Eco-Innovation: What It’s About & Why You Should Care
Consumers now want to spend their money on brands that care about their carbon footprint, use sustainable manufacturing practices and exercise ethical business standards.
This outlook, coupled with the environmental challenges that the world is facing, means that there is a growing need for companies to develop innovative products, services, processes and solutions that are eco-friendly.
Which is what eco-innovation is all about.
“The urgency for change has led to increasing application of the term ‘innovation’ in environmental management and policy.” – Link Springer
This post will take you through what eco-innovation is, why it’s important, what the benefits are and how some companies are already developing eco-innovative products, services and processes.
What is eco-innovation?
In short, eco-innovation is the process of developing new products, processes, or services that not only create value for customers and the business but that are also environmentally friendly and sustainable.
This could apply to the actual products, processes and services themselves, or it could apply to the way that they’re produced. If companies can develop innovative manufacturing methods that reduce the impact they have on the environment, or if they could find new ways to start using natural resources more efficiently, then businesses will become naturally greener.
“Eco-innovation is the development of products and processes that contribute to sustainable development, applying the commercial application of knowledge to elicit direct or indirect ecological improvements.”
Eco-innovation is a method for improving the environmental performance of a business and helps them to improve their products, processes and services whilst also boosting their performance and competitiveness.
Why eco-innovation is important & what the benefits are
Fundamentally, eco-innovation will help to address the environmental problems we’re facing such as climate change, a dwindling supply of natural resources and a decline in biodiversity. Alongside this, innovative eco products, processes and services will also attract a new generation of high-tech manufacturing companies, create a plethora of new, high-skilled jobs and boost the economy.
But, in terms of individual companies, how will they benefit from prioritising eco-innovation?
The benefits of eco-innovation
Companies that combine innovation with sustainability to develop eco-innovative products, services and processes will not only contribute to sustainability, but they’ll appeal to a new market of environmentally conscious customers and remain competitive as a result.
As with any form of innovation, eco-innovation has the potential to give companies access to new global markets, help them capture growth opportunities, strengthen their brand image, increase productivity, and help them keep up with environmental regulations and standards.
Although it’s a relatively new concept, companies across the globe are already heavily involved with, and benefitting from, eco-innovation.
Evidence of eco-innovation in action
As we’ve established, the benefits of eco-innovation are ten-fold. An increasing number of start-ups are taking global warming and sustainability seriously and are working hard to develop novel products, processes and services to reverse the damage, whilst also appealing to a wider base of customers and remaining competitive.
For example, start-up company Bio-bean has developed a new way to turn wasted coffee bean grounds into biofuels. So, instead of people burning expensive and imported wood or coal, they’ve developed coffee logs. These coffee logs are biomass briquettes that are clean and sustainable. They burn hotter, for longer and are cheaper than normal logs for consumers to buy. It’s a win-win.
Entomics is another organisation that takes waste and turns it into fuel. They convert food waste into sustainable fuel for plants, animals and vehicles using Black Soldier Flies. These flies can convert organic waste into fats and proteins inside their bodies. These compounds can then be used to produce a nutritional supplement for livestock and anything leftover makes a good fertiliser or biopesticide.
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