Interview to Guido Fornari and Sauro Abrami.

Regulation and sustainability: cross-border consulting

Ecol Studio skills and experiences to assist paper mills throughout Europe

by Federico Reguzzi

Different and sustainable producing is a responsibility also for the paper industry. Today, the mills that intend implementing and improving their environmental sustainability, can refer to Ecol Studio – Italian company expert in environmental monitoring and analysis – that offers new services of consultancy and assistance even at European level, in particular with Ecolabel trademark.

Ecolabel helps identifying products, semi-finished products and services with reduced impact on the environment during the entire course of their lifecycle – from raw material extraction to its disposal, passing through its production cycle, use and distribution. It is a voluntary scheme, approved at both national and European level, with EU Ecolabel. The granting process is based on the identification of significant environmental impacts, by establishing how to intervene in individual cases to reduce or eliminate them completely. The trademark covers a wide range of products and materials, including those made and used by the paper industry.

The current version of the trademark meets Regulation 66/2010, in force on February 19th, 2010 and modified by Regulation 782/2013 of August 14th, 2013, for the part concerning annex III.

Opening to Europe

Currently in Italy the only laboratory licensed for the independent control of Ecolabel on all paper products is Ecol Studio Born and headquartered in Lucca, the company is launching a consulting project aimed at business customers who reside outside Italy. We talked to Guido Fornari, General Manager, and Sauro Abrami, Research & Development Manager of the company. «For several years we have been exploiting at an European level the skills that have distinguished us within the paper industry and that still qualify us as the only Italian certified laboratory where paper companies can get the Ecolabel trademark»; as a matter of fact the laboratory from Lucca was the first lab meeting the requirements for the analysis of environmental factors and products necessary for obtaining the trademark. Also in the rest of Europe, there aren’t many structures that have our same experience; in fact in Italy there has been one of the greatest European developments for Ecolabel in the tissue paper sector and our survey was important in this field for the technical and consulting support we offered to companies. In addition we were born and developed in Lucca, the city that represents European excellence for the paper industry». The experience gained by Ecol Studio has enabled to get in touch with European producers, «as of today our organization has the skills and experience to assist paper mills throughout Europe.»

Guido Fornari, Ecol Studio General Manager.

The stages leading to the trademark

The service proposed by Ecol Studio «integrates laboratory and consulting activities for the assessment of businesses’ performances with the technical documentation which must be submitted to the competent authorities for issuing Ecolabel trademark».

The consulting activity is divided into a number of stages. Firstly, pre-audit is performed at the company, «this operation enables us to understand whether there are the necessary conditions for getting the trademark» explain the managers. «After the audit, we carry out the service planning, by indicating the necessary methods and time required for implementation; then the collection and processing of the documentation concerning the production process; finally, analysis on environmental factors and finished product. After completing the analysis and data collection, we draft the technical file, whose contents must be verified and approved. Finally we deliver the dossier to the competent authorities «. However our service doesn’t end by getting the trademark, «we guarantee the company our support for all periodic inspections and activities related to the proper maintenance of the trademark».

Laws: from EU to detail

Although Ecolabel trademark derives from an EU Decision, that is a legal institution that has immediate implementation, each country makes it more usable in-house, drawing up appropriate technical manuals that help producers in drafting the trademark. Turning to more nations, therefore, entails the need to know what is established by the various competent bodies. «As far as we are concerned, we are aware of how the European scenario is structured and this allows us to be able to assist companies; our goal is to work with internal resources, train them and share with them the actions and the preparation of required documents».

The main reason that drove the company to open up to cross boarder countries is the need to further develop its business according to the skills acquired over the years; in particular its experience in the paper sector has become the hallmark of the laboratory, «we want to expand our skills to the greatest number of topics» they explain. «What’s more, our mission is to help companies produce in an eco-friendly way, so that in the future the new generations can enjoy the same prosperity that we have today.»

Between Moca and energy

Our consulting service for European companies will primarily deal with materials in contact with foodstuffs, sensitive issue which closely concerns the paper industry. For the use of Moca – materials and items in contact with food – guidelines based on compliance with GMP (good manufacturing practices) have been drawn up, in accordance with the EC Regulation 2023/2006. «At a European level we are already analyzing for multinational companies materials in contact with food, such as paper and cardboard» explain the two managers. «These are used for packaging and transporting foods throughout Europe. The analysis on packaging are intended to verify material suitability and ensure food integrity.

Consulting activity, however, will not rely only on Moca, «an important aspect that we are dealing with is the rational use of energy. In this case, consulting is done by verifying energy sources and uses, in addition to their direct impacts on the site. In this context, our expertise is expendable at a European level in view of Italian high energy costs that impose higher efficiency on companies in order to compete on the global market.»

Sauro Abrami, Research & Development Manager, Ecol Studio.

The sense of consulting

The Companies that can contact Ecol Studio are those that produce, in particular «tissue paper for trademarked items (sanitary paper, napkins ecc.) and, as a result of the most recent EC/EU Decisions, also paper mills that produce paper for copies, graphic paper, newsprint paper, printed paper and that will soon include manufacturers of transformed paper; Of course, the market and the trademark are also open to converting, which are companies who buy semi-finished material – always Ecolabel trademarked – transforming it into finished product with Ecolabel trademark.

The services offered by the company from Lucca, are turning to all those companies that decide to follow a path towards a new way of conceiving production; «we believe – state Fornari and Abrami – that it’s a kind of business culture and commitment to produce in a different and sustainable manner. Contacting a qualified and certified structure as Ecol Studio is a guarantee to achieve one’s goal in planned times and manners, and our experience allows preventing problems, resource expenditures, time and costs.»