Ecoefficiency vs ecoeffectiveness

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David Bassani

Eco-effectiveness vs Eco-efficiency

Case: Why environmentalist groups could be against companies adopting eco-efficient measures


1) Eco-efficiency: not enough to achieve sustainable development.
2) IPAT and Innovation technology
4) Conclusion


1) First, in order to understand why environmentalist groups could be against companies adoptingeco-efficient measures, it is necessary to understand and define what exactly eco-efficiency means, especially when compared to eco-effectiveness.
A very interesting reading of the course from T. Dylick and K. Hockerts points out how eco-efficiency is important but not enough to reach sustainable development. In fact this would mean just taking into account the business level (economic growth), whereas,especially today, in order to reach sustainability there are other two aspects that cannot be considered secondary anymore: social and environmental ones. Especially this last one implies the addition of focus on the carrying capacity of natural systems sustainability and on environmental footprint.
In other words, the concept above explained can be summarized by the contraposition ofeco-efficiency vs eco-effectiveness.
Eco-efficiency, are just relative ecological measures that “can be calculated as the economic value added by a firm in relation to its aggregated ecological impact” .
Eco-effectiveness, is a more thorough, holistic and absolute concept in clearly opposition to the latter one. It implies how long-term prosperity depends not on the efficiency of a destructive system,but “on the effectiveness of processes designed to be healthy and renewable in the first place” . The shift from an eco-efficient view to an eco-effective one is strongly supported by the industrial ecology, which has a motto of from “cradle to cradle”, instead of the less effective from cradle to grave.
Once clarified what is the framework, we see that from Rio 1992 onwards, on anational/international level the political awareness of the relevance of these three factors together (economic, social, natural) started taking place; however, - going back to the initial case question- the pursue of sustainable development on a firm level was slower, and only started in the mid-nineties. The problem with many firms is that they still tend to associate sustainable development toeco-efficiency, but this, as explained above, is not sufficient anymore.
Concluding this first part, I think that the paper of J. Hamschmidt and T. Dyllic (although the paper is more focused on EMS measures) best summarizes the needed change by stating that the sustainable ecological approach has to change from just being on an operational level (efficiency) to a strategic one (effectiveness), thereforeimplying a new mindset.
 These were therefore the first reasons why ecological groups might campaign against eco-efficient companies, which might not also bet eco-effective.

2) By utilizing the I-PAT equation it is possible to “translate into facts” all what was said in the first section. What are the variables that have to be considered in order to aim to a sustainable future world?Basically, the IPAT describes the multiplicative contribution of population (P), affluence per capita (A) and technology (T) to environmental impact (I).
Although the equation was created to see which variable were influencing environmental impact the most, today an industrial ecological view (mixture of technology and ecology) suggests that increases in population and affluence together pushtechnology to become an essential counterweight to P and A. Since the factor “P*A” can be seen as an aggregated measure of economic activity (e.g. GDP), it turns out necessary an environmentally effective technology to balance the world’s increasing growth. Translated in rough mathematical terms, T is a multiplier of the equation and industrial ecology sees the potential of it being 0< T 1. So again,...
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