The Italian ceramic tile industry has been committed to reducing its atmospheric emissions for decades. The Emilia-Romagna regional agency for prevention, environment and energy (Arpae) analysed the relationship between the levels of airborne pollutants and the number of tiles produced between 2010 and 2018. The survey revealed a steady reduction in emissions over the years1, which was partly achieved thanks to the Voluntary Territorial Agreement. It is an essential project for establishing a “tool for monitoring and managing the territorial emissions limit”2

The Italian ceramic tile industry’s Voluntary Territorial Agreement

On 6 December 2019, Confindustria Ceramica (on behalf of the Italian ceramic tile companies), the Emilia-Romagna Region and the municipalities in the district signed the Voluntary Territorial Agreement to establish a tool for reducing emissions2. Under this agreement, which follows the previous Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2009, public bodies and private companies take part in a shared project aimed at managing pollutants released into the air from production processes. The signatories are dealing responsibly with the environmental impact of industrial agglomeration, with the Italian ceramic tile producers in particular undertaking to reduce their emissions. 

Specifically, the Voluntary Territorial Agreement aims to reduce emissions of the following pollutants1

  • Hot dust generated during firing. 
  • Cool dust released during grinding, spray drying, pressing and glaze application.
  • Nitrogen oxides (NOx) produced during firing and spray drying.

The quota system

The Voluntary Territorial Agreement to reduce emissions introduces a quota mechanism. One Quota is equivalent to 1 kg of daily emissions of a given pollutant1. Each ceramic tile company in the Italian ceramic tile district has a set number of quotas for emissions of nitrogen oxides and cold and hot dust and undertakes voluntarily to observe these emission limits.

Arpae environmental analysis

Arpae’s survey of emissions from the Italian ceramic tile industry’s industrial process shows that increases in production levels do not lead to proportionate increases in emissions1. This is a result of the initiatives and technologies introduced by the Italian ceramic tile companies, including the Voluntary Territorial Agreement, the introduction of cogeneration plants and hot dust and flue gas treatment systems. 

*Data from December 2019.