Circularity in our strategy

The transition to a circular economy model is an opportunity for change.

by Eni Staff
12 May 2021
4 min read
by Eni Staff
12 May 2021
4 min read

Always looking for solutions

The circular economy is about moving beyond the linear development model, based on energy- and resource-intensive production and consumption, where products become waste at the end of their life cycle. The evolution towards a circular economy model is an opportunity for change that safeguards natural capital and promotes sustainable development towards a low carbon economy, capable of adapting and responding adequately to an increasingly complex socio-economic-environmental context.

Eni's circularity is integrated into the strategies of all its business units. The goal is long-term business sustainability, which can only be achieved through full efficiency from an economic, technical-operational and environmental point of view. Research plays a key role and is reflected in sustainable product and process innovations that can be used on an industrial scale, as evidenced by Eni's patents.

The pillars of Eni's circular strategy are as follows:

  • sustainable raw materials: processing less virgin materials and moving towards organic materials or those deriving from production waste;
  • reuse, recycle and recover through the recovery of raw materials from waste products, the reuse of water and land, and the recovery of waste;
  • useful life extension: promoting sustainability by giving new life to assets.

This concept underpins the conversion of refineries into bio-refineries, reintroducing sites and workers that would have become redundant back into the production cycle.

It is critical that our response focuses on a new development model that moves us from linear to circular growth. In this way, we can reduce and transform waste, giving new life to what already exists.

Claudio Descalzi

Circularity begins Downstream

With our downstream facilities, we are well placed to take advantage of the circular model thanks to our existing and  proprietary conversion plants, established industry expertise, technologies, innovative research and the geographical distribution of our assets. For us, the transformative attitude and the circularity platform are the basis for consolidating a change that is based on long-term relationships with local stakeholders, attention to the specific features of the local areas, and listening to and including stakeholders in the promotion of new development models.

Our transformation began with the refining sector, with the world’s first conversion of a conventional refinery into a bio-refinery in Venice using proprietary technologies. This was followed by the transformation and start-up of a second conventional refinery into a biorefinery in Gela, in August 2019. The latter builds on the design of the first model, enhancing its sustainability performance to make it the most innovative biofuels production plant in Europe. It will be able to use up to 100% second-generation raw materials. Further work has been conducted in the area of converting waste into new energy products, using proprietary technologies such as Waste To Fuel. Through Ecofuel, the subsidiary responsible for managing investments in the field of the circular economy, we have signed a deal to acquire FRI-EL Biogas Holding, a leader in the Italian biogas production sector. This will enable us to generate electricity from biogas, from agricultural biomass and livestock waste, and operate a new OFMSW (organic fraction of municipal solid waste) treatment plant for biomethane production.

In the chemicals sector, we have developed new processes and products which recycle polymers, creating value from waste plastics by converting them into secondary raw materials and maximising resource efficiency at all stages of the life cycle through feedstock diversification and eco-design.

The development of synergies with the local areas where the company operates is increasingly central for minimising and optimising the use of products, materials, water and energy, and promptly identifying opportunities. Technological innovation and new cultural models are also crucial for ensuring long-term and sustainable development.

This includes cooperation protocols and agreements for the development of the circular economy in Italy. Such agreements include those signed in the last two years with AMA in Rome, Veritas in Venice, Hera in Modena and AMAT in Taranto, for the collection of used cooking oil and the supply of HVO biofuel. In 2019,  we signed more than 20 circular economy and sustainable mobility protocols with key players in the national and international socio-economic fabric.

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