Eco-Innovation in Industry

Eco-Innovation in Industry

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Author(s):
OECD
Publication Date :
13 Jan 2010
Pages :
278
ISBN :
9789264077225 (PDF) ; 9789264077218 (print)
DOI :
10.1787/9789264077225-en

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Eco-innovation will be a key driver of industry efforts to tackle climate change and realise "green growth" in the post-Kyoto era. Eco-innovation calls for faster introduction of breakthrough technologies and for more systemic application of available solutions, including non-technological ones. It also offers opportunities to involve new players, develop new industries and increase competitiveness. Structural change in economies will be imperative in coming decades.

This book presents the research and analysis carried out during the first phase of the OECD Project on Sustainable Manufacturing and Eco-innovation. Its aim is to provide benchmarking tools on sustainable manufacturing and to spur eco-innovation through better understanding of innovation mechanisms. It reviews the concepts and forms an analytical framework; analyses the nature and processes of eco-innovation; discusses existing sustainable manufacturing indicators; examines methodologies for measuring eco-innovation; and takes stock of national strategies and policy initiatives for eco-innovation.

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    Foreword
    The expansion of economic activity in recent decades has been accompanied by growing environmental concerns at the global scale. These include climate change, energy security and increasing resource scarcity. In response, manufacturing industries have recently shown greater interest in sustainable production (sustainable manufacturing) and in undertaking a number of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Nevertheless, the incremental progress falls far short of meeting these pressing challenges and improvements in efficiency in some regions have in many cases been offset by increasing volumes of consumption and growth in other regions.
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    Acronyms and abbreviations
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    Preface
    As the world emerges from the worst financial and economic crisis in recent history, pressure is mounting on world leaders to commit to drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change. Past crisis periods have often served as a springboard for change and the current crisis provides a great opportunity for the global economy to shift track. New policies and frameworks will be needed to restore sustainable economic growth, prevent environmental degradation and enhance quality of life. Innovation will be one of the keys to putting countries on a path to more sustainable, smarter and greener growth.
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    Executive Summary
    Manufacturing industries have the potential to become a driving force for realising a sustainable society by introducing efficient production practices and developing products and services that help reduce negative impacts. This will require them to adopt a more holistic business approach that places environmental and social aspects on an equal footing with economic concerns.
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    Framing Eco-innovation
    This chapter presents the notions of sustainable manufacturing and ecoinnovation. It explores the relation between them in order to facilitate the analysis of manufacturing initiatives directed towards sustainable development. Every shift in such initiatives – from conventional pollution control and cleaner production to the development of new business models and eco-industrial parks – can be understood as facilitated by eco-innovation. The application of the eco-innovation concept offers a promising way to move industrial production in a more sustainable direction and respond to pressing global challenges such as climate change.
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    Applying Eco-innovation
    To better represent the contexts and processes that lead to ecoinnovation, this chapter presents some illustrative examples of various eco-innovative solutions from three sectors: automotive and transport, iron and steel, and electronics. The primary focus of current ecoinnovation efforts in these sectors tends to be technological advances in the form of product and process modifications or redesigns. However, some actors have started to explore more systemic eco-innovation through new business models and alternative modes of provision. Changes in organisational or institutional arrangements have acted as key drivers of technological development.
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    Tracking Performance
    Measurement helps manufacturing companies to define objectives and monitor progress towards sustainable production. This chapter reviews the existing sets of indicators that help them track and benchmark their environmental performance. There is no ideal single set of indicators which covers all of the aspects which companies need to address to improve their production processes and products/services. An appropriate combination of elements of existing indicator sets could help them gain a more comprehensive picture of economic, environmental and social effects across the value chain and product life cycle.
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    Measuring Eco-innovation: Existing Methods for Macro-level Analysis
    Quantitative measurement can be very important for understanding the complex and diverse nature of eco-innovation. This chapter reviews existing methods for measuring eco-innovation at the macro level and analyses their strengths and weaknesses. Because capturing overall patterns of eco-innovation raises significant challenges, it is important to apply different analytical methods, possibly combined, and view information from various sources (generic data and specially designed surveys), taking careful account of the context of the data.
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    Promoting Eco-innovation
    Closer integration of innovation and environmental policies would help achieve ambitious environmental and socio-economic goals simultaneously and benefit from new market opportunities in the growing eco-industry. This chapter reviews existing national strategies and overarching initiatives related to eco-innovation in ten OECD countries (Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States) based on responses to a questionnaire survey. The strategies and initiatives are diverse in focus and character and include both supply-side and demand-side measures. A more comprehensive understanding of the interaction between supply and demand will be necessary to create successful policy mixes for promoting ecoinnovation in the future.
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    Looking Ahead
    This chapter draws together the findings from the previous five chapters into nine key messages. It identifies promising areas for the next phases of the OECD project on sustainable manufacturing and eco-innovation and presents the recommendations from the project’s advisory expert group. These include two major areas of work: i) improving the clarity and consistency of sustainable manufacturing indicators to support industry efforts; and ii) filling gaps in the understanding of eco-innovation through case studies and guiding innovative policy making by sharing best practices and long-term visions as well as benchmarking.
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    Glossary
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