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M2i: a greener method of pest control

The pine processionary moth is a pest that attacks, strips and weakens pine and cedar trees. It also causes skin irritations and allergic reactions in humans, and animal deaths. Present in 9 million hectares of forest around the Mediterranean, since the 1990s the moth has been moving northwards, reaching northern France. Existing ways of tackling it have shown their limitations. But one French firm has come up with a new solution.

ladybird farm

A leader in pheromone use for pest management, M2i was aware of the shortcomings of the main means of eradicating the pine processionary moth through pesticides or removing nests manually. As M2i Communication and Development Director, Johann Fournil tells us, ‘Pheromones are substances secreted by insects that enable them to interact with others of the same species in order to gather together, mate or flee. They are an efficient and economical method that support transitions to more ecologically sound models as they are selective [have no impact on other species], non-toxic and don’t allow pests to develop resistance.’

Using pheromones for pest control is often done by luring insects into traps. But this is hard to put into practice for the pine processionary moth, as it requires traps to be set five metres high in every infected tree.

M2i devised a way of controlling the moth’s spread by disrupting mating. A pheromone gel is put in a pellet made of natural wax, which is fired into the tree canopy. It releases pheromones for four months, covering the entire mating season.

‘By reproducing pheromones in a laboratory using biomimicry and developing innovative diffusion methods, M2i has created a way of fighting pests by drawing them in and trapping them, or by confusing them so as to prevent their reproduction and spread,’ explains Mr Fournil.

The pine processionary moth affects a quarter of France’s pines. M2i has already used the pellets – which are biodegradable within 2-3 months – to protect green spaces and forests. Leaving no residue on trees and causing no groundwater or soil pollution, the pellets support biodiversity and are not harmful to the people who apply them or local residents. Trials in 2015 and 2016 by the French National Agronomic Institute have demonstrated their effectiveness.

Only 100-200 paintballs have to be shot per hectare from the ground. This makes the system cheap and easy to use in forests, parks or gardens, and over small or large areas. It contributes to resource efficiency by replacing aerial spraying or use of turbines that consume water and fuel.

The method can be easily replicated for use on other pests. Variants are being prepared for the codling moth, the walnut moth, the oak processionary moth, the box tree moth and the olive tree moth.

Founded in 2012, M2i employs 110 staff at four sites in France and is present in 25 countries. Innovation to protect the environment is at the heart of the company’s work which covers three sectors of activity: plant biocontrol, animal biocontrol, and pharmaceuticals and fine chemistry. ‘With 12 patents in three years, M2i focuses on innovation and advanced technology to promote “made in Europe” solutions as an alternative to traditional pesticides. Our aim is to favour methods that are risk-free for the public, and that preserve biodiversity and ecosystems for a healthier environment and healthier food,’ says Johann Fournil.

Thanks to its success in inventing new products M2i has been able to hire 25 people for its research and development centre, of which 13 have joined since 2014. Along with France, the pellets are now on the market in Algeria, Israel, Morocco and Turkey.

At the 2016-17 European Business Awards for the Environment, where M2i received the award in the Process category, the jury noted the company’s role in developing pheromone-based pest management to protect crops without recourse to pesticides. In particular, the jury recognised M2i’s work to stop the spread of the pine processionary moth.


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LADYBIRD FARM: making tourism profitable and sustainable

Europe’s tourism industry is growing rapidly with ever more people having the chance to travel, leading to a bigger impact on the environment. Established to promote lifestyles that are in harmony with nature, the Ladybird Farm leisure centre in Hungary aims to mitigate this by reducing visitors’ environmental footprint. Over the past 10 years it has developed a wide ranging sustainability concept and now attracts 65 000 people a year.

ladybird farm


For owner, János Handó, ‘My daughter’s future is of the utmost importance to what I do and a prerequisite for this is the environment. I spent some time understanding what we do with our planet and the outlook is not great. This led us to decide that whatever we develop in our leisure centre must be in line with sustainability.’

Ladybird Farm only develops services that either do not consume energy or that can be powered through renewable sources. ‘Also, our supply chain is very lean. We use as few suppliers as possible, use rainwater extensively, have our own ecological sewage treatment plant and reuse selectively collected waste,’ Mr Handó adds.

This philosophy extends to sales at the farm, where there is no place for unhealthy food or excess packaging. Instead, Ladybird Farm works with local agricultural and handicraft producers and only sells products made from natural resources in its souvenir shop.

Aware of the responsibility of each individual – and business – to preserve the natural environment, Ladybird Farm’s owners and its 15 employees promote sustainability and the circular economy to visitors in a practical and easily understandable way.

