Mazzucchelli 1849: 175 years of legacy.
An article by 20/20 europe.


Group Product Development Manager

Mazzucchelli 1849 has evolved into an international leader in the cellulose acetate production industry, celebrated for its craftsmanship and innovation. As the company celebrates its 175th anniversary, Group Product Development Manager Elena Orsi Mazzucchelli tells 20/20 Europe about its plans for MIDO, the development of sustainable materials and its vision for strategic expansion.

Q: Starting as a small factory in 1849, Mazzucchelli 1849’s acetates have become world-renowned. Can you provide insights into the journey and key milestones that have led the company to its current global standing? 

A: 175 years have passed since Santino Mazzucchelli opened a tiny factory to manufacture combs and buttons made from animal horn, bone and tortoiseshell.
During these 175 years that small factory grew and, thanks to the foresight and ideas of the members of the Mazzucchelli family, who understood its potential, generation after generation, it became what it is today: an international company with a highly sophisticated know-how, world leader in production and distribution of cellulose acetate granules and sheets, mainly used in the eyewear market. Since 1849, there have been countless changes in products, technologies and markets, many entrepreneurial choices aimed at identifying objectives, strategies and opportunities, as well as a commitment to implementing growth and development paths capable of coping with the social and economic transformations that have characterized these years. Just think about the decision, made just a few decades after its foundation, to start using and then later producing celluloid, the first thermoplastic material. Celluloid was used to produce many objects commonly used in domestic life until the mid-twentieth century and Mazzucchelli, thanks to the possibility to produce this polymer internally, soon became a point of reference for the market. A further step forward was taken in 1936 with the transition to cellulose acetate together with the processing of other polymers, including polystyrene, ABS, polystyrene, methacrylate, PVC suitable for the production of objects increasingly widespread in daily life. At the beginning of the nineties, Mazzucchelli decided to focus on the historic business of cellulose acetate, which soon became the main material used for the production of spectacles and sunglass frames. Over the years that entrepreneurial spirit of the Mazzucchelli family that has characterized all the choices made for the development of the group, has been able to carve out a leading role on the international market and currently the Company is a worldwide leader in the manufacturing and distribution of Cellulose Acetate, produced in Italy, in China where Mazzucchelli has established two production companies, one in Shenzhen and one in Shanghai, as well as a trading company based in Hong Kong and, since 2023, in Vietnam.



Q: Mazzucchelli 1849’s legacy spans six generations. How does the company balance the preservation of tradition and craftsmanship with its drive for innovation in a rapidly evolving market?

A: This question deserves serious consideration. Sometimes a mindset and an approach to work that come naturally are not easy to explain. Mazzucchelli preserves the tradition of modernity, it’s the way of being of the family conveyed to the company. Mazzucchelli’s activities have changed over time, but the focus on the quality of what we produce has not changed and, above all, the same as always is the driving force that leads us to look beyond. It is not only necessary to decipher and understand the market, but, mainly, to be one step ahead. You have to weigh up and make strict choices but then believe in what you do and carry it out with determination. Changes may be very violent, quick and impacting nowadays.

It becomes essential to work with a cohesive team. I believe in the key role of the human figure, the quality of the people involved in the company certainly makes the difference. The centrality of the person and craftsmanship must be preserved addressing aspects related to all-round sustainability. Enabling people to work in the best possible way, constructively in a serene environment.

Q: We understand that Mazzucchelli 1849 is opening a new production facility in 2024. Could you provide details on the motivation behind this expansion, the technologies or capabilities it will introduce, and how it aligns with the company’s vision for the future?

A: The decision to build a new factory for the production of our most aesthetically representative and noteworthy material was dictated by several reasons, all of which can be summarized in the desire to build an acetate factory which could be as sustainable as possible. This specifically means that we have redesigned our processes in order to use energy from renewable sources and to have much lower energy consumption, lower water consumption, lower process waste and higher production efficiency. This is thanks to new, entirely re-designed machinery, a high level of automation and an innovative production process control system. Talking about sustainability also means finding solutions with a lower environmental impact: for this reason, we planned the construction of a Waste Recovery Centre, which will be able to treat the cellulose acetate waste generated by our processes and transform it into End of Waste, to be recovered in the chemical recycling plant of our supplier Eastman. This circular process of acetate waste recovery can also be offered to our customers, helping to reduce the global quantities of waste that are currently sent to landfill.

Q: Can you share any news or updates regarding Mazzucchelli 1849’s participation in MIDO, including any product launches, collaborations, or initiatives the company plans to showcase during the event?

