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Read the answers to frequently asked questions about the Green Circular District

We estimate that the first districts will enter into operation in 3–4 years.

The project’s governance will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and we do not exclude the possibility of public/private partnerships. The project has attracted the interest of European funds on regional development, industrial reconversion, climate change, institutional investors, and supranational and corporate Italian financial institutions involved in the energy transition process, and it is fully in line with the criteria and guidelines of the Recovery and Resilience Fund.

The investment value can be estimated at around €300–400 million.

Separate waste collection is the fundamental first step in sustainable waste management. But even in virtuous contexts, such as in the Tuscany region where the percentage of separate waste collection exceeds 60%, it is essential to have a technological solution that allows for the recovery of that fraction of waste that cannot be recycled, and that is currently disposed of in landfills or sent to incineration. As confirmed by Corepla, about 40% of the plastic collected cannot be sent for recycling, ending up in waste-to-energy plants or cement plants. With Waste to Chemicals technology, it is possible to intercept the amount of waste that cannot be recycled with traditional technologies and recover it to produce circular products.

CO2 emissions are less than half those produced by an incinerator. The overall process allows to save 90% of emissions if we consider those avoided upstream and downstream of the life cycle (those avoided by not incinerating and those avoided with the products, replacing oil). The CO2 that comes out is almost all pure and reusable in the market. The pure CO2 produced can be liquefied or compressed and used for other purposes, such as carbon fertilization for agricultural greenhouses or open-loop refrigeration machines.  

Yes, there is a small amount of CO2 produced by the Green Circular District. But we are striving for carbon neutrality by monitoring parameters and incorporating green hydrogen into the process, so we are aiming for our carbon impact to be completely offset.

We will surely perform an assessment. In any case, supply flows are managed with a keen focus on minimizing mileage and achieving the right logistics mix (road, train or ship, depending on where each district is located) to reduce environmental impact.

When a hydrocarbon undergoes complete combustion, carbon dioxide, water, heat and a series of micropollutants that are harmful to health are created. Electricity is normally produced using the heat that it generates. In contrast, NextChem’s chemical conversion technology is based on a process of partial oxidation, which is stopped at the stage where carbon monoxide and hydrogen (called syngas) are generated. The syngas then undergoes an acid and basic wash to remove all solid contaminants. The final result of the process is a vitrified residue made from the inert fraction that can be found in the treated materials, such as traces of sand and metals. There is not a production  of micropollutants harmful to health (atmospheric emissions are insignificant).

The project contributes to protecting the environment and the health of the population and workers, as it leads to an overall reduction of CO2 emissions and no pollutants are released into the atmosphere. In the case of waste-to-chemical recycling, the residues from the gas purification process are disposed of safely. The “leftovers” from the conversion process (inert substances found in the waste and non-convertible residues) are then turned into an inert vitrified residue that has various industrial applications.

Obviously, compensations are foreseen as per regulations. NextChem is available, together with the partners of the projects, to start a process of listening to local communities to identify together, in a shared path, the best proposals and the best solution

Positive impacts on local communities are predominant. The creation of a Green Circular District will have impacts in terms of recovery of waste that would otherwise occupy landfills or be incinerated, an advantage in terms of reduction of CO2 emissions, in terms of employment and induced and the creation of a new industrial chain.   

The environmental impacts of the production site are very low, since, as it is not a combustion process, there are practically no polluting emissions into the atmosphere. The only waste from the process represents 4% of the total input volume. The CO2 emitted, considerably lower than that of an incineration plant, is for the most part pure CO2 that can be reused in several ways.   

The realization of a Green Circular District will enable the creation of numerous direct and indirect jobs dedicated to the construction of the plant.

We want to source skills from the local labour market and we will make all our know-how available to train the people who will work with us.

Our plan is for the districts to be placed on brownfield sites, where industrial businesses are already present, whether in active operation or having been decommissioned, because where refineries, petrochemical plants or steelworks are present, we already have an industrial site, the logistics infrastructure, the facilities and the skills that we need to run these plants. Brownfield site, which is traditionally of national interest, is land where greener processes should be implemented, where the carbon footprint of processes should be reduced, and where circular processes should be introduced. These districts can create a virtuous circle and lead to positive changes in the region.

Yes. Waste chemical conversion technology has already been used in Japan for 20 years in 140 plants. 7 of them, the latest generation, use the synthesis gas from chemical conversion of waste for power generation. The technology platform developed by NextChem integrates several already established technologies (chemical conversion, purification, Circular Methanol production from synthesis gas, Circular Ethanol production from synthesis gas, Circular Hydrogen production).  

Inert vitrified is a product derived from the chemical conversion process of waste. NextChem has commissioned the Department of Engineering "Enzo Ferrari" of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia to analyze the inert material obtained from a chemical conversion plant currently operating in Japan. Based on the results obtained so far, it has emerged that the inert can be used in the ceramic and construction industries for the manufacture of tiles, bricks, cement and blasting material.   

We have a plant that is already in operation in Brescia, and it has plastic waste Upcycling technology installed. A similar plant is being designed in Emilia-Romagna for Aliplast. In Tuscany we are working with Alia on the design of three plants. We have carried out a project for Eni for a plant in Livorno to produce methanol from chemical conversion of waste. In Liguria, in Genoa, a project has been studied for Iren for the realization of a circular hydrogen production plant at the service of the port. We have a feasibility study underway for building a circular hydrogen plant in Taranto, a project in partnership with Enel Green Power to build a green hydrogen electrolysis plant powered by renewables in the United States, and other projects that are taking shape both in Italy and abroad.  

We’re designing waste-to-chemical plants with modules that have a treatment capacity of 200,000 tons per year, meaning that they can serve an average geographical area and achieve economies of scale useful to reducing the cost of waste management for public authorities, and therefore for citizens. Concerning Upcycling, the plant in Bedizzole, which has MyReplast technology installed, has a treatment capacity of 40,000 tons per year. Concerning the production of green hydrogen from electrolysis, capacity can vary greatly based on the supply of energy from renewable sources.

Yes. Steel plants are what we view as the ideal site, especially integral cycle steelworks that produce steel from iron and don’t use an electric furnace, as they already have coke ovens. We imagine massive waste-to-syngas plants at steelworks that can produce CO and hydrogen. CO and hydrogen are the best reducing gases; when they see ferric oxide, they transform it into elemental iron and then into iron carbide, which serves as the foundation of steel production.

We imagine building plants in parallel according to a modular model, as we want to maintain the same geometric layout and guarantee the same fluid dynamics that JFE’s plants in Japan have, JFE being the company with whom we’ve signed a partnership agreement with to implement and license their conversion technology. These plants have to work around the clock, 365 days a year, because towns deliver waste every day.

Mostly plastic waste and RDF (Refused Derived Fuels), but with our technology we can process any kind of dry waste, except of course hazardous or medical waste. This technology has a great flexibility and allows to treat also waste coming from landfill.   

The feedstock used is normally composed of between 30% and 40% of waste of non-synthetic origin, such as wood, paper and textile industry waste, material that cannot be mechanically recycled because it is dirty or deteriorated and would normally end up in landfills but recovered with this technology helps to reduce the carbon footprint of the final product, as it is hydrocarbon-free.