Confindustria Ceramica

Environment as value

Environmental safety and quality have long been amongst the key objectives of the Italian ceramic industry, which was the first in the world to address these issues. Owing to the Italian ceramic sector’s rapid development over the past thirty years and the high geographical concentration of companies, it has become necessary to adopt new measures for limiting environmental impact in order to highlight and resolve critical aspects and problems.

The analytical tools and environmental policies were initially focused on “end of pipe” pollution control (i.e. limited to reducing the effects on the environment without addressing the underlying causes) and have now been superseded.

Today the Italian tile industry is at the forefront of research into technologies, raw materials and processes for reducing the impact of production activities on the environment and humans. In order to further boost this new production philosophy, Assopiastrelle has promoted a programme entitled “Towards sustainable development”.

The programme consists of projects and initiatives for progressively implementing the principles and objectives of quality and sustainability of products and processes in the ceramic tile industry. Significant results have been achieved in terms of environmental performance. The greatest efforts are now being made at a management level in order to introduce organisational models and environmental budgets that assure full integration of environmental issues into company activities.

The first Italian companies to register with EMAS or gain ISO 14001 certification include several ceramic companies that took part in the Euromanagement-Environment pilot scheme conducted by Assopiastrelle as part of the programme launched by European Commission DGXXII. The atmospheric emission limits for the sector imposed in Italy are now the most stringent anywhere in Europe.

Following the introduction of internal or inter-company recycling systems, 90% of companies no longer discharge waste water. Thanks to innovations introduced for promoting energy saving, since the 1980s the sector has also gradually reduced its production of carbon oxide, which has now stabilised at the levels of 1970 when output was half the current figure. Besides reducing average waste production, techniques have also been introduced to allow very high percentages of waste to be reused in the sector, in some cases almost 100%.