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 2022, through the specialised support of the Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center, 430 projects were analysed and 420 validated for a total of 9.1 billion euro. Out of this amount, the Group agreed to 4.7 billion euro for 230 transactions (2.6 billion euro of which related to green finance) and disbursed 3.1 billion euro (2.2 billion of which related to green finance).

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.

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 evalutation with the Circular Economy Standard

During the year, the experimental assessment of businesses along their value chain also continued (over 100 businesses have been interviewed since the start of the initiative) with the use of the Circular Economy Standard, an instrument used to measure the level of circularity; in-depth webinars on Circular Economy issues were also held for businesses in collaboration with the Regional Governance Centres and the IMI CIB Division, and as part of the ESG Workshop initiative.

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

To spread and share these criteria within the Bank, the activities to consolidate the Group’s internal skills have continued via a series of initiatives, including the organisation of themed webinars (e.g. with a select group of over 100 people from the International Subsidiary Banks Division); the creation of ‘Circular Stories’, internal audio-visual content including interviews with customers involved in real-life cases; podcasts on circular economy topics aimed at an external public and involving authoritative figures on the various subjects examined each time.

With regard to the International Subsidiary Banks, during the year, 5 online sessions were organised, 2 of which for the SME segment, dedicated to Managers and Relationship Managers in the Corporate and SME segments. The training sessions involved around 200 people, 90 of whom for the SME segment, with the aim of raising awareness of green and circular economy criteria, also through the sharing of Group success stories, with the end goal of facilitating the transition towards circular economy models in the countries in which the Division operates.

The Intesa Sanpaolo's partnership on circular economy

  • In the area of partnerships and collaborations, the meetings of the Alleanza Italiana per l’Economia Circolare (Italian Alliance for the Circular Economy), promoted by Intesa Sanpaolo, also continued. In 2022, the Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center contributed to drafting 2 documents that highlight the principles of the Alleanza in support of circular procurement processes and environmental statements and communications pertaining to circularity. 
  • In 2022, the Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center was also one of the Intesa Sanpaolo Group companies to participate in the Community Valore Acqua project, contributing its specialisation to the focus group dedicated to the issue of Circular Water.
  • To promote the culture of innovation with regard to the circular economy, the Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center continued to support the BioCircE Master’s (the first circular bioeconomy Master’s programme in Italy) and also endorsed the Circular Economy Management course at LIUC University aimed at entrepreneurs and managers of small- and medium-sized businesses.
  • Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center, via the CE Lab, continued its collaboration with the Energy & Strategy Observatory of the Polytechnic University of Milan in 2022 for the preparation of the annual report on the state of the circular economy in Italy.
  • The Intesa Sanpaolo Group also renewed its strategic partnership in the area of circular economy research with Bocconi University for a further three years to examine the theory of the de-risking of financial portfolios, both at single counterparty and portfolio level; this topic was analysed in the 2021 publication “The circular economy as a de-risking strategy and driver of superior risk-adjusted returns” written by Bocconi University, Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Intesa Sanpaolo. Moreover, in 2022, an article written in collaboration with Bocconi University, “Evolving sustainability: circular economics and finance for a new form of development”, was published in ABI’s Bancaria magazine.
  • In 2022, UNEP FI continued to promote the best circular economy practices in the global banking sector: through the Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center, Intesa Sanpaolo played an active leadership role in the working group set up to produce, within the framework of the Principles for Responsible Banking, a 2.0 version of “The Guidance on Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy Target Setting” report, which will be published at the start of 2023.

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