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Winners of European Business Awards for the Environment 2012

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Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "Resource efficiency is the key to a competitive, sustainable Europe. These companies show that it is not only possible but desirable to combine a healthy bottom line with environmental protection. They are green growth in action and I applaud them."

The 2012 winners are: Marks and Spencer (UK) for management; Aquamarine Power (UK) for product; Umicore (Belgium) for process; INENSUS GmbH (Germany) for international business cooperation; and Slovenské elektrárne, a.s. (Slovakia) for business and biodiversity. <br/>

The five winners represent large corporations and SMEs, old and new Member States, and sectors from retail to energy to material engineering. Most of the applicants were SMEs. The greatest number of entries (62) was in the newly introduced “business and biodiversity” category. They were selected from a shortlist of 14 candidates from nine European countries and wide-ranging economic sectors. They are companies that successfully combine innovation, competitiveness and outstanding environmental performance.  A record 156 submissions for the awards were received this year, a 10% increase on 2010.

The Management Award

Marks & Spencer won this award, which goes to companies with outstanding strategic vision and management systems that enable them to continuously improve their contribution to sustainable development, for a project called Marks & Spencer Plan A – Doing the Right Thing. The jury found that the company had successfully integrated resource management across all its operations and has adopted a sustainable retail practice model with high replication potential. See http://www.marksandspencer.com/

The Product Award

Aquamarine Power won this award, which goes to a firm that has developed a new product or related service that makes an outstanding contribution to sustainable development. The Jury found that Aquamarine Power’s Oyster wave energy technology is innovative, can be used in many coastal areas under tough operating conditions and may provide low-cost electricity for water desalination. See http://www.aquamarinepower.com

The Process Award

Goes to a company that has developed and applied a new production technology that makes an outstanding contribution to sustainable development. Umicore, Belgium, were given the award for their "Recycling of NiMH and Li-ion batteries; a sustainable new business" project. The Jury concluded that the project facilitates the recycling of all types of Li-on batteries without mechanical disassembling, thereby avoiding the release of dusts and organics into the atmosphere. It also reduces the negative impacts on the environment and health that occur when the batteries are landfilled. See http://www.umicore.com

The International Business Cooperation Award

Goes to a company that actively promotes the sharing of knowledge and technology in international cross-sector partnerships, which contribute to sustainable growth in developing countries. This year's winner is INENSUS GmbH, Germany, for "MicroPowerEconomy – a Private Public Partnership model for comprehensive island-grid village electrification with renewable energy". The Jury concluded that this was a truly innovative and proven cooperative business model, which will be replicated to provide off-grid micropower to other Senegalese villages. The use of renewable sources for energy production reduces greenhouse gas emissions and local pollution. Details at http://www.inensus.com/

The Business and Biodiversity Award

This new award goes a firm that has demonstrated outstanding achievements in halting biodiversity loss and supporting natural ecosystems. The inaugural winner is Slovenské elektrárne, a.s. Slovakia, for "Energy for Nature: Saving most precious animal species in Slovak mountains". The Jury concluded that in addition to supporting Natura 2000 and creating sustainable public-private partnerships, the project has engaged employees and the local community. It is a template for cross-border corporate social responsibility and biodiversity financing. See http://www.seas.sk

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Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "Resource efficiency is the key to a competitive, sustainable Europe. These companies show that it is not only possible but desirable to combine a healthy bottom line with environmental protection. They are green growth in action and I applaud them."

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