SICIT Group commitment to environment
SICIT considers of utmost importance the protection of the environment in which it operates and fosters the development of initiatives that gradually decrease the impact of its activities and improve the awareness and sensitivity of all stakeholders involved. In line with this commitment, the two plants in Chiampo and Arzignano have adopted an Environmental Management System certified according to the UNI EN ISO 14001:2015 standard, periodically certified.
As previously described, in 2020, as part of the due diligence on environmental, health and safety aspects of the Arzignano and Chiampo production plants as part of the transition to the MTA market, an audit was carried out to verify the compliance with the mandatory requirements regarding environmental management.
Despite the fact that there are no significant risks in the activities carried out, SICIT identified the consumption of natural resources (electricity, natural gas, water, raw materials) and the emissions into the atmosphere (greenhouse gases and pollutants) among the potential environmental impacts. These impacts are constantly monitored and managed to guarantee the compliance with relevant regulations in force where SICIT operates and will be discussed in this chapter.
SICIT believes that promoting employee engagement and individual responsibility for environmental actions is an important part of its success. Therefore, it encourages employees to take an active part in the process by sharing information on environmental and sustainability issues. In its Code of Ethics, SICIT states that the Group’s primary values are policies related to respect for environmental issues. In particular, it pursues the continuous improvement of its environmental performance, committing itself to:
- maintain compliance with all applicable environmental laws and regulations;
- pursue continuous improvement, minimizing, where technically possible and economically sustainable, any negative impact of its activities on the environment, by preventing pollution.
In confirmation of SICIT’s commitment to minimizing the environmental impact of its business, it should be noted that the biostimulants and retarders for plaster marketed by the Group, which account for 82%* of revenues, are 100% biodegradable.
Even fat, which represents 12% of the Group’s consolidated revenues, is marketed by SICIT for the production of biofuel, an eco-sustainable fuel alternative to diesel fuel that allows to significantly reduce CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. The consumption of 1 liter of diesel fuel, in fact, contributes to an emission of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere 15 times** higher than the one generated by biodiesel.
Energy consumption & CO2 emissions
SICIT promotes since several years a careful and responsible management of its energy consumptions (electricity and methane gas); these derive mainly from the production plants, as well as from lighting, heating and cooling of the working environments. In addition to these consumptions, there are also the fuel consumption by the generator set and the company’s own logistic means. Electricity and methane gas are the main energy sources used in production processes.
In 2019 the total energy consumption of SICIT was 411,184 GJ. The main source of energy used is methane gas, which represents 90% of total energy consumption because it is the main source of energy in the production process*** while electricity represents 9.6% of total energy consumption.
The large flow of raw materials (flesh, animal hair, shavings and trimmings) required by the production process involves a significant use of energy. In the three-year period 2017-2019 the Arzignano plant registered a production capacity of about 130,000 tons of animal by-product with a hydrolysate production of about 17,200 tons. In the same period the production capacity of the Chiampo plant was about 35,000 tons of tanning residuals with a production of hydrolysate of about 19,159 tons.
Electricity is supplied from the grid and, since the second half of 2019, a cogeneration plant for electricity and heating has been in operation at the Arzignano plant. This plant, which will reach its full production capacity at the end of 2020, will allow the reduction of the plant’s energy costs. It is also planned to implement a cogeneration plant in the Chiampo plant by the end of 2021.
To further strengthen the commitment of consumption reduction, a photovoltaic system with a capacity of about 120 kWh for industrial use is planned to be installed in the buildings of Arzignano and two electric cars were purchased in 2020, and two charging columns are being installed, to replace the cars used to move employees between the Arzignano and Chiampo plants.
SICIT has obtained the renewal of the integrated environmental authorization (AIA) for the operation of the Chiampo plant with validity until 2029. This permit covers waste management, water discharge and emissions into the atmosphere and provides the requirements that must be adopted.
In order to reach the maximum treatment potential, the Chiampo plant has carried out a series of plant and structural improvements over the years and has decided, on a voluntary basis, to submit the plant modification to the EIA process, which ended with a favorable environmental compatibility opinion issued by the Province of Vicenza in 2015. In addition, SICIT submitted in February 2018 a non-substantial change request for the Chiampo production site for the installation of a new filter press section, a post combustion plant for gaseous emissions and a new alkaline hydrolysis plant.
As far as the Arzignano plant is concerned, the Province of Vicenza is currently approving the study of the environmental impact and the documentation relating to the AIA, presented by SICIT in July 2020.
SICIT’s production plants are included in the scope of the regulations on emission trading (Directive 2003/87/EC) and are listed in the register of companies authorized to emit greenhouse gases.
SICIT carefully monitors greenhouse gas emissions, aware of the implications that these have on climate, annually drafting the Monitoring and Control Plan (PMC).