A: Mido has always been, and still is, one of the moments we look forward to meeting our customers. It is an opportunity to see customers who live on the other side of the world, to meet industry operators, to present new products designed for the seasons to come and to discover market news. On the occasion of our 175th anniversary (an important date made of history, craftsmanship and a look towards the future), we thought we would share with our customers and enthusiasts, precisely on the occasion of the fair, one of the most magical and curious aspects of our world: the creation of a block sample. Our stand will have an area dedicated to the live creation, by our laboratory technicians, of some of the most representative steps of a havana, rather than a chessboard or other block patterns for which Mazzucchelli is so renowned. An experience that can convey, at least in part, the passion and know-how that lie behind our products.




Q: How does the company incorporate sustainability into its corporate direction, and can you elaborate on its efforts, particularly in developing sustainable materials like M49 bioplastic?

A: Nowadays understanding the environment, the impacts of human behaviors on it and the importance of its protection is considered a crucial goal in every walk of life. That’s why sustainability has become a key focus for our company and our commitment and attention to this aspect is a constant prerogative. Every day we put time and effort into reinforcing our shared values to raise awareness about the need to create a culture based on respect for the environment and social development.

Most of the investments carried out in recent years have been directed towards improvements in processes, materials and technologies so as to have a better impact on the environment. One of them is M49, Mazzucchelli bioplastic, whose formula combines the physical mechanical characteristics of the classical formulation with a characteristic of strong eco-sustainability. Traditional plasticizer has been replaced by a plasticizing solution of vegetable origin, thus making M49 a bioplastic with a remarkable bio-based content. A far more recent example of Mazzucchelli commitment to sustainability is the collaboration with the US company Eastman started in 2020. Following this collaboration, Mazzucchelli has decided to add to its production the manufacturing of sheets made with Acetate Renew™, an innovative flake generated through a process, called Carbon Renewal Technology, that transforms plastic waste into primary molecules in order to obtain the raw material again. Acetate Renew™ thus aims to reduce the plastic waste normally sent to landfills giving life to a new virgin flake to be put back into production.


Q: Mazzucchelli 1849 is known for collaborating with some of the best companies globally. Could you share examples of successful collaborations and how these partnerships have contributed to the company’s success?

A: We collaborate with all our customers trying to share innovation and improvement programs and projects, ranging from system integration to the development of new products. We are very proud of the collaboration with our main raw material supplier, Eastman Chemical, one of the most important companies in the world in the production of plastic materials and at the forefront of chemical recycling processes. The collaboration with Eastman will allow us to create a circular waste and waste recovery process that goes in the direction of increasing the sustainability of our businesses.


Q: How does Mazzucchelli 1849 stay attuned to evolving eyewear trends? Looking ahead to the rest of the year, what acetate colour and pattern trends do you anticipate?

A: I believe that one of the characteristics of Mazzucchelli is precisely always looking ahead in everything it does. One of our focuses is certainly to propose colors and designs that reflect and anticipate market trends; it is a constant work of a team of people who make the best use of their skills and sensitivity to bring into the product what is new to offer. We study future fashion trends, analyze socio-cultural changes, compare, experiment, try and try again. Our product development always seeks the best, whether it is the right color hue or the most correct pattern. This work of experimentation is continually carried out on the great classics, we try to dress them up with new features to allow our customers to have basic products that are not taken for granted, passe-partout products studied down to the smallest detail. I’m talking about havana effects and lately monocolor effects, always in great demand and necessary. Creativity is used to find innovative solutions, to support technology and to reduce the distance between fantasy and reality. These aspects are accompanied by saturated, lively tones with digital reflections that are well suited for coloring fluid and relaxed patterns. Without forgetting those tones that derive from nature and that want to dialogue with nature. A nature that looks to the future, in support of man, with fresh and empathetic tones at the same time.


Q: How does Mazzucchelli 1849 envision its role in the future of the cellulose acetate production industry, and what steps is the company taking to adapt to emerging challenges and opportunities?

A: Mazzucchelli wants to continue to play an important role in the world of cellulose acetate. Mazzucchelli is and wants to continue to be the most important reference for those who work in the eyewear market, especially, but not only, high-end eyewear. This is why it is important to guarantee innovation not only in design and color variations, but in materials and processes, as far as production and supply chain integration are concerned. Today it is no longer enough to be able to make a product that is aesthetically and technically up to par; it is necessary to develop solutions that respond to the needs of material sustainability, increasingly high quality and increasingly flexible and fast service.

Mazzucchelli is investing resources and energy to respond to new emerging needs, and the investments in the new factory and the waste recovery center are just some of the new steps we are taking.



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