Novo mesto has marked three years of operation of the first circular economy project in the local community: the closure of the municipal material cycle of cardboard packaging for milk and juices. Between 2015 and 2018, 105 tons of used beverage cartons (UBS) collected under the auspices of Komunala Novo mesto were purposefully reprocessed. The collected packaging was sent for recycling to Lucart as a raw material for the production of paper hygiene products and dispensers. These products have returned to the local environment: they are used by local institutions in the same area where the packaging was collected. To produce the same amount of hygiene paper from primary cellulose, an average of 2,200 m2 of forest would have to be cut down. At the same time, CO2 emissions were reduced by 68 tonnes.
The project was celebrated today with a ceremonial event where awards were presented to all the municipalities involved and to eight institutions that participated in the pilot project. Mag. Gregor Klemenčič, director of Komunala Novo mesto: “Municipalities have established a municipal material cycle, which is a sustainable and efficient example of a circular economy in the local community, bringing about savings and preserving wood as a valuable primary natural resource. The basis for this is the separate collection of packaging waste, and the inhabitants of our area have really proved themselves.”
Niko Kumar, director of Valtex and the conceptual creator of the municipal material cycle, describes the beginnings of the project: “When we started the project in the area of Komunala Novo mesto, there were no examples of circular economies or closures of material flows in Slovenia. In fact, we hadn’t even heard of this concept. Therefore, it is a fact that three years ago, we made a brave, innovative, but also risky decision, even though it had a clear definition of roles and an agreement between the partners on the process and method of cooperation. We didn’t know what the actual results would be. Population feedback was essential. That is why we are really proud of our common achievement.”
In Davos, the project received special commendation from the World Economic Forum among numerous applications from companies, institutions, cities and regions from around the world – HIGHLY COMMENDED – in the category for the best government, city or regional circular economy project.
Innovative technology that enables the recycling of all components of cardboard packaging for milk and juices.
An innovative model for recycling cardboard packaging for milk and juices was developed by the Italian company Lucart. Tommaso de Luca, director of corporate communications, explains: “At Lucart, we develop sustainable innovations that are successful in the long run. This includes the EcoNatural system,” and regarding the Novo mesto project: “We are an international company and one of the largest European producers of hygiene paper. For us, closing the municipal material cycle of waste cardboard packaging for milk and juices in Novo mesto is a pioneering project and a reference example of good practice. As a company with a vision for sustainability, we aim to introduce the innovative practices of these eight Slovenian municipalities in other countries as well.”
A special guest of the event, the Italian Ambassador to Slovenia Paolo Trichilo highlighted the excellent Slovenian-Italian cooperation. He emphasised that the Italian embassy has always supported the project. It was last presented this February in Rome. He also described a broader view: “The future of the manufacturing sector lies in its ability to recycle, reduce dependence on primary raw materials and reduce both material and energy waste. This is the position of the European Union, supported by successful companies operating in the ecosystem of the circular economy.” He congratulated all actors and wished them further successful implementation of the business model that combines economic growth and environmental respect in the interest of all residents.