Speech by Vice-President Jyrki Katainen at the press conference on the European Strategy for Plastics in the Circular Economy
European Commission - Speech Strasbourg, 16 January 2018 Thank you very much Frans. This is a fascinating piece of our job – creating new markets and new opportunities, which will make our economies and societies more sustainable. Both in economic terms and environmental terms.
Speech by President Juncker at the Plenary session of the European Parliament on the debate with the Prime Minister of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, on the Future of Europe
European Commission - Speech - [Check Against Delivery] Speech Strasbourg, 17 January 2018 Mister President, Taoiseach, Ladies and Gentlemen, To be very short: I could not agree more. But I have to deliver a speech because the disappointment would be too big, if I did not do so.
Speech by President Juncker at the Plenary session of the European Parliament on the presentation of the programme of activities of the Bulgarian Presidency
European Commission - Speech - [Check Against Delivery] Speech Strasbourg, 17 January 2018 Mr President, Prime Minister, Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen, Let me start by saying that one of the most pleasing aspects of the Bulgarian Presidency is that I will get to see my good friend Boyko more...
Plastic Waste: a European strategy to protect the planet, defend our citizens and empower our industries
European Commission - Press release Strasbourg, 16 January 2018 The first-ever Europe-wide strategy on plastics, adopted today, is a part of the transition towards a more circular economy. It will protect the environment from plastic pollution whilst fostering growth and innovation, turning a challenge into a positive agenda for the...
European Commission - Fact Sheet Strasbourg, 16 January 2018 Questions & Answers: A European strategy for plastics Why do we need a European strategy for plastics? Plastics are everywhere but too much of it is used only once before thrown away.
Speech by President Jean-Claude Juncker at the ceremony marking the beginning of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union
European Commission - Speech - [Check Against Delivery] Speech Sofia, 11 January 2018 Добър вечер (good evening)! For my good friend Donald: that means good evening. Mister President of the Republic, Prime Minister, Presidents from here and there, Ladies and Gentlemen, Excellencies, that is for all of you, It...
New tools for improved river assessment and monitoring are likely to inform future management strategies
Sustainable river management is increasingly informed by hydromorphological stream assessments — evaluations and classifications of stream conditions which account for both hydrological (the movement, distribution and quantity of water) and geomorphological (the processes and forms deriving from the interactions of water and sediment movement) features. In order to provide a more accurate and comprehensive assessment of river character and dynamics, scientists have developed three novel methods. Together, these tools represent a promising technique for conducting collaborative assessment and monitoring of river conditions in Europe.
An investigation into the attitudes of Canadian soil-remediation experts has shown that they tend to prefer conventional remediation methods over phytoremediation — which relies on plants to clean soils — despite evidence that the latter can have advantages. The researchers behind the study highlight that this ‘status-quo bias’ poses a barrier to the uptake of novel technologies such as phytoremediation, and that scientists may need to find different ways of disseminating evidence to increase the use of new techniques among practitioners.
A new study aimed at increasing knowledge of indoor air quality (IAQ) in recently built or refurbished office buildings has found that levels of pollutants are mostly within World Health Organization (WHO) air-quality guidelines, however they vary between seasons. In addition, some levels of particulate matter were found to exceed WHO guideline values. The OFFICAIR project was funded by the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme.
Researchers in Spain have analysed waste water to calculate levels of exposure to phthalates in individuals. The calculations showed that levels of four types of phthalate exceeded safe daily limits in some of the sites studied, with levels of exposure in children being of particular concern. Using the results of waste-water analysis in this way can identify areas where action may need to be taken to lower exposure.
The phrase ‘emerging risk’ has been widely used in scientific and business communities, but without consensus on how to define and govern such a risk. A new study proposes that risk emergence goes through four states, from ‘unknown unknowns’ to risks that are fully in the public domain. Understanding emergence as a process can help decision makers detect and manage risks on the basis of scientific evidence.
Closed-loop recycling of photovoltaic panel materials could mitigate up to 0.2% of Flanders’ annual environmental impact
The development of future recycling technologies must be informed by data about products and materials that will enter the waste stream, but such forecasts are subject to a high level of uncertainty. In this study, researchers have proposed a methodology for predicting emerging waste materials, applying it to silicon-based photovoltaic (PV) panels. The findings show that closed-loop recycling — when post-consumer waste is recycled to make new products — of PV panel materials could mitigate up to 0.2% of the annual environmental impact of Flanders1, Belgium, if suitable technology was developed.
Researchers have analysed the ability of two organic nanomaterials to remove the heavy metal chromium from water. In the laboratory, the nanomaterials successfully took up around 95% of the chromium. Further work is needed to confirm the feasibility of using these nanomaterials to purify water in real-world conditions.
The pathways for removal of dissolved phosphorus within biofiltration systems have been examined in a new study. Over 95% of phosphorus was removed over the study period, with the majority of phosphorus stored within plants. The researchers say the findings demonstrate the value of using suitable plant species within biofiltration systems to treat polluted water.
Engineering at the nanoscale brings the promise of radical technological development — clean energy, highly effective medicines and space travel. But technology at this scale also brings safety challenges. Nano-sized particles are not inherently more toxic than larger particles, but the effects are complex and vary based on particle properties as well as chemical toxicity. This Report brings together the latest science on environmental safety considerations specific to manufactured nanoscale materials, and some possible implications for policy and research.
Researchers have modelled the exposure to multiple hazards across different regions of Europe in relation to heat, cold, drought, wildfire, flooding and wind. The study indicated that, over the next century, environmental hazards are likely to increase, particularly along coastlines and on floodplains, and that south-western Europe is likely to be the worst-hit region.
A survey of deepwater fisheries off the coast of Greenland which used traces of fish DNA has produced similar results to trawl surveys and fishing catches. The ‘environmental DNA’ (eDNA) technique can therefore complement trawl data, the researchers say. It may be particularly useful for surveying large species — which can often avoid bottom trawls — or cryptic species1 in inaccessible ocean areas.
A new study has estimated how changes to climate might affect the value of European farmland. Based on data for over 41 000 farms, the results suggest that their economic value could drop by up to 32%, depending on the climate scenario considered. Farms in southern Europe are particularly sensitive to climate change and could suffer value losses of up to 9% per 1 °C rise. The researchers say policy, on water and land use, for example, will be crucial to help farmers adapt to climate change and mitigate economic losses.
Nanoparticle release from self-cleaning cement: new study considers how much escapes into the environment, and how
New figures on how much titanium dioxide nanomaterial (TiO2-NM) could be released into the environment from photocatalytic cement — a new type of self-cleaning cement — are presented in a recent study. Based on experimental test results, the researchers estimate that between 0.015% and 0.033% of photocatalytic cement’s TiO2-NM content could potentially escape over several years of cement use, depending on the level of cement porosity. The study could help inform environmental risk assessment of TiO2-NM, as well as safer design of nano-products (i.e. commercialised products incorporating nanomaterials).
Natural water-retention measures, which ‘keep the rain where it falls’, have great potential to be used as part of flood-risk management plans. But their benefits for downstream urban areas can bring costs to the upstream agricultural areas where they are installed, a recent analysis explains. The researchers behind this analysis suggest that we need new and/or improved policies and institutions to oversee the trade-offs and benefits for agriculture and flood management, and a better scientific understanding of the measures’ likely impact on urban flood risk.