The CAP Group is the first utility in the water sector in Europe to obtain AFNOR XP X30-901 certification from RINA for its management system for circular economy projects supported in the Metropolitan City of Milan. The French standard, now recognised as the most important international protocol for companies' management of circular economy projects, aims to structure and enhance, through a specially designed management and systematisation system, the strategy for transition to the circular economy that the public company has defined in its Sustainability Plan.
Awarded by the multinational certification, inspection and engineering consultancy RINA with the advisory services of ambiente spa, the technical partner which supported the Lombardy water utility in the certification process, the AFNOR XP X30-901 standard aims to introduce new competitive levers in line with the sustainable development of corporate governance, also to increase its long-term benefits.
By implementing the AFNOR XP X30-901 standard, the CAP Group is committed to assessing circular economy projects based on a framework linking the three dimensions of sustainable development - environmental, economic, social - to the seven action areas of the circular economy: sustainable procurement, eco-design, industrial symbiosis, service economy, responsible consumption, product life extension, and efficient end-of-life management of products and materials.
The aim is to develop and define continuous improvement objectives for its management system and to implement, improve and promote circular economy strategies, contributing to the promotion and development of industrial synergies in order to improve improve efficient resource use. The standard also suggests adopting preventive maintenance strategies on plants and equipment to extend their useful life, adopting sustainable purchasing policies for all CAP Group supplies. The methodological approach of the AFNOR XP X30-901 protocol for measuring the validity and appropriateness of strategies related to the circular economy is to evaluate the company's positioning and periodically measure its actions against transparent criteria that are as shared as possible.
Through the Sustainability Plan, a roadmap that looks ahead to 2033 and imagines the evolution of future scenarios in order to anticipate the impact of the main social, environmental and economic trends on the lives of citizens, the CAP Group has defined its strategy for the sustainable development of the local area around three fundamental principles: Sensitive, Resilient, Innovative. Integrated seamlessly into its industrial strategy, it enabled the water utility to counteract the impact of the economic, social and health crisis triggered by the pandemic in 2020, while also taking timely measures to support its community and stakeholders. Moreover, it made it possible to relaunch an important process, a true "Green New Deal" for the Metropolitan City of Milan, under the banner of new strategic investments that consolidate CAP as a big player in the development of the circular economy in Lombardy, capable of integrating sustainable water and waste management to encourage the decarbonisation process at the heart of the green revolution and the ecological transition called for by the NRRP.
In 2020, 34 million euros were invested in projects dedicated to the circular economy. Biogas and biomethane production activities with low environmental impact were launched in San Giuliano Milanese, Robecco sul Naviglio, Bareggio, Canegrate, Rozzano and Pero, using organic waste, known as FORSU in Italian, from the agro-food industry in the Milanese hinterland. This led to partnerships with Danone and with the ThinkAbout platform, which operates in the field of food waste reduction,and makes food products available at the end of the cycle, which would otherwise become waste: in the Sesto San Giovanni treatment plant they become biogas and then thermal energy.
The first circular economy project implemented in a CAP sewage treatment plant dates back to 2016, when the #Biometanow pilot project was launched in the Bresso-Niguarda plant, in collaboration with CNR-IIA (Institute of Atmospheric Pollution) and the FCA Group (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, now Stellantis) to test the quality of biomethane produced from sewage sludge. In 2019, the first industrial-scale production plant for biomethane extracted from sludge, which feeds SNAM's national natural gas network for automotive use, came into operation.