The canister was sitting on the desk. Green, not huge, but large enough to hold quite a bit of the oil that the family would usually throw after frying food or making a salad with canned tuna. About 1800 of them were given out, together with a memo explaining the how and why of the initiative. That was essentially how some Eni employees were introduced to the ‘Oilà project’ to collect waste oil to be used in biorefineries to extract eco-fuel. Starting with the Roman offices at the end of 2018 – and gradually expanding to Taranto, Porto Marghera, Sannazzaro de' Burgondi – Oilà is the perfect example of what can happen when we look more carefully at the plates we carry to our dinner tables, with a view to stemming waste. It's a win-win-win situation – for us, for the environment and for energy producers. And that's why Eni signed an agreement last January with Coldiretti, the largest farming organisation in Italy with 1.5 million members. The aim of the pact was to organise joint circular-economy and sustainable-development initiatives, which will strengthen energy’s role in agriculture”. Eni distributes its range of fuels and oils for agricultural machinery to Coldiretti companies, as well as biodegradable lubricants with low environmental impact that are formulated with raw materials from renewable sources.
The Italian farming sector carries with it the expertise that comes from being the greenest in Europe, with a hyper-controlled supply chain (only 0.4% of checks on improper use of chemicals come back positive, compared to an average of 1.4% in the EU) and 272 PDO and PGI products. The sector provides Eni with waste and residues from agricultural processing, which in turn enter the biofuel production cycle. The agreement gives Eni a significant push towards its ambitious but exciting goal of an 80% cut in CO2 emissions by 2050 by "decarbonizing" energy products. But the deal goes deeper than a simple commercial partnership. “Food is energy, it is the fuel of our life”, says Teresa Dina Valentini, Head of Processes, Reporting and Support Circular Economy and Green Refinery at Eni. “But”, she adds “to get this fuel, you need energy from elsewhere to make the whole process work”. Essentially, food and energy are closely related and, not surprisingly, this gives rise to initiatives that go beyond ‘industrial synergies’.