European Investment Bank signs €80m loan to finance research into environmentally friendly refuse lorries
The European Investment Bank (EIB) will grant EUR 80m in financing to Urbaser for its investments in research, development and innovation (RDI) and the renewal of its urban refuse collection lorries, which will be replaced with quieter and less polluting models. The loan has been signed today in Madrid by EIB Vice-President Román Escolano and Urbaser CEO José María López Piñol.
This project is supported by ‘InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators’ Large Projects facility, with the financial backing of the European Union under Horizon 2020 Financial Instruments. The aim of this Initiative is to provide research financing for large companies, research centres and European universities.
The operation falls under the EIB’s priority to provide loans that aim to foster competitiveness by promoting innovation together with sustainable and environmentally friendly production processes. To this end, the EIB agreement with Urbaser will provide financing so that the Spanish waste collection sector leader can develop new technologies for handling waste more efficiently, reducing the volume sent to landfill and increasing its recycling capacity. The EIB loan will help Urbaser develop initiatives including research programmes on extracting fuel from plastic waste, on improving its waste classification system and on optimising the way it handles industrial waste. The development of these new technologies will also enable it to engage in more efficient production by cutting energy usage.
In addition, Urbaser will be able to use the EIB loan to gradually renew its fleet of waste collection vehicles, replacing them with quieter and less polluting electric, hybrid or natural gas-powered models. The aim is to reduce both greenhouse gases in cities and fossil fuel use. The project will also have a positive impact on employment as it will make it possible to create 428 posts during the implementation phase and will open up new employment opportunities in the Spanish RDI sector.
In fact, at the signing ceremony in Madrid, EIB Vice-President Román Escolano highlighted “the importance of the loan signed today for ensuring research investment in Spain. By supporting Urbaser’s innovation and development project, the EIB is helping to implement several of the European Union’s priority objectives: fostering the research and development of new technologies and more sustainable and environmentally friendly manufacturing. All of this in the important waste collection and handling sector.”
Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “Research and innovation are part of our day-to-day work, with the Horizon 2020 support for this EUR 80m loan to cut atmospheric and noise pollution caused by waste collection lorries being a perfect example.”
Likewise, Urbaser CEO José María López Piñol indicated that “our company is firmly committed to innovation, a strategy that has led us to continually search for and develop state-of-the-art solutions. That is why this loan represents a major opportunity to support sustainability, optimising street cleaning and waste collection and handling services.”
The EIB’s loan to Urbaser falls under the EU bank’s InnovFin Large Projects programme, which aims to improve access to risk finance for R&I projects emanating from larger firms, universities and public research organisations, R&I infrastructures (including innovation-enabling infrastructures), public-private partnerships, and special-purpose vehicles or projects (including those promoting first-of-a-kind, commercial-scale industrial demonstration projects). Loans and guarantees from EUR 25m to EUR 300m will be delivered directly by the EIB.
Under Horizon 2020, the EU research programme for 2014-20, the European Commission and the European Investment Bank Group (EIB and EIF) launched a new generation of financial instruments and advisory services in 2014 to help innovative firms access finance more easily. Running until 2020, “InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators” offers a range of tailored products which will make available billions of euros of financing in support of research and innovation (R&I) by small, medium-sized and large companies and the promoters of research infrastructures.
Backed by funds set aside under Horizon 2020 and by the EIB Group, InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators supports R&I activities, which by their nature are riskier and harder to assess than traditional investments, and therefore often face difficulties in accessing finance. All are demand-driven instruments, with no prior allocations between sectors, countries or regions. Firms and other entities located in EU Member States and Horizon 2020 Associated Countries will be eligible to be final beneficiaries.