LIFE and resource efficiency - Decoupling growth from resource use - European Commission

 
LIFE and resource efficiency - Decoupling growth from resource use - European Commission
LIFE and resource efficiency
  Decoupling growth from resource use
LIFE and resource efficiency - Decoupling growth from resource use - European Commission
LIFE Focus      I   LIFE and resource efficiency: Decoupling growth from resource use

European Commission
Environment Directorate-General

LIFE (“The Financial Instrument for the Environment”) is a programme launched by the European Commission and co-ordinated by
the Environment Directorate-General (LIFE Units - E.3. and E.4.).

The contents of the publication “LIFE and Resource Efficiency: Decoupling growth from resource use” do not necessarily reflect the
opinions of the institutions of the European Union.

Authors: Gabriella Camarsa (Environment expert), Justin Toland, Eamon O’Hara, Tim Hudson, Wendy Jones, Ed Thorpe, Christophe
Thévignot (AEIDL, Communications Team Coordinator). Managing Editor: Hervé Martin, European Commission, Environment DG,
LIFE E.4 – BU-9, 02/1, 200 rue de la Loi, B-1049 Brussels. LIFE Focus series coordination: Simon Goss (LIFE Communications
Coordinator), Evelyne Jussiant (DG Environment Communications Coordinator). Technical assistance: Audrey Thénard, Nicolas
Tavitian, Agnese Roccato (Astrale GEIE). The following people also worked on this issue: Alban De Villepin, Federico Nogara,
Simona Bacchereti, Santiago Urquijo-Zamora, Sylvie Ludain (Environment DG, LIFE Environment and Eco-innovation Unit), Carina
Vopel, Jonathan Murphy (Environment DG, Communication Unit), Robin Miege (Environment DG, Green Week Task Force).
Production: Monique Braem (AEIDL). Graphic design: Daniel Renders, Anita Cortés (AEIDL). Photos database: Sophie Brynart.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to all LIFE project beneficiaries who contributed comments, photos and other useful material for this
report. Photos: Unless otherwise specified; photos are from the respective projects.

                                                   HOW TO OBTAIN EU PUBLICATIONS
           Free publications:
           • via EU Bookshop (http://bookshop.europa.eu);
           • at the European Commission’s representations or delegations. You can obtain their contact details on the Internet
              (http://ec.europa.eu) or by sending a fax to +352 2929-42758.
           Priced publications:
           • via EU Bookshop (http://bookshop.europa.eu).
           Priced subscriptions (e.g. annual series of the Official Journal of the European Union and reports of cases
           before the Court of Justice of the European Union):
           • via one of the sales agents of the Publications Office of the European Union (http://publications.europa.eu/
             others/agents/index_en.htm).

                    Europe Direct is a service to help you find answers to your questions about the European Union.
                                                 Freephone number (*): 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11
                     (*) Certain mobile telephone operators do not allow access to 00 800 numbers or these calls may be billed.

More information on the European Union is availa�����������
                                                 ble on the Internet
                                                            ��������� (http://europa.eu).
                                                                      �
Cataloguing data can be found at the end of this publication�.

Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2011

ISBN 978-92-79-19764-2
ISSN 1725-5619
doi:10.2779/74370

© European Union, 2011
Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.

Printed in Belgium

Printed on recycled paper awarded the EU Ecolabel
LIFE and resource efficiency - Decoupling growth from resource use - European Commission


                                           LIFE Focus      I   LIFE and resource efficiency: Decoupling growth from resource use

                                                                                                                                                 FOREWORD
                                  R        esource efficiency is a cross-cutting issue that affects our daily lives and economy. We rely
                                           on natural resources to provide us with shelter, food, employment, quality of life and a host of
                                  other services. In order to protect the long-term availability of these resources, we need to take care
                                  to use them wisely in sustainable ways. For this to happen, new approaches are required, approaches
                                  that need to involve long-term considerations aimed at achieving a better balance between economic,
                                  environmental and social interests.
Hervé Martin
                                  The LIFE Programme has been at the forefront of such moves to promote more resource efficient
Head of Unit – LIFE Environment
and Eco-innovation                solutions for today’s environmental challenges, and a large portfolio of good practices in this area has
Directorate-General for
                                  been gathered by LIFE since its launch in 1992. A sample of some of these approaches is highlighted
the Environment,
European Commission               in the following LIFE Focus brochure, which presents some of the practical actions being implemented
                                  throughout the EU.

                                  Topics featured in the brochure span the full sustainable development spectrum and aim to illustrate
                                  how LIFE’s broad remit is able to assist a multitude of different environmental activities in a variety of
                                  different contexts. Public, private and voluntary sector organisations throughout Europe have all used
                                  LIFE co-finance for good effect and the results of their efforts are explained in the following articles.
                                  Over 120 LIFE projects are featured, which demonstrates the critical mass of knowledge that is held
                                  by the Programme in key fields such as waste management techniques, water conservation methods,
                                  energy efficiency options, and lower impact transport. Between them, the LIFE projects that are spot-
                                  lighted in this brochure offer many opportunities for readers to build their own capacity for helping to
                                  shape and safeguard a more resource efficient future for Europe.

                                  R        esource efficiency has a central part to play in Europe’s 2020 strategy for growth and jobs, and
                                           accordingly the European Commission is launching a number of far-reaching new initiatives
                                  in this area. But for many of Europe’s front-runners, greening our society is already a reality: not only
                                  governments and large companies, but local actors and small innovative companies too are commit-
                                  ted to the idea, whose strength often comes from the grassroots level. Businesses and organisations
                                  have understood that improving efficiency and innovative products, processes and business models
Robin Miège                       affords valuable opportunities for increased productivity and growth.
Green Week Task Force
Directorate-General for           While individual companies and organisations can often achieve simple gains in efficiency without
the Environment
                                  massive investment, making sure that good innovative ideas actually reach the market can require
European Commission
                                  substantial funds. The LIFE+ programme can play a key role here, helping ensure that a shift to a
                                  resource efficient Europe becomes a reality, and acting to relieve or prevent future scarcities of essential
                                  resources such as energy and water. I am pleased to be able to say that by providing real-life solutions
                                  to real-world problems, the best LIFE practices featured in this brochure are an important inspiration
                                  for policymakers, and that moreover, these examples reflect areas where we are considering future
                                  policy action.

                                  A solution to a problem is merely anecdotal, unless the message can be shared. But when best prac-
                                  tices become better known, major changes can result. That’s why communication has always had a key
                                  role to play in LIFE – and why publications such as this are so important for policymakers and actors
                                  on the ground. This LIFE Focus publication is only one part of LIFE outreach – check out the 2011
                                  Green Week conference and exhibition, and the LIFE and Green Week websites for more examples of
                                  good practices being shared.
LIFE and resource efficiency - Decoupling growth from resource use - European Commission


           LIFE Focus      I   LIFE and resource efficiency: Decoupling growth from resource use
CONTENTS

