What Is Meant By Eco-Efficiency?
Eco-efficiency is regarded as one of the best tools to promote a transformation from unsustainable development to sustainable development. Eco-efficiency seeks to create harmony between ecology and economy, where business activities do not spell doom to the environment. The concept attaches responsibility to the producers of goods and services thus rendering them accountable for the total human impact on the environment. The primary stakeholders of the concept are businesses, government, business association, research organizations as well as customers and suppliers. Eco-efficiency has been recognized as a significant business approach by world players such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Environmental Agency (EEA).
History Of The Development Of The Concept
In the course of industrialization, it became apparent that countries were achieving economic growth at the expense of the environment. The idea of eco-efficiency was first outlined in Rachel Carson’s book ‘Silent Spring’ in 1962, which outlined the role of businesses in the environmental movement. A formula developed in the early 1970s by John Holdren and Paul R. Ehrlich explained the impact of human activity on nature. The term eco-efficiency was first used in 1978, but it was not until 1992 when Stephan Schmidheiny popularized and formally coined the term in “Changing Course.”
Definition Of Eco-Efficiency
The concept, as adopted by businesses, refers to the strategies implemented to maximize the efficiency of production processes while minimizing the negative impact on the environment. This state can be achieved by employing less natural resources, less energy as well as less water, and adopting recycling, waste management, and elimination as they pertain to hazardous elements and waste generated from production process. Businesses employ the use of technology to improve on production processes. The concept is applied to all steps in the production process, from sourcing of raw materials, where businesses seek products that have been produced through sustainable means. All other operations, from manufacturing to packaging, marketing, and distribution are geared towards value addition with little environmental impact.
Advantages Of Eco-Efficiency Businesses
A business which is environmentally conscious accrues numerous benefits. During the creation of an eco-efficiency blueprint, companies develop profiles that detail their processes, products, market, the source of materials, and other information about their operations. This information helps businesses become more aware of their activities and impacts. The use of less natural resources, water, and energy reduced the cost of production by a large margin. This competitive advantage is further boosted by the adoption of improved production processes and new products, and the recycling of used products. Consumers across the world are increasingly becoming conscious of the environment and are seeking sustainable products thus giving companies which have adopted eco-efficiency a competitive advantage.
Significance Of Eco-Efficiency
Eco-efficiency stimulates technological innovation as businesses seek more efficient processes and better goods and services. The concept promotes technology as the primary solution to environmental degradation. The benefits of eco-efficiency to the environment are immense and range from reduced expulsion of hazardous elements, improved durability and shelf life of products, a shift towards renewable natural resources, reduction in the material and energy intensity in goods and services, adoption of recycling, and increased responsibility for businesses on environmental protection.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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