‘We built a barn-like building where we explain on 11 billboards the concepts of sustainable development, ecological footprint and renewable energy, and what we do for sustainability. We have dozens of displays explaining what one can do for a more liveable future, as well as explanatory displays on our renewable energy production and other ecological instruments ’ Mr Handó tells us. The idea is that, even if visitors only retain one or two things, their visit will help to spread the concept of sustainability more widely among the public.

The farm’s Pay by Waste scheme is another example of promoting the concept of the circular economy. It allows visitors to pay part of their entrance fee in household waste such as plastic, aluminium or paper, giving them a financial incentive to act sustainably and a new idea of waste – that of a product with monetary value.

The importance of raising awareness of sustainability is underlined by the farm’s location in Hungary’s South Transdanubia region, where circular economy issues have not always had as high a profile as in other parts of the EU. Although Hungary has made great strides in areas such as household waste recycling, selective waste collection is still not as widely practised as it could be, with Hungary struggling to meet the EU recycling target of 50 % of all household waste by 2020.

Environmental protection and the circular economy are also stressed in the farm’s staff training, while following sustainable practices and taking steps to improve performance in this area are part of employee evaluations. ‘We employ more and more people each year. All of our employees are ‘green workers’ in my view. Also, if senior decision makers from other companies visit us and learn about our values, this may influence their attitude to green operations,’ says Mr Handó.

To meet its sustainability goals, Ladybird Farm often has to make decisions that balance social and environmental considerations with the need to make a profit. Eliminating popular but unhealthy food and drink means less income, accepting waste as part of the entrance fee means less cash revenue and investing in renewable energy brings lower returns. But for Ladybird Farm success isn’t only measured by profit but also by renewable energy produced, reductions in water consumption and tonnes of waste reused, to say nothing of wider social benefits.

‘If I look at the Pay by Waste policy, it is a net financial loss. If I look at the social value, it is a big gain. For us, social value and financial profit are equally important. We believe that our customers value what we do and how we do it,’ concludes Mr Handó.

For this outlook, Ladybird Farm has received the 2016-17 Management Award for small and micro businesses at the European Business Awards for the Environment. The jury praised the centre’s promotion of environmentally harmonious lifestyles, low energy attractions and use of renewables, and recognised that by placing social value on an equal footing with profit, Ladybird Farm is an outstanding example of environmental management.

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HYDROMX: greater energy efficiency for heating and cooling systems

Heating and cooling systems in homes, businesses and factories account for 50 % of the EU’s annual energy consumption. There have been big advances in heat generation, and exchange and storage technology, but efficiency levels of fluid used to transfer heat between two points have largely stood still. Hydromx International was established in Turkey in 2000 in order to tap into this opportunity.

HiPP

The company began building a research and development team of international academics and industry experts. Over a decade later, it has come up with a fluid that has made a giant leap in heat transfer efficiency. The fluid helps to save energy by reducing the time needed for systems to heat or cool rooms to a comfortable temperature. This cuts energy bills, and translates into lower CO2 emissions, thus reducing the carbon footprint of heating and cooling systems.

‘Hydromx is a revolutionary heat transfer fluid that contains Nano-Thermo technology to increase the speed of the heat transfer process. As a result, the fluid reaches the target temperature in a shorter amount of time, thereby requiring significantly less energy than conventional solutions,’ says Operations Manager, Cenk Göker, adding that, ‘Hydromx is an all-in-one solution for cooling and heating system performance and reliability needs. With its wide operational temperature range of -61°C to 118°C, Hydromx allows heating and cooling systems to work seamlessly and achieve energy savings of up to 35 %.’

Its thermal operating range means that Hydromx can be used in extreme temperatures without the need to add chemicals such as antifreeze. This saves both money and time for users. Given the energy-efficient and low-maintenance nature of Hydromx, the company claims that customers get a return on their investment within 2-3 years of purchase of a product which has a guaranteed 15-year lifespan.

The fluid is highly versatile and has the potential to open up a range of opportunities for research and development of clean technologies. It can also help to cut development costs for clean technologies and energy efficient products, making them more widely available. Research into use of Hydromx in the automotive, IT and marine transport industries is already under way, as is work on a version for the food and pharmaceutical sectors.

‘Hydromx provides support for countries which are committed to reducing their carbon footprint. Globally, funds, commitments and infrastructure for green energy are in place. However, the missing part for achieving such a strategy was a product, an agent… This gap can now be filled by Hydromx, which is commercially available for all. Also, Hydromx can be installed without any changes in systems, which makes it very practical. Last but not least, Hydromx has a wide range of application areas,’ explains Cenk Göker.

With its international patent, Hydromx is now exported from Turkey to more than 10 countries worldwide, including the Benelux countries, China, India, Romania, Saudi Arabia and the UK. The company also has a subsidiary in the United States. ‘Hydromx is certified for use in non-food contact systems by NSF International (the leading product testing, inspection and certification organisation) and authorised to bear the NSF registration mark. Installation, monitoring and verification of efficiency, periodical checks in systems for concentration levels of Hydromx and representations in new countries will create job opportunities for both white and blue collar workers,’ says Mr Göker.

