At the end of December 2022 Aticelca* has published a new measurement method, number 502. It is the first, at Italian and European level, designed to verify whether a packaging component or a paper product can actually be separated manually by the consumer at the time of waste sorting for recycing.

The work to create this new standard started two years ago with a survey conducted together with Doxa, which recorded a large number of citizens that declared a propensity to play an active role in separating the components of a package in order to then send them to recycling. It was developed by a working group that, under the coordination of Aticelca, saw the participation of many experts from paper mills, paper converters, packaging users from the food and cosmetics world, schools, universities and associations. The work was completed by an experiment conducted in collaboration with Chelab-Merieux Nutriscience, Centro Qualità Carta-Lucense, Ecolstudio and Innovhub-Stazioni Sperimentali per l’Industria and by a public consultation.

The new 502 method identifies five parameters that allow to assess how easy it is for the citizen to separate the component to be removed before throwing the packaging, or any other paper product, away into the recycling bin. The method starts from Conai’s definition of manual separability and is intended as a tool to encourage the design of components (such as windows, handles, labels, metal spirals, peelable layers, etc.) that are easier to remove. The aim is therefore to encourage the development of packaging, even complex ones, which can be traced back to its mono-material components for more efficient recycling.

In 2011, Aticelca created the first public standard dedicated to assessing the recyclability of paper, called Aticelca 501 Recyclability Assessment System, which then gave rise to the national standard UNI 11743:2019 and, more recently, to the first European laboratory method by Cepi-Confederazione dell’Industria Cartaria Italiana.

Method 502 joins and complements the method for assessing recyclability. Non-paper components that are sufficiently easy to separate may in fact not be included in the recyclability assessment. A necessary condition, however, is to give the citizen a clear indication of how the operation must be carried out.

The Aticelca 502 method will be presented – as an Italian and European premiere – on 16 February 2023 at the technical school Istituto Salesiano di San Zeno in Verona.

*Founded in 1967, Aticelca’s aim is to provide its members with technical and scientific knowledge to improve papermaking and raw material production methods. Aticelca is the technical arm of Assocarta and also actively cooperates with other Italian and foreign technical organisations (