Below are the main types of emissions related to the above mentioned energy sources. In particular, to report greenhouse gas emissions, SICIT has joined the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol, which requires the distinction of emissions into categories or “Scope”:
- Scope 1: direct emissions, associated with sources owned or controlled by the Company, as fuels used for heating and for the operational means needed for the Company’s activities;
- Scope 2: indirect emissions, deriving from the consumption of electricity purchased by the Company. Specifically, in compliance with GRI reporting standards, they are calculated according to Location and Market based methodologies, using appropriate emission factors.
In 2019, direct emissions of SICIT amounted to 20,814 tCO2 (Scope 1)**** derived from methane gas and automotive diesel fuel. Indirect emissions (Scope 2)***** instead, derived from purchased electricity, were 3,483 tCO2 based on the Location based calculation method; and 5,129 tCO2 based on the Market based method. The largest share of emissions is generated by natural gas consumption, followed by the amount deriving from the use of electricity. Total emission (Scope 1 and Scope 2 Location-based) was 24,297 tCO2.
Moreover, in 2019 SICIT recorded an energy intensity index of 17.23 GJ per ton of produced protein hydrolysate (23,867 total tons in 2019) and an emission intensity index of 1.02 tCO2/t considering the total direct and indirect location-based emissions on tons of produced protein hydrolysate. For comparative purposes, the energy and emission intensity indicators have been calculated by comparing the total energy consumption and emissions to the total production in tones of protein hydrolysate for both production plants of the Group because the latter is used as the basis for the finished product and common to both production plants.
Finally, a Carbon Footprint project was launched in 2020, at the end of which SICIT will be able to estimate CO2 emissions per kg of finished product.
SICIT constantly monitors all emissions of pollutants produced by its production plants into the atmosphere, to guarantee the safeguarding of health and respect for the environment.
In accordance with the regulations in force, each emission is regularly monitored so that the legal limits are respected: the chemical analyses carried out on the emissions measured by the chimneys are carried out by an external laboratory commissioned by SICIT.
With regard to the quantification of other emissions into the atmosphere different than CO2 emissions, for 2019 the NOx and SOx emissions were 55.25 tons and 3.29 tons respectively; with regard to other emissions, the plants produced 40.38 tons of other emission categories identified in the applicable legislation (NH3) and 2.08 tons of volatile organic compounds (VOC).
The Chiampo and Arzignano plants are subject to the assessment of odorous emissions by local authorities as part of the issuing of the Single Environmental Authorization in compliance with Legislative Decree 152/06.
In 2017 and 2018, the last date of measurement, the samples taken were submitted to olfactometric analysis for the determination of odour concentration, according to UNI EN 13725:2004. The analysis revealed the following levels of odour effluents:
- Average value of 677 units (ouE/ m3) for the Chiampo plant******;
- Average value of 675 units (ouE/ m3) for the Arzignano plant*******.
These levels are within the legal limits and have been discussed with the province of Vicenza. SICIT, moreover, in order to significantly reduce odorous emissions, generated in particular by the processing of animal by-products, has installed regenerative afterburners in both plants for the continuous monitoring and recording of the emitted fumes.
Management of water
SICIT is constantly looking for projects aimed at reducing water consumption in the various stages of production.
The Chiampo plant takes drinking water for hygienic-sanitary use from the municipal aqueduct while the water used for industrial purposes, used to supply the firefighting water network, the production process and irrigation, is taken from two wells located at the plant.
The plant carries on a voluntary basis the analysis of heavy metals and the bacterial load of the water taken from the wells. PFAS (Perfluorooctanesulfonic Acid) analysis is also performed annually. From the latest analyses performed, no critical points have been found.
The Arzignano plant supplies drinking water for sanitary use from the civil aqueduct, while the water used for industrial purposes, used to supply the fire-fighting water network, the production process and irrigation, is drawn from the industrial aqueduct.
In 2019, the total water withdrawal of SICIT was equal to 242 mega liters, out of which 100 from the wells and the remaining 142 from the aqueduct.
As far as water discharge is concerned, the Chiampo plant has two separate drainage lines: a line for rainwater from roofing downspouts and second rainwater and a line for black/industrial water. The site has obtained an authorization to discharge wastewater from the production process and rainwater from first rainwater into the industrial sewerage system managed by Acque del Chiampo S.p.A. In 2019, the plant discharged 95 mega liters of industrial water.
The water discharges of the Arzignano plant are of sanitary, meteoric and industrial type and a contract for the sewage and purification service of industrial waste water is in force with Acque del Chiampo S.p.A. Industrial discharges are subject to laboratory analysis to monitor the discharged water quality, which must comply with a series of parameters, amongst the main chemical parameters, chlorides and sulphates********. It should be noted that these parameters have never been exceeded for sewage discharges. In 2019, the Arzignano plant discharged 152 mega liters of industrial water.
In 2019, a total water discharge of SICIT was equal to 248 mega liters.
In order to assess its impact in sensitive areas, with reference to the withdrawal and discharge of water in areas subject to water stress, SICIT makes use of the Aqueduct Tool developed by the World Resources Institute********* to identify areas potentially at risk. According to this analysis, neither of the two production facilities were found to be located in water-stressed areas.
