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Doing business in Italy: Sustainability

09 March 2012
by Ina Dimireva -- last modified 30 March 2012

The Italian government encourages businesses to improve environmental standards and act responsibly in this area. The government does not impose measures on sustainability but provides incentives for businesses that wish to do so.


Legal requirements


Environmental legislation

Taxation on energy products and electricity

Corporate social responsibility

Businesses can exercise their corporate social responsibility by adopting accounts for social relations, the environmental and sustainability, by using socially responsible management systems, or by reporting performance of its corporate social responsibility.

About corporate social responsibility - Ministry of Labour

In particular, the adoption of social accounts - a fundamental tool of corporate social responsibility - is still a voluntary choice in Italy, not a legal obligation. The social account is a public document aimed at social partners who are directly or indirectly involved in the company's business activities. The information published in this document contributes to creating and spreading a positive reputation which improves the company's image and promotes dialogue with stakeholders.

Social account - Ministry of Social Solidarity

The ethical and social responsibility of a company can also be certified according to an international standard. The most widely recognized is SA8000 certification. SA8000 particularly relates to respect for human rights, workers' rights, protection against exploitation of minors, security guarantees and a healthy workplace.

The SA8000 certification process - Chamber of Commerce


Quality management standards

ISO 9000 certification is becoming noticeably more widespread in Italy, with considerable annual increases. This certification identifies a series of rules and guidelines aimed at developing a system for managing quality and improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the company, in addition to improving customer satisfaction. ISO 9001 is compulsory in some sectors and for participation in public procurement and grants.

ISO 9001 - Quality Certification Body

Environmental management standards

If you wish to increase your business's social and environmental responsibility, you need to set out clear objectives and earmark resources for this.

To improve the business's environmental credentials, you could opt for certification:

  • Environmental Product Declaration (EPD);
  • ISO 14000;
  • Eco Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS);

The Environmental Product Declaration aims to improve communication on the environment between producers and manufacturers and between distributors and consumers.

Environmental Product Declaration EPD - Environment Protection and Technical Services Agency

The ISO 14000 standards are a point of reference for businesses wanting to reduce their impact on the environment.

ISO 14000 standards - Environment Protection and Technical Services Agency

The EMAS and ECOLABEL schemes guide businesses in environmental policy.

Environmental schemes - EMAS and Ecolabel

Occupational safety management standards

In order to comply with the legislation on occupational safety and as part of the risk management strategy, many companies implement an occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS). OHSAS 18001 is the main assessment standard recognised at the international level for occupational health and safety management systems.

OHSAS 18001

The law requires businesses to comply with minimum social and environmental rules.

Administrative procedures

Applying Corporate Social Responsibility

The SA8000 certification process can be divided into four phases:

  • submitting the form (status of applicant);
  • internal reorganisation of the company to attain the standards for certification;
  • initial audit to obtain the certificate;
  • periodic control audit.

SA8000 standard - Chamber of Commerce

Gaining certification - Social Accountability International

Certification of standards

Quality management standards

The ISO 9000 certification process involves the following steps:

  • signature of a certification contract with a recognized organisation for the issue of the certificate;
  • submission of the documentation by the organisation;
  • visits for assessment to the company by expert auditors in the sector;
  • obtaining certificates.

Supervisory audits will then be performed regularly to ensure the ongoing application of the quality system in line with standards.

Forms and regulations - Quality Certification Body

Environmental management standards

The environmental certification can be obtained through accredited organisations. The procedure to follow depends on the type of certification required and usually includes the following phases:

  • analysis of the environmental situation;
  • provision of a suitable environmental management system;
  • performance of an environmental audit;
  • preparation of the requisite environmental report;
  • receipt of an independent audit from an accredited auditor;
  • registration of the declaration with the competent body in Italy;

EMAS registration - What to do

ISO and the environment - Guidelines and specifications

Occupational safety management standards

The guide to the OHSAS 18000 application explains how to gain certification.

OHSAS - Electronic toolkit


If you wish to obtain further information on sustainable development, you may enquire at the Chambers of Commerce.

Chamber of Commerce


Fiscal incentives and tax relief encourage business owners to donate funds to social, cultural and humanitarian organisations. These support business owners who wish to reduce their energy consumption and invest in energy from renewable sources such as solar energy used in photovoltaic plants.

Tax relief for energy saving - Revenue Agency

Doing business in Italy: Environmental rules

Doing business in Italy: Staff welfare

Source: European Commission

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