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European Commission launches a competition to award sustainable tourism destinations



woman walk past the Eiffel Tower in Paris
A tourist observes the Eiffel Tower, in Paris – Photo: Gijs Coolen

As the second quarter of 2021 starts, several countries across Europe are still facing travel restrictions – a result of health measures put in place last year to slow down the global pandemic. However, these restrictions haven’t stopped the European Commission recently launching its annual competition to recognise sustainable tourism destinations in Europe.

The European Destination of Excellence (EDEN) 2022 competition will reward the best achievements in sustainable tourism and green transition practices in smaller destinations across the European region. The initiative has been redesigned and updated in view of the European Green Deal goals and it will contribute to the recovery and resilience of tourism destinations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past 12 months.

To enter the competition for the 2022 European Destination of Excellence title, destinations are asked to demonstrate their best practices in sustainable tourism and green transition. This is a practice gaining traction in several cities over the past few years.

Applications will be open until 16 June 2021. EU Member States and non-EU countries participating in the COSME programme, with a population between 25,000 and 100,000, are eligible to enter. Small states with a total population below 1 million, as well as destinations with above 5,000 inhabitants, can also apply for the awards. This competition has been run by the European Commission since 2007. To date, 175 destinations from 27 different countries have received the award under different annual categories.

Each application will first be evaluated by a panel of independent sustainability experts. In the second step, three shortlisted cities will be asked to present their city’s candidature in front of the European Jury, which will, in turn, select a winner. Destinations shortlisted as finalists will be announced in September 2021 and the result of the European Destination of Excellence 2022 is scheduled to be announced in November 2021.

The prize awarded is that the winning destination will be positioned as a tourism sustainability pioneer committed to the European Green Deal objectives. So, they will receive expert communication and branding support at the European Union level throughout 2022.

For further details, terms and conditions, and the online form, participants should visit the EDEN website here.

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Sustainable energy from potato chips to heat up houses in Belgium



Woman cutting potatoes in the kitchen
The initiative is part of an innovative project that repurposes heat from PepsiCo’s snack plant and transforms it into sustainable energy | Photo: Andrea Piacquadio

When Laurens Vandecasteele was looking for a new home in 2020, the Suikerpark neighborhood in Veurne, Belgium, topped his list. He was drawn to its modern architecture, lush community gardens, and winding bike paths. Plus, the parklike space was just five minutes from the PepsiCo snack foods plant in Veurne, where Vandecasteele works as Frontline Manager.

“The houses are on the site of a former sugar factory where my father worked for almost 42 years,” Vandecasteele says. “I like the connection to my past.”

Vandecasteele’s new home also has a tie to his present — Lay’s potato chips will soon be the source of its heat. “It’s nice to know that your own company has created a solution that can heat your home,” he says.

Suikerpark is part of an innovative project that repurposes heat from PepsiCo’s snack plant and transforms it into sustainable energy. The Veurne site cooks up to 20 tons of potatoes an hour, releasing heat vapor as a by-product. When real estate developer Ion wanted to find inventive environmental solutions for Suikerpark, PepsiCo proposed an idea: What if some of the heat released during the process of making chips could be put to use? With the help of partners Noven, who designed the technology, and Fluvius, the area’s utility grid operator, PepsiCo is making it happen.

“Using a condenser, we capture the vapor from cooking and heat a water circuit from 50°C up to 80°C,” – explains Frank De Clercq, Maintenance and Sustainability Manager at the Veurne snacks plant. From there, the heated water will be transported to the houses at Suikerpark, where it will flow through the central heating system into radiators and hot water taps. The first homes will be warmed with the technology in 2022. Once it’s complete, the project will heat a total of 500 houses using clean, sustainable energy.

PepsiCo has set targets to cut carbon emissions by more than 40% by 2030 (against a 2015 baseline) and achieve net zero emissions by 2040. The company has undertaken several ambitious projects to reach this goal; the Veurne project is yet another step. “The heat generated at the Veurne plant helps reach net zero emissions and replaces heat that would normally be sourced by burning natural gas,” De Clercq explains.

And, if the mayor of Veurne has his way, Suikerpark is just the beginning, “This heat network on the scale of a neighbourhood is unique and Suikerpark is the opportunity of a lifetime. This is a great project to introduce new concepts that can be brought to the rest of Veurne” says Peter Roose. As the technology develops, there is potential to expand the system to the local hospital and other public buildings in the future. The Veurne plant could potentially heat more than 2,000 homes.

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European airline introduces uniforms made from recycled plastic bottles



Easy jet cabin crew wearing a sustainable uniforn
45 plastic bottles go into each of the new sustainable cabin crew and pilot uniforms adopted by EasyJet.

Budget airline EasyJet is introducing a new uniform for cabin crew and pilots, each made from approximately 45 recycled plastic bottles.