           Introduction......................... 3      Water efficiency................. 29        Food and beverage
                                                                                                    resource efficiency............. 51
             Building a resource                          Water - an essential
             efficient Europe.....................3       component of LIFE............. 29           LIFE turns food for
                                                                                                      thought into action..............51
           Production processes........... 5            Sustainable transport......... 33
                                                                                                    Agriculture and ecosystem
             LIFE producing resource                      A cleaner and more
                                                                                                    services.............................. 55
             efficient industrial growth......5           efficient transport system....33
                                                                                                      LIFE aids agriculture to pre-
             MEIGLASS brings
                                                        Energy efficient buildings... 37              serve resources ..................55
             new LIFE to waste glass ....10
                                                          LIFE helps boosts the                       Conservation agriculture
                                                          energy efficiency of EU                     reduces soil erosion in
           Eco-products and
                                                          building stock......................37      Andalusian wetlands...........59
           eco-design......................... 13
                                                          Taking the risk out of
             LIFE conserving resources in
                                                          resource efficiency                       Green Public Procurement
             product design, production,
                                                          investments.........................41    and Green Skills................. 62
             use and disposal.................13
                                                                                                      LIFE shows the
             LIFE helps drive greener                   Fish and marine                               environmental benefits
             tyre making..........................18    resources............................ 43      of GPP.................................62
                                                          Protecting Europe’s fisheries
           Lifecycle thinking............... 21                                                     Project list.......................... 64
                                                          and marine resources . .......43
             Lifecycle thinking - a key
                                                          No discards, zero waste......46
             thought of LIFE....................21
                                                                                                    Available LIFE Environment
             ACADEMY: managing                          Land use and planning....... 49             publications....................... 69
             the lifecycle of complex
                                                          Planning for a more resource
             products..............................26
                                                          efficient European
                                                          landscape............................49
LIFE and resource efficiency - Decoupling growth from resource use - European Commission


                                                   LIFE Focus   I   LIFE and resource efficiency: Decoupling growth from resource use

Building a resource

                                                                                                                                                INTRODUCTION
     efficient Europe

                        The concept of resource efficiency emphasises a need to use the Earth’s limited

                        resources in a sustainable manner. For Europe to have a vibrant economy and a high

                        quality of life, we need a sustainable base of raw materials and resources. However,

                        our economic growth patterns continue to exert increasing pressures on EU resource

                        bases. As such it is becoming more and more important that we improve our ability to

                        live, produce and consume within the limits of our ecosystem.

T    he EU’s Europe 2020 Strategy for
     growth sets the priority of moving
to a more resource efficient, green and
                                                      affects all aspects of our daily lives.
                                                      Hence, coordination is needed at EU
                                                      level as well as in Member States at
                                                                                                    tainable resource use habits. Resource
                                                                                                    efficiency is as relevant for Europe’s
                                                                                                    urban areas as it is to rural communities
competitive economy. Under the Europe                 national, regional and local levels. Prac-    and the wider countryside. Everyone is
2020 strategy, the Flagship Initiative for a          tical action at Member State level will be    affected by the environmental challenges
resource efficient Europe has been intro-            particularly important and the subsidiarity   that we face and everyone can make
duced to help the EU achieve sustainable              principle remains essential to ensure that    their own positive contributions to help
growth by ‘decoupling’ economic growth                appropriate solutions are put in place at     achieve the Flagship’s goals.
from increasing resource use.                         appropriate times, in appropriate ways,
                                                      in appropriate places.                        Uptake of these resource efficient
The Flagship Initiative sets out a vision                                                           approaches can be assisted by raising
for a more resource-efficient economy by              Empowering the participation of private       awareness of the long-term benefits that
2050. It proposes new policy initiatives             sector stakeholders, citizens, consumers      are possible from adopting sustainable
that will stimulate greater innovation for            and NGOs is also fundamental for turn-        approaches. There are many examples
short-term and long-term economic and                 ing around Europe’s increasingly unsus-       of how the wise use of environmental
environmental benefits. It also allows
for the development of a set of tools
                                                      The LIFE programme has a long track record of innovative approaches for building
for policymakers to drive and monitor                 a resource efficient Europe
progress.

The Flagship recognises that resource
efficiency is a cross-cutting issue that

 COM (2010) 2020 Communication from the
Commissions Europe 2020 – A strategy for
smart, sustainable and inclusive growth
 COM (2011) 21 final A resource-efficient
Europe – Flagship Initiative under the Europe
2020 strategy
 The proposals that have been adopted
are: Energy 2020: A strategy for competitive,
sustainable and secure energy, Energy infra-
structure priorities for 2020 and beyond – A
Blueprint for an integrated European energy
network and Tackling the challenges in com-
modity markets and on raw materials
 The Flagship Initiative for a resource effi-
cient Europe provides a long-term framework
for actions in many policy areas, supporting
policy agendas for climate change, energy,
transport, industry, raw materials, agriculture,
fisheries, biodiversity and regional develop-
ment. Links to the key proposals can be
found at http://ec.europa.eu/resource-effi-
cient-europe/
LIFE and resource efficiency - Decoupling growth from resource use - European Commission


               LIFE Focus      I   LIFE and resource efficiency: Decoupling growth from resource use

               assets can strengthen the resilience of       This will require a mix of instruments that    energy, transport, industry and agricul-
INTRODUCTION

               our economies and secure growth and           act together in complementary ways to          ture are all also needed to facilitate the
               jobs by boosting competitiveness. At          help increase the stability and security       resource efficiency Flagship objectives.
               the same time, resource efficiency has        of energy supplies whilst halting energy       Eco-innovations not only come from
               been shown to help drive down costs,          production systems that impact most            technological advances, but by apply-
               improve productivity, stimulate innova-       negatively on the environment. Waste           ing new business models and novel
               tion, and support employment, espe-           minimisation is also seen as central to        ways of thinking.
               cially in growth areas such as the ‘green     the EU’s resource efficiency agenda. By
               technology’ sector.                           increasing recycling rates the pressure        Incentives can further assist a speedy
                                                             on primary raw materials will reduce.          uptake of these multi-level structural
               Timing for wider adoption of resource         Furthermore, improved waste manage-            changes in consumer behaviour and pro-
               efficient principles is important as pres-    ment systems can ensure that valuable          duction patterns. Incentives can come in
               sures on our resources rise in line with      materials are reused, thereby reduc-           different forms and more policy empha-
               increases in wealth and population            ing energy consumption and green-              sis on measures that ensure commodity
               growth in an ever industrialising world.      house gas emissions from extraction            prices reflect the “full cost of resource
               This is one of the core global challenges     and processing.                                use to society” will help market forces
               that must be faced now. If we do not act                                                     promote resource efficiency.
               assertively in the present the problems       Other pieces of the resource efficiency
               will be exacerbated and tackling them         jigsaw relate to industry and consumers.       Resource efficient LIFE
               will become even more difficult in the        These primary stakeholders need to be          projects
               future.                                       mobilised to make them less dependant
                                                             on the availability of certain resources       The LIFE programme has a long track
               Action on all levels                          and so less vulnerable to supply con-          record of pioneering effective approaches
                                                             straints and volatile market prices. Attrac-   for building a resource efficient Europe.
               Recognising the multi-level complex-          tive alternatives are required to convert      LIFE has generated a vast portfolio of
               ity of resource efficiency, the Flagship’s    this rhetoric into reality and stakeholders    know-how in resource efficiency meth-
               mandate stretches across a far reaching       need to possess the capacity to make           ods for a diverse range of beneficiaries.
               remit of material resources, including        the necessary changes.
               metals, minerals, food and feed, air, soil,                                                  LCA approaches, skills transfers and
               water, biomass and ecosystems.                Lifecycle analysis (LCA) can help make         eco-innovations feature prominently in
                                                             products and services more ‘material           LIFE’s wide-ranging portfolio, which con-
               Some of the main objectives refer to          efficient’ by reducing energy demands          tinues to find new ways of lightening and
               enhanced energy efficiency. Here the          and lowering raw material inputs. Tech-        lessening our environmental footprints
               Flagship aims to achieve a transition to      nological improvements, via eco-inno-          in order to achieve a more resource effi-
               a resource and carbon efficient society.      vations, in high impact sectors such as        cient Europe.

