News Archive 2009

News Archive 2009
September 17, 2009

LCA Project for SMEs under Preparation - Supportive Response from Industry and the EcoDesign Community

At the FP7 Info-Day of the European Commission in Brussels today, Fraunhofer presented a project concept to boost life cycle usage among European Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. Building inter alia on the practical experiences of the 2005 Awareness Raising Campaign, this project concept under the title "LCA to go" tackles some core challenges for SMEs:
(1) Enhance credibility - being robust, reliable, transparent by providing SME-compatible methodological guidance;
(2) Closing efficiently data gaps by developing branch solutions for (LCA) data provision;
(3) Easy to use by providing smart, open source applications instead of full size LCA tools; and
(4) Bridging the language gap by translating environmental aspects into engineering language (KEPIs).
In bilateral talks this concept of very practical approaches instead of rather academic ones was instantly appreciated by practioners from the eco-design domain, such as the Ecodesign Center Wales, and SME representatives, such as SIRRIS from Belgium. The full project proposal will be submitted for the January 5 deadline of the Environment call.

September 9, 2009

European Project Develops Software Tools for Eco-Innovations in SMEs

The objective of the recently launched European project "LiMaS: Life Cycle Innovation & Management for SMEs (EuP & EEE)" is to define and supply SMEs with a practical methodology and a web application to help them to integrate life cycle thinking, Eco-innovation and other environmental requirements (i.e. Management Systems, Eco Design, Eco Labels, etc.) in their daily business.
The main outcome of this project which will last for three years will be a practical methodology to assist SMEs with the integration of Eco Innovation and the coming Eco Design requirements (EuP Directive) in their business, a free-access web application which will contain information on the Best Available Technologies for the sector, Eco Design Guidelines, funding sources, environmental requirements, etc., and a commercial software tool so as to enable that integration to be done on an easy and quick way.
Juan Carlos Alonso, the project coordinator and Eco Innovation-projects' manager at SIMPPLE assured that, "the innovative aspect of this project is that users (SMEs) will be able to manage different environmental topics (i.e. Life Cycle Assessment, Eco Design, legislative requirements, Environmental Product Declarations, quantification of the most significant environmental aspects, etc.) using a common approach (e.g. Gathering and input the needed data only once) and without being an environmental expert. The target group of the current project consists of SMEs which manufacture Energy-Using Products (EuP) and/or Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) as well as their components?.
Currently there is a survey underway to investigate the status of software use for eco-innovation, environmental management and legal compliance. SMEs are encouraged to reply to this survey and to formulate their needs (survey accessible in English, Spanish and German).

April 16, 2009

Rapid Access to Ecodesign: New List of Tools and Methodologies Compiled

Fraunhofer IZM updated the list of ecodesign tools and methodologies according to latest tool developments. The list comments specifically on the appropriatenes for SMEs of the electrical and electronics sector. The matrix is available for download on the Info Pool website and includes links to the tools and further background information for immediate access to most relevant essentials.
Companies might also consult the LCA Resources Directory of the European Commission DG JRC with many more references, tools and access to an experts' pool on Life Cycle Assessments in general.

April 14, 2009

Couple of Eco-innovation projects to be launched soon

134 Eco-innovation project proposals were submitted under the 2008 Competitiveness and Innovation call. Of these, around 40 have been selected. Some additional projects may receive funding depending on budget availability. The call for project proposals in 2008 inspired submissions from 444 participants in 32 countries, three quarters of which were from SMEs.
These projects represent the innovative ways in which European businesses and organisations are addressing the challenge of combining environmental sustainability and economic growth.
Projects tackling the electrical and electronics sector comprise the Spanish-German LiMaS project "Life Cycle Innovation & Management for SMEs (EuP & EEE)", and the French-German-Dutch REWARD project "Recovery of Electronic Waste through Advanced Recycling and Demonstration".

April 6, 2009

EuP Regulation on Power Adapters Adopted

The Commission has adopted today a new regulation to improve the energy performance of external power supplies, which is expected to cut their electricity losses by nearly a third by 2020. The resulting savings of 9 TWh is enough to power Lithuania for a year and will reduce annual CO2 emissions by more than three million tonnes.
"This ecodesign measure will drastically improve the energy performance of external power supplies, which everybody uses together with many household and office products. Setting ambitious energy performance requirements for products is an important contribution to improving Europe's energy efficiency," said Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs.
The regulation adopted today sets requirements for the energy efficiency of external power supplies. They convert power input from the mains power source into lower voltage output for household and office products such as mobile and cordless phones, notebook computers, modems etc. The requirements address both the "active" efficiency, i.e. the efficiency when power is supplied to for example a notebook when being actually used, and the "no-load" power consumption, i.e. the power which the supply still uses when for instance the notebook is not plugged in.
These requirements come into force in two steps on April 27, 2010 and April 27, 2011, and correspond to internationally recognised efficiency criteria, which are achieved by models with significantly enhanced efficiency compared to a current average model.
This regulation does not only affect manufacturers of external power supplies, but also SMEs assembling products, which come with an external power supply should immediately adapt their purchase specification to allow a timely shift to compliant power supply units. It is expected, that the supply of compliant power supply units will see a bottle-neck later this year and SMEs might face severe shortages regarding compliant adapters.

