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From carpooling to packaging, sustainability according to Euro Company

Interview with general manager Mario Zani

An app for employee carpooling, the status of benefit company and B Corp, renewable energy in plants: there are many initiatives launched by Euro Company on the sustainability front. General manager Mario Zani tells us about it.

An application that helps employees organize the journey from home to work by carpooling: this is the idea that earned Euro Company, a producer of dried and dried fruit, the "Responsible Innovators" award assigned by the Emilia-Romagna Region (see EFA News article dated 1/18/21 ). This is one of the latest initiatives in chronological order with which the Romagna company, benefit corporation and B Corp, intends to stand out in the field of sustainability. We talked about it with the general manager Mario Zani.

What does sustainability mean for your industry?

The world needs us, our contribution: the impact we have today on our planet must not compromise the future of the generations to come. In the dried fruit sector - and more generally in the food sector - I believe that sustainability means satisfying the consumer of today thinking of the consumer of tomorrow, and taking into account the economic, social and environmental context. From the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to the optimization of water resources, from the development of short and traceable supply chains to the protection of workers, from attention to the consumer to the positive impact on the community: the contexts are obviously in synergy and we work to bring about a concrete change in our sector. Because sustainability above all means having a long-term development perspective: on the one hand there is the need to protect people, their rights and their health, on the other hand, the conservation and protection of natural resources and ecosystems. This is the concept that we declare with our vision: to be a reference point for healthy and sustainable nutrition, focusing on health, the planet and respect for people, with the aim of influencing the entire food industry.

What other sustainability initiatives are you putting in place?

We became a benefit company in 2018 and B Corp in 2019. For example, we set out to pack all products in 100% recyclable packaging and in the last year we started designing recyclable packaging according to the guidelines provided by Conai, and brought at the end of the Life Cycle Assessment (Lca) study which confirmed the correctness of the eco-design process undertaken and provides us with elements to further improve the results achieved so far. We are also committed to reducing packaging (in the last year alone we have reduced tons of waste from mixed packaging by over 28%), and we use energy from wind sources. But that's not all: we develop projects dedicated to our collaborators such as Nuts4Green, the challenge of “Intelligent Mobility” through which to certify the home-work journeys traveled by carpooling, bike and on foot; we offer free ground coffee and we have given a steel bottle to each employee, who can fill it in the micro-filtered water fountains in the company.

What results have they given you so far?

Let's consider that 120,000 tons of waste produced by coffee capsules are consumed every year in Italy. So we decided to eliminate them, introducing new coffee machines which, by grinding the beans at the moment, produce 100% compostable waste. The result is that by giving ground coffee beans to all employees, from the introduction of the new machines to today, we have saved over 200,000 capsules, equal to 1 ton of plastic and aluminum. Thanks to the water bottles, however, we have saved over 100,000 bottles a year. This means over 3 tons of plastic saved, with a 90% reduction in CO₂ emissions! Changing our daily habits offers us surprising results: also in terms of mobility, thanks to the Nuts4Green project, we have saved -743 kg of CO₂ emitted and our collaborators have reduced the costs of moving home-to-work. Last December, thanks to this project, we received the Responsible Innovators Award of the Emilia-Romagna Region.

Are you planning any new initiatives?

For us, sustainability is not a goal but an ongoing path that commits us to the development of ever new solutions that have a positive impact on the environment and on people. For example, in the next three years, the solar panel roofing of the new business center and the production plant under construction will allow us to directly produce part of the electricity and will help to avoid the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We then decided to designate an interdepartmental committee for ethical sustainability that will share corporate social responsibility projects and monitor their impacts. In order to take a picture of the sustainability level of our company, we will then compile the SSG Action Manager: a tool created by B Lab, in collaboration with the United Nations Global Compact, to provide companies with a tool capable of formulating a business performance analysis. These are just some of the goals for the coming years. The future of Euro Company and its people is a continuous path of growth and research, with a clear goal: to influence the entire food industry with our behavior, aware that food is our mission and our duty towards consumers.

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EFA News - European Food Agency