Within the Circular Economy, Minimum Environmental Criteria (MEC) are a fundamental pillar, guiding companies towards more sustainable production and consumption models.
Sergio Lenzi, a central figure in Artigo for over 20 years, is a shining example of this commitment.
Artigo, under Sergio’s leadership and in collaboration with Sfridoo, has succeeded in realising several Industrial Symbiosis projects, finding opportunities for exploitation in the construction, fashion and automotive sectors.
Sergio, describe Artigo and your role within the company
My name is Sergio Lenzi and I have been Artigo’s R&D lab manager and Quality & Sustainability expert for 20 years.
Artigo, part of the Mondo Group, has always had a strong focus on sustainability and ESG systems.
We are involved in product certifications, which are essential to qualify our rubber floor coverings internationally.
With roots dating back to the Pirelli Group in the 1960s, Artigo became part of the Mondo Group in the 1990s.
Mondo is known for its athletics tracks and toys, such as the famous Supertele ball.
We have factories all over the world and produce a wide range of products, from flooring to synthetic grass for paddleballs and toys.
Artigo is based in Italy and I am proud to say that we are a leader in flooring, with major projects such as the Wuhan Hospital and Beijing Airport.
How would you define the MEC regulation and its relevance for the circular transition?
MEC, or Minimum Environmental Criteria, are a European response to the need to promote sustainable products and services.
The MEC regulation is crucial to ensure the sustainability and eco-friendliness of products and services. promoting the circular transition.
When we talk about resilient flooring, like Artigo’s, innovation becomes central.
That is why there are two main aspects of innovation that the company considers.
The first aspect is the available materials: I often found myself discussing and brainstorming what materials could be used.
Many materials, although interesting, often have no supply chain, making them impractical at an industrial level.
For example, an aesthetic material may require 30 to 80 tonnes per year, while a substantial material may require up to 500 tonnes. If there is no supply chain, we face a significant challenge.
The second aspect is product innovation because it is difficult to find recycled materials that can directly replace traditional raw materials.
Therefore, innovation in the way we formulate our products is essential to incorporate these recycled or recovered materials.
What are the advantages and challenges in using by-products?
I see by-products as an opportunity for the industry. They offer flexibility, simplified management, process optimisation and quality assurance. However, it is essential to have the right skills to handle these materials.
- Material flexibility: today I can choose whether to include materials of recycled or by-product origin in my flooring. The main difference lies in the fact that recycled materials come from industrial waste or municipal waste, whereas by-products escape this definition.
- Simplified management: managing waste involves a complex set of regulations. Companies have to obtain specific authorisations, which are often difficult to acquire and involve significant costs. By using by-products, however, I can bypass many of these complications. This leaner management allows faster processes and direct contact between producers and users, reducing costs.
- Process optimisation: I foresee the use of by-products becoming more and more widespread in the future. This will lead companies to create synergies and exchange materials that were previously disposed of as waste. In practice, what we call waste today will increasingly be regarded as a by-product, and therefore as a resource.
- Quality assurance: the by-product comes from companies or factories that can guarantee a certain quality standard. For example, if I decide to use plastic waste from municipal collections, I may find variations in the quality and composition of these materials. But with by-products, I have the guarantee of consistent and controlled quality.
What advice would you give to companies approaching the subject of by-products, the Circular Economy and Sustainability?
If I had to give one piece of advice to a company wishing to approach the by-product issue, I would suggest surrounding yourself with experts competent in Circular Economy and Sustainability.
Finding a consultant specialised in by-product management is crucial.
This is because, as we all know, not all materials qualify as by-products.
Having a person or team with the necessary expertise to discriminate, qualify and manage these materials is crucial.
This not only avoids possible penalties in case of controls, but also ensures that the materials used are suitable for the market in which the company operates.
Moreover, with the right expertise on board, a company can also build a valuable network.
The ability to connect seemingly distant sectors can open up unhoped-for opportunities.
For example, my experience at Artigo has shown how collaboration between companies from different sectors, such as construction and fashion, or construction and automotive, can be fruitful.
But these collaborations do not emerge from nowhere; they are the result of relationships built by consultants capable of acting as bridges between companies.
In conclusion, the key to success in approaching the circular economy and sustainability lies in investing in the right skills and the ability to build networks across sectors.
This, in turn, can open up new business and innovation opportunities.
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One of the challenges of the Circular Economy is to be able to communicate clearly and effectively the benefits that this economic model can bring to companies. By investing in this aspect we can increase awareness and knowledge in people