The Bioplastics Factory – Roccavaldina

The abandoned industrial pole in the municipality of Roccavaldina, an inland area of the Metropolitan City of Messina, is being transformed into a production hub that promotes the principles of the circular economy and the Olivettian approach.

In an evolved logic of community welfare, the idea is to intertwine urban regeneration processes and lasting educational and social programmes with forms of productive solidarity economies arising from research and technological development actions capable of reinterpreting and enhancing the flows and stocks of materials, knowledge and relational assets of a territory.

The business idea consists in the transformation of waste grains from the Messina Brewery (workers’ buyout promoted and supported by the Messina Foundation) and other residues from local agricultural production into biomaterials from which finished products will be made (e.g. packaging, toys, design objects, vases, etc.).

Specifically, the pole will be created:

  • a biomaterials research and development centre;
  • a factory of finished bioplastic products made by numerical serial machines;
  • a Fab Lab where, using 3D printers, prototypes and design product lines in bioplastics will be produced.

The new biomaterials are the result of a research programme conducted by the Messina Foundation in collaboration with Ecos-Med, with Crossing s.r.l., a spin-off of the Department of Molecular Sciences and Nanosystems of the University of Venice, and with the Department of Engineering of the University of Messina.

Polidesign in Milan is planning living labs with young designers and toy companies to prototype environmentally sustainable products. Ilaria Venturini Fendi is also collaborating on the new designs. The outer ‘shells’ of the warehouses are being transformed through a land art operation curated by Martina Corgnati and designed by Agostino Ferrari.

The industrial hub will be the main production node of a solidarity energy community that will allow the energy transition and fairness of the village, without impacting the landscape. Through production practices, forms of pre- and re-distribution economies will be experimented: people with social and health fragilities will be put to work and all profits will be allocated to support research actions on biomaterials and programmes to combat educational poverty in the area;

The research HUB will support the municipality in the implementation of a Social Green Strategic Plan that, thanks to the redevelopment of the historic village and reforestation, will make the area an attractive pole capable of contributing to the fight against Sicily’s desertification processes.

Local experiences of The Parks of Beauty and Science


Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or EISMEA. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

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