Data centres are a prime target for Hydromx. The number of data centres worldwide is expected to reach 8.6 million in 2017. At a conservative estimate, 20 % use hydronic cooling systems and a 5 % share of that market could translate into profits of around EUR 5 billion. Thanks to this, along with other commercial, industrial and residential markets, the company expects sales to reach 20 000 tonnes in 2017, rising to 250 000 tonnes by 2019.

Presenting Hydromx with the 2016-17 European Business Award for the Environment in the Products and Services category, the jury acknowledged its capacity to cut energy consumption and carbon emissions. They also recognised its suitability for use in extreme conditions. The potential to lead to the creation of a new range of clean technology products was another factor setting Hydromx apart.


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HiPP: the organic baby food giving biodiversity a boost

It is estimated that, between 1970 and 2010, the earth lost 52 % of its biodiversity. This should be a concern for all of us including producers who rely on raw materials for their natural ingredients. Fortunately, HiPP, an organic baby food producer, has made biodiversity a key part of its work for some 20 years now.

HiPP

Founded in 1899, HiPP began focusing on organic baby food since 1956. Today, it is one of the world’s largest organic food makers and a market leader in Germany, with over a million jars leaving its plant at Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm, Bavaria each day.

Demand for organic products in the EU is still rising, with the organic market growing by 7.4 % in 2014 and retail sales valued at EUR 24 billion. Focusing on sustainability thus has the potential to bring big financial benefits.

‘For HiPP, sustainability is a prerequisite to creating quality of life and fitness for the future. This means thinking beyond quarterly reports and taking orientation from sustainable values. On the one hand, it involves rejecting “quick bucks” and “bargain-basement prices”. On the other hand, it has brought increasing sales and turnover,’ says Stefan Hipp, Managing Partner of the family-owned company.

A long-term objective of the company is to advance the biodiversity- friendliness of its products. This led HiPP to set up a 180-hectare model farm at Pfaffenhofen which explores organic agriculture practices such as pesticide-free growing methods and enhancing soil quality through crop rotation and humus creation.

As Stefan Hipp tells us, ‘The very existence of our world depends on biodiversity. For this reason the company has declared protection of biodiversity to be a top priority. In recent years HiPP has undertaken numerous actions that contribute to preserving the diversity of species, focusing on Ehrensberger Hof as a biodiversity research farm.’

HiPP hopes to recreate a similar success story to the one they had when they helped to introduce banana farmers in Costa Rica to organic farming methods using no pesticides or herbicides. This helped to conserve natural habitats and protect biodiversity. Unlike on plantations, the banana plants are widely spaced which allows disease or fungal infection to be quickly contained by simply removing the affected tree.

HiPP also works with other organisations through its membership in Biodiversity in Good Company, an alliance of firms looking to integrate biodiversity protection into their business.

And HiPP’s commitment to biodiversity goes even further and includes a strong focus on green jobs. HiPP offers a variety of green jobs and qualifications in different departments. In addition, ‘the sustainability department organises environmental excursions and other hands-on courses where trainees and staff members receive support from external experts such as scientists and conservationists,’ says Stefan Hipp.

One of HiPP’s rules states that ‘being a HiPP staff member means being a sustainability staff member.’ Staff are encouraged to cycle to work and take part in activities such as fuel-efficient driving courses and learning about sustainable food and biodiversity. Employees also have to adhere to a sustainability code. As Stefan Hipp explains, ‘The HiPP Sustainability Guidelines are the binding principles underlying the day-to-day activities. HiPP links ecological and economic actions with social responsibility to establish a binding system of ethical principles and develop an international and cross-generational entrepreneurial strategy.’

Sustainability has been at the heart of HiPP for many years now and in 1995 it was one of the first companies in Europe to adopt the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme – a tool that helps firms assessing and improving their environmental performance. This led to a 90 % drop in HiPP’s CO2 emissions over the last 15 years, its renewable energy use going from zero in 1995 to almost 90 % by 2002, water consumption reduction of over 70 % and recycling of 99.8 % of HiPP’s waste.

As recognition of its efforts to make biodiversity a key part of its work, the German business won the 2016-17 Business and Biodiversity Award at the European Business Awards for the Environment. The jury noted HiPP’s commitment to produce high quality food in a way that is in harmony with nature. Incorporation of biodiversity into operations through the setting up of a dedicated department and firm also set HiPP apart from its peers.


