Emergent eco-efficiency paradigm in corporate environment management



Corporate environmental management is today outlined by perspectives that advocate a smooth and linear shift towards sustainable development (SD). The concept of eco-efficiency (EE) aims to reduce use of natural resources in order to alleviate the environmental consequences from the overburdening of the environment. The business sector has been advocating for EE as a central part of its sustainability strategy since the 1990s. However, EE bypasses the exigencies of fundamental changes to avoid rapid and large-scale environmental degradation. Consequently, EE is not to be considered as a fundamental method that would enable radical innovations and support fast and significant change towards the sustainability needed.

The object of this article is to review the implementation of EE in Finnish companies in 2006. The practical implementation of EE has been slow. Our survey shows that in Finland the breakthrough in environmental awareness in companies is yet to come. Environmentalism or SD is not an issue to over 50 per cent of publicly listed large or medium-size companies. Generally, the implementation of SD has been insufficient or non-existent. The situation is even worse with the concept of EE; the share of companies that have adopted the EE approach is only about 10 per cent, which is a remarkably low figure. This indicates that the interconnection between economic and environmental interaction is still totally neglected in a vast majority of large companies. There is a urgent need to foster EE implementation, target setting and practical EE management tools among companies. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.