               LIFE projects have developed techniques that increase recycling rates, thereby reducing pressure on primary raw materials                 Photo: Justin Toland and LIFE06 ENV/IT/000332
LIFE and resource efficiency - Decoupling growth from resource use - European Commission


                                          LIFE Focus                                  I   LIFE and resource efficiency: Decoupling growth from resource use

LIFE producing resource
      efficient industrial
      growth

                     Policy on resources needs to take account of the value chain and the full lifecycle of

                     resource use. How products are produced is a key part of this. The LIFE programme

                     has been at the forefront of efforts to implement resource efficient and innovative pro-

                     duction processes at all stages of the lifecycle, from extraction to end-of-life.

O        ver the past 10 years resource
         productivity has improved 2.2%
per year. This is largely due to efficiency
                                                                            include actions to address resource
                                                                            efficiency.
                                                                                                                          Water efficient
                                                                                                                          manufacturing

improvements in production, as well as                                      Effective planning of production proc-        For instance, tightening water supply,
the increasing role of services in the                                      esses can ensure that a range of              caused by competition for water, could
economy. However, market rewards for                                        resources are used more effectively.          mean disruption of production processes
production changes and further impetus                                      Resource efficient production is not          or higher input costs, with severe eco-
to resource efficient and eco-innova-                                       merely desirable, however: it is becom-       nomic damage. This highlights the vital
tive production processes are needed                                        ing increasingly essential.                   importance of water efficiency in produc-
to reduce dependency on raw materials                                                                                     tion processes, something that the LIFE
and to encourage optimal resource use                                       LIFE funding has helped resource efficiency
                                                                                                                          programme has helped implement across
and recycling.                                                             in production processes across a wide         a wide range of industrial sectors.
                                                                            range of industrial sectors
The European Commission proposes a                                                                                        The ‘wet process’ stages of textiles pro-
                                              Photo: LIFE99 ENV/IT/000034

fresh approach to industrial policy that                                                                                  duction are extremely water intensive
puts competitiveness and sustainabil-                                                                                     (typically requiring 4 litres/kg of fabric
ity centre stage. “The whole value and                                                                                    produced) and generating large volumes
supply chain must be considered, from                                                                                     of discharged wastewater. Treatment and
access to energy and raw materials to                                                                                     reuse of this water would not only reduce
after-sale services and the recycling                                                                                     stress on water resources for industry,
of materials.” The upcoming review                                                                                        it could also increase the availability of
of the Sustainable Consumption and                                                                                        drinking water in some areas. Since most
Production and Sustainable Industry                                                                                       textiles producers are small and medium-
Policy Action Plan foreseen in 2012 will                                                                                  sized enterprises, they often lack the

 COM(2008) 397 final on the Sustainable                                                                                   Water Conservation in Textile Industry,
Consumption and Production and Sustainable                                                                                Muhammad Ayaz Shaikh, Assistant Profes-
Industrial Policy Action Plan                                                                                             sor, College of Textile Engineering, SFDAC
LIFE and resource efficiency - Decoupling growth from resource use - European Commission


                       LIFE Focus     I   LIFE and resource efficiency: Decoupling growth from resource use

                       resources to implement state-of-the-art
PRODUCTION PROCESSES

                       environmental procedures. However,
                       several LIFE projects have shown how
                       this can be achieved.

                       In Italy, the PROWATER project (LIFE04
                       ENV/IT/000583) developed prototypes
                       for effluent treatment and reuse in pilot
                       sites at four textiles plants. Wastewa-
                       ter was treated using physical-chemi-
                       cal processes (coagulation and lamel-
                       lar sedimentation or flotation) and
                       innovative membrane technologies.
                       These techniques exceeded targets for
                       removal of surfactants (62%, against a
                       target of 50%) and colour (98%, against
                       a target of 85%), whilst also meeting
                       targets for the removal of other pollut-
                                                                   Photo: LIFE05 ENV/E/000285

                       ants, such as chemical oxygen demand
                       (COD) and total suspended solids
                       (TSS). The treated wastewater was then
                       reused in production processes includ-
                       ing fabrics softening, reducing overall
                       water consumption by 40%. If imple-                                 The LIFE RESITEX project demonstrated how water savings can be achieved in the
                       mented across Europe on an industrial                               textile sector
                       scale, the PROWATER team calculates
                       potential water savings of 44 million                               A subsequent Italian textiles sec-                                         ried out to ascertain which effluents were
                       m3/yr. The technology can also reduce                               tor project, BATTLE (LIFE05 ENV/                                           potentially reusable and which were not.
                       costs and has a payback time of five                                IT/000846), attempted to design and                                        Based on this analysis, the most cost-
                       years. Enhanced cost effectiveness will                             demonstrate a new best available tech-                                     efficient technology for water reclamation
                       help generate new employment oppor-                                 nique (BAT) for efficient wastewater                                       was selected and different water reuse
                       tunities for European industries and                                reuse in the textile industry. An analysis                                 schemes were designed for cost/benefit
                       also improve competitiveness against                                of production processes at Stamperia                                       comparisons. A pilot plant was then con-
                       low-wage textile producing countries                                di Martinengo, a medium-sized textile                                      structed to demonstrate the applicability
                       and enhance green credentials.                                      finishing factory in Lombardy, was car-                                    of the technologies in practice. This plant
                                                                                                                                                                      treated some 500 m3/day of process efflu-
                                                                                                                                                                      ents, producing 374 m3/day of recovered
                       The HAGAR project reduced consumption of high-quality water for the marble extraction
                                                                                                                                                                      water on average. Most significantly, the
                       industry in Hebron
                                                                                                                                                                      project’s findings also fed into the proc-
                                                                                                                                        Photo: LIFE05 TCY/GA/000115

                                                                                                                                                                      ess for developing new BREF reference
                                                                                                                                                                      guidelines for the textiles sector, helping
                                                                                                                                                                      improve water efficiency across the EU.

                                                                                                                                                                      Efficient water use was just one aspect of
                                                                                                                                                                      LIFE RESITEX (LIFE05 ENV/E/000285),
                                                                                                                                                                      a Spanish textiles industry project that
                                                                                                                                                                      developed and tested best available
                                                                                                                                                                      techniques (BAT) for waste management
                                                                                                                                                                      that could be applied to all textiles sub-
                                                                                                                                                                      sectors. The key output of the project
                                                                                                                                                                      was a guidebook: “Procedure for Waste
                                                                                                                                                                      Management in the Textile Sector”, which
                                                                                                                                                                      provided advice on good management
                                                                                                                                                                      practices (e.g. how water savings can be
                                                                                                                                                                      made by moving from light to dark colours
                                                                                                                                                                      during a production cycle); selection and
                                                                                                                                                                      substitution of chemicals; equipment and
                                                                                                                                                                      new technologies; and ways of minimis-
LIFE and resource efficiency - Decoupling growth from resource use - European Commission


                                                                        LIFE Focus      I   LIFE and resource efficiency: Decoupling growth from resource use

                                                                                                                                                                           PRODUCTION PROCESSES
Photo: LIFE04 ENV/IT/000414

                              Significant reductions in the use of chemicals, water and energy were achieved in the tanning sector thanks to the N.E.S.S project

