June 2013 by the family of entrepreneur of Caserta, Mario Diana, innocent victim of organized crime and father of Antonio and Nicola, who have driven the Diana Group for over 30 years. The Foundation realizes many initiatives which promote and develop culturescientific and technical research. It protects the environment and the territory, supports education and training of young generations.  

 

Question 7. How do you combine environmental and ethical sustainability with economic sustainability (the ability to repay the stakeholders)?
 
This is one of the main messages we want to send: it is possible to adopt a business model which combines the two aspects. In fact, introducing environmental-friendly policies icreases efficiency and reduces cost of production. That is the logic of Circular Economy.  Some examples? The introduction of energy-efficiency policies, together with solar panels has brought to a reduction of the energetic bill. Something similar has happened with the recycling of water thanks to our innovative washing plant.
 
 

 Box - D&D Holding: an Integrated Industrial System

The Diana Ambiente Group is an integrated recycling model which includes companies operating in the fields of logistics, waste recovery (both industrial and domestic waste)  and processing.
 
The benefits of an integrated industril system of recycling:
 
- 160 employees;
- transparent management model;
- Significant reduction in the environmental impact;
- Better traceability of flows;
- High efficiency:
- real recovery of waste;
- Appropriate planting equipment;
- Investments in research and development;
- Widen culture of recycling;
- Support for social actions.
 
Some figures (2016)
 
- 95,780 tonnes of selected packaging waste;
- 55,495 tons of selected plastic packaging;
- 19,007 tons of glass selected;
- 21,278 tonnes of paper and cardboard selected and recycled;
- 133,063 tonnes of CO2 equivalent avoided;
- 1,079,935 cubic meters of recycled waste not in the landfill – equal to over 240 football pitches;
- 1,286 vehicles avoided due to the integration of recycling.

 

Question 8. What are your prospects and future plans?
 
Our future plans? Well, you know that implementing Circular Economy is a must for our society (the current linear model is no longer sustainable) and we our doing our best. We are going to extend our facilities and activities. We have a good technological level. However, there is a need for a cultural revolution towards waste differentiation, which can greatly assist our efforts towards the implementation of a winning and shared pattern of circular economics. In this perspective, we ask for more attention from Institutions and a better implementation of EU legislation in Italy.
 
 
Conclusions

In conclusion, Antonio Diana and Vincenzo Conte invites us to work on two key-aspects: on the one hand, the cultural aspect, that means greater awareness of the benefits of waste collection and Circular Economics in general; on the other hand, the Legislative aspect in making the rules more organic, more comprehensible and more easily applicable, and first of all, well- and strategically-oriented towards this erspective. The circular economy is the future and the case-study of Diana Group is a concrete example.

In the above picture: (from left to right) Antonio Diana (Chairman and Managing Director of D&D HOLDING), Sofia Tramontano (Researcher and Writer, Volunteer at the Long Term Economy Association), Vincenzo Conte (Sales Manager at D&D Holding).

 

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