Marco Casazza

Marco Casazza is expertin monitoring, accounting and environmental management, applied to different domains, including the circular economy and environmental security. His researches include methods and techniques for environmental monitoring, impacts of air quality on public health, quantification of resources use in the urban environment. He is currently implementing specific tools for the systemic modelling and simulation of multiple myeloma at the Clinical Division of Hematology With Transplantion at the Hospital-University “Policlinico– Vittorio Emanuele” in Catania.

How does the project “Analysis of the metabolism of urban conglomerates and the cooperative strategy of the circular economy” fit into your research path?
My expertise is related to environmental monitoring, accounting and management. In 2017, we formed a team – Remade in China – together with the group of Beijing Normal University, led by Prof. Gengyuan Liu, that proposed a simulator of scenarios, being able to show how to carry out, through different strategies, a sustainable management of critical urban resources, such as water, energy and food(in that case, we focused on Beijing), from anenvironmental and economic point of view.Our team, along with four others, was selected as a finalist forWege Prize, an innovation award in the field of circular economy, supported by the Wege Foundation, in Grand Rapids (MI, USA). The desire to expand the obtained resultsstimulated many reflections, that proved useful for the presentation of the bilateral China-Italyproject. The Urban Circular Economy project allowed me to increase my knowledge on environmental accounting and simulation methods related to the use of resources. Today, the integration of suchmethods allows me to explore new research domains, such as environmental security.

What is your specific contribution to the research activities of the project? What are the possible applications of this research in the future?
On the one hand, I took care of transferring and increasing the knowledge gained through the design and implementation of the circular economy scenarios simulator, focused on the sustainable use of water, energy and food. On the other hand, together with and under the guidance ofProf. Massimiliano Lega, I took care of understanding how to transformthe current municipal solid waste management system into a real product-service system.
Currently, we are still forced to manage waste, applying a wrong perspective. In fact, we consider it as “the son” of a productive logic, that, in the past, too often ignored the generated environmental impacts and that did not consider, due to the existingtechnological and cultural limitations, how much could be re-extracted from those materials. The results, obtained along this project,show how often it is necessary to re-think the design of products, starting from the real beginning, i.e. the extraction of raw materials. This represents one among many challenges and opportunities for the future. Furthermore, considering thenew technologies developed for the management and treatment of waste in different the different steps from collection to treatment, , it is already possible to obtain a relevant recovery of materials and energy. The development of new sensors and the upgrading of ICT infrastructures would alsoallow a better collection of waste cycle data. How to use these data? Knowing how different types of waste are produced, depending on the territory,population characteristics, and economy sectors, as well as interacting with companies involved in waste management and treatment, we could well enhance the citizen awareness on appropriate “zero-waste” strategies. In addition, we could design better solutions of industrial symbiosis, where industrial areas could be planned, to geneate a convergence of different companies dealing with the collection, processing, reuse and recycling of collected materials.

During the project, you have carried out a research period in China. How do you evaluate your chinese experience? What added value has it brought to your professional experience?
I have co-worked, since a long time,together with Chinese researchers.My first experience, in year 2011, was a short period ofteaching at the University of Cologne, Germany, next to Prof. Yaping Shao, an atmospheric modeling expert. Then, in Sweden, during a research period at the KTH, alongside with Prof.Jinyue Yan, the editor-in-chief of the scientific journal “Applied Energy”.
I wentto Beijing for the first time in December 2015.That was my first direct experience of travel in China. I was invited by prof. Gengyuan Liu to givean intensive course on air quality. Since then, I go there every year with great pleasure to carry out research periods in China. The bilateral project allowed me to have more opportunities for exchange, enriching myself from both a professional and a human point of view. We quickly understood how to work well together.
I discovered the beauty of Chinaand the welcoming disposition of Chinese people. Leaving aside the richness of our cultures, which have so much to communicate, working together allowed us to develop not only this project, but also a research for the enhancement of ecosystem services, that is, the benefits that nature gives to mankind. Finally, I recently passed with positive results aselection, through the Talent Scheme, receiving the appointment as associate professor in Jinan University. I hope that the terrible situation, linked to the pandemic, will soon end for everyone. In this way, we will be able toget back working closely together.

What do you think are the most interesting aspects of the chinese system for an italian researcher?
In my opinion,projects are based on good ideas, confrontation, team work and, of course, available resources. We do not lackneither of good ideas nor of the capacity for confrontation. Obviously, a long discussion would be needed on the cause of our chronic lack of resources, mainly depending on the rapid change of administrativerules and investmentsfor research in the last twenty years.
I think the Chinese way,in which group work is organized, is very interesting. Master degree students are already involved, before takingtheir degree, in the work of a group, learning soon what it means to develop a research, starting from the presentation of an idea. There are opportunities for weekly meetings to discuss the results obtained. This allows everyone to improve the ongoing work, before proposing it outside of the group.
Research is often generated by contamination of different ideas and ways of working. These can be integrated, giving broader perspectives and results.A confrontation with a different culture and research approach, enriches any researcher, especially when facing this experience with the curiosity of an explorer, building visions, languages, ideas and common projects.