                              ing resources and making use of recycling       The plant now discharges 8 000 m3/day           aims to demonstrate the effectiveness
                              opportunities (including guidance on how        of wastewater that can be recycled and          of replacing polluting and potentially
                              to recover and reuse printing pastes or         used in agriculture and industry.               carcinogenic chrome tannage with an
                              rinsing water and how to use biological                                                         environmentally friendly ‘oxazolidine’
                              sludge on agricultural land).                   The N.E.S.S. project (LIFE04 ENV/               tanning agent combined with other veg-
                                                                              IT/000414) implemented process                  etable or synthetic agents. The project
                              The guidebook developed by the RESI-            improvements at a factory in Italy spe-         will promote its ‘chrome-free’ leathers to
                              TEX project will help Europe’s textiles         cialising in the skin finishing stage of the    tanning, footwear and upholstery com-
                              SMEs reduce their waste, and keep               tanning production cycle, drawing on the        panies in Spain, Italy and Slovenia.
                              costs down while complying with envi-           BAT developed by the earlier LIFE GIADA
                              ronmental legislation, something that will      project (LIFE00 ENV/IT/000184). The             Resource efficiency from
                              be increasingly important as the sector         redesigned finishing line achieved signifi-     beginning to end-of-life
                              faces greater competition from low-wage         cant reductions in the use of chemicals
                              producers in China and India.                   (95% - and consequently a 28% reduc-            There is a window of opportunity for
                                                                              tion in emissions of volatile organic com-      the EU to influence production and
                              Helping leather look                            pounds), water (up to 75%) and electric-        resource standards in developing coun-
                              better                                          ity (up to 95%), as well as in the amount       tries through EU market compliance
                                                                              of waste sludge generated (up to 98%).          standards. This obliges countries aim-
                              The same could also be said of the              Working conditions were also improved           ing to enter the EU market to comply
                              leather/tanneries industry which, with          thanks to noise abatement measures              with these standards. LIFE, through its
                              LIFE’s assistance, has begun taking             (cutting acoustic pollution by 85%) and         Third Countries strand, has provided an
                              steps to decouple its resource use from         the introduction of water-based, rather         impetus towards this goal. For instance,
                              its economic growth. Improving water            than solvent-based colours. Finally, the        the HAGAR project in Gaza (LIFE05
                              efficiency was again the goal of a LIFE         process improvements also reduced               TCY/GA/000115) worked closely with
                              project in Lorca, Murcia (LIFE02 ENV/           operating costs and the time required           the Italian marble industry to estab-
                              E/000216), where some 40% of Spanish            for skin finishing.                             lish new environmental procedures in
                              leather production takes place. LIFE sup-                                                       Hebron municipality and address prob-
                              port enabled the construction of a bio-         A current LIFE Environment project in           lems associated with the treatment of
                              logical water treatment plant that used         Spain (LIFE08 ENV/E/000140) is simi-            debris, sludge and water from marble
                              ultra-filtration and reverse osmosis tech-      larly implementing process improve-             extraction. Measures such as the con-
                              niques to bring tannery effluent within         ments that should make more efficient           struction of a prototype plant for recy-
                              legal limits and enable its safe disposal.      use of resources. The OXATAN project            cling industrial wastewater and separat-
LIFE and resource efficiency - Decoupling growth from resource use - European Commission


                       LIFE Focus     I   LIFE and resource efficiency: Decoupling growth from resource use
PRODUCTION PROCESSES

                                                                                                                                                                                          Photo: LIFE02 ENV/UK/000140
                       The INWATCO project developed innovative techniques and a Good Practice Guide for integrated management of groundwater, which
                       are important tools for implementing the EU Water Framework Directive

                       ing calcium carbonate have contributed                                    regions of Europe where coalfield drain-    gains at the initial phase of production
                       to a reduction in the consumption of                                      age is a major consideration and has        (extraction). Yet, equally LIFE is playing
                       high-quality water, as well as limiting                                   attracted widespread interest.              its part in the development of a resource
                       pollution in soil and underground reser-                                                                              efficient economy based around recy-
                       voirs from the stone sludge.                                              Poor materials management leads to          cling and reuse of end-of-life products.
                                                                                                 significant wastage in the economy,         The OXATAN project is one good exam-
                       Another LIFE project that tackled the                                     with great economic cost. Improving         ple of this; another is ELVES (LIFE05
                       environmental impacts of extraction                                       material efficiency requires lifecycle      ENV/E/000317), a Spanish project
                       industries was INWATCO in the UK                                          and value chain perspectives. We have       that developed a system for separat-
                       (LIFE02 ENV/UK/000140), which dem-                                        already seen how the LIFE programme         ing metal alloys from end-of-life vehi-
                       onstrated and evaluated innovative                                        is helping to realise resource efficiency   cle (ELV) engines and reusing them in
                       techniques and procedures for inte-
                       grated management of groundwater                                          INWATCO demonstrated that groundwater systems that interact with mine workings can
                       resources in former coal mining areas.                                    be managed to ensure good water quality
                       A river basin catchment-scale demon-
                                                                   Photo: LIFE02 ENV/UK/000140

                       stration project took place in Wake-
                       field (UK), with supporting activities in
                       Romania, to assess the applicability of
                       the project methodology to all major
                       European coal mining regions. Data
                       from INWATCO’s comprehensive water
                       sampling and analysis programme were
                       used to evaluate potential minewater
                       management options and the relation-
                       ship between minewater systems and
                       the wider surface water and groundwa-
                       ter content. This information fed into
                       a Good Practice Guide on integrated
                       water resource management in former
                       coal mining regions. The guide is an
                       important tool for implementing the EU
                       Water Framework Directive in the many


                                          LIFE Focus                                I   LIFE and resource efficiency: Decoupling growth from resource use

                                                                                                                                                kcal/tonne of product, a massive con-

                                                                                                                                                                                              PRODUCTION PROCESSES
                                                                                                                                                tribution to resource efficiency.

                                                                                                                                                LIFE continues to work to improve the
                                                                                                                                                energy efficiency of other areas of the
                                                                                                                                                metals industry and elsewhere, for
                                                                                                                                                instance, by helping companies develop
                                                                                                                                                new, energy and resource efficient prod-
                                                                                                                                                ucts that could lead to widespread proc-
                                                                                                                                                ess improvements. The LIFE Green Bear-
                                                                                                                                                ings project (LIFE06 ENV/NL/000176)
                                                                                                                                                is just one example. An estimated 50
                                                                                                                                                billion bearings are installed in machin-

                                                                                                                   Photo: LIFE08 ENV/E/000140
                                                                                                                                                ery worldwide. This means that even
                                                                                                                                                small frictional power savings per bear-
                                                                                                                                                ing amount to enormous global - and
                                                                                                                                                European - power savings. LIFE Green
                                                                                                                                                Bearings introduced thin film lubrication,
                                                                                                                                                lightweight polymers and improved seal
‘Chrome-free’ leathers for tanning, footwear and upholstery companies in Spain, Italy and                                                       technologies (e.g. hard seal coating) to
Slovenia will be produced by the OXATAN project                                                                                                 deliver energy reductions of 30-70%,
                                                                                                                                                depending on the bearing and load.
new auto parts and engines. A facility                                     an innovative cold-drawing system for                                Project beneficiary SKF calculates that
capable of treating 33 000 tonnes/yr of                                    the production of steel wire rod that has                            a 50% implementation of its Energy
ELV engines with 99% efficiency was                                        drastically cut energy consumption and                               Efficient Bearings among existing cus-
built, kickstarting a new market in the                                    the production of dangerous chemical                                 tomers would reduce energy consump-
process. The LIFE co-funded factory is                                     wastes. If the techniques developed by                               tion by 4 000 GWh/yr and disposal of
able to recover more than 5 100 tonnes                                     this LIFE Environment “Best of the Best”                             waste lubricants by 4 million tonnes/yr in
of aluminium per year, decreasing EU                                       project 2008-2009 were implemented                                   Europe. The substantial energy savings,
dependence on foreign raw material                                         throughout Italy, a country that proc-                               reduction of lubricant use and increase
imports as a result.                                                       esses 1.7 million tonnes/yr of steel wire                            of product longevity are also calculated
                                                                           rod, it would lead to environmental sav-                             to bring economic benefits to customers
The benefits of energy                                                     ings of 72 000 tonnes/yr of water con-                               in less than five years.
efficiency                                                                 sumption; 6 400 tonnes/yr of sulphuric
                                                                           acid and 1 900 tonnes/yr of hydrochlo-
                                                                                                                                                 A part of a machine designed to reduce
Improving the energy efficiency of pro-                                    ric acid production, and a reduction in                              friction between moving parts or to support
duction processes has been one of the                                      energy consumption of some 430 000                                   moving loads.
success stories of the LIFE programme,
particularly for the most energy-inten-                                    Energy Efficient Bearings could reduce energy consumption by 4 000 GWh/yr and disposal
sive sectors such as the metals indus-                                     of waste lubricants by 4 million tonnes/yr in Europe
try. For instance INCOCAST (LIFE05
                                             Photo: LIFE06 ENV/NL/000176

