It said the major investment has enabled the creation of a new production line, now in operation, making the factory one of the largest plant-based drinks producers in Europe.
The factory, which produces organic plant-based drinks for brands including Bjorg, Bonneterre, Isola Bio, Abbott Kinney’s and EcoCesta, employs 163 people at the site that extends to over 14,000m2.
The investment in its Italian site will enable it to produce an additional 27m litres of plant-based beverages per year. This is a 30% increase in production capacity.
The company said its aim is to make the Badia Polesine site a flagship of Industry 4.0. Its investment focus has been on automation, including the implementation of an internal pallet flow management system via laser-guided vehicles.
A reorganisation of the factory’s production workshop has also allowed for increased automation – with 50% of its intralogistics requiring no human intervention, and a fully automated production flow between bottling and loading pallets into trucks. The new installation also reduces the use of plastic by 15% and optimises transport with the elimination of 58 tons of CO2, it said.
The production site operates exclusively on renewable energies and has also been equipped with sustainable solutions, including the implementation of a system of total circularity of water. This means the industrial washing water undergoes biological treatment with activated sludge and is then reused in agricultural production processes. There is also a co-generator, which recovers energy from the factory’s production processes and also supplies the site with 40% of its energy.
Across five production lines, 120m litres of plant-based drinks leave the factory each year, 50% of which are destined for France, where Ecotone generates 60% of its turnover.
Christophe Barnouin, chief executive officer of Ecotone, said: “This major investment aims to strengthen Ecotone’s industrial competitiveness in a growing market for plant-based beverages. With a strong presence throughout Europe, just like its brands, with nine production sites, including two in France, Ecotone is committed to its values and leading the way towards more innovation and sustainability in the food industry.
"I would like to pay tribute to the unwavering mobilization of the teams over the past three years, which has enabled the project to succeed and make the Badia Polesine factory a European industrial flagship.”