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EU funds for green businesses


If you are a small or medium-sized company (SME) seeking financing for new, green products or services, don’t miss out to apply for EU money.

Companies that apply must be established in an EU Member State or a Horizon 2020 associated country. Large corporates, research centers or scientists cannot apply directly but they can participate in projects as subcontractors or third parties and don't need to be established in an EU Member State or associated country.

Have a look the EU definition of SMEs to see if your company fits the bill. If not, the EIC enhanced pilot offers different kinds of support at different stages of the innovation cycle and for different types of applicants. Try out the EIC wizard to see which innovation funding instrument suits you the best.

The EU Parliament wants binding rules on common chargers


The European Parliament calls on the Commission to put forward beefed-up rules on common chargers by July 2020 at the latest.

There is an “urgent need for EU regulatory action” to reduce electronic waste and empower consumers to make sustainable choices, MEPs say in a resolution approved by 582 votes to 40, with 37 abstentions, calling for the mandatory introduction of common chargers for all mobile devices. Without hampering innovation, the EU executive should ensure that the legislative framework for a common charger will be “scrutinised regularly in order to take into account technical progress”. MEPs reiterate that research and innovation are vital to improve existing technologies and come up with new ones.

Parliament also wants the Commission to:

  • Take measures to best ensure the interoperability of different wireless chargers with different mobile devices.
  • Consider legislative initiatives to increase the volume of cables and chargers collected and recycled in EU member states.
  • Ensure that consumers are no longer obliged to buy new chargers with each new device.
  • Strategies to decouple the purchase of chargers from the purchase of new devices should be introduced with a common charger solution, MEPs say, stressing however that “any measure aiming at decoupling should avoid potentially higher prices for consumers”.

According to estimates, around 50 million metric tonnes of e-waste are generated globally per year, with an average of more than 6 kg per person. In Europe, total e-waste generated in 2016 was 12.3 million metric tonnes, equivalent to 16.6 kg on average per inhabitant. Short lifecycles for some devices also lead to more e-waste, notes the resolution.

  • A standard for a common charger must be adopted urgently
  • Measures empowering consumers to make sustainable choices
  • Decrease e-waste generated in Europe (16.6 kg on average per inhabitant

Growing interest for sustainable procurement


TCO Development is the organization behind the sustainability certification TCO Certified, which is the world-leading sustainability certification for IT products.

TCO announce that IT buyers around the world are more engaged than ever to use their voice and purchasing power to bring about a more sustainable IT ecosystem.

Some regions are more mature than others. The Nordic countries, Belgium and the Netherlands, for example, have been working with sustainable procurement for some time, so have some pretty clear goals and a solid understanding of the issues. In North America, they’re starting to see more momentum and in some Asian markets, they’re beginning to see concern for e-waste for example, which is a good starting point for taking a more sustainable approach to the products the organization uses.

TCO gives three things key advices to organizations wanting to succeed with sustainable IT procurement

  1. Verification —purchasers need to know that compliance with any sustainability criteria they set is independently verified.
  2. Get management support — what they see is when management puts their weight behind sustainability in the business (and of course procurement), it makes the job of category managers and policymakers that much easier. Sustainability then becomes a core part of the business, rather than just “nice to have”.
  3. To talk to your vendors early and often. Compliance with criteria can take time. The earlier your vendors know what you’re going to ask for, the better your chance of getting certified products when you want them. Also, be open with your vendors and ask them good questions about what they’re doing to be more sustainable — both with their products and operations.

EU aiming high for “Green new deal”


Waste prevention, including harder restrictions on e-waste, will be a top priority for the European Commission in the coming four years.

The European Commission’s newly published European Green Deal vows to prioritize policies aimed at avoiding waste. These include making as many products as possible more easily repairable and reusable by design.

The ambitious document outlines future policy priorities, meant to help Europe reach carbon neutrality by 2050. This year, 2020, the Commission will launch its second Circular Economy Action Plan and a new Ecodesign Working Plan. Among other things, these include laws making our smartphones and laptops last longer.

Met by positive reactions

“It’s fantastic to see waste prevention taken seriously,” said Piotr Barczak, a policy officer at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). Barczak welcomed the promise by the Commission to set up targets for the reduction of waste, particularly packaging, which will need to be reusable or recyclable by 2030. The Right to Repair movement is mentioned in the strategy.

“Repair is essential to avoid waste and reduce the increasing emissions linked to manufacturing,” Jean-Pierre Schweitzer, another policy officer at the EEB concluded.

Longer life span, shorter ownership

An interesting aspect of prolonging the life span of electronic products is that consumers tend to trade in their e-products more and more frequent. Many consumers want “the latest”, if they can afford it. So, the trend is that electronic products last longer but they tend to have more owners before finally being retired.

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