ENV/D/000185), a “Best” LIFE Envi-
ronment project for 2007-2008, sought
to demonstrate the effectiveness of
an alternative process to the cold-box
technique used by most foundries for
casting aluminium. The project signifi-
cantly reduced energy consumption,
emissions, deposits and wastewater
through its ‘inorganic warm box’ cast-
ing technique and laid the foundations
for the future use of this method in the
mass production of more resource effi-
cient aluminium engine blocks and cyl-
inder heads.

The Italian New ESD project (LIFE04
ENV/IT/000598) developed and tested
10

                       LIFE Focus      I   LIFE and resource efficiency: Decoupling growth from resource use
PRODUCTION PROCESSES

                       MEIGLASS brings new LIFE
                           to waste glass
                                             This groundbreaking Italian LIFE project has established the first factory in Europe tur-

                                             ning the unwanted waste fraction of recycled glass bottles into raw materials for the

                                             glass container, ceramics and bricks industries.

                       R       ecycling of glass bottles is now
                               a long-established practice in
                       Europe. Yet the average citizen is prob-
                                                                      centage is likely to increase as the hollow
                                                                      glass industry demands oven-ready cullet
                                                                      that will enable it to produce containers
                                                                                                                                         ence processing mined minerals, in 2003
                                                                                                                                         the Italian company SASIL SpA began
                                                                                                                                         trials of a new process that promised to
                       ably unaware that recycled glass produc-       with even greater resistance to thermal                            revolutionise the raw material use of the
                       ers also generate significant waste. Some      shock and mechanical stresses. “If the                             glass container industry, with significant
                       23-25% of glass from public collection         glass industry wants better quality cullet it                      resource efficiencies all round.
                       points is rejected by the glass container      has to reject more,” says Dr. Piero Ercole,
                       industry and sent to landfill because of       scientific and technical director of the                           As project manager Paolo Bertuzzi
                       impurities in the cullet (the technical name   MEIGLASS project and president of ATIV,                            explains, SASIL’s aim was to clean the
                       for crushed waste glass that is ready to be    the Italian technical association of glass                         reject cullet and then grind and sieve it
                       remelted into new bottles etc). This per-      producers. Drawing on its long experi-                             into pieces of 70-800 microns (0.07-0.8
                                                                                                                                         mm) – so called ‘glassy sand’ – which
                       Project manager Paolo Bertuzzi explains more about LIFE MEIGLASS                                                  could be melted without problems during
                                                                                                                                         glass container manufacturing.
                                                                                                                  Photo: Justin Toland

                                                                                                                                         With the support of LIFE, SASIL was
                                                                                                                                         able to invest in upgrades to its facility in
                                                                                                                                         Brusnengo, Piedmont, that would allow
                                                                                                                                         it to implement its new process on an
                                                                                                                                         industrial scale. LIFE co-funding was to
                                                                                                                                         be invested in three areas: a wastewater
                                                                                                                                         treatment plant; a pyrolysis plant gener-
                                                                                                                                         ating heat and power from waste plastic
                                                                                                                                         separated from the dirty cullet during
                                                                                                                                         glassy sand manufacturing; and in prod-
                                                                                                                                         uct development and testing.

                                                                                                                                         SASIL’s new water purification plant
                                                                                                                                         offers significant resource efficiencies,
11

                                            LIFE Focus      I   LIFE and resource efficiency: Decoupling growth from resource use

                                                                                                                        Less resources, more

                                                                                                                                                                       PRODUCTION PROCESSES
                                                                                                                        quality

                                                                                                                        LIFE MEIGLASS has generated sig-
                                                                                                                        nificant environmental benefits. These
                                                                                                                        include a reduction in the amount of
                                                                                                                        cullet going to landfill of some 20 truck
                                                                                                                        loads per day (from 25% to 2%). The
                                                                                                                        180 000 tonnes/yr of waste cullet now
                                                                                                                        reused by SASIL means that 300 000

                                                                                                 Photo: Justin Toland
                                                                                                                        tonnes/yr less material needs to be
                                                                                                                        mined for the glass container industry, a
                                                                                                                        significant raw material saving. Further-
                                                                                                                        more, every tonne of glassy sand used
Washing is one part of the process of turning reject cullet into glassy sand
                                                                                                                        in the furnace saves 300 kg of CO2. This
                                                                                                                        means in 2008, SASIL helped the con-
as it allows the company to recycle 90%          another example of the resource effi-                                  tainer industry avoid generating 43 500
of its process water, greatly reducing           ciency of the MEIGLASS process, since                                  tonnes of CO2, equivalent to taking 26
the need for fresh water during glassy           it is made up of pieces of less than 70                                000 cars with a Euro 4 engine off the
sand manufacturing (just 10% of the              microns which would float on the surface                               road for a year.
process water - lost through evapora-            and reflect heat if melted in a furnace for
tion - must be replaced).                        glassmaking. Instead, these fine gran-                                 Other benefits of using glassy sand
                                                 ules are separated by an air stream and                                include the fact that it has a chemical
Following teething problems with the             mixed with feldspar for sale to the ceram-                             oxygen demand (COD) 10 times lower
initial design, SASIL plans to start up its      ics industry, where they are used as an                                than standard furnace-ready cullet (a
pyrolysis plant in 2011. The oil and the gas     alkali carrier. A further 5% of production, a                          COD of 100 mg/l as opposed to 1 000
generated by the low temperature plant           water suspension of very fine sand mixed                               mg/l) and 25 times lower than that of the
(450-500° C ) will feed a turbine that will      with clay, is sold to the brick industry.                              cullet rejects.
generate 2 MW of heat for SASIL’s drying
processes and 1 MW of electric power.            The process is very flexible, allowing                                 Increasing the quantity of glassy sand
                                                 SASIL to change the ratios of glassy and                               has also been found to reduce the energy
Most significantly though, LIFE support          ceramic sand in line with market needs.                                consumption in the furnace per kilo of
has been used to optimise the technical          The company is also building on the LIFE                               glass produced by some 5%. “The melt-
quality not only of glassy sand, but also        MEIGLASS project by investigating the                                  ing furnace’s specific energy consump-
of two other products generated by the           possibility of mixing the fine particles                               tion is reduced by about 0.67% for each
process of cleaning and grinding of dirty        (under 70 microns) with larger granules                                percentage of glassy sand used instead
cullet - ‘ceramic sand’ and ‘brick sand’.        to allow even more cullet to be returned                               of natural raw materials,” notes Dr. Ercole.
Ceramic sand, which accounts for some            to the glass industry. The first test results                          Furthermore, as Mr. Bertuzzi indicates,
25% of the output of SASIL’s plant, is           are “very promising” says Dr. Ercole.                                  “decreasing the amount of ceramic
                                                                                                                        stones is a big challenge for glass fac-
Project beneficiary SASIL SpA is capable of producing up to 200 000 tonnes/yr of glassy                                 tories - with glassy sand they obtain this
sand for the glass bottle industry                                                                                      effect.” Trials show that with 3% glassy
                                                                                                                        sand and 47% furnace-ready cullet,
                                                                                                 Photo: Justin Toland

                                                                                                                        there were an average of 0.24 ceramic
                                                                                                                        stones/tonne of glass pulled; when the
                                                                                                                        mix was changed to 18% glassy sand
                                                                                                                        and 32% furnace-ready cullet, the ratio
                                                                                                                        of stones dropped to 0.09/tonne of glass
                                                                                                                        pulled.

