Marks & Spencer and Aquamarine Power have both won the 2012 European Business Awards for the Environment (EBAE). They were victorious over 156 other entrants from across the 24 European Member States.
M&S won the Management Award which goes to companies with outstanding strategic vision and management systems that enable them to continuously improve their contribution to sustainable development, for their Plan A – Doing the Right Thing programme which embeds the sustainable management of resources across all their operations and beyond.
Aquamarine Power won the Product Award which goes to a firm that has developed a new product or related service that makes an outstanding contribution to sustainable development, for their innovative Oyster wave power technology which captures energy in nearshore waves and converts it into clean sustainable electricity.
The EBAE awards ceremony was held at the Royal Museum of Art and History in Brussels on May 24th. The awards were one of the highlights of Green Week, the European Commission’s annual conference on environment policy.
The awards were presented by European Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik who said, "Resource efficiency is the key to a competitive, sustainable Europe. These companies show that it is not only possible but desirable to combine a healthy bottom line with environmental protection. They are green growth in action and I applaud them."
The awarding jury for M&S Management Award added that the company had successfully integrated resource management across all its operations and has adopted a sustainable retail practice model with high replication potential. For Aquamarine Power they said the product was innovative and could be used in many coastal areas under tough operating conditions and may provide low-cost electricity for water desalination.
The biennial EBAE awards are given in five categories and recognise European businesses that make a particular contribution to sustainable development by combining innovation, economic viability, environmental concern and social responsibility. Marks & Spencer and Aquamarine Power were two of the five winners with the others coming from Slovakia, Germany and Belgium. The winners were chosen from 156 entries from 24 EU member states - a 10% increase on 2010 which reflects the growing interest of businesses in sustainability and their understanding of today's environmental challenges. 14 entries reached the final on the 24th May.
Applicants to the awards scheme first competed at national level before being selected to compete at European level, meaning that companies awarded the European prize are ‘the best of the best’: the most far-sighted, responsible and innovative across Europe.
More information on the winners, the runners-up, the selection procedure and past EBAE competitions can be found at: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/awards/
For details of the 2012 finalists, see IP/12/306 or EBAE April 2012 newsletter:
Marks & Spencer - Plan A
Plan A was launched in 2007 to embed the sustainable management of resources across all operations.
Plan A is structured around one vision (to be the world’s most sustainable retailer), seven pillars and 180 commitments encompassing their most material impacts. The pillars consist of Climate Change, Waste, Natural Resources, Fair Partner and Well Being, along with How We Do Business and Involving our Customers. M&S commitments are extremely ambitious, such as sending zero waste to landfill, paying a fair living wage in factories and going carbon neutral.
Progress since the launch in 2007 has been overwhelmingly positive. Results include: reduced carbon emission by 25% (at a time of growth), 54% of electricity is procured from renewable sources, reduced waste by 34%, 98% of remaining waste is recycled, including all unsold food with 39% of this going to anaerobic digestion to generate energy; reduced non-glass packaging by an average of 26% per item and in the food business they cut carrier bag use by 80%. In 2010/2011 90% of the wild fish sold and 76% of wood used was independently assessed as coming from more sustainable sources. Additionally they have reduced water usage per sq. foot by 62% in food warehouses.
Plan A is not an ‘add on’ to the M&S organisation, but a fundamental characteristic. They have undone the myth that sustainability had to be expensive and proved the opposite – that it makes good business sense: in 2010/2011 alone, Plan A delivered over £70m in net benefits.
Aquamarine Power – Oyster Wave Technology
Pioneering wave technology company Aquamarine Power is developing the innovative Oyster wave power technology to capture energy in nearshore waves and convert it into clean sustainable electricity.
Oyster is a buoyant, hinged flap which is attached to the seabed. The hinged flap, which is almost entirely underwater, pitches backwards and forwards in the nearshore waves. The movement of the flap drives two hydraulic pistons which push high pressure water onshore via a subsea pipeline to drive a conventional hydro-electric turbine. By locating Oyster near the shore, the device naturally avoids the massive storm forces which other devices are exposed to in the open ocean. Oyster’s innovative design means it ducks under the largest waves giving it enhanced survivability.
The benefit of this technology is that is takes advantage of the world's vast untapped wave energy resource to produce clean sustainable energy, providing the potential to replace a significant portion of the current carbon intensive electricity generation. Oyster's key selling points of simplicity, survivability and shore-based electricity generation as well as its potential application for reverse osmosis desalination put this innovative and unique technology at the leading edge of wave energy innovation.
The first full-scale 315kW Oyster was installed and grid-connected in November 2009 in Orkney, Scotland.
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