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News: January 2017

New guidelines for marketing 'ugly fruit' and reducing food waste

Photo:LIFE14 ENV/PT/817

31 January 2017 The FLAW4LIFE (LIFE14 ENV/PT/817) project has produced new guidance on ‘ugly’ (i.e. less than perfect-looking) fruit and vegetables based on their efforts to reduce food waste in Portugal.

The project’s guidelines on sustainable consumption, published in Portuguese and English, present strategies for tackling waste due to food appearance, at local and regional levels, and for raising awareness about how consuming nutritious but imperfect-looking food can promote local economic growth.

FLAW4LIFE is changing food consumption habits by creating markets for fruit and vegetables regardless of their size, colour and shape. The project is replicating nationally an innovative methodology called Fruta Feia (Ugly Fruit), which involves creating local networks of farmers, consumers and coordinators around financially self-sustainable delivery points. The methodology has been successfully tested in Lisbon and Porto, where it has resulted in savings of 8.7  tonnes/week of food waste at 7 delivery points. The project is aiming to increase the number of delivery points to 11 and the amount of food waste saved to 12 tonnes/week.

“The most important factor in creating a market for ugly fruit is consumer awareness,” says project manager Isabel Soares, “only by increasing it will it be possible to gather a group of consumers who do not judge the quality of produce based on aesthetics and a movement capable of changing consumption patterns.”
The guidelines are aimed at municipalities and local authorities and will be used to spread the project’s approach in Portugal and elsewhere in the EU. The guidelines focus on identifying the main links in the food chain where waste occurs, and planning feasible strategies for waste reduction. Best practices are given for farmers, schools, restaurants, and communities creating ‘ugly fruit’ markets. For further information on FLAW4LIFE, see the project’s website.

EU Member States are committed to halving their per capita food waste at the retail and consumer level, and reducing food losses along production and supply chains, to meet targets set in the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030. The FLAW4LIFE project is a good example of how to reduce food waste by changing consumer behaviour. It contributes to implementing, in particular, the EU Circular Economy Package, which promotes the prevention and re-use of food waste.

The Circular Economy is the subject of a LIFE Focus brochure to be published next month, which will look at how FLAW4LIFE and other LIFE projects are supporting the objectives of the Circular Economy Package’s Priority Sector on Food Waste.

LIFEnews N°10/16 - 01/17


17 January 2017 This issue of LIFEnews looks at climate change and its impacts on urban areas.

The first article features an interview with policy officers from the Climate Action and Energy directorates-general.

The second article spotlights a range of LIFE projects that have helped to address the effects of climate change in urban environments.


Download this issue >>

LIFE invests in Europe's green innovation & growth

Photo: Youtube video

11 January 2017 The EU LIFE Programme has been investing in eco-innovation since its very start. LIFE projects - carried out by both SMEs and large companies - test and demonstrate new products and technologies.

A new video highlights the multiplier effect of the LIFE Programme's funding on the economy and job creation. It shows how concepts like recyclable crates or indoor solar cells are turned into green business solutions.

You can watch it here:

LIFE Nature Integrated Project FRESHABIT reaches cruising speed

Photo: LIFE14 IPE/FI/000023

11 January 2017 Having spent its launch year reviewing sites needing to be restored, the Finnish LIFE Nature Integrated Project (IP) FRESHABIT (LIFE14 IPE/FI/000023) has now kick-started a number of measures aimed at improving the state of inland waters and biodiversity across Finland.

In its start-up phase, the project, which was launched at the beginning of 2016, focused mainly on bird counting, exploratory fishing, surveying underwater nature and cultural heritage, analysing bottom sediment compositions and geology, taking water samples and mapping habitats.

The idea was to, “identify the environmentally vulnerable and diverse ´hot spots' that warrant special management and monitoring attention in the future,” explained Jari Ilmonen, senior advisor on inland waters at Parks & Wildlife Finland, the project coordinator.

Now that this has been done, the seven-year project is launching a number of concrete restoration actions that will benefit not only inland waters but also local entrepreneurs, recreational visitors and future generations that will thus enjoy cleaner inland waters.

