Interview with the Marketing Manager of Catalano S.p.A. Vincenzo Freni
What are the advantages of an EPD certification for a company?
Work clean, clear, honest. These are the advantages of an EPD certification. It means knowing the entire production process, understanding what impacts are created in the different phases, analyzing the detail, intervening and thus minimizing the impact on the environment.
So we stand out, with an important, real attention, towards the environment, with clear procedures and measures. This is how we work well, with an ecological ethics that has its roots in a conscious and responsible productive culture.
Catalano has managed to be present in northern European markets where demand has long demanded sustainable products. In Italy in the same period, talking about respect for the environment was considered to be not very technical, certainly not a product plus, the market was not prepared to consider environmental innovations as product innovation. It took a few decades for the Italian customer to recognize the value of sustainability issues by also introducing specific terminology and creating brands that expressed our green strategy. In contrast to the activity of our competitors, who in the best of cases focused on design or on a green washing communication, we were the first to do teaching on sustainability by promoting products and solutions with low environmental impact.
This visionary strategy has shown itself to be highly rewarding because the world of construction in global markets (from the Chinese to the United States, from the Australian to the Japanese) today requires only environmentally friendly products both during production and use. In fact Catalano is the first company in Italy to have obtained an EPD certification for ceramic sanitary ware.
What are the reasons that pushed you towards EPDITALY?
Ceramica Catalano is excellence in the world of sanitary ceramics. Our production culture cannot ignore respect for the environment. With the EPD certification, we have formalized what we have always advocated: we can produce well and at the same time be sustainable. Having the EPD certification means distinguishing yourself from less attentive and sensitive competitors to sustainability issues, not only understood as environmental but also social and economic. In these three different areas, we have committed ourselves to the maximum of our abilities to offer the most demanding international target a truly sustainable and safe product for the environment as well as for the health of the workers and the users themselves. This occurred not like many other apparently similar products that are found in parallel markets which are totally disinterested in safety and environmental issues that require considerable investments in research and development. The growing sensitivity of institutions and the population for sustainability undoubtedly makes the role of certifications and of the EPD in particular strategic. Being able to demonstrate conclusively that the company and its products meet the requirements of the sustainability protocols allows the distributor first and the customer then to recognize this quality and in the case of contract supplies to obtain the necessary credits for the certification of the supply. The EPD (Environmental Product Declaration) certification represents the stimulus to make the company more and more eco-sustainable in a seamless process and increase its competitive capacity, especially on international markets (Italy, where in words they are all green, in this respect it unfortunately shows a delay compared to the countries of northern Europe).
Do you think EPDItaly can help spread the culture of product sustainability?
I believe that EPDItaly is an excellent tool, but it takes the will and detailed knowledge of the company to obtain the result. This means that only those who have the continuous search for improvement in their corporate DNA can face a certification process of this level. EPD represents a valid tool, a tool that certifies the company’s commitment to being at the forefront of sustainability, probably the most important asset to communicate and on which to invest to oversee the global markets of the top-of-the-range segment. The most demanding markets in this regard have given themselves rules and regulations that condition the import of ceramic sanitary ware. Catalano has long had all the requirements to market its products in these markets. It is no coincidence that in the majority of the markets manned by Catalano the other national and international competitors lacking the required certifications are absent. Not only. We have a SIM (marketing information system) that shows the trends of the market in real time and the new needs to be met. We are always attentive to feedback on the field to understand what is the way to meet the needs of both designers and architects (especially in the contract), distributors and end customers.
How important in your opinion is the presence of sustainable products made in Italy within a Program Operator that makes the international network one of its strengths?
We are Catalan, they know us all over the world for our seriousness, for our dedication to work, for how we represent Italy in the world. We know that we have a huge responsibility. Our products are sustainable, but it was not enough to say it, we had to certify it with a serious certification. With the EPD we closed the circle. We introduce ourselves to the world with absolute transparency. We don’t fear comparisons, on the contrary. Our products are sustainable, our EPD proves it, with data, measurements and controls that are real. We produce in a single plant and we have direct control over all the production phases. Our competitors produce in factories spread all over the world. Often they confront us, mediating their environmental performance. We don’t meditate, we don’t water the data. We are Catalan. In addition to the performance of our products and the methods of installation, we also communicate the impact on the environment to the market. Therefore the choice of raw materials with environmental impact close to zero and combined with the best performance. Having a single plant in which all manufacturing activities are concentrated allows you to reduce the costs of logistics of raw materials and finished products and environmental impact.
The consumer must be informed about low cost, low quality, high ecological footprint products made in countries with low labor costs. As we said, sustainability above all, even if it is not always said that the market is always willing to recognize a higher price in order to have a truly green product. However, we are convinced that this is the way to go both for ethical values that distinguish us and because global demand in the top of the range segment is moving in this direction.