Novamont launches foundation to promote soil health and land regeneration
Italian compostable bioplastics manufacturer Novamont has launched a new foundation to promote soil health and land conservation.
Working in collaboration with Turin Polytechnic and the University of Bologna, Novamont launched the ReSoil Foundation at a press conference in Rome last Monday (27 January), announcing that the foundation will aim to promote scientific research, technology transfer, training and dissemination, whilst also raising awareness to preserve soil health and promote the recovery of organic matter.
Novamont asserts that soil conservation, long neglected in European and international policy, is central to efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change, which threatens to reduce agricultural output by up to 50 per cent in some regions, due to its role in storing carbon. Data by the US Environmental Protection Agency suggests that soils offset around 20 per cent of carbon emissions from the agriculture and forestry sector.
Speaking at the launch, Catia Bastioli, CEO of Novamont, explained: “To combat the climate and environmental crisis we need to be aware of the earth’s ecosystem; today the soil is an unidentified legal object. We need a European directive to protect it; incentives must not only reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere, but also restore carbon to the soil.
“The protagonists of this turnaround should be the farmers, who should be remunerated not only for their work on food production but also for their work as custodians of the land, for their contribution in bringing back carbon and therefore fertility to the land.”
Such an approach is set to be placed at the heart of the UK’s Agriculture Bill, which has returned to Parliament following the 2019 general election. The new Bill will implement a new land management system that rewards farmers for environmental protection, including improving soil quality.
Additionally, Bastioli called for a “revolution in production with the creation of a sustainable, territorially-based bioeconomy strategy” that uses “organic waste as compost to restore soil fertility”.
The quantity of organic material available to composting facilities is likely to significantly increase in the coming years as the EU’s Circular Economy Package stipulates that all EU member states must introduce separate collections of organic waste by 2023.
Bastioli also claimed that, aside from providing an opportunity to regenerate soils, developments in the land-based bioeconomy would also provide significant benefits for the European economy, with the potential for 68,000 new jobs to be created if 100 per cent of organic waste was treated properly.
Francesco Ubertini, Rector Alma Mater Studiorum of the University of Bologna, added: “Man-made pressure exerted on soils and the increasing loss of organic matter constitutes a threat to food security in various parts of the world. There is therefore a need to reverse the trend, favouring the input of organic matter into the soil and its assimilation and, at the same time, more sustainable and wiser use of it. This requires research and innovation, but also training and information, and this will be the contribution guaranteed by universities in this new strategic action.”
Serbian circular bioeconomy model
Novamont has also announced a new collaboration protocol with the Serbian Government to design a circular bioeconomy model.
Signed in Belgrade on Thursday (30 January), the five-year agreement will see Novamont support the design of a model for the separate collection of urban and agricultural waste, before implementing a pilot project of the model in one or more Serbian cities. Under the contract, Novamont will also be providing consultancy on the circular bioeconomy to the Ministries of Agriculture and Environment.
Commenting on the collaboration, Bastioli said: “Thanks to its pioneering activity in the bioeconomy, Novamont is a true demonstrator of the possibility that entire application sectors may be redesigned from bioplastics and biochemicals. Our collaboration with Serbia is a further step towards the multiplication of sustainable models and the creation of interconnected and innovative infrastructures for the treatment of organic carbon and the transformation of waste into new products.”