Recycled paper between art, craft and industry

In 2002, the Comieco Consortium published the first edition of “The Other Face of Pulp”, whose second issue is being published in September 2004.

Irene Ivoi

Loyalty or betrayal? These are the first words of a consideration written on the uses of pulp different from that of packaging.

The world of packaging has already been deeply studied by Comieco for its institutional principles. The scope of the birth of “The Other Face of Pulp” is to enquire into the fields of production and artistic creativity in search for pulp-connected possibilities and experiences.


We have discovered many possibilities and we have divided them into the industrial, craft and artistic fields. This latter presents some exceptions because it also includes experiences based on the use of paper, and not only pulp.

From February 14th, 2004, this study is also available on-line, at the page www.comieco.org/lab; it can be downloaded and also read case-by-case together with further integration which has been added giving shape to the “Prodotti&ArteFatti” database.

And speaking of paper curiosities, note that this web site also contains a section entitled “Paper Spaces” (updated every 2/3 weeks) in which the latest news concerning events and other curiosities in the world of paper as well as researches and detailed documentation from Italy and other countries can be found. The reader is surprised by the variety of uses and potentialities offered by this material.

PAPER AND CARDBOARD CAN GIVE SHAPE TO PIECES OF FURNITURE, LAMPS, supports to writing, sculptures, fashion accessories, disposable dishes, toys for children, puzzles, daily newspapers and magazines, toilet rolls, plasterboard, curtains, carnival masks, puppets…

Italy, the first country for ancient craft tradition, has witnessed also many local traditions that have transformed the paper artistic craft into a veritable heritage, object of study and research.

“The Other Face of Pulp” describes the schools of Viareggio for carnival floats, those of Venice for carnival masks and the ones of Lecce for holy statues (and also profane, in their more recent tradition).

HOW TO ORIENT ONESELF BETWEEN LOYALTY AND BETRAYAL? First of all we decided to accept all possible interpretations, without excluding even provocations, in all of the three fields: industry, art and craft. The list of items includes the “TERRA!” armchair, made up of a cardboard frame, to be placed in the garden and covered with grass; the Florentine-style pieces of furniture provocatively created by the excellent packaging-designer Daniele Biagiotti, who demonstrates extraordinary manual skills.

FRANK GHERY DESIGNED LOW-PRICE CARDBOARD FURNITURE to demonstrate that it was possible to furnish a house with just a few dollars; his pieces were later to become fashionable objects in the world of design. And then there are the paper dresses by Caterina Crepax: such light and delicate sculptures that they can even be worn. Gianni Castagnoli, the famous artist from Bologna who in 1992 built a sumptuous structure in the great hall of the studio of the Basilica of San Domenico in Bologna, captivates us with his essential and yet intense sculptures. The Japanese designer Shigeru Ban, worldwide star in the design of architectonic provocations based on cardboard tubes, entertains us with screens and chairs designed for Cappellini.

SO PAPER, POST-MODERN MATERIAL WITH ANCIENT ORIGINS, PLAYS MANY ROLES AND HAS MANY DIFFERENT IDENTITIES. The language it conveys takes very different shapes of which we, promoters and supporters of this continuous research, are always surprised. So how can one distinguish between a faithful application and a betrayal? How can one separate all such fascinating and provocative identities and make a distinction between what is conceptually correct and what is a mere provocation?

Perhaps one should assume that apart from punching, pre-creasing, folding and gluing - which are so diffused in traditional processing and easily reproduced industrially - paper can still be cut, cut out, re-composed and … enjoyed, over and over again! •

Comieco in brief

Comieco is the Italian National Consortium for the reutilization and recycling of cellulose packaging.

Its main aim is that of reaching the reutilization and recycling targets proposed by the Ronchi Decree for cellulose packaging destined for consumer products; such targets are to be attained through an incisive prevention and development policy for the separate collection of waste and recycling.

Comieco, in collaboration with CONAI (the Italian National Packaging Consortium) manages the collecting, reutilization and recycling system of cellulose and cellulose materials packaging.

Paper mills recycle each year 5,200,000 tons of pulp coming from public collection and other sources, to mainly produce packaging (90%).

Comieco, born in 1985 from the initiative of a small group of paper companies to promote the concept of “ecological packaging”, became a Consortium on October 24th, 1997, according to the Legislative Decree 22/97 (also called Ronchi Decree). Its statute was officially approved with the Ministerial Decree of July 15th, 1998.

Comieco’s Figures


Comieco counts almost 3,600 associates represented by producers/importers of paper and cardboard for packaging, converters, importers of packaging and pulp processing platforms.

Packaging (2002 figures)

Cellulose packaging for consumer products: 4,217,525 tons

Total amount of packaging for consumers’ products: over 11,000 tons (of which 37% is represented by cellulose packaging)

Per capita consumption of cellulose packaging in Italy: about 73 kg/head.

Recovering and recycling

Results achieved in 2002: Recovering: 59%, recycle: 56%

Separate collection

2003 estimated separate collection of paper and cardboard: 1,719,255 tons.

Amount managed by Comieco through agreements signed in 2003: 1,361,939 tons.

As of December 2003, 586 agreements have been signed in Italy.

The local municipality that have signed an agreement are 5,338, corresponding to a total of more than 45,738,650 inhabitants.

In 2003, each citizen sent to separate collection 29.8 kg of paper, cardboard and board on average.

Industrial use of pulp

Pulp consumption: 5,194,000 tons.•

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