Eco-Efficiency: The Business Link to Sustainable Development

By Livio D. DeSimone; Frank Popoff | Go to book overview

2 Eco-efficiency and the
Bottom Line

Is eco-efficiency really possible? Can companies really find opportunities to make environmental improvements and create business benefits? Many managers do not think so. Nor do McKinsey consultants Noah Walley and Bradley Whitehead, who have written:

Questioning today's win-win rhetoric is akin to arguing against motherhood and apple pie. After all, the idea that environmental initiatives will systematically increase profitability has tremendous appeal. Unfortunately, this popular idea is also unrealistic. Responding to environmental challenges has always been a costly and complicated problem for managers. In fact, environmental costs at most companies are skyrocketing, with little economic payback in sight. ... To achieve truly sustainable environmental solutions, managers must concentrate on finding smarter and finer tradeoffs between business and environmental concerns, acknowledging that, in almost all cases, it is impossible to get something for nothing. 1

Of course, their point is true in many instances. However, eco-efficiency is a dynamic strategy that presupposes that social expectations of corporate environmental performance are constantly rising. This is often expressed as more stringent legislative or regulatory measures—or it can be satisfied by proactive business action. The former will inevitably raise costs—so that preventive measures now are real savings.

This is certainly the view of business strategist Michael Porter.His study—with German colleague Claas van der Linde—of environmental influences on business performance and innovation also suggests that external pressures can enhance resource productivity and innovation. They believe that companies

are constantly finding innovative solutions to pressures of all sorts—from competitors, customers, and regulators.

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Eco-Efficiency: The Business Link to Sustainable Development
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Eco-Efficiency - The Business Link to Sustainable Development *
  • Contents *
  • Foreword *
  • Views of Business Leaders *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Introduction *
  • 1 - Eco-Efficiency and Sustainable Development *
  • 2 - Eco-Efficiency and the Bottom Line *
  • 3 - Defining and Measuring Eco-Efficiency *
  • 4 - Becoming Eco-Efficient *
  • 5 - Partnership for Eco-Efficiency *
  • 6 - Case Studies *
  • 7 - A Leadership Role for Business *
  • Notes *
  • Wbcsd Working Group on Eco-Efficiency *
  • Index *
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