CSP International: hosiery and circularity

CSP International: hosiery and circularity

Enel X’s Circular Economy Report applied to apparel company CSP International Fashion Group, in the name of sustainable innovation

There is a “thread” that ties tradition, modernity, quality and a taste for fashion with marketing and the environment. Anyone in Italy who is old enough to have seen it will remember a famous advertisement from the 1990s, starring Antonio Banderas and Valeria Mazza and shot in so-called “Chiantishire” – the Tuscan Chianti area – by Oscar-winning director Giuseppe Tornatore, accompanied by Ennio Morricone’s masterful music. The advertisement was for San Pellegrino stockings: already a well-established household name back then, and still a leading brand by CSP International Fashion Group, together with Oroblù, Lepel, Le Bourget, Liberti, Well, Cagi, Perofil and Luna di Seta.

The Italian company is indeed one of the major players in the country’s textile sector, and specializes in the production of hosiery, underwear and swimwear. It is headquartered in Ceresara (Mantua) but avails itself of sales networks in Italy, France and, via specialized distributors, over 40 countries across the globe. Ever since it was established in 1973, the company has strived to stay in step with the times, ensuring its attention and care for style and communication are always fully aligned with objectives in terms of sustainability and awareness for environmental impact.

“At the end of 2019, when Enel X suggested the Circular Economy Report project to us, we decided to sign up immediately – and we did so with great conviction and enthusiasm,” says Maria Grazia Bertoni, Chairman & Co-Managing Director of CSP International Fashion Group. “Sustainability and the circular economy are becoming increasingly important and developing into fundamental issues for our internal organization. Curiosity also played a part in driving us to apply this methodology to our company, taking the opportunity to answer a question that we often had asked ourselves: where are we now? This is a historical company for our province, one with strong values: we put people at the heart of everything we do, followed by respect for the environment. This philosophy has always driven us to remain at the forefront of innovation, researching new products as well as new approaches for operating sustainably.”

This commitment also emerges from Enel X’s report: in terms of Corporate Circular Economy Score, i.e. the company’s level of circularity, CSP achieved an overall circularity score of 21.6%, thanks in part to a business plan that focuses on research, innovation and sustainability – while still leaving margin for further improvement, especially in logistics and distribution. At the Perofil facility, for example, a photovoltaic system has been installed: the electricity it produces currently covers only a small percentage of the total consumption, yet represents an important first step towards sustainability.

“We have been pursuing best practices for quite some time, placing greater focus and attention on the company’s ethics and responsibilities,” Bertoni underlines. “Since 2020, we’ve been looking to supply our sites with renewable energies, focus on preventing refuse, reduce waste and use raw materials – yarns in our case – that are renewable or made from waste deriving from other processes. For the last three years at least, we’ve been focusing significantly on recyclability, not just for our yarns but also for packaging. We have been following this approach also from a marketing perspective; indeed, we’ve noticed that large retailers are becoming increasingly more aware of aspects linked to the environment and energy saving.”

Regarding the company’s energy management, the score that emerges from the Enel X analysis is 20.7%, a result that leaves plenty of opportunity for improvement, particularly in strengthening the use of renewable energy and with respect to the consumption of electricity, switching to LED technology.

“We’ve been working for around four years towards replacing our systems with LED lighting, which is already in use in some offices,” the Chairman adds. “This is certainly a significant investment, but we are committed to continuing along this path, and already have a specific plan in place. As regards the company’s fleet, we don’t have any electric vehicles yet but are planning to introduce some in the future. Enel X is providing us with useful advice regarding how to modernize in both areas.” 

The report also highlighted an important circular asset that the company has: a heat recovery system that recovers heat from waste deriving from the dyeing process, which is then used to heat the water required in other production departments.

“There’s another aspect to consider. As part of our production process, hosiery products are put into specific machines that use chemical colorings,” Bertoni adds. “We are shifting towards a more ecological approach also in this area, by using metal-free colorings. Then, the dye liquor can be recirculated: we purify it and can reuse it up to three times. This is something that we’ve considered to be of great importance for a long time, and I can confidently say this approach is an identifying and distinctive aspect of our company. We were one of the first in our industry, as far back as around 35 years ago, to install a water treatment system: a crucial element, especially given the important role that dyeing has in our manufacturing process.”

All these steps head in the same direction indicated by Enel X in the suggested roadmap based on the report’s results, to fulfill the maximum possible potential for creating a more efficient circular energy system.

“The Enel X report has been extremely useful, also in helping us analyze ourselves,” Bertoni stresses. “Its contents have improved our corporate understanding regarding the current level of circularity of our production processes, and have also highlighted new opportunities for improvement. It has opened our eyes to a certain extent: we’ve understood that there are potential margins for improvement in various manufacturing phases, and the study has been important for us to monitor how strong our corporate approach is, in terms of working towards a sustainable business model. We are happy to endorse the project we carried out with Enel X, and certainly found the clarity and brevity used to describe our current situation extremely positive.”

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