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Sustainable banking: Leading the circular economy

An innovative offering rooted in sustainability.


Call for change

In an era when people are visibly affected by climate change in their daily lives, sustainability goals have become a business imperative for financial services organizations. But knowing that and acting on it are two different things. That’s why it’s exciting to see an Italian bank setting its sights on becoming a leader in the circular economy.

The circular economy is a way of reimagining the economy, with financial value tied directly to sustainable practices. Measured by environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors, it’s a pivot away from over-consumption toward a more sustainable future.

The bank, a major financial institution, realized the circular economy could help it meet evolving European sustainability regulations as well as the growing demand from consumers for businesses to be transparent about their ESG initiatives. However, it knew that a program like this would be a complex undertaking. So it asked for Accenture’s support in defining a multi-year strategic roadmap.

When tech meets human ingenuity

Over three years, we partnered with the bank to bring its vision to life. Leveraging our deep industry and strategy expertise, we collaborated on a strategic framework for the bank’s circular economy. We engaged with top management to ensure the project was championed by the right stakeholders, defined measurable value and identified industries with potential for significant sustainability transformations.

Next, we set up a circular economy lab to facilitate open innovation initiatives and launched a national community to encourage communication and build further momentum. We also helped to develop a standardized assessment of circular economy adoption among counterparties.

During the final phase of the program, we helped the bank launch a new circular economy credit platform. Clients must meet the bank’s circularity requirements to obtain funding for their proposals, and the bank evaluates these initiatives based on a new circular economy metrics methodology.

A valuable difference

In Italy alone, it’s estimated there’s an opportunity for up to €60 billion in annual circular economy investments. That makes the bank’s new €5 billion credit platform a substantial contribution.

Furthermore, the first clients to be assessed have already requested €2 billion in funding, which indicates a strong commitment to improving their ESG models.

The bank’s ground-breaking new impact measurement model lets it quantify the generated value of these initiatives—providing essential guidance for future sustainability efforts. And the proprietary methodology for assessing counterparties’ circular economy status is already proving to be an invaluable tool, helping businesses to understand the importance of the circular economy model.

After transforming its internal operations and customer engagement, the bank recently launched its first annual open innovation circular economy program. This initiative will inspire other businesses to accelerate their own circular economy transformation.