How to help companies to comply with environmental standards.

Phoresta / Interviews  / How to help companies to comply with environmental standards.

Interview with Gianluca Telera (born in 1979), Chartered Accountant and Auditor, one of the three founding partners of the Girotti Studio in Bologna. He has always shown a strong interest in environmental issues and was Member of the Scientific Committee of the Environment Observatory of the Emilia Romagna Region, for several years. He is an expert in various environmental issues, with focus on sustainability.

Q: The Girotti Studio provides environmental advice, especially on waste management. May you explain it in further details?

R: Basically, we offer our advice to “waste producers” for the protection of the environment and for sustainable development. We can do this thanks to a multidisciplinary team of internal and external experts. The 2018 ISPRA Data Reports show that Italy produced 30 million tons of urban waste and 135 million tons of special waste. We deal with all kinds of waste, but our focus is on special waste. We do a little bit of everything: from planning integrated waste management systems to drafting and presentation of the various authorization procedures to the competent bodies. We prepare Environmental Due Diligence and specific Regulatory Compliance Due Diligence for waste, as well as periodic audits and waste management audits. We support in the management of obligations, such as drafting the Single Environmental Declaration Form (MUD in Italian) and in the presentation of  Tax Exemption Applications (TARES). We also organize training and re-training on waste management of the administrative staff and the workers.

Q: Which kind of waste do you deal with?

R: We deal with all kinds of waste, with specific expertise in maintenance waste, medical waste and waste of electric and electronic equipment (WEEE).

Q: What kind of advice / assistance do you offer to the companies?

R: We try to cover all consultancy areas. Obviously each company has different needs based on the type of waste it produces. The most difficult part of our work is to try to identify for each customer and for each type of waste the most efficient solution in terms of management process and improvement of the environmental and economic conditions. For example: producers of maintenance waste for networks and infrastructures and / or of maintenance waste in general, have special requirements in relation to temporary storage and waste production sites, because of their specific legislation. The producers of medical waste have all the problems related to dangerous waste and to the risk of infections or other sanitary risks, therefore they have to solve transport and sterilization problems. The authorization process of WEEE (Waste of Electrical and Electronic Equipment) includes the financial and organizational responsibility of the manufacturer for the management of the entire life cycle in which the product becomes waste.

Q:  Why even the SMEs should deal with these topics?

R: All enterprises are involved in proper waste management, sustainable development and environmental protection. An integrated strategy on these issues must necessarily address the Italian SMEs. In Italy there are approximately 145,000 SMEs, that represent approx. 95% of the whole industrial sector. Even the scientist and politician, Edo Ronchi, former Minister of  the Environment, said that 80% of the environmental impact of the industrial sector in Italy is due to the activities of SMEs. Therefore the SMEs should no longer think of environmental protection and sustainability just in terms of Risk Analysis, but as an opportunity to improve their processes and their economic results and I think many of them are already doing it. I am not thinking only of the communication opportunities for products and brands (obviously refusing the ever present practice of Greenwashing), but above all of the economic and financial opportunities that the Circular Economy can offer.

Q: Are you also committed to sustainability?

 

R: Yes, indeed, we have dedicated considerable effort to these issues.

I am personally and emotionally involved in this type of work and I believe that everyone should be concerned because of its comprehensive concept that encompasses environment, society and business.

The adoption of the 17 objectives – the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – and the 169 targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the UN General Assembly, supported the definition  of actions to be taken in relation to the Millennium Development Goals.

The SDGs draw attention to the key role of enterprises in sustainable development. In fact, every type of business is required to adopt a proactive approach to sustainable development in the next 12 years, through the development of new models of responsible business, investments, innovation, technological enhancement and partnerships.

The Chartered Accountants and Business Consultants must assist each company in this evolution. Those who are in permanent contact with different and multiple realities, must invest in this role and play their part.

Recently, Oxfam published the 2018 “Walking the Talk” report, which analyzes what 76 of the world’s largest private companies are doing to meet the SDGs. The report states that only a couple of companies have already included the 17 Objectives within the guidelines of their sustainable development strategy, but also that half of them declared that they are planning to include them in the near future.

For the  time being, everything seems to be working on a voluntary basis. The EU Directive 2014/95 reflected in the Italian Legislative Decree 254 (December 30, 2016) refers only to public interest companies or to companies with more than 500 employees, whose consolidated financial statements meet certain budget criteria established by law. Even the Standards are voluntary, but now the GRI  (Global Reporting Initiative) has become a reference for the vast majority of companies approaching sustainability. And this is very positive, in my opinion. A common and agreed methodology facilitates data sharing and comparison of the various realities. But even without regulatory obligations I see that the enterprises are more and more aware of the environmental aspects.

Q: What do you think of the circular economy?

It is a revolution. A revolution that may solve some of the problems of our production sector. It can really become an opportunity for Italy. We must believe in it and work hard and indeed we are already ahead of other countries. The principles of the circular economy are close to those of the environmental economy (without arguing against the growth of the economic system, but rather counting on technological innovation and improved efficiency of the production processes) and they are part of the practices of weak sustainability, whose implementation is certainly easier but must be done as quickly as possible if we want to achieve an impact on the global system. Concerned institutions and clear policies must play their part. The “Circular Economy Package” (four directives on waste, packaging, landfills, electrical and electronic waste (WEEE), end-of-life vehicles and batteries) represent a good start. Its goals are ambitious but also realistic. It envisages that at least 55% of municipal waste is recycled by 2025 (60% by 2030 and 65% by 2035), that the waste disposal of landfills is reduced to 10% max. by 2035, that 65% of packaging materials will have to be recycled by 2025 and 70% by 2030. Textile and household hazardous waste will have to be collected separately from 2025, while biodegradable waste from 2024. This is just to list some of the objectives, but the scope of the directives is much broader. In a country like ours, the circular economy can really become a winning factor. Knowing how to produce with a minimum consumption of natural resources today represents a great virtue. In addition, the association between “circular goods” and “Made in Italy” can reinforce the distinctive character of our productions.

However, public policies and institutions will keep playing a key role. Our Minimum Environmental Criteria (CAM in Italian) are among the best in Europe, but they are not enough for boosting the Circular Economy. We must overcome as soon as possible the authorization block for the end of waste (EOW). The ruling n.1229 (February 28, 2018) of the Council of State declared that only the State and / or the European Commission can define the end of waste status, according to the Directive 2008/98/CE. The Ministry of the Environment has only tried to post-pone the problem and has recalled the technical times required for the definition of the EOW criteria. So far, the complaints of the entire recycling sector had no results, notwithstanding the support of the last Ecomondo Business Meeting, whose slogan was: “Without End of Waste the circular economy is a hoax”.

 

We thank Gianluca Telera and we will keep in touch.