French small business's eco-innovation uses bamboo to clean up water

An innovative system uses bamboo to treat wastewater in an environmentally-friendly way. The project launched by a team of European small businesses was funded by the European Commission to allow for its adaptation for industrial use.

Bamboo is a low-cost and convenient means of treating effluents: robust and fast-growing, it efficiently filters nitrogenous compounds and phosphates which are produced by food and drink factories in large quantities.

Phytorem, a French small-enterprise currently employing less than 20 people, came up with the innovative concept of 'Briter Water', a bamboo filtering system. The French business joined forces with two other small businesses (Eau et Industrie, France, and BeOne GmbH, Germany) and successfully applied for funding under the EU’s Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) to turn the idea into a viable industrial business.

The funding provided by the Commission, covering 59% of the total €1 241 461 project cost (2009-12), plays a key role in this context: “We used this as an opportunity to gain access to the market, to industrialise our process and to get a shop window for future clients", explains Véronique Arfi, deputy CEO of Phytorem.

Since the launch, the company has set up two bamboo plantations on two sites in France and has started to develop business opportunities abroad.

The funding was made available through the Commission's cross-cutting Eco-Innovation initiative. It supports projects mitigating environmental impacts or promoting efficient use of resources in various sectors, including material recycling, buildings, food and drink, as well as greener business.

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