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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Eco-innovation is a term used to describe products and processes that contribute to sustainable development.Eco-innovation is the commercial application of knowledge to elicit direct or indirect ecological improvements.

It is often used to describe a range of related ideas, from environmentally friendly technological advances to socially-acceptable innovative paths towards sustainability.


Origins of the Concept of Eco-innovation

The idea of eco-innovation is fairly recent. One of the first appearances of the concept of eco-innovation in the literature is in the book by Claude Fussler and Peter James (1996). In a subsequent article, Peter James defines eco-innovation as 'new products and processes which provide customer and business value but significantly decrease environmental impacts' (James 1997).

Other Related Terms

Eco-innovation is closely linked to a variety of related terms. It is often used interchangeably with 'environmental innovation', and is also often linked with 'environmental technology', 'eco-efficiency', 'eco-design', 'environmental design', 'sustainable design', or 'sustainable innovation'. While 'environmental innovation' is used in similar contexts to 'eco-innovation', the other terms are mostly used when referring to product or process design, and therefore focus more on the technological aspects of eco-innovation rather than the societal or political aspects.

Eco-innovation as a Technological Term

The most common usage of the term “eco-innovation” is to refer to innovative products and processes that reduce environmental impacts. This is often used in conjunction with eco-efficiency and eco-design. Leaders in many industries have been developing innovative technologies in order to work towards sustainability. However, these are not always practical, or enforced by policy and legislation.

Eco-innovation as a Social Process

Another position held (for example, by the organisation Eco Innovation) is that this definition should be complemented: eco-innovations should also bring greater social and cultural acceptance. In this view, this 'social pillar' added to James's (1997) definition is necessary because it determines learning and the effectiveness of eco-innovations.

This approach gives eco-innovations a social component, a status that is more than a new type of commodity, or a new sector, even though environmental technology and eco-innovation are associated with the emergence of new economic activities or even branches (e.g., waste treatment, recycling, etc). This approach considers eco-innovation in terms of usage rather than merely in terms of product. The social pillar associated with eco-innovation introduces a governance component that makes eco-innovation a more integrated tool for sustainable development.

Ecovation is the process by which responsible capitalism aligns with ecological innovation to construct products which have a generative nature and are recyclable back into the environment for usage in other industries.

See also


Beveridge, R. & S. Guy, 2005; 'The rise of the eco-preneur and the messy world of environmental innovation', Local Environment 10(6): 665-676

Fussler, C. & P. James, 1996; Driving Eco-Innovation: A Breakthrough Discipline for Innovation and Sustainability, Pitman Publishing: London, 364 p.

James, P., 1997; 'The Sustainability Circle: a new tool for product development and design', Journal of Sustainable Product Design 2: 52:57,

Jones, E. & Harrison , D., 2000; 'Investigating the use of TRIZ in Eco-innovation', TRIZCON2000 Conference proceedings, Altshuller Institute, May 2000

Jones, E. et al., 2001; 'Managing creative eco-innovation: structuring outputs from eco-innovation projects', The Journal of Sustainable Product Design 1(1): 27-39

Nuij, R., 2001; 'Eco-innovation: helped or hindered by integrated product policy', The Journal of Sustainable Product Design 1(1): 49-51

Ottman, Jacquelyn A., 1998; Green Marketing: Opportunity for Innovation 2nd ed., Chicago, NTC/Contemporary Publishing Company

Pujari, D. 2006, 'Eco-innovation and new product development: understanding the influences on market performance', Technovation 26(1): 76-85

Rai, R. and Allada, V., 2002; 'Adaptive-agent based simulation model to study diffusion of eco-innovation strategies', Proceedings of the ASME Design Engineering Technical Conference 2: 495-503

Rennings, K. (2000), "Redefining Innovation - eco-innovation research and the contribution from ecological economics", Ecological Economics 32(2): 319-332

Smith, M.T., 2001; 'Eco-innovation and market transformation', The Journal of Sustainable Product Design 1(1): 19-26

External links



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