Manufactured by Northern-Ireland based company, Tailored Image, and created with unique high-tech material, the new uniform will be introduced into cabin crew circulation later this month. The roll-out across the airline is estimated to prevent around half a million plastic bottles from ending up as plastic waste each year.

The sustainable initiative makes a difference even before the first uniform is worn as, besides the fabric helping to reduce plastic waste, the high-tech material is made using renewable energy sources and has a 75% lower carbon footprint than traditional polyester.

The new fabric, adapted to the airline’s current style, was first trialled last year for suitability in the cabin and flight deck environments. Compared to their non-recycled alternative, it was found to be more abrasion-resistant. It also provides more elasticity, improving fit and freedom of movement.

Plastic has also been replaced in all clothing-related packaging in favour of recyclable and biodegradable materials: replacing plastic collar strays with recyclable cardboard ones, plastic shirt clips with metal shirt clips, non-recyclable white coated card with recyclable cardboard card, and polypropylene outer shirt covers with biodegradable shirt covers.

EasyJet has already taken steps to reduce plastic onboard as it continues to reduce the number of single-use plastic items used on its flights. The airline has replaced many items with more sustainable alternatives, such as introducing a small plant-based bowl as a teabag holder, removing over 27 million individual items of plastic from their inflight retail operation in the 2020 Financial Year, and the company has never offered plastic straws. They also offer a 50p discount on hot drinks for customers who bring their reusable cup.

“We are excited to be debuting this new pilot and cabin crew uniform made from recycled plastic bottles and to introduce it for our pilots and cabin crew colleagues. We know that sustainability is an important issue for them and also for our customers.

It is a priority for us to continue work on reducing our carbon footprint in the short term, coupled with long-term work to support the development of new technology, including zero-emission planes which aspire to reduce the carbon footprint of aviation radically.” – says Tina Milton, Director of Cabin Services at easyJet.

Since 2000, easyJet, who has over 300 aircrafts on nearly 1000 routes to more than 150 airports across 35 countries, has reduced the carbon emissions for each kilometre flown by a passenger by over a third. Initiatives have included introducing lightweight carpets, trolleys and seats, single-engine taxiing, and removing paper manuals from their aircraft.

In 2019, easyJet became the world’s first major airline to operate carbon neutral flights across its whole network by offsetting the carbon emissions from the fuel used for all of its flights through schemes accredited by two of the highest verification standards, Gold Standard and the Verified Carbon Standard.

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Winners of the £2m Sky Zero Footprint Fund revealed



Tessa Clarke Co-founder and CEO of OLIO
Tessa Clarke Co-founder and CEO of OLIO

Sky, Europe’s leading direct-to-consumer media and entertainment company, has announced the five winners of its Sky Zero Footprint Fund. The £2 million advertising fund was set-up to accelerate and amplify business initiatives which are driving positive behavioural change for a more sustainable world. It is part of the media company’s Sky Zero campaign to be net zero carbon by 2030.

The five winning brands each displayed the desire and creative capacity to inspire change, along with values aligned with Sky. Sky has committed to go net zero carbon by 2030 and inspire others to join the journey.

Each of the winning businesses have been awarded £250,000 in media value. They will now move into ad production ahead of a final stage of judging in October. In Autumn, the most compelling creative will secure a total of £1 million in media value.

All five winning campaigns will be revealed as part of an advertising celebration of sustainability across Sky Media’s channels in the run up to the COP26 Climate Change conference in November, in Glasgow, of which Sky is a media partner.

The five winning businesses include energy supplier OVO, plastic-free baby wipes and eco-friendly nappies brand Pura, financial and wealth management firm Path Financial, and Here We Flo, a 2013 start-up producing biodegradable pad liners and organic tampons.

“We’re absolutely ecstatic to be a Sky Zero Footprint Fund Winner. At OLIO, we firmly believe we can make a difference. Billions of small actions got us into the climate crisis in the first place, and so surely billions of small actions can help get us out. Working together with Sky, we can’t wait to bring OLIO’s hard-hitting, but empowering, message into homes across the UK, and to unleash a clarion call that TV is uniquely placed to deliver.” – celebrates Tessa Clarke, Co-founder & CEO of one of the five selected companies, OLIO, a free app tackling household food wastage by connecting people with their neighbours, so that surplus food can be given away, instead of thrown away.

The winning campaigns were selected by a broad panel of credible and knowledgeable judges with strong views on advertising, creativity, and sustainability. Each brand was judged on merit based on their creativity (ability to inspire the nation into action), possible impact (the potential to drive behavioural change), and sustainable credibility (commitment as a business to improve future sustainability).

“We know that each of our winners can play a key role in encouraging the nation to make small but significant changes. It’s exciting that through the process we have unearthed new disruptive brands, giving them a platform to amplify their message through the power of TV.” – says Tim Pearson, Managing Director of Sky Media.

All five winning ads will be produced using insights, tools, and learnings from AdGreen. Part of the Advertising Association, AdGreen supports the ad industry shift towards net zero, eliminating the negative environmental impacts of production.



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