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News: December 2012

Sky's the limit for LIFE 'COSMOS' project

Photo: LIFE08 ENV/IT/000434

21 December 2012Over 80 participants attended the final conference of the LIFE Environment project, ‘COSMOS’ (LIFE08 ENV/IT/000434), which took place in Brescia (Italy) 14 December 2012. The conference provided an opportunity to present the results of the project to both a technical audience and the general public, including physical demonstrations of prototype products developed by project partners.

The aim of the project was to demonstrate the industrial applicability of a technological process for the inertisation of fly ash, using a silica colloidal medium, developed at the University of Brescia (Italy). The project’s industrial partners constructed a prototype system to produce suitable amounts of the resulting COSMOS filler, and to demonstrate its potential for commercial use, a number of demonstration products were developed. These included a project to manufacture designer jewellery, which was first showcased at the Student Yachting World Cup in La Rochelle (France) in 2010.

A number of students were encouraged to write theses on the ‘COSMOS’ project and a prize was awarded to Sara Lucchini, author of the best thesis, by the Dean of the University of Brescia.
The examples and results presented at the final conference showed that the project was able to successfully demonstrate the industrial-scale treatment of fly-ash from incineration to produce the COSMOS filler, with potential application in the production of plaster, cement, plastics, resins, and as an absorbent material.  The conference also provided an opportunity for the University of Brescia to preview a second LIFE project, ‘COSMOS RICE’ (LIFE11 ENV/IT/000256) which commences in January 2013. The goal of this follow-up project is to derive silica gel from rice husk ash and then use the gel to make municipal solid waste inert, via a chemical process.

More information about ‘COSMOS’ can be found on the project website.

CARBONTOUR final conference points the way towards sustainable tourism


20 December 2012The LIFE Environment ‘CARBONTOUR’ project (LIFE09 ENV/GR/000297) held its final conference in Athens 10 December, 2012 on the promotion of sustainability and energy efficiency in the tourism sector.

The conference at the Divani Caravel Hotel brought together hoteliers, tour operators, travel agents, scientists, engineers and professionals from the private sector, government departments, municipalities, research bodies and educational institutions to exchange new ideas, techniques and experiences in all areas of sustainable tourism.

The main focus was on the impact of accommodation facilities on climate change and attempts to lower its carbon footprint. The conference also aimed to stimulate interest among tourism enterprises for planning and applying systems for the control and reduction of energy and water consumption and the use of renewable energy sources.

Launched in 2009, the ‘CARBONTOUR’ project aimed to develop an integrated methodology to measure CO2 equivalent emissions from tourism accommodation facilities and to strategically plan mitigation measures.

The main output of the project was a user-friendly software tool that allows owners of such facilities to calculate their carbon footprints, reduce CO2 emissions and achieve carbon neutrality, whilst saving money and natural resources. The conference included a special session on the application of this software tool.

The conference was also an opportunity to promote effective technologies and safe practices as well as highlight effective solid waste and wastewater management in the tourism sector.

For more information, visit the CARBONTOUR Conference website and

French LIFE project scoops sustainable development prize


11 December 2012The Fédération des Entreprises de Propreté et Services Associés (FEP), the beneficiary of the French LIFE project, ‘CISDP - Cleaning Industry Sustainable Development Programme’ (LIFE08 ENV/F/000481), has won first prize in the category of ‘Management and Initiatives for Sustainable Development’ at the Prix Entreprises et Environnement.

FEP, the French Federation of Cleaning Industries, won the award for its project to reduce water consumption, pollution and waste, as well as to improve the recycling of waste. The award, which was established in 1987, is organised by the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy (MEDDE) with the support of ADEME's OREE, Credit Cooperative, Les Echos and Environment Magazine. It rewards companies or group of companies with a record of outstanding achievements in the fields of environment and sustainable development.

After evaluating 54 candidates, the jury of experts singled out FEP for its overall commitment to sustainable development. The project brought together 20 000 companies and 430 000 employees, and demonstrated an appropriate strategy for helping such companies carry out their social responsibility to the environment. The project developed and tested self-diagnosis software for cleaning companies and put into place an environmental and social reporting system.

European Week for Waste Reduction continues to grow


10 December 2012The European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) has enjoyed its biggest ever year. The week, which was first launched in 2009 by the LIFE project ‘EWWR’ (LIFE07 INF/F/000185), saw 10 793 separate actions organised across 25 European and two non-European countries, 17-25 November 2012. To find details of activities in your area, visit the EWWR Database.

