Pilot projects show how industry can produce ‘green’ products

Two industry groups have promised to reduce the environmental impacts of mobile phones and wooden garden furniture. Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas calls on other industries to follow their example.

On 21 September 2006, Environment Commissioner Dimas presented two pilot projects set up under the leadership of Finnish mobile phone producer Nokia and French retailer Carrefour. With the help of other companies in the same industry sector, both manufacturers will reduce the environmental impacts of their products. The coalition led by Nokia (including companies such as Motorola, Panasonic, Intel but also WWF and BEUC) will look at the life-cycle of mobile phones and take action such as reducing hazardous materials, develop improved take-back systems or mimimising energy consumption when charging batteries.

Carrefour (together with others such as CEI-Bois, WWF and BEUC) committed itself to use only sustainably produced wood for its garden chairs and to improve the design of their products by making the materials used more environmentally friendly and making them easier to transport.

The two pilot projects are also good examples of how industry and NGOs are starting to work more closely together to tackle sustainability issues.

Commissioner Dimas said: "Looked at globally, the production and consumption of products have a huge impact on our environment through the use of resources, energy and transport and the creation of waste. These pilot projects have successfully demonstrated how Integrated Product Policy can reduce this impact. I applaud the leadership shown by Nokia and Carrefour and warmly welcome the commitments made by the participating companies. I urge others to take similar action to green their products."

As part of its sustainable development strategy, the EU is increasingly looking at issues related to unsustainable consumption and production trends in society. In 2003, it adopted a communication on Integrated Product Policy, a voluntary approach that tries to reduce environmental impacts of products by looking at all stages of the product's life-cycle.

It is also preparing a ten-year strategy for sustainable consumption and production as one of the commitments it made at the 2002 UN World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.

The Commission will next year assess the progress made by these industry coalitions and develop a list of products sold on the European market that have the greatest potential for environmental improvement.

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