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FAIRPHONE: an ethical revolution in the electronics industry

Fairphone, an Amsterdam-based social enterprise, is working to create a fairer consumer electronics market from within by making phones from materials that support local economies. As well as ethical sourcing of raw materials, the company looks to make a positive impact across the value chain as regards design, manufacturing, reparability and recycling of products. Making their own phone made it possible for Fairphone to tell consumers the full story about the phones they buy, particularly as regards sourcing of materials.

Fairphone

Head of Public Relations, Daria Koreniushkina takes up the story. ‘Fairphone started as a campaign to raise awareness about conflict minerals in electronics. The campaign and research on the topic went on for three years. During this time we learnt a lot about the complexity of electronics supply chains and related issues. In 2013 we started a social enterprise and decided to make our own smartphone with the goal of inspiring the industry to tackle social and environmental issues across the value chain,’ she says.

A total of 60 000 first edition Fairphones have been produced and sold, and Fairphone 2 came out in December 2015. Fairphone is aiming for sales of 150 000 phones a year. Annual turnover stands at over EUR 16 million, with profits reinvested in socially responsible innovation.

Fairphone 1 was produced using a licensed model, which enabled Fairphone to remain financially independent but limited oversight of the supply chain. Fairphone 2 uses an original design to give the enterprise more influence over where materials come from and the conditions under which they are produced. This increases the positive social and environmental impact and strengthens relationships with suppliers.

Following production of Fairphone 1, the company identified the components that were most susceptible to damage and for Fairphone 2, introduced modules that are easy to replace and repair, thus extending the phone’s lifespan. Durability and reparability are crucial factors in Fairphone’s contribution to the circular economy, in which the company is a pioneer for the phone industry.

The next step is to enable modules to be upgraded so as to allow devices to stay up-to-date and encourage users to keep their phones for even longer. Fairphone has already begun looking into ways of updating the camera module and back covers.

Along with phone development, Fairphone has built an active community working for fairer electronics. Engineering, design, software and production partners are chosen based on their skills and their alignment with Fairphone’s values.

Working with the Conflict-Free Tin Initiative and Solutions for Hope, Fairphone buys tin and tantalum from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it aims to demonstrate alternative mining practices and empower workers. Links with AT&S and Fairtrade have allowed it to source gold from Peru and integrate it into the electronics supply chain. Thanks to a partnership with the New Bugarama Mining Company, Fairphone is also set to add responsibly sourced tungsten from Rwanda to the supply chain.

In developing Fairphone 1, a worker welfare fund was set up with Guohong, Fairphone’s manufacturing partner. For Fairphone 2, Fairphone, Hi-P and Taos, assessment and production partners, assessed the factory where Fairphones are made with a view to improving working conditions.

Fairphone works with Closing the Loop on safe electronic-waste recycling in Africa and with Teqcycle on phone recycling in Europe. Fairphone 1 provided funds to collect 75 000 phones in Ghana for recycling.

As Daria Koreniushkina explains, ‘By making a smartphone we work to step-by-step create positive impact across the entire electronics value chain: from long-lasting design and sourcing fairer materials to improving working conditions and stimulating reuse and recycling. Together with our community, we show that there is a demand for ethical, long-lasting products and motivate the industry to act more responsibly. We demonstrate how business can be done differently and how diverse issues can be tackled, for example how modular design can be used to extend the product life cycle or how to source more responsibly mined materials such as Fairtrade gold.’

In awarding the Fairphone the International Business Cooperation Award at the 2016-17 European Business Awards for the Environment, the jury recognised the example it sets to the electronics industry to act more responsibly. Its placing of social and environmental values at the core of its business, particularly as regards the manufacture of durable products and its recycling initiatives, was viewed as a vital contribution to the circular economy. Its work to create competition based on fairness rather than technology and its sourcing of materials that support local economies also contributed to the jury’s decision.


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THE CMS INNOVATION HUB: from derelict warehouse to model of energy efficiency

Since it was founded in 2006, CMS Window Systems, a Scottish window, door and curtain walling producer, has worked to an environmentally, economically and socially sustainable business model. It minimises energy use in the manufacture of its products, which contain a large proportion of recycled material, and uses its own recycling plants, diverting more than 95 % of its waste from landfill. CMS is one of the UK’s biggest manufacturers of windows, doors and curtain walling, making more than 2 000 windows and thousands of square metres of curtain walling a week – and an example of the circular economy in action.

CMS Innovation Hub



The inspiration for the company came when founder and Managing Director, Andy Kerr saw somebody burying PVC windows in a field. As Mr Kerr explains, ‘If I could create a window company with a sustainability ethos which extends into every aspect of the business, I knew I would be doing something that nobody else was attempting.’

CMS has transformed a derelict warehouse with a low energy efficiency rating into an energy-efficient Innovation Hub. Stone wool insulation, thermally efficient windows and doors, energy-efficient lighting and IT equipment, and a heat recovery climate control system have cut the Hub’s daily energy costs.

