Italian companies are growing greener and greener

Written by Alessandra Mecca on .

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The Report on the state of the Green Economy in Italy provides a punctual and precise panorama on the situation in Italy’s “green” companies in 2015

The aim of the States General is to develop, through a “participatory elaboration me-thod”, a programmatic platform for the development of a green economy in Italy through the analysis of positive potentials and obstacles, as well as policies and measures needed to improve the ecological quality of the strategic sectors.

This is the objective posed by the States General of the Green Economy which every year comes to conclusion at a public event held at the Rimini Fiera exhibition centre on the occasion of the Ecomondo-Key Energy-Cooperambiente event, held this year on November 8-9. In the meantime, we will analyze the document prepared in 2015 that provides an overall view of the situation at Italy’s green economy companies: The 2015 Report on the state of the Green Economy in Italy.

Green companies are growing

The Report is divided in three parts: the first presents the results of a survey on Italy’s green economy companies that was set up and conducted by Edo Ronchi from the Sustainable Growth Foundation with technical coordination by Ketty Vaccaro, a Censis researcher, on the basis of data collected by Pragma srl, 2015. The Report presents the first survey conducted to date in Italy on our green companies using the double classification system adopted at the international level (by the UNEP Egss Environmental Goods and Services Sector, by Eurostat, and in OECD “Greening industries” terms) for “Core Green” companies that produce environmental goods or services or those specifically oriented to elevated TaB 1aaenvironmental performance, and for “Go Green” companies that have adopted green management models defined in observance of at least 8 filter conditions. The first fact that emerges from the survey confirms the growth in numerical terms of the companies that, in recent decades, have chosen to go green: of all the companies in Italy, 27.5% are Core Green. The highest numbers are in the Agriculture sector, with as many as 40.6% deemed Core Green, followed by Industry, with a significant 35.4%, and Construction, in which 38.8% of the companies are now Core Green. Noteworthy numbers are also seen in the services sector, where 12.8% of the enterprises in the sales, hotels, and catering business are Core Green, as are 19.5% of those operating in transport, real estate, financial services and other segments.

TaB 2aa

The dimension of Go Green enterprises

Another parameter of significance that emerges from the Report is the number of Italian enterprises that have adopted management systems oriented by attitude and initiatives that are headed in the green direction through the implementation of elevated environmental protection standards in both their productive processes and product design, even if they do not produce green goods or services of elevated environmental value. This is the approach adopted by Go Green businesses, which account for 14.5% of Italy’s total. The highest percentage in this category is in Industry, with 25.8%. A significant presence of Go Green companies is also evident in other sectors, such as the 16.7% of the hotel and catering enterprises, the 15.5% of the nation’s agricultural businesses, the 12.6% of its construction companies, and the 5.7% of its enterprises providing other services. Adding the Core Green to the Go Green companies means that a remarkable 42% of Italy’s companies may be considered green.

TaB 3aa

Identikit of green enterprise

The percentage of small (from 1-9 employees) Core Green businesses is comparable to the average of all companies (27.8% against 27.5%). As many as 86.5% of Core Green companies are small in size, compared to the 86.9% of other companies. Small businesses show greater difficulty in applying green practices, however, and the percentage of Go Green enterprises is slightly lower than the average of total companies (12.6% against 14.5%) and falls even more sharply when compared to the total number of Go Green companies (69.3%), whereas small businesses amount to 86.9% of the nation’s total. Medium sized Core Green companies (from 10 to 49 employees) amount to 25.8% of Italy’s businesses (41%) of this size, against an average 27.5% compared to the 58% of the total of all companies. Medium-sized enterprises account for 11.5% of all Core Green businesses, whereas the other medium-sized companies amount to 8.5% of the total. The numbers are better for medium-sized Go Green companies, which represent 33% of the nation’s total medium-sized companies (and which is higher than the nation’s 14.5% general average of Go Green companies) and account for up to 26.5% of all Go Green companies against the 8.5% presence of medium-sized companies out of the nation’s total number of companies. In larger businesses, on the other hand (with more than 50 employees), the percentage of Core Green enterprises decreases in respect to both the nation’s total number of companies (only 14.7% compared to 67.5%) and the national average (27.5% compared to 58%). Only 2% of the Core Green companies have more than 50 employees, whereas the percentage of the entire nation’s companies with more than 50 employees is 4.6%. 

Summing the Core Green companies with more than 50 employees to the Go Green (17.8%) enterprises with similar personnel makes a total 32.5%.

TaB 4aa

Comparative analysis: legal form of business, gender and age of directors

On comparing the legal forms of Core Green and Go Green enterprises, it emerges that a fair number (38%) of Core Green businesses are cooperatives (compared to the 27.5% of all Italian businesses) and also that the percentage of Go Green cooperatives is lower (8%) than the average of 14.5%. Family-run businesses would seem to be more Core Green (31.8%) than Go Green (8.7%). As many as 24.7% of the Core Green companies and 24.2% of the Go Green businesses are run by women, whereas only 20.9% of the rest of the nation’s companies are run by women. Entrepreneurs less than 40 years old are in charge at 6.5% of the Core Green and 13.8% of the Go Green companies but stand at the helm of only 9% of the rest of the nation’s companies. Entrepreneurs aged 40 to 59 are in command at 49.5% of Italy’s Core Green and 48.3% of its Go Green companies, and both figures are lower than in Italy’s other companies (53.8%). Directors over 60 years old have the final word at 44% of Core Green business, while those at Go Green enterprises amount to 37.9%.

TaB 5aa

Green sales

In 2014 Core Green and Go Green companies registered sales increases of 21.7% and 22.1% respectively against the 10.2% registered by the other companies. Sales remained stable for around 40% of all types of company, whereas sales decreased at a smaller rate in Core Green (31.1%) and Go Green (31.7%) companies than seen in other companies (40.9%). The year 2014 remained a year of recession, even if green companies were the ones that reacted best to the crisis.

TaB 6aa


As many as 29.8% of the Core Green companies expect growth in their sales, orders, and employment compared to the 17.8% of the other companies. This is a higher figure – albeit only slightly – than the other Core Green businesses that envision instead a critical phase (28.8%), with an inversion of the trend seen over the previous year (Table 9), when the percentage of Core Green companies whose sales had increased was 21.7% and those whose sales had decreased was 31%. For Go Green companies, expectations for sustained or moderate growth are comparable to those of other companies (17% against 17.8%), whereas 54.7% of those surveyed envisioned greater stability with low growth and consolidation in a percentage that is significantly higher than that of the other companies (49.6%). The Go Green companies that foresee a critical phase are significantly less (28.3%) than the other companies (32.6%).

TaB 7aa

Greener and greener exports

The quality of Italian products has a positive effect on exports.As many as 19.8% of all Core Green businesses export their products and services compared to the noteworthy Go Green level (26.5%) and the 12% export level achieved by other companies.

The higher quality of wellbeing and the domestic market combined with the flair for exports that distinguish green companies can, in the present scenario, provide good leverage for Italy’s economic recovery.

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