María López Palacín is manager of the López Soriano Group, a group with more than 70 years of experience. A family group mainly focused on recycling, ranging from scrap metal to airplanes. During these years she has held positions in various institutions and organizations such as vice-president of the Zaragoza Chamber of Commerce or member of the Executive Committee of Feria Zaragoza. She is also Honorary Consul of Germany in Aragon. Committed to the development of women entrepreneurs, she is the president of ARAME and vice-president of the Basilio Paraíso Foundation.
Who is María López Palacín?
I am from Zaragoza, a lover of music, reading, comics, traveling….
You represent the third generation of the family at the head of the Industrias López Soriano Group. What is it like to run a family business?
It has the difficulties of the position and always trying to do the right thing for the company, with the added difficulty of the personal relationship between the owners and with many of the collaborators, since in many cases the generations in the company are not only shareholders, but many want their children to work in the company, and so on. It is complicated, but almost always rewarding. Fortunately, we get along very well and respect each other’s siblings and cousins, which makes it even easier.
You started in the 50’s with a small scrap yard of 30 square meters until today, a conglomerate of more than 40 companies with more than 20 facilities spread mainly by Aragon. What has been the key to currently have the largest range of services related to recycling in the community?
In our case, as far as recycling is concerned, I could almost say that it has been a natural evolution. As you say, our grandfather started in a small junkyard, over time it grew, based on effort and taking advantage of new opportunities, making scrapping etc. that gave us volume, that caused the need to change location and after several locations we arrived at the current one in Carretera de Castellón. Then at the end of the 90’s, seeing the changes of legislation that were coming in the environmental field, the need to grow arose to create new lines of business within the recycling, and thus was born the idea of the Recycling Technology Park López Soriano, which at the time we were promoters and in which today we are installed with several companies of the group, all of them dedicated to recycling. From scrap metal, to electrical and electronic equipment, aluminum, tires or the final phase of aircraft recycling, an activity that we carry out at the airport where the plane last landed.
You are also Honorary Consul of Germany in Aragon and in recent years you have held positions in various institutions and organizations. In addition, you have been vice-president of the Zaragoza Chamber of Commerce and you are currently president of the Aragonese Association of Women Entrepreneurs. Do you consider that your work helps to break the existing glass ceilings?
I would like to think so. Many times what we say is that there is a lack of references in different areas so that the new generations lose their fear and can be what they want to be. So I hope, at least, to have made a crack in some ceiling.
Is there still a long way to go?
Yes, a lot, and it has to be a joint work of men and women to change it. At all levels of society.
Industrias López Soriano is a benchmark for female leadership in the industrial sector. Women represent 60% of the management positions in the Aragonese business group. Is this part of the equality plan developed by the company?
As I often say, in a family business, plans have an influence, but more so genetics… in our case, in the third generation, we are several women and we are all part of the company’s management team. In addition, among the non-family managers there are also some women. What we have to achieve is to be able to have women in all areas of the company. In our case, for example, we do not have women drivers, machinists or blowtorch operators because we do not receive any female CVs to at least enter into the decision making process for hiring.
Within the Sustainable Development Goals, how does Industrias López Soriano contribute to improving the environment and curbing climate change?
Our own social purpose is already an SDG in itself, since what we do is to close the circle in today’s famous circular economy. That is to say, our raw material is what citizens and companies throw away, and with it we obtain raw material to reintroduce into industrial processes, with a very small part of what we process going to landfill. In addition to the objectives of hiring, equality, etc.
You collaborate with several projects within the framework of the European H2030 strategy. What are the main objectives of this plan?
Above all, we enter as recyclers in the projects we are involved in, to help design new tools or products that can be recycled when they reach the end of their useful life. These programs are multi-company, multi-regional and multinational, so that public and private entities from different countries work in collaboration on a project previously approved and financially endowed by the European Commission.
Industrias López Soriano is characterized by the diversification of its companies. Do you plan to create more specialized organizations in the future?
Not at the present time. At the moment the last ones, which were born in 2006-2008 are still in the process of optimization, and the most modern one which is AIR with aircraft recycling, which was born in 2015 is still in full growth, but you never know.
You have commented on several occasions that the future lies in recycling. In the midst of an energy crisis and inflation as the main destabilizer, how do you forecast the evolution of the sector in Aragon?
We have to think that we work with what nobody wants anymore, so it is an industry that, nowadays, is not going to relocate and will not lack raw material. We have to see how the new materials are going to evolve, how we are going to recycle them, how technology improves, but we can say that recycling will continue to be done for sure.
Out of the chamber
A restaurant to eat in Zaragoza…
La Trastienda, which is all lactose-free.