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Support to the Circular Economy

The Circular Economy is fundamental for an economic development that generates positive environmental and social impact. The circular model is based on the redesign of industrial processes and business models to generate economic and competitive advantage for companies, with a regenerative approach towards natural capital. Its objectives include the generation of a virtuous cycle in the use of resources, overcoming the linear model which involves extraction, production, sale and waste. 

The Intesa Sanpaolo Group promotes the spread of the model, drawing on the support of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the main promoter of the global transition towards the Circular Economy. The collaboration with the Foundation, of which Intesa Sanpaolo is now Strategic Partner, continues through a three-year agreement 2019-2021.

Intesa Sanpaolo will continue to redefine business strategies in an innovative way, ensuring financial support for investments to facilitate the redesign of the industrial system. The activity is considered of primary importance for the Group and is indicated as a strategic pillar within the 2018-2021 Business Plan.

The transition to a Circular Economy continued, also with the contribution of the Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center, a Group company which oversees all the Circular Economy activities.

The Circular Economy Lab (hereinafter, CE Lab), launched in 2018 thanks to a Framework Agreement between Intesa Sanpaolo and Fondazione Cariplo with the goal of supporting and assisting the transformation of the Italian economic system and disseminating new models of value creation in the collective interest, accelerating the transition to the Circular Economy, was relaunched with the renewal of the partnership signed in July 2020.

In order to provide tangible support to companies involved in the transition process, the Intesa Sanpaolo Group, within the time-frame of the 2018-2021 Business Plan, has decided to provide a credit plafond of up to 5 billion euro (6 billion euro following the operation with UBI), aimed at companies which adopt the circular model with innovative procedures, granting the best conditions for accessing credit.

In 2020 this business support tool was also extended to the foreign banks of the International Subsidiary Banks Division. In addition, a tranche of the credit plafond was allocated to supporting businesses that invest in projects in the area of the production of renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable farming and biodiversity. Still in the area of green initiatives, a tranche of the credit plafond was also dedicated to supporting the Green Mortgages requested by customers for the purchase of new high energy efficiency houses (class B upwards) or the refurbishment of houses with consequent improvement of the energy class.

In 2020, plafond disbursements amounted to approximately €1.5bn (€2.2bn since launch).

In particular, as part of the credit process, Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center, based on criteria connected with investments in the Circular Economy defined together with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, is responsible for providing a technical assessment on the level of circularity of the initiatives proposed. The innovation center also expresses an evaluation with regard to the tranche related to green projects.

Out of a total of 441 applications reviewed since the launch of the credit plafond (including UBI Banca), 145 projects were funded for a value of more than 1.3 billion euro at the end of 2020, 10 projects with green criteria for a value of around 70 million euro. Numerous company projects were supported for initiatives such as the replacement of traditional materials with others from recycled or biological sources, the recovery of urban organic waste for biomethane production, with the production of compost and recovery of CO2, the production of coloured compostable fabrics with dyes made from agricultural waste.

Training and awareness initiatives have also continued, producing the following overall results: over 450 workers participated in specific courses; 19 training tools and 7 Circular Economy Podcasts; around 800 students were involved in circular lectures. With regard to the Banks of the International Subsidiary Banks Division, in May and June 3 online sessions were held for the Managers and Relationship Managers of the Corporate&SME functions

During the year, the circular assessment of businesses along their value chain also continued (over 100 businesses were interviewed) through the use of the Circular Economy Standard, an instrument used to measure the level of circularity.

With regards to start-ups and Circular Economy, in 2020, the Start-Up Initiative which selects the most promising innovative start-ups, prepares them to face the market with coaching initiatives, and introduces them to the players of the innovation ecosystem continued. The selection process integrated together the circularity criteria in the overall assessment. An italian start-up which operates in the bioeconomy sector were awarded as Circular Economy success stories. 

In the context of partnerships and collaborations, meetings of the Alleanza Italiana per l’Economia Circolare (Italian Alliance for the Circular Economy), of which Intesa Sanpaolo is the promoter, together with Enel, also continued. 

In June 2020 Intesa Sanpaolo was the winner of the ABI Award for Innovation in Banking Services in the Innovation in Sustainable Finance category thanks to its Intesa Sanpaolo Circular Economy Plafond project. The award recognises the company's willingness to contribute to the development and transformation of the Italian economic context, making a positive impact on both society and the environment. In December, this award made it possible to participate in and win the XI National Innovation Award – Premio dei Premi, established by the Office of the President of the Council of Ministers with the permission of the President of the Republic, who every year presents it to the best innovation projects in the banking, industry, services, university, public administration and voluntary sectors.

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