Interview with Antonio Diana, a business owner from Caserta, Italy, on the recent international “Environment and Rights” meeting promoted by the Focolare.

19 12 2015Doing business today is no easy “business.” Especially in Caserta, a region of southern Italy known as the “land of fire” because of its toxic waste dumps. Yet, it is a “splendid land,” said Bishop D’Alise during the visit of Pope Francis – that has become a dumping ground of waste. The unemployment takes your breath away and steals away the hope of upcoming generations.”

An interview with Antonio Diana, president of Erreplast, a local waste recycling industry:

How did it happen that you found yourself at the head of a business like yours?
On June 26, 1985, my father, Mario Diana, a business owner, became an innocent victim of the camorra, leaving our family at a crossroads: to seek a future in more peaceful territories, or continue to bear witness that the social, moral and cultural rebirth of this region is possible. Along with many honest people, after thirty years we can say that we have also contributed in some modest way to restoring hope to the youth and to the territories of this province.”

But really, can you run a business in an ethical manner in a context that is so problematic, and in such a critical sector as waste?
“You can, provided you don’t comply with the common practices of staying on the market while falling into comprimises. Even though the risk of appearing folly, it is concrete. At present, the group consists of 5 businesses, more than 160 people, a volume of deals amounting to 40 million Euros, 5 industiral collection and recycling plants fore recycling and waste packaging of more than 80,000 tons per year.”

“We know that in your programmes besides the ongoing innovation in work practices, particular attention is given to the environment, sustainability. . .
“In June 2013 we created a Foundation named after my father, whose goal is to promote projects in favour of the environment and of the local region, appreciation of botht the national and local historical and artistical culture, and the education of young people with projects carried out in collaboration with universities.”

How can you manage to stay afloat despite the competitiveness?
“We know that the so-called black market, counterfeiting, money lender loans and corruption interfere with the mechanisims of the market and disrupt competition. Those who act illegally do have advantages when it comes to competition, but they never generate a healthy industrial system, which is the backbone of advanced societies. But, whereas illegal behavour in the long run dulls the ability to grow skill and creativity, the best practices of legality lead to flexibility and efficiency that lead to improvement in the quality of processes and products. Long-term projects, regular hiring and paying, avoiding waste, disposing of waste properly – all this allows the business to be competitive in the real market economy.”

You you say a few words about human resources?
“I’ve always tried to create a workplace that combines economic results with the advancement of society. I’m convinced that a business needs to discover that it is essentially a community of flesh –and-blood people, people who give meaning to what they do when they recognise the contribution they are giving to society. And this is achieved by acknowledging and appreciating the dignity of each person’s work, through transparency and sharing of the projects.” 


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