UK Companies win top European environment awards

Marks & Spencer and Aquamarine Power have both won the 2012 European Business Awards for the Environment (EBAE). They triumphed 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 that 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 Potoènik 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 other 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 some of the most far-sighted, responsible and innovative across Europe.

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