                                                                                                                        Significantly, tests have shown that
                                                                                                                        glassy sand can also improve the quality
                                                                                                                        of glass containers. Results from the field
                                                                                                                        indicate that when 25% glassy sand is
                                                                                                                        used in the batch, the internal pressure
                                                                                                                        resistance of bottles is 9% higher under
                                                                                                                        the same thermal and forming condi-
                                                                                                                        tions. “Glassy sand also enables better
12

                       LIFE Focus      I   LIFE and resource efficiency: Decoupling growth from resource use

                                                                                                                                         let to improve its properties and allow
PRODUCTION PROCESSES

                                                                                                                                         colour separation of glass (which does
                                                                                                                                         not happen at source in Italy). In addi-
                                                                                                                                         tion, one of SASIL’s existing customers
                                                                                                                                         is now aiming to recover civil demolition
                                                                                                                                         waste glass and car windscreens and
                                                                                                                                         use glassy sand to produce flat glass.
                                                                                                                                         “This is a very important development,”
                                                                                                                                         says Dr Ercole. “Very little flat glass is
                                                                                                                                         recycled today.”

                                                                                                                                         SASIL is looking to develop other, new,

                                                                                                                  Photo: Justin Toland
                                                                                                                                         resource efficient products and proc-
                                                                                                                                         esses from waste glass. Now, with
                                                                                                                                         further support from LIFE, the NOVEDI
                                                                                                                                         project (LIFE07 ENV/IT/000361) sees
                       With LIFE support, SASIL SpA has established the first plant in Europe capable of                                 the company in the process of devel-
                       generating new raw materials from waste cullet                                                                    oping a lightweight insulation material
                                                                                                                                         made from art and mosaic glass, light
                       control of oxy-reduction reactions and         at events in Croatia, Finland and even                             bulbs, cathode ray tubes and compu-
                       consequent higher consistency both in          Vietnam (by project partner Joanneum                               ter screens, all forms of glass that can-
                       colour and in infrared light absorption,”      Research), as well as in Italy. “Other                             not be used to make glass containers
                       explains Dr. Ercole. The result, he says, is   firms can learn from how SASIL per-                                because of their high lead and fluorine
                       that “there is more consistent behaviour       suaded the glass industry of the benefits                          content.
                       of the glass in forming processes thanks       of glassy sand,” believes Dr. Ercole.
                       to the improved chemical and thermal                                                                              With the VALIRE project to recycle
                       homogeneity.”                                  As a sign of its success, sales of glassy                          incinerator residues into high-value
                                                                      sand have increased from 6 235 tonnes                              building materials (LIFE08 ENV/
                       Spreading the message                          in 2003 to 144 337 tonnes in 2008, and                             IT/000421) also in the pipeline, SASIL
                                                                      SASIL’s factory is today capable of pro-                           is showing just how far it is possible to
                       Results of the MEIGLASS project have           ducing 200 000 tonnes/yr. The company                              take resource efficiency in manufactur-
                       been widely disseminated, with sev-            is also looking to extend its resource                             ing. As CEO Lodovico Ramon is keen
                       eral articles in technical journals and        efficient process into new areas, includ-                          to stress: “Waste is the raw material of
                       local newspapers, and presentations            ing the washing of furnace-ready cul-                              the future.”

                       After MEIGLASS, NOVEDI: Paolo Bertuzzi shows off a display about SASIL’s latest LIFE
                       project
                                                                                                                  Photo: Justin Toland

                                                                                                                                                              ITALY
                                                                                                                                            Project number: LIFE06 ENV/IT/000332
                                                                                                                                            Title: Minimising the Environmental Impact
                                                                                                                                            of GLASS recycling and glass container
                                                                                                                                            production
                                                                                                                                            Beneficiary: SASIL SpA
                                                                                                                                            Contact: Paolo Bertuzzi
                                                                                                                                            Email: cbertuzzi@sasil-life.com
                                                                                                                                            Website: http://www.sasil-life.com/
                                                                                                                                            Period: Dec-2005 to Dec-2009
                                                                                                                                            Total budget: e6 065 000
                                                                                                                                            LIFE contribution: e1 144 000
13

                                          LIFE Focus    I   LIFE and resource efficiency: Decoupling growth from resource use

LIFE conserving resources
     in product design,
      production, use and
      disposal
                     Current patterns of consumption and production have significant environmental

                     impacts, including the emission of greenhouse gases, pollution and the depletion of

                     natural resources. Much can be done to make consumption and production in Europe

                     more resource efficient. LIFE has an important role to play in supporting EU actions

                     and proposals to improve the environmental performance of products and to stimulate

                     demand for more sustainable goods and production technologies.

I   t is estimated that over 80% of
    all product-related environmen-
tal impacts are determined during the
                                              Plan (July 2008) provides a framework to
                                              improve the energy and environmental
                                              performance of products and to help
                                                                                             As many of the following LIFE project
                                                                                             examples show, the efficient use of
                                                                                             resources (whether for production, use
design phase of a product. Against this       consumers make better choices. Build-          or disposal) can be good for business
background, eco-design aims to reduce         ing on earlier EU policies and initiatives,    as well as for the environment, particu-
the environmental impacts of products,        it includes extensions to the scope of the     larly as the global market for environ-
including energy consumption, through-        Eco-design and Labelling directives and        mental industries is expected to grow
out their entire lifecycle.                   Ecolabel Regulation, as well as significant    to €200 billion by 2020.
                                              revisions to the voluntary eco-manage-
Apart from changing the user’s behaviour,     ment and audit scheme (EMAS II).               Saving energy … and
there are two ways of reducing the energy                                                    valuable resources
consumed in products: labelling to raise      A European Commission review of the
consumer awareness of the real energy         Action Plan is expected in 2012, includ-       LIFE has provided financial support to
use in order to influence buying decisions,   ing assessment of the new Eco-design           enterprises across Europe seeking to
such as labelling schemes for domestic        Directive (2009/125/EC), which has been        explore more energy and resource efficient
appliances; and energy-efficiency require-    extended so that it covers not only energy-    production methods and processes.
ments imposed on products from the            using products (EuPs) on the EU market,
early stage of the design phase.              such as computers, televisions, boilers,
                                              and industrial fans; but also energy-related
EU action                                     products (adding products that don’t con-
                                              sume energy during use, but have an indi-      1 http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleases
                                                                                             Action.do?reference=MEMO/08/
The EU’s Sustainable Consumption and          rect impact on energy consumption, such        507&format=HTML&aged=0&language=
Production / Sustainable Industries Action    as taps and window frames).                    EN&guiLanguage=en
14

                              LIFE Focus       I   LIFE and resource efficiency: Decoupling growth from resource use

                                                                                                                                                                                         strated that small quantities (1-10%) of
ECO PRODUCTS AND ECO DESIGN

                                                                                                                                                                                         sludge from wastewater treatment plants
                                                                                                                                                                                         could be mixed with the clay material
                                                                                                                                                                                         traditionally used to produce bricks.
                                                                                                                                                                                         According to the project beneficiary, the
                                                                                                                                                                                         concept, which replaces conventional
                                                                                                                                                                                         gas-fired boilers with biomass heaters,
                                                                                                                                                                                         could result in 6% potential net energy
                                                                                                                                                                                         savings for the ceramics sector.

