The Eco-Efficiency Programme generates environmental investments to the tune of 12 million euros in its first year
• The Basque Government's Minister for the Environment, Land Planning, Agriculture and Fisheries, Pilar Unzalu, has taken stock of the Eco-Efficiency Programme in the Basque Country, during the I Basque Country Eco-Efficiency Week
• Basque companies invested twelve million euros in eco-efficiency in 2011. Bizkaia is the province that implemented the largest number of measures
• The companies in the Programme employ 36,000 people and invoice 39,000 million euros
• The French and German markets with strong environment requirements account for 30% of Basque exports
Since the Eco-Efficiency Programme in the Basque Company was implemented in 2010, nearly 500 companies have signed up to this initiative, promoted by Ihobe, the environmental management public corporation. During that time period, 70 companies have invested in eco-efficiency to the tune of twelve million euros. Bizkaia is the province where the majority of the investments (78%) took place, followed by Gipuzkoa (19%) and Álava (3%).
The data are contained in the "Taking Stock of the Eco-Efficiency Programme in the Basque Company 2010-2014" report, that the Basque Government's Minister for the Environment, Land Planning, Agriculture and Fisheries of the Basque Government, Pilar Unzalu, unveiled today as part of the I Basque Country Eco-Efficiency Week, held in "a trail blazing and benchmark region in eco-efficiency in Europe," as the Minister stressed.
The eco-efficiency programme seeks to work with the companies of the Basque Autonomous Community to transform the manufacturing fabric to make it more eco-efficient, innovative and sustainable, so that it increases the competitive advantage when tackling the current challenges. The 500 companies signed up to the programme employ 36,000 workers and together invoice €39,000 million.
Consumption, emissions and waste recovery down
Under this Basque Government programme, the companies have adopted a total of 350 environmental measures, which are mainly related to introducing cleaner techniques, to improving production processes and to recovering and reusing waste. Out of the total measures introduced, 75 are energy-related (21.43%); 68 are waste related (18.29%) and the same percentage is related to the raw materials.
The environmental improvements ensuing from these initiatives have managed to save 62,000 tons of raw materials, recovery 83,000 tons of non-hazardous waste and reduce water consumption by 70,000 m3.
Minister Pilar Unzalu encouraged companies to continue working in this direction as "cost savings, the efficient use of resources, technological innovation and designing of greener products and services are going to mark, inexorably, the future of the Basque economy over the coming years".
Unzalu presented the report taking stock of the programme after opening a technical session where representatives of the French and German Ministries for the Environment outlined the environmental requirements of those markets. Pilar Unzalu stressed the need to "to use the opportunities offered by the German and French markets as they do not only account for 30% of Basque exports, but are also increasingly more demanding from the environmental perspective."
Forecasts for 2012
The companies under the Eco-Efficiency Programme have already defined the plan of actions to be implemented during the coming year. The undertaking for 2012 can be broken down into five major sections: cutting consumption, eco-design, reducing environmental impact, slashing GHG (Greenhouse Gases) and EMS (Environmental Management Systems) certificates
The plan also includes increases the number of companies signed up to the programme and offering courses and services to companies in these areas. Ihobe has set the goal of involving one thousand companies in this programme by 2014: "The challenge is to consolidate a private and public partnership network of eco-efficient companies, which fosters, facilitates and drives Basque industry towards a more sustainable, efficient and innovative horizon," explained Unzalu.
Ihobe has therefore recently announced the 2012 Eco-Efficiency Call for Applications for Grants, where the deadline to submit applications is 30 November. The call consolidates the line of funding for eco-innovation project to showcase clean technologies and waste recover that this programme began in 2011.
The Eco-Efficiency Programme in the Basque Country was presented as part of the first Basque Country Eco-Efficiency Week. The sessions, organised by Ihobe, began on Friday 25 May and will last until 5 June. The Week seeks to consolidate the Basque Country's commitment to eco-efficiency in order to showcase the work being carried out and highlight the business opportunities generated around eco-efficiency.
As part of the programmed events, the "Environmental Trends and Opportunities on the French and German Markets" seminar, opened by Minister Pilar Unzalu, today took place at the Miramón Technology Park in Donostia. The Minister was accompanied by Inés Gallego, the Director of Quality and the Environment at Iberdrola Ingeniería y Construcción, in charge of the eco-design project at the Ordizia electricity sub-station.
The former Ordizia sub-station, an outdoor infrastructure to transform electricity voltage, was dismantled last March, due to the increased demand for electricity in the San Juan neighbourhood of Ordizia. The new sub-station to replace it is an eco-design project that seeks to meet the increased medium-term demands for energy in the zone.