The Eco-Business Market Advantage
Peter Dauvergne (Former Liu Director, University of British Columbia), Jane Lister (Past Liu Faculty, University of British Columbia)
May 29, 2013

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Source: The World Financial Review, May 2013

Worldwide, firms are looking for new ways to lower costs so as to stay competitive in a volatile global economy. For big-brand companies, the drive for efficiency has intensified with the need to compete in markets dominated by high-volume, low-price buyers such as for example Walmart. By reducing waste and lowering the energy and input costs of each unit of production, eco-efficiency can generate savings and productivity to help keep prices low. Rather than a linear flow of resources from “cradle” (extraction) to “grave” (disposal), in theory eco-efficiency allows firms to reuse and recycle materials and products through circular closed-loop processes (cradle to cradle).

Eco-business is helping big-brand companies to reduce the environmental impacts of some of their products. In at least some cases, the energy and material use per product sold is declining; so is the toxicity and percentage of waste going into landfills. But “sustainability” is also helping the big brands to better compete to sell more. Eco-business frames the concept of sustainability around improved eco-efficiency, quality, and performance rather than around ecological constraints and limits. This is good for business, and big brands see this market advantage.