The inland water conservation FRESHABIT project is one of three LIFE Nature IPs financed in 2014. Integrated Projects were introduced to implement environmental legislation and goals on a wide scale and increase the impact of the LIFE programme. They provide funding for plans, programmes and strategies developed on the regional, multi-regional or national level. Building on LIFE’s existing strengths, three thematic areas are targeted - water, waste and air - along with nature and mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

FRESHABIT aims to improve the ecological status, management and sustainable use of freshwater Natura 2000 network sites in Finland, by tackling  the problems they face at catchment level. The project will develop and demonstrate, in eight regional Natura 2000 networks, new biodiversity and ecosystem service indicators, with a focus on reviving populations of the key indicator species (which is listed in the annex II of the Habitats Directive) the freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera), alongside modelling methodologies for assessing the status of freshwater habitats.

Freshabit LIFE IP is one of the first LIFE integrated projects in Finland. IP contribute to the objectives of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives (including the Natura 2000 network) and to achieving target 1 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy by implementing the Prioritised Action Frameworks (PAFs), which are priorities for managing and implementing the Natura 2000 network.

The freshwater pearl mussels in the Mustionjoki and Ähtävänjoki rivers are in a poor condition and no longer able to reproduce. Some one hundred adult mussels were therefore relocated to the Konnevesi research station of the University of Jyväskylä in the autumn to recover with the help of high-quality water and nutrition. The project hopes the mussels will recover well enough to produce new larvae next autumn. The larvae will grow into small mussels which will, in time, be returned to their native waters in an effort to maintain their populations in the two rivers.

Flowing water restoration measures were also carried out in the Karvianjoki, Ala-Koitajoki, North.

LIFE REBus gets unused university equipment into the circular economy

Photo: LIFE12 ENV/UK/0006081

09 January 2017 A LIFE project pioneering new approaches to the circular economy has published its latest case study, which demonstrates how universities can contribute to a more sustainable use of materials by selling surplus scientific instruments.

LIFE REBus (LIFE12 ENV/UK/000608) helps businesses to develop resource-efficient business models (REBMs) to reduce raw material consumption, promote reuse and recycling and dramatically cut waste.

LIFE REBus has produced several in-depth case studies on businesses that have benefited from its know-how and strategic vision, the latest of which – UniGreenScheme – focuses on unused scientific equipment in universities.

The UniGreenScheme collects, stores and sells surplus equipment for UK universities and returns them a share of the profits.

The award-winning asset resale service allows universities to clear out unwanted or outdated instruments which would otherwise be gathering dust and taking up space unnecessarily.

These items can then be resold, generating income for the university and reducing capital costs for the buyer. The scheme has also led to a substantial reduction in the amount of electronic waste.

To date, the service has prevented 36 tonnes of waste, returned more than €36 000 to universities, sold more than 1 000 scientific instruments and generated €120 000 in revenue.

UniGreenScheme has also created ten new job, with more expected to join the company as it expands operations outward from its UK base.

LIFE REBus is working with large organisations and SMEs to pilot innovative resource management models, with the goal of reducing raw material inputs by up to a third and greenhouse gases by a fifth.

The project also expects to help its partners deliver savings of €12 million.

Huge Natura 2000 network marine area designated in Sweden thanks to LIFE porpoise project

Photo: LIFE08 NAT/S/000261

05 January 2017 The Swedish government has designated a huge marine Natura 2000 network site for the Baltic Sea harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) based on the results of the LIFE project SAMBAH (LIFE08 NAT/S/000261). With more than a million hectares, the site is the largest marine area ever proposed by Sweden as a Natura 2000 site. It includes the majority of the species’ most important breeding ground, which falls mainly within Sweden’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

Following a two-year study of the porpoises’ echolocation signals, the LIFE project estimated the Baltic Sea subpopulation to be around 450 individuals. Porpoise numbers have drastically reduced in recent decades and the species is listed in Annexes II and IV of the Habitats Directive as well as on the EU and national IUCN red lists of several Member States.

The overall aim of the project was to provide reliable data on its habitats and distribution to enable sites of Community importance (SCIs) to be designated within the Natura 2000 network. The echolocation study showed that the species’ most important breeding site is found in an area where the porpoise was previously unknown.

Due to the rarity of porpoises in the Baltic Sea, the SAMBAH project employed a novel survey methodology based on 300 fixed echolocation click detectors spread in a systematic grid over the entire Baltic Sea.

Led by Kolmardens Djurpark AB, the largest wildlife park in Scandinavia, SAMBAH – Static Acoustic Monitoring of the Baltic Sea Harbour Porpoise – was an international project involving all EU countries around the Baltic Sea. Its ultimate aim is to secure the conservation of the Baltic Sea harbour porpoise. The designated Natura 2000 network site is thus an important step towards the project’s objective.
For more information, visit the project website.


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