The #greendeal opportunity


The environmental, social and governance policy of the graphic paper supply chain within the framework of the #greendeal: objectives, strategies and projects for the paper and graphic industries. And an update on the “Sustainability and circular economy project” of the Paper and Graphic Federation.

Sustainability is an increasingly unavoidable topic, as well as a pivotal and enabling factor in the offer of companies, also in consideration of the fact that climate change and environmental degradation represent a huge threat for Europe and the world. To overcome this challenge, Europe needs a new growth strategy that transforms the Union into «a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy where there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050, where economic growth is decoupled from resource use and where no one and no place is left behind.»

In brief, these are the objectives of the so-called “European Green Deal”, which represents the EU’s turning point that shall pave the way to products from the circular economy and climatically neutral products from our daily lives, if one wants to reach the  Co2-neutrality2-neutrality by 2050. This is a project of ancient memory, whose name refers to the “New deal”, i.e. the economic revision policy implemented by F.D. Roosevelt starting from 1933 to get out of the the great depression after the 1929 crisis and to guarantee improved social security.

The plan now represents the roadmap towards a sustainable economy in the EU. A “pact” through which companies will be supported to maintain their commitments and reach their objectives: «In participating in the development of related norms and regulations, so that they are technically and economically compatible, » said Girolamo Marchi, President of the  Paper and Graphic Federation, «we will support at the same time the accreditation of the entire supply chain before financial administrations and institutions with the aim to promote investments with a view to sustainability and circular economy».

But that’s not all: if we are to achieve the strategies of the European Commission on climate neutrality by 2050, and make them tangible, i.e. if we are to facilitate the attainment of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals as defined by the Agenda 2030 of the United Nations, the Federation has elaborated a Manifesto that summarizes a number of targeted actions needed to implement the commitments of the paper and graphic supply chain.

Opportunities for sustainability and circularity

The commitment taken on by the paper supply chain through the new Manifesto will favour the diffusion of correct information on the sustainability of the entire production chain, starting from the use of forest resources and recycling and informing stakeholders within the federation of the objectives set and the targets achieved through their own communication channels and the media. This is, therefore, a great opportunity of sustainability and circularity for the member companies of the Paper and Graphic Federation and, as underlined by Marchi, «also to relaunch and improve the way the manufacturing industry is perceived by communicating to the outside and reinforcing the relationship with citizens. »

Yet, what are the steps of the pathway that will lead companies to open up towards a strategy of sustainability that is increasingly pivotal for the promotion of companies and their products?

To identify the real tools enabling companies to proceed along this pathway, the Federation has organized a webinar, with the support of UniSalute and in collaboration with BDO and the Forum for Sustainable Finance. This was an extremely interesting initiative for experts to address issues of sustainability and circular economy and offer useful training insights. The event was chaired by Andrea Briganti, Director of Acimga and one of the three directors of the Paper and Graphic Federation, who stressed in the opening session how companies are part of a system and in an osmotic relation with it, and as such they are elements of competitiveness but also of sustainability.

Focus on the “Sustainability and circular economy project”

Presented by Elisabetta Bottazzoli, project manager for the Paper and Graphic Federation, the project is involving and will involve companies, which consider this initiative as a real “call to action” to integrate sustainability in their business model. The aim is to support companies in making the most of a sustainable strategy that is fully integrated in their business model.

This project sees in the motto “United in diversity” a strategy for the supply chain based in the respect for its peculiarities and which avails itself of the collaboration of UniSalute, BDO and the Forum for Sustainable Finance.

The 4 steps of the project

The project first step, which has now come to an end, made it possible to compare the 21 companies involved in the development of the tool and the protocol. This step enabled the identification of indicators which shall allow a clear and transparent reporting towards various interlocutors, who will increasingly demand from us the capacity to monitor, measure and set objectives of improvement of the environmental, social and economic impacts of their activity.

The second and third steps, related to the development of the protocol and the pilot test, have now been merged into one, as the two tools are closely related one to the other: the phase of feedback collection by the companies involved has now ended and the conditions have been laid to finalize the protocol.

Towards the identification of the self-assessment tool

In the self-assessment tool, two fundamental aspects are correlation with relevance for sustainable finance, i.e. financial tools and bank credits requiring a very detailed reporting of one’s own commitment towards sustainability, and correlation with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Participating companies in this first step had to deal with a variety of indicators; this step marks the beginning of the structuring of the tool, which should be easy to access and use and enable those companies starting from scratch to identify their positioning and a process through which they can improve towards an increasingly complete reporting system, one that is capable to meet the needs of various interlocutors; while the most advanced companies will be able to advance and improve towards the attainment of detected KPI (Key Performance Indicators).

The tools and the final results will be presented soon.

Protocol structure

According to Bottazzoli, the protocol consists of two main parts: the first enables companies to monitor the evolution of the institutional regulatory context by listing all the fundamental points they should keep in mind. By acting on these topics, the Federation furthermore aims to contribute to the attainment and tangible implementation of the European Commission’s strategies on climate neutrality by 2050, as well as to facilitate the attainment of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals as defined by the Agenda 2030 of the United Nations. This part will then be followed by a second part on tools, which deals with the way a company should manage its sustainability reporting activities, also with a view to make the most of all the opportunities offered by this rapidly changing scenario.

A cross-cutting analysis

No sector-specific peculiarities have emerged among the companies member to Assocarta, Assografici and Acimga, stresses Bottazzoli: companies have provided rather uniform answers and shown great awareness towards all environmental issues. Instead, differences have been registered between large companies and small and medium-sized enterprises. While large businesses are already prepared to this kind of reporting, several small firms carry out numerous activities that could fall under the hat of sustainability and the same circular economy, however they take them for granted and do not communicate effectively what they do, considering this kind of narration as a cost, while the aim of this kind of communication is to have people understand that this is a way to promote what companies do.

The advantages of a sustainable strategy

1. Reputation improvement and increase of corporate brand value.

2. Better positioning of the supply chain also in terms of partner selection based on ethical, environmental and social requirements.

3. Risk assessment and risk management improvement.

4. Increase of the relational capital between the same companies.

5. Stronger support to stakeholders.

6. Attractiveness to talents and promotion of human resources.

7. Better access to the credit market.

8. Improvement of the legality rating.