The practical use of the ‘eco-efficiency’ concept in industry: The case of Akzo Nobel
Authors: Cramer, J.; van Lochem, H.
Source: The Journal of Sustainable Product Design, Volume 1, Number 3, 2001 , pp. 171-180(10)
Abstract:Eco-efficiency is primarily seen by industry as a banner under which companies are stimulated to search for more far-reaching environmental improvements. The question raised in this article is whether companies can use this concept and if so which difficulties are encountered in practice. The analysis is based on the experiences gained within the chemical company Akzo Nobel. It is concluded that the eco-efficiency gains achieved through product improvement cannot be assessed by using one single indicator. The use of a combination of qualitative and quantitative ecological and economic indicators can provide a good picture of the benefits to be achieved. The mix to be used, depends on the product innovation, the stage of its development and business specific aspects. This is illustrated through the example of Akzo Nobel Coatings where the most promising options in terms of high eco-efficiency improvements are the most difficult ones to assess quantitatively in advance. This is understandable when we acknowledge the dynamic and unpredictable character of more radical innovations. The differences in types of eco-efficiency improvements were also reflected in the internal decision-making process of the management of Akzo Nobel Coatings. The more far-reaching eco-efficiency improvements were transferred to the R&D department for further study, while the most promising improvements of the existing products were directly communicated with the marketing and the production departments to prepare for market introduction.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Akzo Nobel, Arnhem, The Netherlands
Publication date: January 1, 2001