Eco-Efficiency: The Business Link to Sustainable Development

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

3 Defining and Measuring
Eco-efficiency

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and its predecessors (the Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Industry Council for the Environment) have held three major workshops in Antwerp and Washington to define the concept of eco-efficiency and identify ways of operationalizing it within business.The full definition that has emerged is:

Eco-efficiency is reached by the delivery of competitively-priced goods and services that satisfy human needs and bring quality of life, while progressively reducing environmental impacts and resource intensity throughout the life cycle, to a level at least in line with the earth's estimated carrying capacity. 1

This definition has five core themes: (1) an emphasis on service, (2) a focus on needs and quality of life, (3) consideration of the entire product life cycle, (4) a recognition of limits to eco-capacity, and (5) a process view.

The first section of this chapter examines each of these themes in detail. A second section outlines and discusses seven guidelines that can help business to become eco-efficient. (An appendix to the chapter also provides a checklist for each guideline). The final section provides examples of how companies are beginning to address the important issue of measuring eco-efficiency.


Emphasis on Service

Until recently, industrial success was based on increasing quantities of material throughput. From coal to petrochemicals, textiles to computers, the volume or mass of output was one of the main measures of success.

Today there is a growing realization that customers do not value physical goods—or ownership of them—for their own sake. The goods

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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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