Global Perspectives | Italy
As we look forward to our second edition of Focus; dedicated to future healthcare, we look back at our first edition discussing sustainability: an important issue on all companies' agendas. In this article our Head of Consumer, Elena Massucco, reflects on sustainability in her home country of Italy. Hear her views on what makes good design, and the differences in how contrasting cultures approach such a complex issue.
Where are you from?
I am originally from Italy – where my family lives. I had itchy feet when I was young and lived in Tokyo and Paris before settling down in the UK 9 years ago.
What are sustainability perspectives or attitudes like in your homeland?
We are not the most attentive of Europe, but over the last few years we have developed a modern and pragmatic attitude towards sustainable consumption and are willing to pay for more virtuous behaviours. Directing purchases to products that are identified as guarantors of eco-friendly attitudes has become key and retailing solutions are reflecting this shift of attitude.
Are there any initiatives that you think are driving sustainable behaviour?
Nowadays there are a lot of options to refill, re use, buy in bulk. From water dispensing machines (provided by the council) and dispensing units for washing up liquids (in stores) to distributors for diary and even cheeses. Retailers are very conscious of new consumers’ attitudes so buying in bulk or in big portions has become the norm. From buying full crates of fruits to rice sold in bags, there is a big push to reduce the amount of packaging used in homes. Especially in light of the strict rules around recycling and amounts allowed for each household. Also, worth mentioning that Italians shop often at markets, were fresh produced in sold directly from the producers, thus limiting the use of secondary packs. Lastly, in 2013 a ban on non-biodegradable plastic bags was approved – a massive behavioural change but a very effective one too.
What product or initiative stands out in the UK that is a good example of sustainable by design? (e.g. reusable bags, refillable products, eco-product, recycling in general)
Perhaps one of the best corporate sustainability initiatives in the UK is the one ran by Marks and Spencer with the launch of Plan A in 2007. With the ultimate goal of becoming the world's most sustainable major retailer, Plan A set out to address three global challenges: the increasing pressure on finite resources, rising social inequality, and the need for healthier, more sustainable lifestyles. On 1 January 2012 all M&S operated stores, offices, warehouses and delivery fleets in the UK and Republic of Ireland became carbon neutral. As part this commitment, M&S unveiled its ' sustainable suit' – a suit made from organic wool traceable back to the farms where it was produced, and the lining made from recycled plastic bottles.
What do you think we could all do more of in an effort to be more sustainable?
I am always amazed when stores shrink wrap individual units of fruits and vegetables. As consumers, we have an incredible power to change retailers attitudes towards packaging so, when possible, we should all choose to purchase the most sustainable option. Two aubergines do not need to come in a secondary pack ;-)
Elena Massucco, Head of Consumer at Kinneir Dufort
Follow the Journey
Read the full Focus magazine on sustainability here
Look out for our next edition on 'Future Healthcare' which will be made available digitally very soon...