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Circular economy in Sweden boosted by new ecolabel

29 January 2015

Business in Sweden that extend the life of products will be able to avail of a new ecolabel aimed at encouraging Swedes to think about repairing or reusing old goods. Second hand shops, shoe-repair businesses and more will be eligible for the ecolabel, which is thought to be the first such scheme in Europe.

The campaign is intended to reduce waste and support a shift to a circular economy, furthering European and national environmental objectives. Organised by the Swedish Waste Management association, a membership organisation representing public and private actors within the waste management and recycling sector, the scheme will be funded by participating municipalities. It is hoped that within two years around 70 percent of municipalities in Sweden will take part in the scheme.

Those behind the ecolabel are taking a two step approach to its implementation; the first involves raising awareness of the objectives behind the ecolabel and building interest among the public and private sectors, and the second is the actual awarding of the label, based on an evaluation of applying businesses.

For more information, visit ENDS Europe.

Applications open for Public Procurement of Innovation Award 2015

27 January 2015

Following the success of the inaugural edition, public procurers who have worked with the private sector to purchase innovative, more effective and efficient products or services are invited to apply for the Public Procurement of Innovation Award 2015. The award is open to applicants from national, regional and local public authorities, while nominees for the 2014 PPI Award can apply using a new or improved tender.

In addition to media attention, the winning candidate will be presented with a trophy and the title of “European innovation procurement of the year” at a prestigious ceremony attended by high-level representatives of the European Commission. To take part, prospective applicants should fill in the application form and submit it to info@innovation-procurement.org. Submissions are accepted until 27 March 2015.

Dutch hospital Erasmus Medical Centre Rotterdam overcame competition from five other finalists to be awarded the first ever PPI Award in September 2014. The hospital impressed the jury (comprised of respected professionals in the field) with its innovative robotic bed washing facility, which used high precision cleaning robots to disinfect hospital beds in a conveyor belt format.

For more information, visit the PPI Platform Award page.

New UK bus powered by human waste lowers harmful emissions

22 January 2015

A new bus run solely on human and food waste is cutting public transport emissions in the United Kingdom. The "Bio-Bus", developed by British company GENeco, uses bio-methane gas in place of conventional fuel. Originally trialled in car format, the bus currently ferries travellers between Bath and Bristol Airport. The unique vehicle is already being hailed as a sustainable option that, if widely rolled-out, has the capacity to improve urban air quality.

Up to 10,000 passengers are expected to travel on the bus each month, with Bristol airport and the City of Bristol both expressing support. The bus can travel around 300 kilometres on one tank of gas, which takes the waste of about five people to produce. The waste is transformed into a fuel source through the process of anaerobic digestion, in which microorganisms break down the organic material to produce biogas.

The bus has already galvanised the conversation around air quality in Bristol and Bath, and has put the spotlight on human and food waste as a valuable resource. “Gas-powered vehicles have an important role to play in improving air quality in UK cities, but the Bio-Bus goes further than that and is actually powered by people living in the local area, including quite possibly those on the bus itself,” said Mohammed Saddiq, general manager of GENeco.

For more information, visit the Guardian.

Koprivnica becomes first Croatian city to carry out public procurement of renewable energy

20 January 2015

The City of Koprivnica (Croatia) has chosen to procure electricity produced from renewable sources, greatly reducing the carbon footprint of public institutions in the city. The move marks the first public procurement of renewable electricity in the history of Croatia. Green energy is currently used to power primary and secondary schools, universities, and street lighting, in addition to city-owned buildings.

The use of renewable energy is estimated to save 1,300 tons of CO2 emissions per year compared to conventionally produced energy, contributing to Croatia’s obligations to reduce CO2 output under terms of its EU membership. As a member of the Covenant of Mayors, the decision to procure more environmentally-friendly electricity also goes towards the commitment to lower emissions by 20 percent by the year 2020.

The city was aided with the technical aspects of procuring renewable energy by the PRIMES project, an EU-funded initiative that seeks to provide hands-on support for public purchasing organisations to implement green public purchasing in six European countries: Croatia, Denmark, Sweden, Latvia, France and Italy. Additional support was provided by the Regional Energy Agency North, and UNDP Croatia.

For more information, read the PRIMES newsletter.

EcoProcura China symposium looks at green public procurement in action

15 January 2015

The sustainable public procurement activities of Jiangsu Province, Tianjin City and Yixing City (China) were showcased at the EcoProcura China 2014 symposium, which took place in Beijing in October 2014. The ICLEI co-organised event was attended by around 60 participants, including representatives from national governments, international experts and local government officials, providing a space for exchange on green public procurement (GPP) between Asian and European officials.

Jiangsu Province, which spends 167.69 billion RMB (around €23 billion) annually, has been employing GPP practices since 2008. To date, the City of Tianjin has spent 3.21 billion RMB (around €439 million) on energy-saving equipment alone, and has incorporated the concept of life-cycle costs into its procurement strategy. Yixing has implemented compulsory green purchasing of selected items, and favours energy-saving and environmental-friendly products when possible.

“Compared with developed countries in the West, China had started GPP late, but our progress has been remarkable. The Chinese government is keen to learn from overseas experience to enrich the content of our GPP policies, and to optimise the mechanism, tools and legal framework in implementing and monitoring GPP,” said Ying Wang, Director of the Chinese Government Procurement Management Office in the Ministry of Finance.

For more information, read the symposium report [pdf].

Innovative GLOW festival forms part of ENIGMA study visit

13 January 2015

The first study visit of the ENIGMA project saw representatives from Antwerp (Belgium), Belfast and London (United Kingdom), and Dubrovnik (Croatia) meet in Eindhoven (The Netherlands) from 12 – 14 November 2014 to discuss the Dutch city's exemplary public lighting scheme. Light designers, intelligent system engineers, city marketers and other local stakeholders shared information with the international delegates on their role in designing the Dutch “city of lights”.

Alderman Mary-Ann Schreurs gave attendees an introduction to Eindhoven’s Smart City ambitions, while Rik van Stiphout looked at Eindhoven's innovative lighting strategy. The visiting cities also gave presentations on their local light plans and light festivals, which led to lively discussion among the group (all presentations from the study visit are available online). The yearly GLOW festival, an event which includes installations, sculptures, projections and performances by Dutch and international light artists, coincided with the study visit.

ENIGMA was presented at the festival, which was attended by 650,000 people. The EU-funded project aims to implement a joint transnational pre-commercial procurement procedure in the field of public lighting, while stimulating research and development in the field of lighting by asking the industry to develop new products that correspond to societal needs.

For more information, visit the ENIGMA website.

EU must examine products produced abroad to embrace green economy

8 January 2015

The large quantity of products manufactured outside of the European Union means that the EU must look beyond its borders to ensure that it fully embraces the green economy, the Environmental Indicator Report 2014, published by the European Environment Agency (EEA), has stated.

The report notes that “around half of some pressures from EU consumption are exerted outside the EU, including land use, water use and some air pollutant emissions, partly because consumer goods are increasingly produced abroad.” It argues that EU policymakers should analyse supply chains to identify areas in which environmental impact is the greatest, and find ways to help shift towards more sustainable modes of production. The report delves into the supply chains for food, clothing and electrical equipment imported into the EU.

Although the report does not criticise European consumers’ reliance on products produced abroad, seeing it as a source of jobs and income particularly for poorer countries, it notes that consumers, businesses, retailers and policymakers all have a part to play in embracing new business models that reduce environmental impacts. The report also found that purchasing higher quality products means that items do not have to be replaced as frequently, and so should be favoured.

For more information, visit ec.europa.eu.