Italian paper and mould manufacturer Favini is a world leader in the design and production of release paper used in various sectors, including fashion and technical-sportswear. One of their most innovative and renowned products is packaging, made from the waste of natural raw materials such as algae, fruit, nuts and leather.
We interviewed Barbara del Sasso, responsible for QAS management, and Graphic Specialties Marketing Manager Michele Posocco, to find out what sustainability means to them and how they put the principles of circular economy into practice in their company.
How did the idea of using raw material waste for your production come about?
In 1991, an algae infestation in the Venice lagoon led us to study this excess material and produce the Shiro Alga Carta line. After this successful experiment, we decided to deepen our studies in order to integrate products and waste from the food chain into our paper production.
This is how we were able to create a true business symbiosis with other industries that allowed us to launch our product line “Crush” in 2012, featuring the innovative range of ecological papers made with waste from the agro-industrial processing of corn, citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, olives, almonds, hazelnuts, coffee, lavender, cherries and grapes.
Later in 2015, we created the “Remake” line, paper made from by-products of the leather goods chain. The latest addition to the line of upcycling papers is Refit, launched in 2019, containing fibres from yarn and textile processes.
Our 30-year-study in the laboratory has enabled us to replace part of the tree pulp with other materials. In our case, we are able to use 15% to 25% of foreign material, stabilising and optimising the product and producing a high-quality article. This way we have ensured that our papers have less impact on the environment because the amount of virgin material needed for its production is reduced.
Product innovation and high quality production processes have also led us to collaborate with major brands such as Barilla and Domori to produce paper lines with ad hoc materials such as bran and the shell of cocoa beans.
“We wanted to change the paradigm of papermakers, for whom paper must be absolutely white and without impurities. We wanted to show that another way of producing paper is possible, and even more sustainable.”
How important is sustainability for Favini?
Sustainability has many facets for us, from the product and the production process to a true passion that drives our strategies.
Circular economy was a path that we embarked upon long ago in the 1990s, when it was not yet part of the terminology and interests of end consumers. Over the years, the context has evolved and our R&D laboratory has experimented with new success stories in the field of industrial symbiosis and industrial ecology.
In addition to upcycling, our sustainability concept focuses on reducing our impact in the use of water, energy and CO2 emissions. We are also working to reduce our impact in the way we transport our products.
Historically, paper mills were established near waterways as they used both motive power to move machinery and water itself as a raw material for making paper. At our Crusinallo mill in particular, two hydroelectric turbines have been installed in the irrigation ditch that runs through the mill. Our self-production of electricity using hydropower is sufficient for the production of our sustainable paper lines.
For the energy from our on-site hydroelectric production, we wanted to add an extra quality mark. In addition to being renewable, by using the EKOenergy label we demonstrate our commitment to sustainability and create an extra positive impact.
At the time you started, Favini was the first EKOenergy user in Italy. Why did you choose to use sustainable electricity with the EKOenergy ecolabel?
The processes in a paper mill require a lot of energy, which is often ensured through dedicated cogeneration and hydropower plants. Favini has therefore decided to use renewable and sustainable hydropower energy with the EKOenergy ecolabel for its green production lines, combining energy saving and environmental respect.
In addition to cogeneration, we are also considering using EKOenergy-labelled renewables for the energy that comes from the grid so that our other product lines can also use EKOenergy.
“Our commitment to the environment has driven us over the years to look for alternative solutions to include by-products along with valuable raw materials to lower the ecological impact of paper production.”
EKOenergy was a small initiative when you began using the ecolabel. What do you think about its recent growth and what are your future plans with EKOenergy?
When we launched our eco-friendly product lines in 2015, we decided to go a step further when it comes to energy as well. This is why we decided to add the EKOenergy label to the hydroelectric energy produced on site. In this way we can demonstrate that our hydroelectric power generation meets additional sustainability criteria. Being the first in Italy makes us proud to have relied on the EKOenergy criteria for the energy we consume; showing our support for EKOenergy’s activities in Italy and elsewhere, using the label in our samples and on our website, continues to be our small contribution to promoting the energy transition internationally.
We are naturally very happy to see that EKOenergy has grown a lot since then, both in Italy and elsewhere, and us with them.
What is the next step for Favini?
Our intention is to continue to pursue the path of sustainability in an ever more concentrated manner. In our laboratories, we are constantly strengthening our know-how in the field of circular economy and testing new, more sustainable raw materials. In addition, our water and energy consumption and carbon footprint are monitored and actions are taken to reduce them.
We also participate in initiatives and events to present our case study in order to raise awareness and inspire others.
Through experimentation, we want to continue offering high quality products that appeal to the senses, pleasing to both sight and touch. It is a daily challenge to try to convince the part of the public not yet sensitive to environmental issues that producing in a more sustainable way, while maintaining quality, is possible.
We thank Favini for their dedication to circular economy and for answering our questions! We hope that their commitment to sustainability will inspire others to take similar steps, speeding up the transition towards a 100% renewable world.
To see other articles like this and to learn more about companies using EKOenergy-labelled energy, have a look at our user stories. We, and our licensees, are happy to help individuals and companies choose the most sustainable renewable energy available.
If you are considering ways to display your environmental commitment or thinking of switching to environmentally sustainable electricity, don’t hesitate to contact us. To stay updated, follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Xing!
Interview by: Sara Sciacca
Published on: 6 July 2021