Green Action Plan for SMEs will boost resource efficiency

20 June, 2014

A Green action plan for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to be published soon by the European Commission, will set out a series of measures that are proposed to be taken at European level to encourage resource efficiency among SMEs, to promote “green entrepreneurship” and to make it easier for SMEs to access domestic and international markets for eco-innovative products and services.


The actions in the so-called GAP (Green action plan) will aim to improve provision of information on eco-innovation and green business to SMEs. It will also make it easier for SMEs to take advantage of existing support services, mentoring programmes, business and technology clusters and financing schemes, including European Union Structural and Investment Funds and resources for research and development.


Examples of measures likely to be taken include the establishment in 2015 of a European Resource Efficiency Excellence Centre to advise SMEs on the variety of resource efficiency programmes and actions throughout Europe, an analysis of barriers to greater SME resource efficiency, mapping of eco-industry clusters in Europe and support for international missions for eco-innovative SMEs that want to enter international markets.


The European Commission argues that a boost to SME eco-innovation is needed because there is considerable scope for SMEs to reduce costs through resource efficiency, and to develop new green products and services to meeting rising international demand. If the right steps can be taken in both of these areas, the competitiveness of European SMEs will be reinforced, and the European Union economy and the environment will benefit overall.


For example, major savings could result by reducing the amount that manufacturing SMEs spend on raw materials - currently around 40% of their costs on average. Considering that in the EU currently about 60% of waste is not recycled great cost benefits and business opportunities could be created from exploring and introducing new circular business models for the benefit of EU SMEs. Demand for such new eco-innovative approaches is growing internationally, meaning major opportunities for EU SMEs that find the right niches and can find a springboard to international markets.


The GAP has been prepared taking into account the results of a public consultation. Responses to the consultation showed that SMEs want to identify the right partners for resource efficiency, need matchmaking services so they can identify appropriate technologies and need advice on resource-efficiency investment. Measures in the GAP will seek to address these demands.


The GAP will be complementary to other strategy papers and proposals to be published by the Commission that will address green business and resource efficiency issues. Other forthcoming proposals will tackle green employment, the circular economy and waste policy.


Original article