During the last decade environmental technologies have become a key sector: Europe has become a world leader in eco-efficient technologies. The EU's eco-industries, which employ more than two million people, account for about one third of the global market and are growing by around 5 % a year. They enable the reduction of material and resources in a broad range of processes and reduce the environmental impact during the whole life time of products. Environmental technologies are also used to collect information about the environment, e. g. by monitoring and gathering data to identify the presence of pollutants.
With the Environmental Technology Action Plan (ETAP) the European Union aims to support innovation, growth and sustainable development in Europe. The ETAP is intended to boost development and use of environmental technologies to improve European competitiveness in this area, and enable the EU to become the recognised world leader. Priority is given to the areas (i) getting from research to markets, (ii) improving market conditions and (iii) acting globally.
The development and implementation of environmental technologies in Europe has been supported by a broad range of measures, from research programmes to financial support instruments for market implementation as well as accompanying policy actions (e. g. incentives, regulations). However, to realise the full potential of environmental technologies, greater market acceptance needs to be created. Customers and investors must know more precisely what the performance and environmental benefits of different technologies are, so they can purchase and finance with confidence products that are often new to the market.
Eco-Innovation vs. Environmental Technology
The concept of Eco-Innovation incorporates Environmental Technologies as an important pillar. But besides the technological innovations, Eco-Innovations can also be non-technological like new services or business models. Eco-Innovations address the environment as well as the economic and society level. They will have an impact on the whole value chain and/or sector e. g. by closing loops for materiel flow or de-locking markets by new products or technologies.