The Brescia-based company is taking the benefits of a strong commitment to the issues of sustainability, respect for the environment, reduction of energy consumption, supply through renewable energy sources, etc. To date, the company has already abundantly exceeded two of the three milestones set by the Kyoto protocol for 2020. Not only that. This challenge was seen as a further strong push for technological and product innovation, from which everyone, operators in the supply chain and end customers, will benefit.
Brescia – "The results of the studies on the environmental health of our planet, carried out by scientists from all over the world, highlight levels of degradation that cannot leave indifferent and call companies to a new great challenge of responsibility: that of rethinking their activities to light of the principles of sustainable development, respect for the environment, safeguarding ecosystems. We wanted to take up this challenge by translating it into a further stimulus for innovation and the qualitative improvement of our products. In fact, we are confident that the technologies and knowledge we have today are able to overcome almost all environmental impact problems, simultaneously improving every aspect of both the production cycle and the final product. This belief, together with the strong commitment of the whole company, have been amply rewarded by the facts. Palazzoli today presents itself as a "green company" with very high standards of environmental respect, faithful - even in this area - to that pioneering spirit that inspired it in its hundred years of life, research, discovery."
These words of the President of Palazzoli S.p.A., Engineer Luigi Moretti, give a good idea of the spirit with which the company has faced a sort of "environmental revolution", which saw it, in the short space of a few years, make changes deep in all its activities, in the name of the elimination of products and processes at risk of toxicity, the reduction of energy consumption, the use of energy from renewable sources, the reduction of CO2 production, innovation and respect for the environment in general, obtaining very important results from every point of view.
Responsibility towards social environment and territory
"Our production plant - says Engineer Moretti - is in fact located in an urban area; in addition, the bond with the company and with the territory has always been very strong since the time of the company's founder, Federico Palazzoli, an esteemed and loved personality throughout the Brescia area. Attention to environmental quality therefore assumes for us the even broader and more global significance of a fertile and respectful relationship with society and with the territory.
It is also to them that we have given an answer, convinced, as we are, that the productive economic world, territory and social life are inseparable parts of a single system, and that each of them benefits from the overall health of the others. Hence our commitment to continue on this path also in the future with the same determination”.
The "environmental revolution" implemented by Palazzoli has materialized across the board with multiple interventions on company activities. We report below the main interventions, with the results achieved.
Elimination of dangerous chemicals
One of the first interventions adopted by Palazzoli concerned the banning of toxic chemicals, previously used mainly in surface treatments (electroplating and painting) and in the marking of products.
This happened with a progressive elimination from the production processes of dangerous chemicals such as:
- chlorinated solvents
- hexavalent chromium and other heavy metals
Their replacement with non-toxic materials took place without losing any valuable characteristics of Palazzoli products, which instead gained in "healthiness".
Thermal energy saving
Palazzoli has embarked on a substantial energy redevelopment program for its buildings, aimed at reducing heat loss by improving the insulation of both the structural parts (walls, floors, roofs), and the windows and light sockets.
Emblematic in this sense was the redevelopment of the roof of one of the factory sheds, with which the aim of remediation was also pursued by eliminating old corrugated products containing asbestos fibers.
Thanks to the increased insulation of the new roof and the replacement of the previous glass windows with alveolar polycarbonate panels, thermal energy savings (calculated on the basis of project data) are estimated, equal to:
- 000 kWh / year for the opaque parts
- 000 kWh / year for the windowed parts
An overall saving of about 400,000 kWh/year is expected from this intervention, which accounts for more than 20 percent of the company's overall annual thermal energy consumption.
Electric energy saving
Given the pervasiveness of the electrical presence in the corporate world, the action to contain consumption implemented by Palazzoli is divided into a very broad program of interventions, which affects all areas. The most significant and incisive of these interventions concern:
- the purchase of new machinery with higher energy efficiency such as presses (the first low consumption press purchased has resulted in a saving of 16,000 kWh/year); compressors with inverter (each saving 30,000 kWh/year); pumps with inverters, motors with higher efficiency, etc.;
- installation of intelligent lighting systems, equipped with automatic electronic regulators (dimmers) that adjust the intensity according to the presence of natural light. Already active in a 10 thousand square meter warehouse, an intelligent system of this type allows for considerable abatements, extended to all months of the year;
- a project has been underway for 2 years to replace all the internal and external lighting of the Palazzoli plant from halogen / incandescent / neon technology to LED technology.
In all industrial cycles that use water, Palazzoli has installed closed-circuit systems that make it possible to limit consumption. Where this was not possible, the cycles have been studied with the precise aim of minimizing water consumption.
The heating system of the complex where Palazzoli is based was converted by adapting it to district heating and thus obtaining a drastic reduction in methane consumption. Given the large amount of the values involved (approximately 1,800,000 kWh of district heating are consumed each year by the company), it was possible to save 170,000 m3 of methane on an annual basis. The use of the waste-to-energy plant also makes it possible to reduce CO2 emissions, for an amount estimated in this case at about 320 tons/year.
Waste and Packaging
The issue of waste was addressed by Palazzoli in its many aspects. As regards the disposal of waste products and waste in the strict sense, within the Palazzoli production site the separate collection of paper, glass, plastic, organic residues from the canteen, wood, iron, various metals (copper, brass, aluminium, ...), batteries. In this way, the undifferentiated component, destined for the waste-to-energy plant or landfill, has been reduced to a minimum and concerns non-polluting materials without any value.
As regards the packaging of the products, Palazzoli has introduced a set of measures that direct from the design phase towards two objectives:
- minimization of consumption of materials for product packaging
- facilitating the separation of materials at the end of their life, in order to maximize the possibilities for cost-effective recycling
When designing the new packaging, paper is preferred to the detriment of plastic. A banding machine and a packaging machine with recyclable paper bags were recently purchased to replace a packaging machine that used the shrinking of a plastic film.
The contribution deriving from products of the highest quality
Palazzoli's commitment has not focused only on the various areas described above, but has directly involved its mission, i.e. intervening on the quality of the products it offers to the market, because even by working on this front, an important contribution to a sustainable development is given.
In fact, Palazzoli manufactures most of its products in materials such as thermosetting polymers, aluminium, brass and stainless steel. These materials have an average lifespan of 20 years (about four times that of a normal plastic product). This actually translates into direct and indirect benefits for the ecosystem such as:
- high reduction of waste due to replacement
- high reduction of maintenance
- absence of halogens
- no use of toxic paints
- lower CO2 emissions
Reduction of CO2 emissions
The initiatives undertaken by Palazzoli allow a total reduction of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere by about 530 tons each year. To give an idea of what this means, just consider that this amount of CO2 corresponds to the emissions of a medium-sized car traveling for 3 million kilometers, equivalent to about 80 laps around the world around the equator.
A success with rare comparisons! And an even more promising future
The picture of the overall situation of Palazzoli's energy consumption is already today a success that finds little comparison in the Italian industrial world.
In fact, if we consider:
- the contribution of the new photovoltaic system (see Box 'A')
- the share of electricity purchased that comes from renewable sources (national average)
- district heating (40% biomass and 60% waste)
the contribution from renewable sources to the company's energy needs corresponds to about 60% of the total (see Box 'B').
But the future promises even more ambitious goals. By continuing its commitment and realizing the two objectives of greater energy efficiency (electricity -10%, heat -20%) and the installation of all the photovoltaic potential (additional 600 kW of peak), a contribution can be obtained from renewable energies by almost 60%!
We would have to be thrilled. But Palazzoli always aims at the maximum. And the recipe for achieving the goal of 100% energy from renewable sources is already very clear. Maybe we won't even have to wait long ...