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Italian Energy Minister calls for innovation and circular economy to safeguard critical raw materials supply

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Italy’s Energy Minister, Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, emphasized the importance of innovation and a more circular economy in ensuring a stable supply of critical raw materials, aligning with the broader European effort to reduce reliance on foreign imports. This strategy is in line with the European Union’s recent unveiling of a comprehensive strategy aimed at enhancing the bloc’s access to essential raw materials necessary for the green transition, including a focus on boosting recycling capabilities.

During a parliamentary Q&A session, Minister Pichetto Fratin highlighted Italy’s strong focus on research and innovation, as well as its notable record in electronic waste recycling. However, he emphasized the need for further action to address current challenges, stressing the importance of rethinking supply chains from the design stage and exploring alternative materials.

Italy boasts a recycling rate of over 35% for electronic materials related to vehicles, batteries and other energy systems, surpassing the global average of 17.4%. Pichetto Fratin underscored that while the percentage of non-recycled products presents challenges, it also presents an opportunity to create employment, reduce emissions, and enhance the country’s energy security.

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These remarks come amid a dispute between Italy and Swiss miner Glencore Plc, following the rejection of a fast-track approval for Glencore’s pilot battery recycling project in the Sardinia region. The minister’s comments reflect Italy’s commitment to bolstering knowledge and governance on critical raw materials, including the establishment of the National Table of Critical Raw Materials.

Italy’s renewable energy targets were also reaffirmed, with a pledge to cover approximately 40% of the country’s gross energy consumption through renewables by 2030. The government is exploring incentives for regions that meet renewable capacity targets, signaling a multifaceted approach to advancing sustainability and energy security objectives.

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