The Hub hosts training for employees and customers on latest industry standards, sustainable building practices and energy saving products. Use of the facility is offered free of charge to organisations working to ensure that everyone can afford to heat their homes and improve housing quality. This helps to showcase the CMS business model and create a culture of environmental awareness. In fact, a key part of CMS’s vision is to transform communities through responsible environmental practices and ethical commitments.

'Basically we are trying to ensure nothing is wasted. This includes a commitment to apprenticeships and youth employment through to offering an extensive range of products and systems designed for energy efficiency, with virtually all waste recycled,’ he adds.

This commitment to the circular economy has stood CMS in good stead, with profits for 2015/16 reaching £6.7 million (approximately EUR 8 million), up from £1.9 million (around EUR 2.3 million) in 2013/14. In the same period the company has created a number of green jobs, with staff numbers rising from 170 to 250.

The need to minimise energy use and waste is incorporated into all stages of design and manufacture. Renewable energy is used to power operations saving 223 tonnes of CO2 a year. The products contain 38 % recycled glass and the windows are reinforced with 100 % recycled PVC. And CMS aims to go further. It aims to cut its electricity use by 5 % and future plans for the Hub include installation of solar panels, a water reclamation system and a wind turbine.

The sustainability ethos filters down into the workforce through fuel-efficient driving training for fleet drivers, which saves a further 27 tonnes of CO2 annually, and training on switching off equipment. CMS also employs an Environment Champion to promote sustainability and report weekly to Directors on environmental issues.

In recognition of its commitment to continually improve its environmental impact, CMS won the 2016-17 Management Award for medium- sized and large businesses at the European Business Awards for the Environment. The jury considered the Hub to be a unique facility thanks to its energy efficiency and training offer. They also saw it as proof that filling landfill sites with demolition waste can be avoided.

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RED ELÉCTRICA DE ESPAÑA: Saving birds from high wire collisions

The European Business Awards for the Environment have a special section for biodiversity protection. Red Eléctrica De España won this year’s award for their efforts to protect birds on the wing.

ANDROMEDE OCEANOLOGIE

Red Eléctrica de España (REE), operator of Spain’s national power transmission system, has built some 300 km of transmission lines each year over the past decade. Birds are one of its main challenges: not just those that build their nests on pylons and affect maintenance, but in particular those that collide with cables during flight.

‘If we place a power line in an area rich in birdlife it’s likely that birds will collide with the line,’ says Mercedes Gil del Pozo, a biologist who works for REE.

So REE set out to reduce bird strikes by routing transmission lines away from bird-sensitive areas. This project – ‘Birds and Power Lines: Mapping of Flight Paths’ managed by Gil del Pozo – won the Business and Biodiversity category in the European Business Awards for the Environment 2014-2015.

The operator worked with the Spanish National Research Council and conservation consultancy Asistencias Técnicas CLAVE to create a tool using Geographical Information Systems to map the flight paths of 45 bird species. Species were selected for their conservation status and sensitivity to the negative effects of power transmission lines.

The tool integrates data about bird flight paths to help reduce the impact on birds of new power lines, and to prio- ritise mitigation measures on existing lines.

"Species like the black vulture were included because they are endangered. Others, like bustards, cranes and storks, are covered because they are prone to colliding with cables, as they are large, not very agile, or fly in flocks. The birds at the front of the flock might be able to avoid the line but the rest will collide with it." -- GIL DEL POZO

Some 14 of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities now share their data and so are covered by the mapping tool, which is regularly updated. The map of Spain should be complete by the end of 2015.

Bird strikes don’t affect power supplies or damage the lines, but the problem can delay planning processes significantly. ‘When we apply to build a line in an important bird area, it can take more than 10 years to gain authorisation, com- pared to two or three years if the route is well selected from the start,’ she says.

‘By taking bird protection into account, the project facilitates decision-making for planning and building new transmission infrastructure, and for managing the existing power grid. It also promotes transparency in the public information process and public consultation’, she adds.

The mapping tool helps to identify collision high-risk areas, providing useful data for mitigation measures. Spirals and reflective x-shaped devices for this purpose are fixed to power lines to make them more visible.

The project has received a warm welcome. It also has good potential for replication in other sectors like lower voltage power lines and wind turbines, and other infrastructure such as railways and roads.

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También disponible en español.


ANDROMEDE OCEANOLOGIE: Smart app to save fragile forests beneath the sea

Cruising the Med sounds like a perfect recipe for carefree living... but that pleasure can come with a high price. Dropping anchor in a seagrass meadow can cause serious, long-lasting damage.

