Two main challenges remain:
• Developing innovative approaches to global challenges, such as: finding alternative energy sources to oil; valorisation of new agricultural opportunities for sustainable development; the necessity of developing "networks" for cooperation and sharing of goals.
• Proposing a development model that creates an integrated system among industry, agriculture, local environment and economy - a model that could be replicated in other regions, and that aims to involve all actors in the local chain and Public Administrations in a common strategy of sustainable development, economic growth and local cooperation.
The bio sawmill initiative proposes a new economically sustainable and environmentally compatible industrial model that promotes "regeneration", rather than "waste" in economic development. This goal can be reached through the direct involvement of local actors in the creation of a regional and sustainable closed loop supply chain.
The objective of the initiative is to develop a "zero-waste" system. The main benefit of this system is that waste will be transformed into energy, through a gasification system (which extracts energy from different types of waste) and recovered for heating buildings and other public places, such as schools, swimming pool, gyms, etc. The initiative will - according to a research by LCA - Life Cycle Assessment - reduce CO2 emissions by at least 50%.
Implementation will only be possible with the active participation of all relevant supply chain stakeholders. The involved actors are: Palm Spa; local communities and companies; farmers and owners of poplar trees; local regional governments; regional organizations; research centres for sustainable development; people working in garden centres, in cultivation of poplars; workers in the agro-mechanical sector; sawmills; producers of packing materials; plywood and chip-board panel producers; lumber companies; consumers lumber waste; consumer; foreign partners as providers of know-how.
Lumber, previously imported from abroad, will be transformed into semi-finished goods and supplied by local regions to companies throughout the region. This will help rural areas' requalification by contributing to reforestation. It will also support the development of regional companies and help to create at approximately 100 jobs.
The main challenge of the initiative is to gain the full involvement of not only the actors operating in the local regions, but also of:
• Actors throughout the company's supply chain, so that it will be possible to replicate the model in other regions and extend it at a national level.
• Actors in other supply chains that are related to the lumber chain, so that it will be possible to collaborate in developing new solutions based on the systemic model described above.
• Actors supporting the implementation of the model, to ensure that the abovementioned aims are fulfilled. Palm has for example already created long term partnerships with foundations and Universities.
The project is still in its start-up phase, thus results will become more evident after implementation. However, the program has already obtained an important result.
Italy's regions play an important role as suppliers of certified raw materials to be processed in sawmills. In 2009, Palm Spa and the municipality of Castelnuovo Bormida signed a supply-chain agreement, certified by PEFC, which establishes criteria for a socially and environmentally responsible and economically viable forest management. This 10 year agreement gives Palm Spa the use of 1200 hectares of poplar trees, providing wood as well as compensation for the energy that is generated by production emissions.
In the first two years, the agreement has yielded significant environmental benefits: The adsorption of 48.000 tons of CO2 and the storage of 12.000 tons of carbon.
Other important impacts will include the creation of local jobs, and improved brand visibility for sustainable products and supply chains.