WBCSD Report on Eco-efficient Leadership

wbcsd_logojpgThe World Business Council for Sustainable Development published a report in 1996 on Eco-efficient Leadership for Improved Economic and Environmental Performance. I have decided to review this report for my second book report.

The WBCSD describes eco-efficiency as linking “the goals of business excellence and environmental excellence, by creating the bridge through which corporate behavior can support sustainable development.”

In this report, the WBCSD makes claims that eco-efficiency makes for great business and is great for the environment. I would argue that although yes, eco-efficiency can make good business sense, it is hard for me to believe that eco-efficiency is really implemented with the environment in mind. Although the WBCSD does not deny that businesses are out there for a profit (which is to be expected, as that is the nature of business), they make it seem as though eco-efficiency is really just a great marketing strategy. I took away that the environment is being used to somehow claim that a company is a better business. However, it seems to be that becoming eco-efficient is really, first and foremost, best for the business and not so much for the environment.

Being eco-efficient does mean cutting costs, reducing waste, re-thinking production, and using less raw materials. In that case, eco-efficiency is helpful to the environment. But, first of all, these small reductions or slight changes do not turn out large changes that benefit the environment; they only put off a little longer what is going to happen (harm to the environment through pollution, etc.) So, eco-efficiency is not overall a solution to making business better for the environment. Secondly, because of this, it is clear that the benefits of being eco-efficient for a company far exceed the benefits for the environment. It seems to me, that by becoming eco-efficient, not only is a business playing to the consumer trends of the time but they are using a poignant topic as a marketing tool.

It is not outrageous that this is happening, either. Of course businesses want to market themselves well; that’s how they get their name out there and gain respect for the company and its products and services. Yet, I am still unsure whether putting a label on one’s product that it is environmentally friendly really translates into better business practices for the environment.

This has actually been a natural progression that has led me to become interested in voluntary certification programs such as Ceres’ Company Sustainability Reports and LEED certification, etc. I hope this will be telling as to whether companies’ claim that they have become eco-efficient and are therefore now producing their goods and services in a less harmful manner (to the environment), holds any weight or not. My final paper for this class will examine these issues and include an analysis of these programs and their reports.

Further Reading

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