International scandals show how some international companies have exploited the environment and people. There is an increasingly stringent policy. Moreover, there is also an increased inattentive and aware consumers. Similarly, the awareness of entrepreneurs in the role of the company has doubled.
There are many different motivations that push more and more companies to embrace sustainability as a guideline for their activities. It is a reality that increasingly characterizes not only by the largest companies but also the small and medium-sized enterprises. And which also see important development opportunities in this direction.
Committing to reducing the impact on the environment of production activities, considering the entire production chain, adopting a new development idea that can inspire the company processes in an environmental key. In this sense, environmental innovation is the key for companies in order to jointly obtain environmental and economic advantages; the reduction of costs and waste, the possibility of differentiation & entry into new and profitable markets.
Several companies are the protagonists of this new production season. On the one hand, there are large multinational companies, which have invested the enormous resources and skills in the company to make their processes more efficient and create products with zero impact.
Noto is the example of the Aquafil, which has succeeded in making a nylon thread from waste or from the Piedmontese Novamont, which produces biodegradable and compostable bioplastics. On the other hand, there are also countless small and medium-size companies that, despite the smaller resources available, have invested and continue to invest to develop new products that allow it to enter or thrive in interesting market niches.
The food sector is the sector where this ferment is the most visible, with companies such as Perlage Wine that for a long time exports organic wine all over the world. Moreover, there are many interesting examples also in other sectors, such as the Fashion One, where numerous start-ups have been set up to create sustainable t-shirts, clothing that uses sustainable materials such as bamboo, and even the creation of bags starting from the use of marc waste.
Sustainability is an important stimulus to innovation and a promising development path, but not without difficulties. Indeed, literature suggests that such innovations imply a greater degree of difficulty and medium-long term planning.
However, when on the one hand where they necessarily require integration with all the parties involved in the production chain; on the other hand, the characteristics of sustainability are not easily appreciable.
Far from preventing the introduction of innovations by companies, these characteristics motivate rather the importance of investing in internal resources and in external collaborations for innovation, especially for smaller companies.
On the one hand, customers, especially when it comes to other companies, represent an important stimulus to sustainability, motivating and directing the innovative effort. On the other hand, suppliers are key players, providing their customers with inputs and components through which they can reduce the sustainability of their products.
In the Veneto context, even if often not very well known, there are many examples of companies that produce components or inputs that make it possible to ‘transmit’ sustainability along the supply chain for a context with an innovative vocation such as Veneto, sustainability is a precious development trajectory, which stimulates companies to rethink their production processes by leveraging the skills and resources available inside and outside the company to introduce new products and processes; that can guarantee the creation of a social as well as an economic value.
There are many examples of success, which demonstrate the potential of this trajectory but there is certainly room for policy makers and research institutions to support this sector so that these best practices can become common practice.