January 23, 2019
Davide Orsi Mazzucchelli
The increasing need for awareness of environmental issues is an established fact in all aspects of optics.
Davide Orsi Mazzucchelli, from Italian eyewear materials producer Mazzucchelli1849, explains to 20/20 Europe how sustainability has become a key focus for his company.
Q: What do you think is the main challenge for an optical company in being or becoming sustainable?
A: A major focus for a company that claims to be more sustainable is in the type and quality of the material used through the supply chain. Mazzucchelli’s commitment and attention to this aspect of production has always been a constant prerogative of the company. Mazzucchelli has been trying to improve all those aspects that can have an impact on the environment for a long time. Cellulose acetate itself is a product which, deriving from renewable sources, can already be considered a green material in itself. The next step was to create M49, the biobased content of which is considerably higher and therefore can be declared a biodegradable product. As far as transport is concerned, it is important to point out that Mazzucchelli has production sites in the two main areas of eyewear manufacturing, Italy and China, and this gives us the opportunity to reduce the impact of transport on pollution. As for manufacturing, Mazzucchelli has always been committed to making its production more energy efficient.
Q: Since when has it been important to be sustainable for Mazzucchelli?
A: Curiously, Mazzucchelli’s production of eyewear material has always been tied to sustainability. Since the 1920s, Mazzucchelli has been producing Celluloid which can be defined as one of the first bioplastics, deriving from cellulose and camphor which is, in turn, a plant (Laurus camphora). It must also be remembered that celluloid originates from a competition that was aimed at replacing ivory (of animal origin) in the production of billiard balls. Starting from its invention, in fact, Celluloid, thanks to the peculiar manufacturing of the block process, has been able to replicate natural effects and has rapidly replaced horn and animal bone as well as tortoise shell in several applications including the production of eyeglass frames. Today many patterns produced in Cellulose Acetate still recall natural elements and with M49 we like to think that we have increased the sustainability of the products of the eyewear chain.
Q: What changes has the company made to be more sustainable?
A: Most of the investment carried out in recent years has been directed towards improvements in energy efficiency and reductions of atmospheric emission. The installation of high- efficiency trigeneration systems has allowed Mazzucchelli to maximize the use of residual heat and significantly reduce waste. Even the packaging has been redesigned in a sustainable way. Mazzucchelli has chosen to use eco-friendly materials, where possible, to make its contribution to environmental protection.
Q: What could you tell us about M49?
A: Mazzucchelli has been ahead of its time and has anticipated market needs and dynamics launching already in 2010 M49, a product with technical characteristics comparable to those of standard formulations but with a much higher biobased content.
As a matter of fact, sheets in M49 are made up of Cellulose Acetate which, as is known, derives from wood pulp which is a renewable source (it’s important to underline that Mazzucchelli’s suppliers have an FSC certification and therefore have a conscious and wise management of forests in complete respect of nature). Cellulose acetate – for the correct performance for the final application - requires the use of an additive that, in the case of M49, is of vegetable origin. This combination allows us to offer a product with a biobased content of up to about 70% and this is demonstrated by C14 analysis. The fact that the components of M49 derive from the plant world is of primary importance because these, before being transformed, contributed to the removal of carbon dioxide from the environment and the generation of oxygen.
Q: Today could it be said that Mazzucchelli is a sustainable company? Why?
A: Thanks to a plant modernization plan and a constant attention to the use of resources, Mazzucchelli is taking a path to make its activities more efficient and environmentally friendly. Moreover, part of Mazzucchelli’s continuous improvement plan is aimed at sustainability issues and will adhere to an increasingly careful management of water resources, a continuous attention to the problem of re-use of materials and to the selection of raw materials with low environmental impact. The diffusion of a culture that promotes the search for materials and processes that are increasingly respectful of the environment around us will be a constant commitment for innovation and research teams of the Company.
Q: How do you see the future of sustainability in the optical sector?
A: Sales of M49 have evolved perfectly tracing the sensitivity to environmental issues and sustainability of the various world cultures. We have noted that the first countries to be interested in this product were the Northern European countries, followed by the United States and the rest of Europe. There are companies that have immediately understood the enormous scope of this product and, having this feature firmly rooted in their DNA, have adopted it for their own eyewear and accessory production.
The advantage of using M49 is that it is composed of products of natural origin that during their cultivation have consumed CO2 generating oxygen; it is not made from plastics of petroleum origin. We like to think that with M49 we have contributed to the well-being of our planet.