Renewable Matter # 28 / July-August

Itelyum: Sustainable Governance for Circular Economy

by Ilaria N. Brambilla

In what feels like a natural progression following its recent re-branding, the Lodi-based group is enacting a gradual transformation of business governance. Sustainability, understood as a continuous path directed towards the creation of value, is still the driving force.

 

Itelyum has been circular since before the concept was even defined. Thanks to a series of strategic acquisitions (discussed in issue 27 of Renewable Matter, ed.) the company has expanded its range of activities. In addition to its core enterprise – the regeneration of used oils – it is now involved in other sectors, some of which have integrated new businesses vertically, as in the case of platforms for the collection and treatment of special waste, while others have done so horizontally, as with the branch dedicated to the purification of solvents.

The transformation has also led the company’s role to reach beyond financial and productive management, integrating environmental protection and social responsibility. This is a journey rooted in the history of the companies that make up the group, and it has found renewed momentum also thanks to the contribution of its main shareholder, the Stirling Square Capital Partners equity fund. “We have a precise investment philosophy – states Enrico Biale, a member of the Investment Committee – that involves helping ‘local champions’ become global leaders in their sector. Sustainability is an integral part of this strategy, not only for new projects, but also to protect the long-term value of investments.” Stirling Square is a signatory of the Principles for Responsible Investment, launched by the UN in 2006, and in every phase of the investment process it utilises planning and control instruments to improve integrated performance.

Senior management has guided the growth and transformation of the group, keeping on-course throughout this series of developments in the company’s structure. The main goal has always been the creation of value, and Itelyum has worked towards it on two parallel planes. On the one hand there is the group’s backbone, a consolidated business structure made of expertise, productive efficiency, innovative technology and the quality of processes, products and services. All of these elements have, for many years, made Itelyum a benchmark in its sector and a glowing example of circular economy. The other aspect of Itelyum’s development is an ever-growing awareness of further opportunities for success, widening the business’s horizons to include social and environmental considerations.

In this sense, adherence to the Global Compact for Migration played a big part in Itelyum’s evolution, once again highlighting the deep ties between economic outcomes, environmental protection and social responsibility. Antonio Lazzarinetti, the group’s Executive Chairman, recounts: “Leadership in circular economy remains at the centre of our business model, but we are working to define all-round policies, guidelines and goals to improve economic outcomes, mitigate business risks, attract capital and talent, and consolidate our reputation. And, thanks to a first series of integrated performance indicators we are now able to effectively monitor the many improvement plans that have been undertaken.”

Itelyum wants to be an inspiration and example for everyone who considers people, intellectual abilities, social relations and natural, technological and financial resources as capital that should be valued, not overlooked or wasted. This conception of circularity, starting with the core business of waste management and enhancement, extends to its integrated economic, social and environmental vision, making it more inclusive. This approach requires Itelyum to constantly question itself, without fear of having to redesign – often quite thoroughly – structures and internal processes, to ensure that its governance is in line with the renewed sustainable development objectives. Marco Codognola, recently appointed as CEO after having been on the frontline of the company’s intense development phase in recent years, confirms the group’s approach: “Competence, efficiency, technology and quality remain the essential drivers. But the size and multi-functionality our group has achieved require clarity in governance, founded on shared principles and enacted coherently both in terms of strategy and of daily operations.” All this has been achieved by building on well-defined and interconnected elements: from vision, which sets out the highest goals the organisation wants to reach, to mission, which is an expression of the group’s already distinctive features; from values, which make up the basic foundations of business strategy and define responsibilities towards stakeholders, to the code of ethics, which defines the norms that everyone has to follow. Not to mention sustainability policies: documents that operatively integrate the governance scheme, touching upon all the sensitive aspects for the success of the business. One “mother” policy, with guiding principles, further detailed in four “child” policies: health and safety, environment and resources, rights and society, quality and responsibility. Thus sustainability comes through as the carrier of an integrated project which, in this way, is best poised to enhance the group’s excellent components. “Our sustainability – Codognola continues – is understood as a path, not as an endpoint, in a constant evolution aimed at the creation of value for the market, society and the environment.”

In terms of future development, on the operational level and integrating the already adopted, evolved and performing systems, the group will set out guidelines and, wherever necessary, internal standards that effectively cover all sensitive themes. This will occur in accordance with an analytically defined scale of priority, intersecting business interests with stakeholder expectations.

The path that the company has embarked upon with the birth of the new brand is projecting Itelyum towards a new dimension, where global awareness, expertise and management are aligned with the challenges of the context in which they operate, which goes far beyond the physical confines of the associated market. Upon completion, the same re-branding project that united 16 companies, 15 operative sites and over 500 people across three macro-sectors to make Itelyum has now entered a second phase, this time aimed at product and service branding. The goal is to showcase the completeness of Itelyum’s global offer to the market in an even more efficient and transparent way.  

 

Itelyum, http://itelyum.com

I. Brambilla “Itelyum: Circular Economy, Systemic Vision,” Renewable Matter, n.27, May-June 2019; www.renewablematter.eu/en/art/1161/Itelyum_Circular_Economy_Systemic_Vision

UN, Principles for Responsible Investment, 2006-2016; www.unicef.it/Allegati/Principi_Investimento_Responsabile.pdf

Global Compact, www.unglobalcompact.org

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