Circularity in our strategy

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

by Eni Staff
29 July 2021
6 min read
by Eni Staff
29 July 2021
6 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.


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

Eni’s circular model

Eni's circular economy model is based on a regenerative approach in which business and production processes are redesigned to maximise the efficiency of resources, products and assets while preserving natural capital. This minimises the removal of virgin natural resources in favour of sustainable inputs, using solutions to reuse, recycle and recover circulating matter, existing assets and CO2; This is done with a view to minimising, recovering and utilising waste and, in the case of CO2 removing and balancing the residual part present in the atmosphere.

Our strategy for the development of a circular economy is based on six pillars, representing six approaches that contribute to the creation of a circular model, and three levers, representing the tools that support their implementation.

The six pillars are:

  • eco-design, to design innovative and integrated solutions for improving the efficiency of processes and products, for optimising resources throughout the life cycle and the recyclability of manufactured goods
  • sustainable input to reduce the use of virgin and exhaustible inputs, favouring the use of renewable and alternative sources including secondary raw materials
  • reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover, to maximise the efficiency of resource use (including water and land) and reduce and minimise waste, using it as a new sustainable input and promoting its regenerative capacity
  • lifetime extension, land and products by giving them a new use and a new life
  • product as a service, satisfying the user's needs by reducing the production of new goods, maximising their lifespan and promoting their more effective and efficient use.
  • circular carbon, where CO2 emissions are viewed as a flow of matter that should be reduced, reused, recycled, removed and balanced for the residual part in the atmosphere.


The three levers:

  • the Life Cycle Perspective
  • research and innovation
  • collaboration

They enable the analysis of innovative circular economy processes and products throughout their life cycle and rethink the classic business model from a circular perspective thanks to the internal research activities carried out by Eni's resources and those outside the company. They operate in synergy and (industrial) symbiosis with stakeholders in order to optimise the use of resources and energy and share experiences and best practices, thereby increasing the culture of the circular economy. 

Circularity begins with the 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 expertisetechnologies, 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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