Eco Efficiency (EE)
1. GENERAL INFORMATION
Eco Efficiency (EE) means creating more good and services with less use of resources, less generated waste and less pollution. It can be seen as a management philosophy which encourage business to search for environmental improvements while economic profits are secured in parallel. In short: Creating more value with less impact for more industrial sustainability.
2. FIELD OF APPLICATION
EE is not limited on the manufacturing sector; it can be emerged at any point in the life cycle of a product. The concept also does not work only in large companies; it can also be involved in small and medium- size ones.
3. DESCRIPTION OF TECHNIQUES AND METHODS
EE as a business concept has three main objectives:
- 1. Reduction of the resource consumption
minimize use of energy, materials, water and land, rise of product durability, closing of material loops
- 2. Reduction of impact on nature
minimize air emissions, water discharge, waste disposal, dispersion of toxic substances, use of renewable resources
- 3. Increase of product or service value
more benefits to costumers, providing additional services, selling the needs that costumers actually want
Often companies name a 4th objective: Implementing an Environmental Management System (EMS) in the corporate management which has to identify and manage all risks and opportunities so that sustainability can be warranted.
Typically there are found opportunities to involve EE in company in four areas:
- 1. Re-engineering of the process
- Consumption of resources and pollution is reduced, costs are saved, and risks are avoided
- 2. Cooperating with other companies
- By- products are revalorized, so generated waste can maybe used by other companies
- 3. Re-designing of the product
- 4. Finding new ways of meeting costumers needs
- By cooperation with costumers and other stakeholders the market can be rethought and demands and supply can be reshaped for finding less energy and material intensive ways to satisfy these needs.
Although it is not its duty, the government can help companies and markets to implement EE by giving a “framework”.
- It can foster economic growth by policy (identifying and eliminating perverse subsides, shifting tax from profit to resource use and pollution, developing and implementing of EE- instruments, promoting voluntary initiatives).
- It can quantify EE by finding a EE- ratio indicator which gives information about the sustainability performances of the entire economy of a company. Furthermore it used to compare different companies and markets. Factor 4 and 10 are targets, this depends on the country.
- Or it can use various incentives to support initiatives.
It has to be said that it is no only the government is responsible to become EE in industry more popular. Also the business itself and the civil society are included in the integration process.
Reference: EE- Creating more value with less impact; report of WBSCD, October 2000, online on http://www.wbcsd.org
For more information and various case studies: http://eco-efficiency.management.dal.ca/