podcast

Taking a bite out of the circular economy

Welcome to the second episode of The Italian Way To A Circular Economy podcast series. Here we’ll be looking further at how the circular economic model affects what we eat

17/07/2019

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In 2018, Intesa Sanpaolo launched both a new Lab in Milan dedicated to the circular economy and a €5 billion credit facility for SMEs and Corporates.

“In many ways the Lab doesn’t feel like the sort of space where you’d expect to find a bank,” explains Stefano Martini, who runs the project. “We want to work with entrepreneurs to help the transformation of the Italian industrial system in a circular way.”

Now Intesa Sanpaolo is stepping up its programme to shift from a linear to a circular way of doing things. “We are focusing on how that transition can be accelerated,” adds Massimiano Tellini, Global Head Circular Economy at the Intesa Sanpaolo. “The bank cares about finding people who understand what the transition is about and what the obstacles are – and finance is often cited as one of the obstacles.”

Intesa Sanpaolo’s second podcast in the Italian Way To A Circular Economy series explores just how the bank is doing that.

One of the key areas in which the bank is helping entrepreneurs to innovate is food production.

One such is Fruttagel, a food co-operative whose members are thinking hard about how to become more circular. A recent initiative has been to replace plastic straws with paper ones.

“Intesa Sanpaolo helps us in three different ways,” explains CEO Stanislao Fabbrino. “Firstly, making a generous amount of money available to finance the circular-economy project. Secondly, helping the CSR department of the company to communicate its story. Thirdly, creating an opportunity to build a network of companies along the entire supply chain by encouraging the creation of sustainability projects.”

As part of its work, Intesa Sanpaolo has signed a partnership with Ellen MacArthur Foundation as a global financial partner back in 2015 and renewed it for another three years this January.

 

“Intesa Sanpaolo helps us in three different ways,” explains CEO Stanislao Fabbrino.
“Firstly, making a generous amount of money available to finance the circular-economy project.
Secondly, helping the CSR department of the company to communicate its story.
Thirdly, creating an opportunity to build a network of companies along the entire supply chain by encouraging the creation of sustainability projects.”
Stanislao Fabbrino, CEO of Fruttagel, the Italian food co-operative

Nick Jeffries, who works on food initiatives at the Foundation, believes diversity in food production is crucial. “We need to grow food in a way that enhances rather than degrades nature,” he says. “At the moment 12 plant species and five animal species are responsible for 75 per cent of our food, and there are actually 30,000-plus plant food species and 600-plus animal species. By using more diverse food products in your recipes, you can have a direct impact on enhancing nature.”

There is also wasted food. Ludovica Principato, a researcher in the Business Studies Department at Roma Tre University, where she teaches food and wine marketing, also points out inefficiency of the current linear path.

“Up until now, 50 per cent of the world’s arable land and 70 per cent of its fresh water is taken up by agriculture. 1.3 billion tons of food globally is wasted and this could theoretically feed the 850 million people who are suffering with hunger.”

There is much to do. Ultimately, Massimiano Tellini concludes that the shift to the circular economy has to be underpinned by selling its benefits. This means sniffing out new things. “In the transition to a sustainable approach, banks have acted like a watchdog. Here we are trying to make a truffle dog – transforming the economic systems we live in.”

“We are focusing on how the transition to a circular economy can be accelerated”,   Massimiano Tellini, Global Head Circular Economy at the Intesa Sanpaolo

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