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Benefit Corporation, balancing profits and safeguards

Benefit Corporation, balancing profits and safeguards

The way that we do business is changing and today companies must take steps to reconcile economic goals with the interests of people and the environment: this is the only way that we can conceive of a sustainable future.

In a global scenario where the need to care for our planet is becoming more and more pressing, there are many measures which support a low environmental impact as business model, and new tools enabling companies to confirm their credentials as partners of excellence in this transition towards total decarbonization.  

Benefit Corporations represent the evolution of the notion of a company because they integrate in their business model, together with profit targets, an explicit commitment to operate responsibly and sustainably, protecting the interests of stakeholders and the environment.

 

Europe and China working towards decarbonization

The European Commission has led the way with a major step forward in quality terms: not only has it introduced the Green New Deal, the major economic and regulatory plan for a more sustainability Community, but it has also revised its CO2 reduction targets for 2030 (raising them to 55%), aiming for carbon neutrality by 2050. The fight against climate change has become one of the key factors in the European economic model, able to enhance the competitiveness of businesses in every sector.

The European Parliament intends to review all existing environmental legislation and to introduce new laws on the circular economy, the renovation of buildings, biodiversity, farming and innovation.
China has also announced that it wishes to achieve the goal of climate neutrality by 2060.

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Italy leads the way internationally

We are European champion in the circular economy and the efficient use of resources. As Eurostat (the Statistical Office of the European Union) informs us, Italy is in absolute terms the EU country with the highest percentage of recycling of all forms of waste combined: 79%, twice the average (just 39%) and well higher than all the other large European countries (France recycles 56%, the United Kingdom 50% and Germany 43%).

And that’s not all. Overall, the use of secondary raw materials in the Italian economy generates a potential saving of 23 million tons of petroleum and 63 million tons of CO. These values correspond to 14.6% of domestic energy demand and 14.8% of climate-changing emissions (2018 figures).

 

Digital technologies and finance embrace the green revolution

Digital technologies will provide a further boost to the European economy’s transition to circularity and dematerialization, allowing us to reduce our dependence on foreign raw materials.

There are also trends which reach beyond the borders of our continent. In 2019 photovoltaic power accounted for the lion’s share of added power generation capacity globally: with no less than 118 GW installed, solar power represented almost half the 265 GW of new electrical power. Wind power plant installations more than quadrupled in the first half of 2020 compared to 2019, thanks to the continuous reduction in costs and the Chinese subsidies in this area, which will terminate at the end of 2021.

 

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The global green transformation is also embracing finance. Green bond issues in the Euro area set a new record in 2019: 170 billion Euro, +50% compared to the previous year. And looking at the index trends, it can be seen that in 2019 green bonds generated yields of 7.4%, compared to the 6% of ordinary bonds.

 

Business and environmental and other safeguards

When it comes to business and environmental safeguards, Italy has led the way in its rapid adoption of the Benefit Corporation concept: in 2016 it was the first country after the United States to regulate the sector, to enable entrepreneurs, managers, shareholders and investors to protect brands’ profitable purpose and distinguish themselves from all other forms of company on the market.

In fact, an ever-growing number of corporations are amending their articles of association to include the generation of benefits for society as a whole, as well as profits for shareholders, in their corporate purpose. This implies the mission of operating in a responsible, sustainable, transparent way in relation to people, communities, territories and the environment, cultural and social goods and assets, public sector bodies, associations and stakeholders.

These aims are formally included in the company’s corporate purpose and must be pursued by constantly striving to balance shareholders’ interests against those of all the other people and organizations involved.

 

Florim, above and beyond the Sustainability Report

The companies which immediately appreciated the strength of the Benefit Corporation concept include Florim, which, in line with the Benefit Corporation (Società Benefit – SB) business model, has therefore modified its articles of association and its name to become Florim S.p.A. SB.

After pursuing goals of transparency and the protection of people and its local area for many years, the Fiorano Modenese company decided to go above and beyond the annual reporting of the actions taken, certified by its sustainability report (now at its twelfth edition). On 19 March 2020 its corporate purpose was modified to include the constant commitment to continuous innovation as regards the sustainability of the processes and environmental impacts of all company activities, which thus became an obligation on the company’s management.

This also implies the adoption of pollution prevention criteria, including additional energy saving and efficiency projects. It will be just as important to promote a positive and inclusive workplace for its employees, safeguarding their rights and duties, safety, training, growth and the development of their potential, including the adoption of concrete company welfare measures. Florim’s commitment is a genuine one, expressed through real activities for the good of the local community, people and the environment.

 

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Florim Headquarters in Fiorano Modenese (MO)

I numeri verdi di Florim

  • 45000 m2 of photovoltaic panels;
  • 2 cogeneration plants;
  • 12,452 tons of CO2 not emitted (2012-2019);
  • 96.5 GW of electricity self-produced;
  • 100% recycling of wastewater;
  • 100% recycling of industrial greenware waste;
  • up to 100% of total electricity consumed is self-produced;
  • products made with over 90% natural raw materials and on average 26% recycled materials;
  • up to 70% recycled material in outdoor products in the 2 cm thickness;
  • Over 20 international product certifications and many process certifications.

Florim was the world’s first ceramic covering manufacturer to achieve EN ISO 50001 certification for its effective energy management policy. This is alongside EN ISO 14001 environmental management certification, ISO 9001 certification of the quality management system, 45001 occupational health and safety certification and AEO customs status certification. Florim has also joined the industry’s EPD (Environmental Product Declaration) scheme, an international form of certification which measures the environmental footprint of various products throughout their life cycles.

 

With regard to the company’s production plants, the recent Industry 4.0 factory at Fiorano Modenese is one of Italy’s very few industrial buildings certified in class A++++ (rating confirmed by Emilia-Romagna Regional Authority engineers).

 

 

These are the issues and actions that make a company the market benchmark and a trusted partner for anyone wishing to operate within an ethical, positive system, in any point of the architecture chain of value, from design to facility.

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