ANDROMEDE OCEANOLOGIE

"Every day, seagrass beds are furrowed by boat anchors. The meadows are being destroyed at an alarming rate, and the problem is getting worse," says Pierre Descamp of Andromède Océanologie, a small firm of marine cartographers based near Montpellier, France, and a finalist in the 2014-2015 European Business Awards for the Environment.

Seagrass (Posidonia oceanica) supports thousands of other species and provides ecological services comparable to a coral reef or tropical forest. Some species grow fast, but the destruction of Posidonia oceanica is practically irreversible. "The plants grow so slowly that their meadows are like bon- sai forests," says Descamp. "One square metre of destroyed seagrass bed will take 100-200 years to regrow."

Although high fines can be imposed on anyone who damages seagrass beds, a protected species and European priority habitat, in practice it is almost impossible for the authorities to prove damage was intentional and prosecute perpetrators. Descamp and his company, a team of 10 marine biologists and mapmakers, hit on a more constructive way to tackle the problem.

"We thought the best solution would be to give sailors a map of the sea bed, so that they realise that it’s not just blue out there, that there’s a forest beneath the sea. It may not be well known, but boaters ought to know a bit more about it. We spent a lot of time talking to people who use the sea – divers, fishermen, boaters – and found that they want to know more about the sea bed. So we set out to create a link between the user and the natural heritage. Giving them the information will help them understand more about its wealth and rarity."
-
- PIERRE DESCAMP

The result was DONIA, a free app for tablet and smartphone, showing maps of the Mediterranean seabed including details of its plant-life. The app won the company a runner-up position in the European Business Awards for the Environment 2014-2015 Business and Biodiversity category. They launched the app in 2014, with in-app purchases for extras like high-definition maps and alarms to warn cap- tains if their craft is about to collide with an obstacle.

"Our goal is to halve the impact of anchoring in the Mediterranean French coasts. This will also limit the spread of invasive species because damaged seagrass beds are more susceptible. The entire coastal ecosystem is disrupted."
-- PIERRE DESCAMP

DONIA’s makers are now developing the app’s community features, with the aim of reaching more than its current 3 000 users. Boaters and others will be able to share observations – sightings of whales and other animals, best sites to anchor and fish – forming a large community and creat- ing further business opportunities for more targeted prod- ucts. In due course, the app could cover other sites where seagrass grows in the Mediterranean, Australia and the US Atlantic coast.

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AUSDESIGN OÜ: Upcycling waste to fashion on a massive scale

AusDesign OÜ is a pioneering enterprise show- ing how resources can be used more sustainably in surprising places. Efficient resource use means a win for the companies involved and for the environment.

Estonia and Bangladesh might seem an unlikely combination, but that hasn’t prevented AusDesign OÜ from bringing them together to mass produce t-shirts with what they claim is the world’s smallest environmental footprint.

The fast-changing nature of the fashion business and the volume of manufacturing generate large quantities of waste, leftovers and surplus stock, causing serious problems where the garments are produced, and increasing environmental pressures on those providing the raw materials.

This is where the pioneering partnership between AusDesign and BEXIMCO, the largest private sector fabric and garment producer in Bangladesh, comes in. The Estonian company takes the waste from its Asian partner’s regular production or- ders and uses it for mass production upcycling – a world first.

The result means impressive environmental savings. Compared to a normal item of clothing, 86% less energy and 91% less water are required, and manufacturing waste can be reduced by up to 40%.

It also brings financial benefits. Markus Vihma, the head of environment and sustainability in the five-strong company, explains: ‘When the price of the product is the most important factor and you take the waste material, which otherwise has no value, and you do not count its price or cost to you, the cost of the final garment is about half that of the original item.’

The company recently clinched an order for 23 000 t-shirts, all made from waste, for the Estonian Song and Dance Festival. It also provides what it calls up-shirts for sports events, music festivals, NGOs and other organisations.

Cooperation between the small Baltic company and the giant Asian conglomerate saw AusDesign among the finalists in the European Business Awards for the Environment 2014-2015 international business cooperation category.

It was recognition for a journey which had started a few years earlier. Company founder Reet Aus has always been interest- ed in the impact of her work on sustainability, and all her fash- ion lines have been made from upcycled textiles and ethically produced organic fabrics.

In the wake of a PhD thesis, Trash To Trend, she teamed up with award winning filmmakers Jaak Kilmi and Lennart Laberenz to make a documentary on the impact of the fash- ion industry on the environment. The project took her to Bangladesh as she traced a pair of jeans bought in Estonia back to its origins.

It was there that she met the CEO of BEXIMCO, which pro- duces over 50 million garments a year. A partnership was formed to find new ways of reusing the company’s waste fabric, and the result is the new upcycled clothing collections marketed as AusDesign.

Upcycling involves a change of mind set in the whole produc- tion process. The material itself becomes the starting point,rather than the designer, and close cooperation is required between the supplier, client, designer and producer.

