Plastic pollution can be overcome together. This is the message that Whirlpool EMEA, together with LifeGate, wishes to emphasize today at Milan’s Green Week, the Milanese week of events dedicated to sustainability. In the fascinating context of Associazione Nazionale Marinai d’Italia in Darsena, the topic was discussed by Environment and Climate Councilor of the Lombardy Region Raffaele Cattaneo, the President of Milan’s Municipality 6 Santo Minniti and the Legambiente Lombardy’s representative for the Milano Plastic Free campaign Caterina Benvenuto. Institutions, associations and representatives of the private sector reiterated their commitment to leaving a cleaner, more livable and sustainable planet for future generations.
“The Lombardy Region is at the forefront of plastics recovery: 99.8% of Lombardy’s Municipalities have set up a recycling system for plastic materials, more than 90% are recovered and 54% are repurposed” – comments the Lombardy Region’s Councillor for the Environment and Climate Raffaele Cattaneo. “In 2018, 18 kg of plastic per capita were recovered, 10 kg more than in 2008. This challenge must be faced by finding concrete and innovative solutions that look to circular economy, such as the one presented this morning, which will be of great help to the recovery of plastic not only in the seas, but also in the lakes and streams of our Region.”
Simone Molteni, Scientific Director of LifeGate, illustrated the contents and the main results of LifeGate PlasticLess®, the project that is helping to clean Italian seas off waste. Indeed, during the meeting, the Seabin installed at the Darsena – the Milanese dock – was unveiled. It is one of the 13 innovative “sea baskets” installed by Whirlpool EMEA in the waters of Italian ports and nautical clubs. In less than a year, the devices have collected over 1,500 kilograms of floating waste consisting mainly of plastics, microplastics and organic materials.
“We are very satisfied with the results obtained and to consolidate our collaboration with Whirlpool, which has decided to support a concrete initiative aimed at cleaning water from plastic waste” – comments Simone Molteni, Scientific Director of LifeGate. “Cities contribute to the health of the seas, for this reason we are happy to have activated in the Darsena some Seabins chosen by LifeGate PlasticLess® to contribute to raise awareness among citizens and to their fundamental role in sustainable development.”
The Milanese Seabin represents an unicum, being positioned not in the sea or in a lake, but in an urban stretch of water, in the city centre, integrated with the surrounding social environment. In its first days of activity, it has already collected numerous types of waste, including straws, caps, bottles and bags.
“Today’s event demonstrates how Milan, its citizens and the realities that operate in this territory are aware of the importance of the struggle to protect the environment and our Planet” – declared the President of Municipio 6 Santo Minniti. “I would like to thank Lifegate and Whirlpool for this occasion and all the bars, restaurants and shops that are banning disposable plastic, one of the first sources of pollution of our seas and waterways, with an invitation to the citizens: let’s all commit ourselves, in everyday life, to eliminate plastic and to sort waste better, to guarantee us and the new generations a cleaner world.”
The quantity of microplastics caught by the devices is particularly worrying, fragments up to 2 millimetres in diameter which are already confused for food and eaten by fishes. If they became dwarf plastics, they would even enter the muscles of fishes, with an even greater damage for their health and, consequently, for ours. It is estimated that more than 60% of the waste collected by the Seabin is contaminated by microplastics, especially by small fragments of polystyrene.
Always active in environmental protection, Whirlpool EMEA is at the forefront of the fight against plastic pollution, integrating sustainable strategies both in the design and production of household appliances and in industrial processes. In the EMEA Region, the Company has accepted the pledge of the European Commission, committing itself to producing, by 2025, components of household appliances made from recycled plastics, while regarding end-of-life products, it has collected more than 280,000 tonnes of materials so far, equivalent to more than 4.6 million recycled appliances. Through APPLiA, the European trade association, Whirlpool EMEA is also one of the signatories of the Circular Plastics Alliance, the alliance launched by the European Commission to increase the use of recycled plastic to 10 million tonnes by 2025, which is joined by the main private and public stakeholders in the plastics industry.
“Circular economy and closeness to the community have always been two fundamental pillars of Whirlpool’s commitment. We are particularly proud of being part of the Milan Green Week with an important partner like LifeGate, and we are honored to be able to contribute, with our products and initiatives like #PlasticLess, to making our cities and our environment more sustainable” – says Karim Bruneo, Senior Manager Corporate Affairs at Whirlpool EMEA. “We want to create a new frontier of sustainability, proactively anticipating legislation and paying more and more attention to energy efficiency, water saving and material use. This is a dimension that in the EMEA Region sees us as an industry leader in the commitment to use recycled plastics.”
“In Milan we are very active with the administration through the campaign MILANO PLASTIC FREE to limit the distribution of disposable plastics, by trade and small businesses” – says the contact person of the campaign Milano Plastic Free Legambiente Lombardia Caterina Benvenuto. “The prevention and awareness of citizens do a lot, but alone do not solve the problem of the huge amounts of plastic that are already dispersed in terrestrial and aquatic environments, it is estimated 8 million tons spilled through rivers in the last year alone.”
The City of Milan’s Councilor for Urban Planning, Green Spaces and Agriculture Pierfrancesco Maran has expressed his support to the initiative as well: “Now more than ever, citizens feel engaged in the themes of sustainability and the environment, especially young people, who reveal a new sense of awareness that must be nurtured and encouraged” – declares Pierfrancesco Maran, Urban Planning, Green Spaces and Agriculture Councilor of the City of Milan. “The municipal government I represent is striving for a much greener city, with less cars, more pedestrian areas and less plastic. It is therefore fundamental that this message be shared and disseminated by private entities too which, as in this case, actively work in this direction.”