April 5, 2009

Green Photonics is the New Hype

Global Laser, one of the four Welsh SMEs that benefited from Ecodesign Centre Wales' one-off Ecodesign Support Package (ESP) has launched their new low power consumption laser at the SPIE Photonic West 2009.
SPIE Photonics West is one of the largest commercial exhibitions in North America on optics, lasers, biomedical optics, optoelectronic components, and imaging technologies. The event provided Global Laser with an unique opportunity to showcase their new ?green flagship? product to key players from the optics and photonics community from around the world.
The company's new laser brings two main benefits: it consumes less energy and it is ideal for battery-powered requirements, with a longer lifetime and less batteries being used. The laser has reduced the carbon footprint by up to 51% as identified by PIRA Consultants.This is because it uses 50% less energy than other products in their range.
Over the last year there has been an increase in general environmental awareness in the Photonics sector, especially in Europe, and Global Laser is one of the pioneers. To-date competitors have not embraced ecodesign and this has presented a big opportunity for the company to strategically market the lower cost advantage of the new low power laser. On the other hand, there are big challenges ahead of the company in terms of educating the sector on what implementing ecodesign actually means. Some companies wrongly believe quality may be compromised through ecodesign. This is a key influencer for Global Laser when working on its communications and marketing strategy.

March 12, 2009

European Commission pushes ICT use for a greener Europe

As part of its effort to combat climate change and drive economic recovery, the European Commission today called on Member States and industry to use information and communications technologies (ICT) to improve energy efficiency. These technologies are expected to reduce total carbon emissions in Europe by up to 15% by 2020. ICT can not only improve monitoring and management of energy use in factories, offices and in public spaces but above all help make people more aware of how they use energy. With smart metering in their homes, for example, consumers have been found to reduce their energy consumption by as much as 10%. (full press release)
A study commissioned by the EC and published in December 2008 examined the impacts of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) on the energy efficiency in Europe with a 2020 outlook. This work deals with the interrelated issues of energy efficiency, renewables and energy production, and GHG emissions. This study analyses not only the environmental footprint of the ICT sector itself, but also the effects of using ICT applications in support of higher energy efficiency and energy savings in other areas (building, industry, and energy). Further, the study also explores the use of ICT applications in support of dematerialisation practices.

February 17, 2009

1st ecodesign congress scheduled for October 13-14, 2009

Ecodesign initiatives gain ground, energy efficiency becomes a market driver and the broad impact of the EuP directive is recognised by more and more companies: These emerging requirements needs a thorough understanding of the legislation and of suitable management and technology approaches to overcome these problems. To deliver this information in a nutshell is the intention of the ecodesign congress in Munich, October 13-14, 2009. Jointly organised by the journal Elektronik and Fraunhofer IZM this congress will feature the topics legislation and standardisation, energy efficiency, environmentally-benign materials and processes, reuse and recycling. The Call for Papers is open until May 19.

January 12, 2009

Regions push Ecodesign: Wales and the Basque Country among the Pacemakers

From September 2006, the Ecodesign Centre (EDC) activities have focused upon designing and delivering the Ecodesign Initiative for Wales. The Initiative ran for a period of two years and had an overall aim of increasing ecodesign application in Welsh Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs). In particular, EDC focused on demonstration projects with four Welsh SMEs. As Frank O'Connor, Director of EDC, points out: "The challenge for all of us is to continue to inspire and enable a wider uptake of ecodesign through working together towards a shared vision. Collective responsibility requires collective action."
See the initiative's report for further details.
In November 2008 the Basque Country already showcased a couple of outstanding ecodesign activities within different branches, promoted at the environmental product & building innovation event in Bilbao with more than 400 participants. This event featured also a dedicated session for the electric and electronics sector, where Fraunhofer IZM presented an "EuP compliance and strategy guide" for the local industry, IK Ingenería promoted the web catalogue producto sostenible and SIMPPLE presented a couple of recent ecodesign case studies.