"It makes the exercise more enjoyable and playful. You have to solve a problem. It depends on the purpose. The creation of the design requires more dialogue than usual."
-- MARKUS VIHMA

AusDesign OÜ is continuing to explore further horizons, and recently broke new ground by developing the first up- cycling certificate. ‘We did this in cooperation with the Estonian Academy of Arts and the Stockholm Environment Institute’s Tallinn centre,’ says Markus. After being care- fully examined by an independent auditor, BEXIMCO has become the first producer to bear the UpMade Certified Upcycling Production System.

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OCI NITROGEN: Drying solution makes for a cool result

Dutch chemicals company OCI Nitrogen slashed harmful dust emissions from its fertiliser plant from 174 tonnes a year to zero. They also increased production by 30% and made substantial energy savings in the process.

‘We are very proud of the result: an innovative and unique system in our industry,’ says CEO Gert-Jan de Geus, a food technology engineer with a background in production man- agement, procurement and plant management.

OCI Nitrogen, which produces ammonia, mineral fertilisers and melamine from its base in Geleen in the southern Netherlands, was runner-up in the European Business Awards for the Environment 2014-2015 Process category.

The innovation came about in response to ‘a difficult polit- ical context’, explains de Geus. The Dutch government was putting pressure on the sector to reduce the transport by rail of ammonia.

OCI Nitrogen, which employs 450 people, agreed to close one of its fertiliser production plants in the north-west of The Netherlands that used ammonia delivered by rail, but requested in exchange permission to boost production at Geleen. To gain a permit for the expansion, the firm had to meet much stricter standards on emissions of fine dust particles. With the standard technology used in the sector, dust is typically generated when fertiliser granules are cooled down, using large volumes of air. But when these fertiliser dust emissions are emitted into the environment, the very fine particles can harm public health.

‘The new standards were not achievable with existing technology,’ says de Geus. ‘So we started to think, “What would happen if we made no dust at all?” I’ve always been moti- vated to encourage people to go for the edge and realise unexpected results.’

What followed was a pilot using a classic cooling system, sluicing cold water around the outside of a tube containing the static granules. ‘The technology itself wasn’t complicat- ed. The difficulty comes from the fact that this particular product turns into one sticky clump at a certain tempera- ture and during the process it goes through a broad tem- perature range.’

Despite their fears, the pilot worked well. Delighted, the firm forked out EUR 7 million for a full-scale cooler unit, built by German firm Coperion, with capacity for a third of the plant’s production. But then they hit a wall. ‘We installed the cooler and it didn’t work. It completely blocked,’ says de Geus.

After 18 months of modifications, tests and frustration, everything suddenly fell into place. The new unit was oper- ational to around 70%, enough to convince managers to invest a further EUR 14 million in the other two coolers needed to meet the total production capacity. ‘My special interest in this plant was to improve operational efficiency,’ says de Geus.

The two remaining coolers were then up and running by summer 2013. The effects were immediate. ‘In the old days we had to reduce production by 50 % on hot days, but with the new system we can maintain production levels.’

With the three new coolers now operational, the plant re- duced dust emissions to zero, increased factory capacity by 30 % and cut energy consumption by more than EUR 1 million a year.

The innovation has gifted the company a march on its com- petitors. With European maximum emissions standards de- termined according to Best Available Technologies (BAT), it will not be long before standards have to be adjusted to reflect OCI Nitrogen’s new system. And other companies now also have the option to purchase the cooling system, via Coperion.

"We are very proud that we had the guts to try it and succeeded. We took the gamble. Sometimes you have to just do it."
-- GERT-JAN DE GEUS

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THE BAY: Sustainable and successful fish and chips

The Bay, an innovative, family owned small fish and chip shop in North East Scotland was in the running for one of the European Commission’s 2014-2015 European Business Awards for the Environment.

Since boyhood, Calum has had a strong interest in food. After several years in the navy as an engineer, he retrained as a chef before creating The Bay in Stonehaven overlooking the North Sea in 2006. From the outset, he and his wife Lindsay made a conscious decision to use only environmen­ tally friendly cleaning materials. Subsequent involvement with the Sustainable Restaurant Association took their activ­ ities to a new level. ‘They were really good and opened my eyes to more things. I was not looking at energy, for instance, but at food products, and then I looked at the business as a whole,’ he explains.

The Bay carefully monitors its use of electricity, gas and water with real time energy monitors bringing considerable savings. All its energy is 100% renewable. Food waste is recycled by a local firm and turned into high grade compost. Cardboard, glass and paper are recycled. The oil used for frying is collected and turned into biodiesel fuel for a local delivery lorry.

