Resource-efficient SMEs set to be rewarded under EU scheme

Small and medium-sized businesses that are working to become more resource-efficient and reduce their waste arisings are to be supported under a new EU eco-innovation action plan (EcoAP).

Under the plan, subsidies, training and funding will be made available to companies driving products, techniques, services or processes which aim to reduce environmental impacts, or contribute to the optimal use of resources.

Examples include helping to increase the use of recycled materials, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to use resources such as water and raw material more efficiently.

The EU says that the main driving force behind the plan is to reduce pressure on the environment and bridge the gap between innovation and the market. It also sees eco-innovation as crucial to the economic competitiveness of Europe.

Commenting on the scheme, European Environment Commissioner Janez Potoċnik said: “The innovation challenge for this century will be making our resources go further – doing more with less and reducing the impact of our activities.

“Europe must be in the lead in meeting that challenge if we want to be competitive in a world of increasing resource constraints. This is a plan for green jobs and green growth.”

The plan includes targeted actions both on the demand and supply side, on research and industry and on policy and financial instruments. The potential of eco-innovation is recognised by the business community with venture capital investments growing from £0.3bn in 2004 to approx. £1.3bn in 2010.

Maxine Perella

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