LIFE Programme: innovation to face environmental challenges and improve competitiveness
The LIFE Programme of the European Commission is the most important financial instrument for the environment and climate action. Since its launch in 1992, it has co-financed more than 4,300 projects, contributing € 3.9 billion. The LIFE Programme for 2014-2020 has an overall budget of € 3.4 billion and has thematic calls for companies, public administrations, organizations and NGOs, which can qualify for funding that reaches 60% of the total project budget (And in some cases 75%) .
Innovation in environmental aspects is one of the major concerns of the European Union to rise to global challenges such as climate change and the circular economy by leveraging innovation from companies and public administration and promoting products and services for saving and efficiency in the use of natural resources, or the protection of biodiversity.
The results of the 2015 call for projects have recently been published. The European Commission has already approved a set of investments of 222.7 million euros and will boost additional investments, which will reach a total of 398.6 million that will be invested in 144 new projects in 23 Member States.
56 LIFE projects have been approved within the thematic calls for environmental technologies, which will mobilize 142.2 million euros, 71.9 million of which will be charged to the EU. These projects cover actions in five thematic areas: air, environment and health, efficiency in the use of resources, waste and water.
ZABALA Innovation Consulting has supported the development of 4 of these 56 projects for its clients, 3 of them in Spain and 1 in Greece.
They are examples of how environmental action can be combined with innovation, receiving a high rate of funding from participating organizations:
LIFEVERTALIM (Consorcio de Aguas Bilbao Bizkaia): The objective of LIFEVERTALIM is to develop a decision-support tool to better manage the organic and salt loads from the fish canning industry entering wastewater treatment plants. The project aims to mitigate the environmental impacts related to the fish canning industry, and to reduce pressure on water sanitation infrastructure. Its will be tested under real conditions in three food industry SMEs in Lea-Artibai (Basque Country).
LIFE rPack2L (Sulayr Global Services): This project proposes a solution for recycling multilayer plastic waste and diverting it from incineration or landfill. It will develop an integrated scheme to recover valuable PVC and PE (polyethylene terephthalate) for reuse as raw materials for packaging or recycled plastic-based products. The project will establish a new network for separate collection of this waste, and design a delamination process flexible enough to process different specifications of PVC/PEbased multilayer film. The new technology will be tested at semi-industrial scale at a plant in Austria.
LIFEPOSITIVEMgOFGD (Grecian Magnesite Mining Industrial Shipping and Commercial
Company S.A.): The production of magnesium oxide generates sulphur dioxide and other pollutants. Current techniques to prevent this either require use of large volumes of water or have other environmental disadvantages. The LIFEPOSITIVEMgOFGD project will showcase a new technique using magnesium oxide reagents for desulphurisation. Some 90% of solid waste will be recovered in a process that uses 40% less energy and 80% less water than wet flue gas desulphurisation. The byproduct of the new technique will be used to produce fertilisers and construction materials.
LIFE MCUBO (School of Engineering, University of Navarra, San Sebastian): The objective of the project is to minimise environmental impacts related to water use in three food industry sectors with high water consumption: meat, juices, and canned vegetables. In production plants representing each of these subsectors, the project will demonstrate an integral management system based on new low-cost wireless monitoring technology, and mathematical models of energy and water consumption for each company´s processes.
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