It is also important to underline that no accidental leaks or spills of hazardous substances into the environment were reported during the year.
Materials and waste management
SICIT was founded to address the problems of solid waste recycling in the tanning district of Arzignano (VI) and has established itself as the Italian excellence of the green and circular economy, which, by collecting and processing waste, limits waste production to almost zero.
SICIT fully embraces the principles of a circular economy, an economic system designed to reuse materials in subsequent production cycles, while reducing waste to a minimum.
The biostimulants, retarders for plaster and animal fat made by SICIT represent in fact a typical example of circular economy, in which the operators supply themselves with the scraps of the tanning industry that are transformed into finished products used in the agricultural and industrial sector. From the processing of leather comes a variety of waste, some of which can be recovered in various ways, with consequent environmental and economic benefits. Through the process of hydrolysis of animal proteins, in fact, free amino acids or short peptide chains are obtained to be used in the production of protein hydrolysates, in addition to the separation of animal fat. This plant and market solution is the one used in the SICIT plants for the treatment of animal by-products and other residues of tanning activities.
Out of a total of more than 146,000 tons of materials used by SICIT in 2019, 84% comes from the recycling of animal by-products and other residues of tanning activities.
It is important to emphasize that the waste materials that SICIT obtains and recycles come from the production cycle of meat and leather transformation and processing. Thanks to its activities SICIT contributes to reduce waste and the environmental impact to zero
- both of the upstream production sectors (meat production and leather processing), as these materials should be disposed of by the producers with an economic and environmental cost higher than what SICIT has sustained;
- as well as its own relevant production sectors (production of biostimulants for agriculture, production of industrial additives, and production of biofuel from alternative sources to oil, such as animal fat), drastically reducing the need for specific production from scratch to feed its production flow.
SICIT is careful about the management and disposal of waste in accordance with current regulations and as part of its commitment to environmental protection. Waste is disposed of in compliance with Legislative Decree 152/06 and is sent to special treatment plants and/or landfills.
In 2019, the waste produced was equal to 13,131 tons, representing only 9% of the total materials used by SICIT for production. Of these 97% are non-hazardous waste and only 3% hazardous. 95% of the waste produced was disposed of in landfills while the remaining 5% was recycled. Hazardous waste represents a marginal share and consists mainly of used motor oil, packaging containing residues of hazardous substances and organic waste containing hazardous substances. Waste similar to municipal waste, coming from the canteen and offices, is collected separately and delivered to the municipal collection service.
As part of the Environmental Management System UNI EN ISO 14001:2015, SICIT periodically and independently carries out specific audits at landfills in order to verify the correct disposal of waste according to the law.
* Sales of agricultural products, equal to 31 million Euros, represent 55% of revenues and sales of plaster retarders amount to 15.3 million Euros (27% of the total). Source: Consolidated financial statements as at Dec. 31, 2019 – Restated according to IFRS principles and drafted or specific purpose (SICIT Group).
** Emission factor for diesel 2,54603 kg CO2e/lt and for biodiesel 0,16580 kg CO2e/lt (DEFRA 2020).
*** Methane gas is used as a post-combustion fuel to power the cogenerator and a product drying plant (skydryer).
**** For the calculation of Scope 1 emissions, the emission factors “ISPRA – National Inventory Report 2019” and Ministry of Environment – National Standard Parameters Table 2019 were used. The emissions of Scope 1 are expressed in tons of CO2, as the source used does not report the emission factors of gases other than CO2.
***** The GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards provide two Scope 2 emissions calculation methods, the “Location based method” and the “Market-based method”. For the calculation of Scope 2 emissions, in line with the GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards, both calculation methods were used. The Market-based is based on the CO2 emissions emitted by the energy suppliers from which the organisation buys electricity through a contract and can be calculated by considering: certificates of guarantee of origin of energy and direct contracts with suppliers, factors specific supplier emissions, emission factors related to the residual mix, i.e. energy and emissions not monitored or unclaimed (methodology used, with emission factor Italy 2019: 466 gCO2/kWh – source: AIB – European Residual Mixes 2018). The Location-based method is based on average emission factors relating to the generation of energy for well-defined geographic borders, including local, subnational or national borders (methodology used, with emission factor Italy 2019: 316,4 gCO2/kWh – source: ISPRA 2019 – Fattori di emissione atmosferica di gas a effetto serra nel settore elettrico nazionale e nei principali Paesi Europei). Scope 2 emissions calculated with the Location-based method are expressed in tons of CO2, however the percentage of methane and nitrous oxide has a negligible effect on total greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 equivalent) as can be deduced from the reference technical literature.
****** The data refers to a sample taken and analyzed in December 2018.
******* The data refers to a sample taken and analyzed in January 2017.
******** Regulation of the Integrated Water Service Management Company on the subject of sewerage and purification of waste water delivered to the industrial sewerage system of 23.07.2018, pursuant to Legislative Decree 152/2006.
********* The WRI tool is available online at https://www.wri.org/our-work/project/aqueduct. For the analysis, the results from the “baseline water stress” column have been taken into account.