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 role of Intesa Sanpaolo Group

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 2022-2024. 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 also for the 2022-2025 Business Plan.

The transition towards a circular economy is also being pursued thanks to the contribution of the Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center, a Group company which oversees all the activities carried out in the circular economy and which set up the Circular Economy Lab in 2018 in collaboration with Intesa Sanpaolo, Fondazione Cariplo and Cariplo Factory (last renovated in 2020).

The circular economy is above all an economy, the new regenerative economy in the era of sustainability, and represents a new economic paradigm capable of untying the economic and social development of businesses and territories from the exploitation of exhaustible natural resources. The model of an economy on a human scale and future-proof.

Massimiano Tellini, Global Head of Circular Economy & Team Circular Economy Lab

Loans in support of the Circular Economy

With a view to tangibly supporting businesses active in the circular transition process, the Intesa Sanpaolo Group renewed the circular economy credit plafond, originally launched with the 2018-2021 Business Plan, allocating an additional 8 billion euro as part of the 2022-2025 Business Plan. The credit plafond is available to customers of the Banca dei Territori, IMI Corporate & Investment Banking divisions and International Subsidiary Banks Division and aimed at Italian and international businesses that adopt the circular model with innovative methods, offering them the best possible credit access conditions.

In 2023, through the specialised support of the Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center, 384 projects were analysed and 366 validated for a total of approximately 11.7 billion euro. Out of this amount, the Group agreed to 7.2 billion euro for 242 transactions (4.8 billion euro relating to green criteria) and disbursed 5.6 billion euro taking account of previously agreed sums (of which 4.7 billion euro relating to green criteria).

As well as the circular framework, part of the credit plafond is dedicated to the green framework, to support businesses that invest in renewable energy generation, energy efficiency and sustainable agriculture and biodiversity.

Over the years a tranche of the credit line has also been allocated to support businesses that invest in the production of renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable farming and biodiversity, while another tranche has been dedicated to Green Mortgages for the acquisition of new energy-efficient homes (class B and above) or the redevelopment of homes with consequent improvements in the energy efficiency class.

As regards the credit process, on the basis of specific Circular Economy criteria defined together with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center is responsible for providing a technical assessment on the level of circularity of the initiatives proposed by businesses.

In general, support has been provided for numerous company projects for activities such as the replacement of critical and fossil fuel materials with recycled or organic materials, the reuse of urban organic waste for the production of biomethane and compost and the recovery of CO2, the revamping of renewable energy plants with the extension of their lifetimes and the increase in their production capacity, and the recovery of industrial waste for its reuse in new product lines.

The Circular Economy criteria

The circular framework eligibility criteria within the credit process, assessed by Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center, are as follows:

  • Solutions that extend the product life or cycles of use of goods and materials (application of modular design; implementation of reverse logistics programmes; reuse, repair and regeneration or reconditioning of products)
  • Production processes fuelled by renewable energies and products made up of renewable or recycled resources
  • Products and/or services that significantly increase the effectiveness in the consumption of resources, inside the company or its supply chain (adoption of industrial symbiosis principles and realisation of an integrated supply chain that turns waste into resources implementation of cycle closure models and application of eco-design principles and systemic design creation or promotion of a supply chain based on circular economy principles)
  • Design and/or manufacture of products that can be fully recycled or composted within an efficient framework of collection, separation and recycling after use (compostable products, recyclable products)
  • Innovative technologies that enable circular business models (Internet of Things to empower traceability services, reverse-logistics and/or predictive maintenance; use of additive manufacturing/3D printing to increase the easy-to-repair degree and the efficiency of the materials; Big Data analytics, Artificial Intelligence, and Cloud Computing aiming at dematerialisation services and/or marketplaces development for secondary raw materials).

As regards the tranche dedicated to the green framework, the criteria used for access to the credit plafond and by the Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center to provide an assessment are:

  • Renewable energies and in particular investments in production, transmission, infrastructure and associated assets, such as solar, wind, bioenergy/biomass and hydroelectric energy
  • Energy efficiency, for example, new investments and maintenance in infrastructure, technologies and services that contribute to reducing energy consumption and/or increasing energy efficiency; construction and redevelopment of new energy-efficient buildings
  • Sustainable management of natural resources and the soil, biodiversity; sustainable farming and urban greening projects.

The Circular Economy Lab - Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center

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.

The training on the Circular Economy

In order to promote and spread the paradigm of the circular economy, multiple initiatives were pursued and various new projects launched during the year. First and foremost, numerous activities to consolidate the Group’s internal skills were held, including: the organisation of themed webinars on the circular economy (e.g. for the International Subsidiary Banks Division); the publication on the intranet of videoclips called Circular Stories, which include interviews with customers and Group people on real life case studies; the development  and publication on the Group website of podcasts on circular economy topics involving authoritative figures on the various subjects examined each time; the sharing of experiences and success stories with the Group’s International Subsidiary Banks through the publication of video cartoons and podcasts.

The spread of the concept of the circular economy was also promoted through the organisation of business events thanks to the collaboration between the Regional Governance Centres of the Banca dei Territori Division, the IMI Corporate & Investment Banking Division and as part of the ESG Laboratories initiative. 

The Group has also demonstrated its commitment to the circular economy in the area of education. In 2023 the Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center, via the Circular Economy Lab (CE Lab), took part in the launch of the Circular Agent project for the creation of a digital platform by We-School, Italian leader in social impact projects for schools, dedicated to spreading the principles of the circular economy to lower secondary school pupils in the region of Lombardy. The project involves 50 local schools and began in November 2023 with the delivery of the first training modules.

The Intesa Sanpaolo's partnership on circular economy

  • In the area of research, the Group’s collaboration with Bocconi University in the field of Circular Economy & Finance continued in 2023. The partnership is based on an agreement between the Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center and the university (renewed at the end of 2022 for another three years) aimed at exploring the relationship between the circular economy and sustainability, improving the metric used to measure the level of circularity of businesses, and evaluating the opportunities that the circular transformation of the economic sectors, beginning for example with the concept of de-risking financial portfolios, offers the financial sector. Another activity in the area of research was the collaboration between the Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center, via the CE Lab, and the Energy & Strategy Observatory of Milan Polytechnic for the preparation of the annual report on the state of the circular economy in Italy
  • Intesa Sanpaolo collaborated with the Italian Circular Economy Alliance, of which it is promoter. 
  • More specifically, in 2023 the Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center contributed to the drafting of a report that highlights the role of the circular economy in activities to restore natural capital and biodiversity and participated in the drafting and presentation of the White Paper of the Community Valore Acqua, national initiative coordinated by The European House – Ambrosetti, contributing its specialist insights to the focus group on Circular Water. For the Bank, the project has been managed and coordinated by Institutional Special Projects and Policies, the scientific component has been entrusted to the Research Department. Given the wide transversality of the initiative, a working group has been set up which has also involved Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center, the IMI Corporate & Investment Banking Division, the Banca dei Division Territories and SRM.
  • In 2023, the CE Lab guided and facilitated the process of identifying circular innovation requirements through the launch two Circular Open Innovation programmes for the Mobility and Healthcare sector and a Circular Workshop project for the Fashion sector.
  • Another example of the way the Group uses its circular economy expertise to support businesses is the activity carried out by the Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center, via the CE Lab, as Technical Partner of Tech4Planet, second National Technology Transfer Hub launched by CDP Venture Capital in collaboration with Milan Polytechnic, with the involvement of Turin Polytechnic and Bari Polytechnic, which includes helping to analyse the merits of the circular business models of the investments proposed and working with the other Technical Partners on activities to support the teams on circular economy issues.

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