                                                                                                                                                                                         Two other ongoing projects targeting,
                                                                                                                                                                                         respectively, the greening of window-
                                                                                                                                                                                         making and the cleaning sector, are

                                                                                                                                                           Photo: LIFE04 ENV/IT/000589
                                                                                                                                                                                         also looking to substantially reduce
                                                                                                                                                                                         their use of natural resources. The Slov-
                                                                                                                                                                                         enian UNISASH project (LIFE07 ENV/
                                                                                                                                                                                         SLO/000710) is aiming to develop a new
                                                                                                                                                                                         type of environmentally friendly manu-
                              An Italian LIFE project, EWG, developed a technology to decorate ceramic tiles that                                                                        facturing process suitable for PVC, wood
                              reduces wasted glaze and energy consumption                                                                                                                and aluminium windows. It is aiming to
                                                                                                                                                                                         reduce consumption of raw materials by
                                                                                                                                                                                         20-35% per unit. This should equate to
                              The ceramics sector, where the finish-                                         ceramic tiles that cut energy consumption                                   energy savings of 20-40% per unit. Cost
                              ing process in particular is associated                                        in half, eliminated the need for water and                                  savings from these environmental ben-
                              with significant environmental damage,                                         reduced to zero any resultant pollution.                                    efits are also expected through reduced
                              has been the focus of several successful                                                                                                                   production costs.
                              LIFE projects. The Italian EWG project,                                        Energy efficiencies were also shown by
                              (LIFE04 ENV/IT/000589) demonstrated                                            Eco-Ceramics, (LIFE05 ENV/E/000301),                                        The French CISDP project (LIFE08 ENV/
                              a new clean technology for the decora-                                         as part of its innovative waste manage-                                     F/000481) is promoting the implementa-
                              tion of ceramics on flat and textured sur-                                     ment concept targeting the re-use of                                        tion of a sustainable development pro-
                              faces using a soft roll that is able to adapt                                  sludge as a raw material for the structural                                 gramme for the country’s cleaning com-
                              itself to the surface’s shape. A pilot plant                                   ceramics industry. The project demon-                                       panies. The programme contains more
                              reduced wasted glazes by 98% and
                              waste caused by printing faults by 8%.                                         A manufacturing process for PVC, wood and aluminium windows that reduces raw materials
                              Its implementation generated a reduction                                       consumption is currently being demonstrated by the Slovenian UNISASH project
                              in energy consumption of up to 76%.
                                                                              Photo: LIFE07 ENV/SLO/007100

                              Another cleantech project in this sector,
                              Microfinishing (LIFE02 ENV/IT/000052)
                              developed a new, dry finishing process for

                              2 A Best LIFE Environment Project winner
                              2006-07
15

                                           LIFE Focus                                           I   LIFE and resource efficiency: Decoupling growth from resource use

than 50 concrete actions targeting the

                                                                                                                                                                                ECO PRODUCTS AND ECO DESIGN
conservation of natural resources and
preservation of the environment through
reduced water consumption and pollu-
tion, less waste and improved recycling.
Furthermore, 50% of all employees will
receive training thus creating green skills
in this sector.

Energy-efficiencies
In refrigeration

Domestic fridges and freezers have
increased in energy efficiency by more
than 40% in the past decade or so,
thanks in part to the introduction of the
Energy Label Directive (92/75/EEC).
                                              Photo: LIFE05 ENV/DK/000156

However, the commercial world has been
slow to make the same advances.

The Austrian PROCOOL project, (LIFE03
ENV/A/000002) organised a Europe-
wide competition among manufacturers
to promote innovation and show that
                                                                       With CO2REF, energy consumption of refrigeration units is 4% lower than with an HFC
hydrofluorocarbons (HFC)-free, energy-
                                                                       system
efficient and cost-effective commercial
appliances can be successfully pro-
duced. Entrants were set strict criteria,                                   which included recycling potential and                Reducing waste
                                                                            repair-orientated designs.                            and emissions
3 A Best LIFE Environment project winner
2007-08                                                                     Eight leading manufacturers, repre-                   As well as demonstrating resource and
                                                                            senting 30% of the European market,                   energy efficiencies, many innovative LIFE
                                                                             entered the competition. Seven prod-                 projects have also shown important reduc-
                                                                             ucts finally met the competition’s tough             tions in emissions and waste. A number
                                                                             stipulations. The winning entries incor-             have also reported significant economic
                                                                             porated enterprising solutions that                  benefits from the more efficient manage-
                                                             Photo: LIFE03 ENV/A/000002

                                                                               found immediate markets for their                  ment of resources previously wasted.
                                                                               new designs. All showed an energy
                                                                               saving of up to 50% compared with                  A particular focus has been the metal
                                                                               standard products, and also avoided                industries, traditionally associated with
                                                                               harmful refrigerants and insulation                very high environmental impacts. For
                                                                               materials, while comfortably meeting               example, the Italian Clean-Deco project
                                                                               standards on noise levels.                         (LIFE00 ENV/IT/000213) developed a
                                                                                                                                  cleantech solution for the replacement of
                                                                                          Meanwhile, the Danish CO 2 REF          the highly polluting process of galvanising
                                                                                          project, (LIFE05 ENV/DK/000156)         metals using physical vapour deposition
                                                                                          investigated the use of CO2 as a        (PVD) technology. This has resulted in the
                                                                                          greener refrigerant alternative to      elimination of chromium wastes and a sub-
                                                                                          HFCs and then successfully intro-       stantial reduction in the use of dangerous
                                                                                          duced it in a pilot supermarket sys-    chemicals: chromium trioxide (CrO3) by
                                                                                          tem. Initial results showed reduced     100%; hydrogen chloride (HCl) by 30%;
                                                                                          energy consumption of around 4%,        and sulphuric acid (H2SO4) by 90%.
                                                                                          as well as service cost savings of
                                                                                          15%. Significantly, the system has      Europe’s aeronautics sector was the
                                                                                          proved to be a commercial, as well      focus of a high-profile French project,
                                                                                          as a technical success, with 26 units
                                                                                          in operation and a further seven on     4 A Best LIFE Environment project winner
                                                                                          order (2008).                           2005-06
16

                              LIFE Focus       I   LIFE and resource efficiency: Decoupling growth from resource use

                                                                                                                                                                             that all vehicles must contain the high-
ECO PRODUCTS AND ECO DESIGN

                                                                                                                                                                             est-possible proportion of recyclable
                                                                                                                                                                             materials.

