The Tuscan entrepreneurs seize the economic upswing with greener technologies and plants.

A consortium developing research on renewable energy, a company that designs and manufactures state of the art eco-friendly machinery and a business leader in the international paper industry show that the economy can truly grow and be sustainable.


Research in the field of energy as an opportunity for businesses

It sounds almost incredible that the Government of Quebec has asked the support of an Italian research centre to draw up its energy plan: but this is what has really happened with Re-Cord. This shows how the Consortium has become a very important subject and a reference point in the field of national and international research on sustainable growth and bio-energy.

Founded in 2010 as a non-profit organisation, Re-Cord is a public/private structure including the University of Florence through its intradepartemental research centre for alternative and renewable energy, the department of Industrial Engineering, Villa Montepaldi farm – run by the University-, Pianvallico Spa and Spike Renewables Srl. As explained by its Chair David Chiaramonti “Re- Cord systematises competences and resources offered by the members of the Consortium – a highly technological research network specialized in agricultural energies, bio-fuel and organic products. We offer research and expert advice to public institutions and businesses and endeavour to create job opportunities for highly specialized researchers within the University”.

Re-Cord is an important partner in international networks and its objective is to connect with the Tuscan territory through its K182 lab, its experimental plants and efficient and streamlined structure capable to quickly satisfy the demands of both businesses and the market. An example is the project for the local production of charcoal slack transforming it into thermal energy in small size pyrolysis plants: “The incentives on renewable energy are decreasing and therefore farming/forestry businesses have a limited investment capability; we then asked ourselves which technologies and bio-products would be the most suitable and one of the solutions we found was the production of short chain charcoal. Italy currently imports almost all its charcoal slack for domestic use – almost 60 thousand metric tons per year, which is a lot for Italian farm/forestry businesses and for the building of small/medium plants compatible with the investment capabilities of these firms. We have therefore developed a cutting edge pilot plant and at the same time developed a second one fitting the requirements of these businesses.

If the renewable raw material is produced in a sustainable and certified way from our forests this would be an advantage also for the environment and for the economy of the area. This approach is also acceptable from an entrepreneurial point of view since Re-Cord develops the research and holds the relevant patents; the new start up Bioentech pays the royalties to the Consortium and will build plants in Tuscany together with local businesses. Further ongoing projects have a more international flavour: Re-Cord is for example a partner of a series of European projects regarding second generation bio-fuel production chains, including aviation fuel. “Planes use special fuel which can be also produced with biomass. We process both depleted oil to be re-used for the production of bio-kerosene and carry out fuel tests in micro turbines.

Re-Cord’s mission is clearly a scientific one but it is also a wider challenge regarding society: “We have been active in innovative technologies on biomasses since the 1990s” says Chiaramonti “and have acquired contacts and credibility. But we also strive to demonstrate that it is possible to carry out research programmes on green economy also in Italy offering job opportunities to highly experienced researchers”. These competences are a valid help to businesses which today more than ever need new tools to be more competitive on the international markets.

Skies are clean with the new CIMA plants

The latest plant built by CIMA was tested at a well known international firm in Antwerp: it is a new system designed to be used in silver and goldworking. Its innovative technology allows to minimize the release of gas emissions and pollutants into the atmosphere. Always in the forefront in proposing original ideas, the company has always considered the quest for innovative techniques and energy saving as key for development. Luca Magi, the son of the founder and head of the company since 1993 says: "Our history begins in 1972 by welding the new polypropylene polymer and was consolidated in 1976 with the birth of Cima. In the past forty years the firm has expanded and now the plant covers an area of over 2,500 m2. We process plastic material (PP,PVC, PE and PVDF) as well as steel products in accordance with the current safety laws. Our plastic products are resistant to corrosion by all chemical compounds and during the years we have specialized in plant building and technical design custom made for our clients”.

Cima designs and manufactures suction and ventilation, reduction of gas emissions systems, treatment of particulate pollution, deodorization, stripping, soundproofing as well as storage tanks for any type of chemical substance. Our customers are leading firms in the chemical/pharmaceutical sector and centres for waste treatment and water purification. The plants for the reduction of pollutants designed for the plant in Antwerp and in this case answering the specific requirements of goldworking are a new system adaptable also to other businesses operating in different sectors. “Our product is innovative and highly technological; entirely designed and built by Cima. It is the largest plant ever built in Europe, entirely in PPS for the reduction of gas emission in precious metal refining with high energy saving and reduced pollution. Together with our partners we work following our inspiring principles in the field of research in order to offer our customers the best products available also in terms of reduction of consumption.”

A strategy supported by a quality much appreciated by our end users and suppliers, built on elements such as sustainability, professionalism, attention to the working conditions of our employees and our resolution to receive the opinions and suggestions of all those who are involved with the life of the company.

It is therefore no coincidence that Cima both managed to expand production of its chemical plants in several sectors, was the first company in Italy to use the software "Rita", has obtained the ISO 9001 and manufactures its products fully implementing the DVS 2212 regulations on welding of plastic material. Finally, in 2011, the decision to completely renew its workshops with state of the art machinery and Wegener automatic welding systems has allowed the company to improve and expand the range of its products which will be also presented at Expo 2015.

SCA Hygiene Products, doing business in a sustainable way is a reality.

The success of a company is directly related to its ability to bet on the future. One of the most important economic challenges of this millennium is undoubtedly related to the responsible use of energy resources. How can we harmonise this with doing business? Established in Sweden as a forestry firm and today the main private owner of forests in Europe, SCA is world leader in the production, processing and marketing of "tissues" and similar paper products.

SCA always answers this question by putting sustainability at the heart of its policies and asking suppliers and partners certifications to help guarantee the same attention. For the SCA paper mills of Lucca, Altopascio and Collodi the sustainable use of resources may be particularly affected by the consumption of water of which this type of industry is "greedy" explains Massimo Santolini, Lucca site manager "our policy has always been to limit the use of underground water. Today there are more than 5 billion people living on this planet, therefore we cannot allow its irresponsible use. This should be a firm principle for companies which use water for their production. In SCA half of the water comes from the drainage canals in order to lower the consumption of pure water – in our case, an average of about 4.7 litres per pound paper - compared with 20 litres worldwide.”

But for SCA paper mills this is the past; the future lies with two innovative environmental projects. “The first concerns the plant in Lucca where we have increased our ability to purify the waters bringing tank capacity to 420,000 m3 compared to previous 170,000 m3. This ensures that we can completely purify the outgoing water with values that fall within the parameters required for the re-immission of the water to the surface which will then be re-used both for industrial and agricultural purposes. However, we continue to channel the waters to the local consortium purification plant obtaining a double level of purification which is a guarantee for the whole territory.”

The second project was launched in Altopascio and is an experiment aimed at the recovery of rainwater from roofs. "The paper mill buildings are big and the area of Lucca is a rainy one; until now the waters from the roofs were channelled into streams. The idea was to recover them, intercepting the rain from the drainpipes, channelling it into a tank from where it is then pumped in the machines for the production of paper. "Following the principle Life of Care, SCA carries on with its development strategies in the belief that the quality of life of people is undeniably linked with care and respect of the environment.