The LIFE project launched the EWWR to promote reductions in the amount of municipal waste in Europe through awareness-raising and waste reduction activities with local populations, authorities, schools and businesses. The number of actions organised each year keeps increasing. There was more than four times the number of activities in 2012 than during the first EWWR and 2012 saw half as many actions again as 2011.

The example of Limerick

The 2012 EWWR had a strong presence in one of the EU’s most westerly cities: Limerick in Ireland. A series of waste prevention activities were coordinated by the Regional Waste Management Office (RWMO), including information and awareness sessions in supermarkets aimed at avoiding food waste through smart shopping.

The County Hall of the suburb of Dooradoyle organised a training programme in upcycling furniture salvaged from a local recycling centre, which generated an associated exhibition. Limerick City Council and the RWMO ran an activity with local residents to learn about preventing hazardous household waste for which this video was produced.

For more information on waste reduction activities in Limerick and to see the RWMO’s eGuide to waste prevention, visit

More information on the European Week for Waste Reduction is available at:

French citizens' initiative project wins sustainability award

Photo: LIFE10 ENV/FR/000215

07 December 2012 The French LIFE project 'R-URBAN' (LIFE10 ENV/FR/000215) has won the Zumtobel Foundation Award,  – category ‘Research & Initiative’.
This prize, which is awarded every two years, recognises sustainable initiatives in the fields of architecture and engineering that are making a valuable contribution to citizens’ quality of life.

The LIFE project is demonstrating that networks of active citizens and associations can initiate locally closed ecological cycles that will support the emergence of alternative models of living, production and consumption between the urban and the rural areas. The concept behind the R-Urban project is to implement a bottom-up strategy that explores the possibilities of enhancing the capacity of urban resilience by introducing a network of resident-run facilities that will create complementarities between key fields of activity (economy, housing, urban agriculture, culture).

The Zumtobel jury is made up of specialists and international experts in the fields of architecture, art and engineering. It praised the ‘R-URBAN’ project, which is being carried out by L’Atelier d’Architecture Autogérée (AAA), (a non-profit multidisciplinary platform for action and research on urban ecology and civic practices), as “a small but pioneering intervention in existing urban structures”.

“In this project, the architects from AAA have developed different micro-tools with which to tackle the big social and ecological themes in an urban setting. For us, the three R-URBAN pilot projects have a pioneering character because they have proven robust, because they empower local people, and because they help revitalise a neglected urban context.”

Commissioner Potocnik's visit highlights LIFE support for Albufera

Photo: LIFE07 INF/E/000865

05 December 2012European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potočnik has paid a visit to the  Parque Natural de la Abufera ("Albufera Nature Reserve") in Valencia, Spain. He was accompanied on the 06 November visit to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre of El Saler and Natura 2000 site "Tancat de la Pipa" by the Mayor of Valencia, Rita Barbera, and Spain's Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Environment, Miguel Arias.

Valencia is seeking EU support for its bid to have the Albufera Nature Reserve become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Commissioner indicated that he would be "willing to support any initiative to achieve greater protection, although that is a decision that depends on all Member States." He also highlighted the fact that the reserve is already protected by Europe as part of the Natura 2000 network. He encouraged Valencia to propose more LIFE projects under the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014-2020.

lbufera has been supported by eight LIFE Nature projects to date, including the ongoing Information and Communication project 'SEDUCCION AMBIENTAL' (LIFE07 INF/E/000865).

A full list of these projects is published below.

LIFE Nature support for Parque Natural de la Abufera
Project Title
LIFE96 NAT/E/003105 'Cerceta pardilla - Coordinated action plan for the conservation of marbled teal in the western Mediterranean region'
LIFE99 NAT/E/006393 'Focha cornuda Valencia - Reintroduction of Crested coot in two SPAs of the Valencian region'
LIFE00 NAT/E/007339 'Dunas Albufera - Model of restoration of dunes habitats in 'L'Albufera de Valencia'
LIFE00 NAT/E/007311 'Malvasia Valencia - White-headed duck preservation plan in the Valencian community'   
LIFE02 NAT/E/008608 'Larus audouinii Valencia - Conservation of Audouin's gull in the Valencian Community'
LIFE04 NAT/ES/000044 'Enebro Valencia - Recovery of the littoral sand dunes with Juniper spp in Valencia'
LIFE04 NAT/ES/000048 'Ullals Albufera - Recovery of a priority habitat in l'Albufera natural Park'
LIFE07 INF/E/000865 'SEDUCCION AMBIENTAL - Campaña de Concienciación sobre los valores de la Red Natura 2000 en el Parque Natural de l'Albufera'

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