                                                                                                                                                                             An earlier LIFE project in Italy, Use
                                                                                                                                                                             and… re-use (LIFE99 ENV/IT/000034)
                                                                                                                                                                             developed an innovative system to
                                                                                                                                                                             avoid the substantial amounts of waste
                                                                                                                                                                             generated in the packaging of fruit
                                                                                                                                                                             and vegetables. The project designed
                                                                                                                                                                             recyclable plastic boxes, which can be
                                                                                                                                                                             folded and re-used up to 30 times. The
                                                                                                                                                                             scheme included a processing centre

                                                                                                                                                Photo: LIFE03 ENV/E/000106
                                                                                                                                                                             to handle the cleaning, re-use and
                                                                                                                                                                             recycling of the boxes, and computer
                                                                                                                                                                             software to track their journeys. At the
                                                                                                                                                                             beginning of the LIFE project in 1999,
                                                                                                                                                                             the beneficiary (CPR system) was a
                              Packaging producers have made better use of raw materials by recycling plastic from                                                            small cooperative with 900 000 boxes,
                              vehicle factory waste                                                                                                                          47 members and a handful of staff.
                                                                                                                                                                             By the end of the project, the coop-
                              (LIFE05 ENV/F/000062), targeting the                                ENV/E/000106) successfully recycled                                      erative had 355 members, between
                              development of a less polluting tech-                                plastic from vehicle factory waste to                                     them using over 5 million boxes, sav-
                              nology for aircraft panel manufactur-                                produce pallets. The recovered mate-                                      ing not only 50 000 tonnes/yr of pack-
                              ing. Implemented by Dufieux Indus-                                   rial is a highly transferable process,                                    aging waste but also €6.5 million/yr in
                              tries, a new Green Advanced Panels                                   which has enabled the beneficiary, a                                      waste disposal costs. Importantly, the
                              (GAP) mechanical milling process was                                 manufacturer of linings for car interiors,                                scheme has continued to grow. Today
                              designed to replace the chemical milling                             to turn its waste (previously all sent to                                 it has over 950 members and 12 mil-
                              processes conventionally used for the                                landfill) into a 100% recoverable, re-                                    lion boxes that are used a total of 110
                              machining of complex-shaped panels,                                  usable and recyclable high-quality                                        million times/yr. This saves more than
                              a process that produces large volumes                                plastic. The success of the scheme                                        100 000 tonnes/yr of waste, 100 Mwh/
                              of toxic sludge. Independent analysis                                also has particular relevance within the                                  yr of energy and €13 million/yr in waste
                              suggests this project could generate                                 motor industry, where EU directives                                       disposal costs. The company is now
                              significant water and chemicals sav-                                 concerning end-of-life vehicles require                                   present in all Italian regions and tens of
                              ings, a 57% decrease in electricity                                                                                                            jobs have been created. Yet the project
                              consumption, and cuts in emissions of                                6 A Best LIFE Environment project winner                                  cost only €1.5 million (with €600 000 of
                              greenhouse gases (6 200 tonnes/yr of                                 2007-08                                                                   EU co-financing).
                              CO 2) and volatile organic compounds
                              (850 tonnes/yr). Together with a 16                                  The results of the RECIPLAS project will help the motor industry comply with
                              000-tonne/yr reduction in the amount                                 EU directives on end-of-life vehicles
                              of waste produced, the project makes
                                                                          Photo: LIFE03 ENV/E/000106

                              an important contribution towards the
                              implementation of the integrated pol-
                              lution prevention and control (IPPC)
                              Directive (91/61/EC).

                              Packaging, wood and
                              paper solutions

                              Two LIFE projects have focused
                              their activities on helping packaging
                              producers make better use of their
                              resources and raw materials. The
                              RECIPLAS project in Spain (LIFE03

                              5 A Best LIFE Environment project winner
                              2007-08
17

                                        LIFE Focus   I   LIFE and resource efficiency: Decoupling growth from resource use

                                                                                                                      ance with environmental legislation, the

                                                                                                                                                                                               ECO PRODUCTS AND ECO DESIGN
                                                                                                                      overall goal is to help manufacturers in
                                                                                                                      this sector reduce their environmen-
                                                                                                                      tal footprint through awareness of the
                                                                                                                      legal requirements they need to meet.
                                                                                                                      An alert system will be set up to inform
                                                                                                                      companies of relevant environmental

                                                                                        Photo: LIFE09 ENV/ES/000454
                                                                                                                      legislation.

                                                                                                                      A lifecycle approach

                                                                                                                      Finally, the Integrated Product Policy
                                                                                                                      (IPP) approach has contributed signifi-
Construction materials will be produced from household waste wood products, such as                                   cantly to the development of environ-
furniture, doors and floors with the WOODRUB project                                                                  mental policies in Europe in the areas of
                                                                                                                      product design, use of natural resources
Another innovative project aiming to        bel scheme in its early days. When the                                    and management of waste.
show significant resource savings is        project was launched in 2003, only a
the ongoing WOODRUB project in              handful of Hellenic textile firms had                                     Reflecting this lifecycle approach is
Spain (LIFE09 ENV/ES/000454), which         been awarded an Ecolabel in recog-                                        the Luxembourg LIFE+ ECO2 Tyre Tech
is looking to develop construction          nition of the good environmental per-                                     project (LIFE09 ENV/LU/000390) just
materials from household waste wood         formance of their product or service.                                     underway, led by European and world-
products (furniture, doors, windows,        The project was particularly successful                                   wide tyre producer, Goodyear (see
floors, etc) and used tyres. This re-use    in promoting the benefits of the Eco-                                     pages 18-20). Another important IPP
initiative will provide wood/tyre pro-      label to an audience that was largely                                     project targeting the automobile indus-
ducers with a new ‘end-of-life’ route,      sceptical (mainly due to a lack of infor-                                 try was the French EDIT project (LIFE00
and offer public and private construc-      mation and knowledge on how to par-                                       ENV/F/000593). The project success-
tion firms with a more environmentally      ticipate). It produced a best practice                                    fully developed lifecycle assessment
friendly product option. Moreover, the      guide, established an eco-consultancy                                     (LCA) methodologies and support
planned new products will operate as        and successfully guided four textiles                                     software tools for the management of
carbon sinks – increasing the carbon        companies through the process. Its                                        vehicle components. The approach
storage in buildings using the products     main achievement, however, was to                                         involved key stakeholders: carmakers,
and replacing other, less green, building   show how the Ecolabel with its guar-                                      parts’ manufacturers, and raw material
materials.                                  antee of greener credentials, can pro-                                    suppliers; and covered all stages of the
                                            vide a competitive edge to Greek, and                                     product lifecycle, including end-of-life
The manufacture of paper has a sig-         other European textile manufacturers,                                     issues.
nificant environmental footprint both       who are increasingly under pressure
upstream (where raw materials are           from lower-cost garments imported                                         90% of European footwear companies
acquired and processed) and down-           from China, and cheaper raw materials                                     will be involved in the SHOELAW project
                                                                                                                      to improve their environmental perform-
stream (waste-disposal impacts). Recy-      from countries such as Turkey.
                                                                                                                      ance and compliance with environmental
cling obviously reduces this impact.
                                                                                                                      legislation
One of the earliest LIFE projects to tar-   Another voluntary initiative is currently
get this sector (LIFE95 ENV/IT/000393)      being investigated by a Spanish-led
was implemented by Italian specialist       project to encourage more environ-
paper manufacturer, Favini. The com-        mentally friendly practices among
pany tested the use of various bio-         Europe’s footwear manufacturers.
waste materials (e.g. pomace, algae,        SHOELAW (LIFE08 ENV/E/000147) is
                                                                                                                                                                  Photo: LIFE08 ENV/E/000147

apple peel) to develop 100% recycla-        seeking to develop an e-platform for
ble paper of the same high quality as       environmental self-diagnosis among
its other products. Results included a      50 companies in five European
10% saving in trees and a 12% saving        countries: Spain, Italy, Portu-
in energy consumption.                      gal, Greece and Slovenia.
                                            These countries jointly
Voluntary actions                           represent 90% of Euro-
                                            pean footwear companies.
A Greek LIFE project, ECO-TEXTILE           Focusing on improvements
(LIFE03 ENV/GR/000204) helped               in environmental standards
spread awareness of the EU’s Ecola-         and the promotion of compli-
You can also read