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Rosignano white beach in Tuscany, Italy

Solvay’s soda ash production in Rosignano

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A safe and controlled production process using natural materials

Panoramic view of Rosignano white beach. Tuscany, Italy

As a science-driven company, Solvay is focused on contributing to the safe and controlled manufacturing of products that benefit society and we have set high standards for our sustainability roadmap. True to our legacy of process innovation, sustainability, and technical excellence, we continuously strive to meet, and even exceed the standards set for our operations.

The Rosignano plant in Italy has been a cornerstone of Solvay's soda ash production. It manufactures soda ash and sodium bicarbonate, employing a safe and controlled production process using natural materials, known as the Solvay process. These products are made from natural limestone and salt and serve applications such as the production of glass and air pollution control systems, as well as applications in the healthcare industry, such as hemodialysis systems.

Our soda ash production process relies solely on natural materials, including natural limestone sourced from the nearby San Carlo quarry in the Livorno province. The powdery limestone remaining from the production cycle is returned to the sea adjacent to the plant. It's important to note that the Solvay does not use or add any heavy metals during the manufacturing process ; the natural limestone itself, like many types of rock or stone, naturally contains traces of heavy metals but those remain imprisoned in a solid state in the limestone. 



Soda ash production at Rosignano - May 2024


The Solvay facility mainly discharges limestone residues into the sea. This natural, inert, and non-toxic material comes from soda ash production and helps stabilize the shore against erosion, contributing to the white beaches.


The plant uses natural limestone as a raw material from the nearby quarry in San Carlo, Livorno province. The powdery limestone remaining from the production cycle is discharged from Solvay's plant into the nearby sea. These clear limestone sands flow back to the beach and contribute to the color of the white beaches of Rosignano (spiagge bianche), while also helping prevent natural erosion. The white sands also give the appearance of a clear blue color to the shallow waters. 

The release of limestone into the sea is considered the best available technique (BAT) for a facility near the sea and helps stabilize the shore. This complies fully with EU and Italian laws, including the IPPC permit issued by the Italian government, which confirms that the direct release into the sea through an open channel is the best available technique according to BAT-BREF. This permit aligns with EU BAT guidelines and mandates regular independent studies on the facility's impact on the marine environment. 

Solvay also measures and monitors its activities following internationally recognized industry standards set and reviewed  by regulators. The concentration of compounds released into the sea at the Rosignano discharge point over the years has consistently been well below the threshold determined by the authorities and stipulated in its IPPC permits. 

No. The discharged limestone is natural and inert, and authorities regularly monitor the beach and sand quality.

No. Solvay does not use or add heavy metals in its process. While limestone naturally contains traces of heavy metals, they remain in a solid state and are not harmful to living organisms.

Yes. Local and regional authorities, including ISPRA and ARPAT, confirm that water quality near the facility meets high standards and is consistent with the rest of the Tuscan coast. Bathing is restricted within 100 meters of the discharge point, as per Italian law for all industrial sites.

Adherence to strict environmental standards 

Aerial view of Tuscany coastline, Italy

Operating under the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) permit, issued by the Italian Ministry of Ecological Transition, Solvay's Rosignano facility adheres to rigorous environmental regulations. The recent renewal of our permit, after a thorough three-year review conducted by independent experts, reaffirms our commitment to compliance with EU and Italian regulatory requirements.

Solvay maintains transparency in our operations and engages with regulatory authorities and scientific bodies for monitoring and compliance. Regular assessments of water quality and environmental impact are conducted by independent organizations, ensuring the safety and well-being of the local ecosystem.

The local institutions and public authorities, including the ARPAT (Agenzia regionale per la protezione ambientale della Toscana), which supervises the plant, also regularly review sea water quality and have confirmed the environmental conditions near the facility, including the water quality, are consistent with the rest of the Tuscan coast.

Our ongoing sustainability journey in Rosignano

Over the past two decades, Solvay has invested significantly in improving our operations in Rosignano, focusing on reducing water consumption, energy usage, emissions, and waste production. 

We remain committed to ongoing optimization efforts, seeking innovative solutions to further minimize our environmental footprint while maintaining operational efficiency. This is part of Solvay's ongoing efforts to improve efficiency, competitiveness, and sustainability across its manufacturing sites, in line with the Group’s STAR Factory program aiming for significant transformation across Solvay’s 45 industrial sites.

Aerial view of Solvay’s Rosignano plant

Continuous improvement and community engagement

Since 2022, Solvay has embarked on initiatives to reduce the Rosignano site’s emissions, promote biodiversity, preserve water resources, and foster community engagement and employment opportunities in the region. 

Solvay has reduced the Rosignano site’s CO2 emissions by 4% compared to 2022, employing various measures such as a cogeneration plant, emission capture technologies, and improved air emission controls. Furthermore, in partnership with Sapio, Solvay plans to establish Europe's first hub for green hydrogen peroxide production by mid-2026, further reducing CO2 emissions by 15%. 

In terms of suspended solid discharge for the year 2023, Solvay achieved a 20% reduction compared to the maximum volume of discharge currently set by its IPPC permit. These results will be consolidated in the coming years considering the evolution of limestone quality and the progress of the action plan, which targets a 40% reduction by 2040.

Rosignano biodiversity roadmap includes 35 different actions, with a total budget estimated at €5 million. Implementation of the roadmap started with several projects on the site and its surroundings, including reshaping and vegetation of a storage area, planting programs around the site, supportive actions towards several nature protection associations, and training/sensitization activities for the employees. 

Inspired by the success of the Santa Luce Nature Sanctuary, which transformed an industrial lake into a wildlife sanctuary and attracted diverse species, as recognized in the 2023 IUCN report on nature conservation, Solvay is considering replicating these efforts in Montescudaio and Montecatini Val di Cecina.

In Rosignano, Solvay has reduced well water consumption for industrial purposes by 80% and fresh water intake by 25% compared to 2022. The Group also expanded its Solval® waste recycling unit capacity, enhancing circularity efforts. Additionally, Solvay is partnering with IPSIIS and Ferro Duo to repurpose limestone residues from soda ash production. IPSIIS specializes in insulating mineral foams, while Ferro Duo focuses on materials recycling, aiding in the development of innovative solutions for construction products and fertilizers.

Solvay has enhanced community integration and engagement through collaborations with stakeholders, supporting social, cultural, and environmental initiatives. The company donated the Solvay Theatre property to the municipality and sports infrastructure to San Vincenzo, offering Volterra the chance to establish a solar-focused Energy Community. Solvay also led the Safety Pact with 35 Italian companies and engaged with over 2,500 attendees through community events, partnering with 35 associations to promote diversity, inclusion, and local sports. Additionally, Solvay hosted educational visits and internships for around 500 students to showcase the Rosignano site's operations, safety, and sustainability efforts.

Recent investment projects at the site have led to the hiring of approximately 20 additional employees.

The game-changing e.Solvay process 

Solvay has announced the innovative e.Solvay process, aimed at revolutionizing soda ash production. Following nearly three decades of fundamental research, Solvay successfully patented this proprietary technology in 2014. This groundbreaking process offers three significant advancements: a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions, decreased consumption of water, brine, and limestone, and reduced limestone residues. With successful pilot testing in France yielding positive results, Solvay plans to gradually integrate this process into its operations, enhancing efficiency and competitiveness while reducing environmental impact.

For any question on Solvay’s Soda ash activities in Rosignano, contact us at:

Last update: May 2024