A carbon footprint audit in 2013 led to further environmen­ tal improvements. The washing machine is only run twice a day, instead of three times previously and the sanitary system overhauled, saving thousands of litres of water every year.

Calum takes the same degree of care with the fish and produce he sells. On the advice of the Sustainable Restaurant Association, he wrote to all his suppliers, explaining the environmental principles he was determined to follow. ‘They all embraced it and have come on the journey with me,’ he explains.

As part of that policy, The Bay was the first fish and chip shop in the UK to receive a Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) chain of custody for the North Sea haddock it sells.

This ensures full traceability, from sea to plate, of all the haddock fish suppers the takeaway sells. Just as suppliers are buying into his environmental philo­ sophy, so too does the 16­strong staff. ‘They all understand and it is easier to mould the young since they are taught recycling and sustainability at school,’ he points out.

"It was a great shock to get as far as we did, especially as we were among some of the largest European companies. I’m so proud of both my shop and my staff for their teamwork and enthusiasm for the industry that we work in. This shows that it is not just big brands that can make a difference."
-- CALUM RICHARDSON

In the process, Calum is helping to change the stereotypical, and often negative, image of a fish and chip shop, present­ ing the food and premises in a positive and sustainable light. ‘People see it as a proper business, not just a fish and chip shop,’ he explains.

"I’m a strong believer in local products. We use as much local food as possible. Currently, almost 90% comes from a 50 mile radius. I would not take frozen products even if they have MSC certificates."
-- CALUM RICHARDSON

The improvements made over the years have brought The Bay a host of awards. It was ranked the number one fish and chip shop in the UK in 2013 and placed in the top two most sustainable restaurants in Britain. Using natural resources in an efficient manner has been good for busi­ ness. In just seven years, Calum’s annual turnover has risen to over £1 million (EUR 1.35 million).

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ECONATION: Let there be light



Leo Goovaerts can clearly remember when he first saw the potential for magnifying natural daylight to brighten the inside of buildings. The lawyer and former Belgian politician was teaching at Vlerick, a leading international business school in Ghent.

"One of my students came to me with this idea for a dome. We immediately went to the University of Ghent and found two engineers to make it a reality."
-- LEO GOOVAERTS

A partnership between that initial idea and research expertise led to the development of the LightCatcher. The concept is straightforward: a small polycarbonate dome is placed on the roof of a building.

It contains a mirror programmed to always seek the opti- mum light, which is usually, but not always, the sun. This is then reflected, filtered and amplified through a series of lenses before being spread downwards throughout the building. The technique means that a one-square-metre dome can provide sufficient natural light for a floor area of up to 100 square metres.

The LightCatcher has been marketed for the past four years by EcoNation, a Ghent-based company co-founded by Goovaerts, who is its chairman and majority shareholder. An innovative business model, allowing clients to pay with the money they have saved as a result of its use, has helped its success.

CEO Marc De Groote talks passionately about the LightCatcher, which won the product and services category in the 2014-2015 European Business Awards for the Environment. It was something of an adventure – he left the relative comfort of a position as CEO of an IT company in the banking sector to take on the challenge of building up EcoNation’s business.

"I decided to move because I am really convinced of the potential. We have a nice piece of technology that has demonstrated its added value."
-- MARC DE GROOTE

It’s not just about saving money. The main benefits are to human and animal health, he says. Bringing natural light into large surface areas such as factory floors, warehouses, sports halls and even airports – the revolutionary device is used in Schiphol, for instance – can have hugely beneficial effects. People feel and work better when not relying on arti- ficial light. There are also considerable financial benefits. It’s relatively cheap and easy to install, particularly in new buildings where its positioning can be factored into the construction plans. The technology measures the natural light it brings in and, depending on the intensity, artificial lighting is switched on, off or dimmed. The whole process is monitored, making it possible to calcu- late at the end of the month how long artificial light has been switched off and the savings made. The company esti- mates these can amount to over 3 500 hours a year. ‘Right from the start you are saving money,’ says De Groote. He notes other advantages: the energy is clean and sustain- able, the dome is considerably more versatile and better insulated than normal skylights and the fluctuations in tem- perature which can be caused by a bright summer sun, for instance, do not occur. The company, which employs six people, had revenue of EUR 1.2 million in 2013 and is aiming for a turnover of EUR 5 million this year. Its achievement was recognised in 2010 by the Flemish Energy Agency, which awarded Light- Catcher Best Available Technology status and more recently the company featured in the world top five Zayed Future Energy Prize in Abu Dhabi. EcoNation continues to collaborate with the University of Ghent as it aims to move to the next stage of its develop- ment by making LightCatcher simpler and more versatile. Initial growth is focused on Belgium and neighbouring coun- tries, but as Goovaerts explains: ‘Our commercial aim is to make our product workable and known throughout Europe.’

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