• EKOrast

Benefits of Ecological Footprint Analysis for companies

Updated: Mar 19, 2018

Italians use to say that whilst their large enterprises are being “imprisoned” within the borders of their own country, Small and Medium-Sized enterprises have successfully penetrated foreign markets. Besides “Made in Italy” term relating to Roman-Italian art, lifestyle, technology (German engines are having “brain”, but Italian ones are having “heart”), there is traditional innovativeness backing-up success of long-lasting family businesses from Lombardy. Sustainable development is not an exception in this regard. Whilst Ecological Footprint indicators are generally used for scientific environmental evaluations, Italians discovered multiple use of this metrics – they further promoted ecological footprints to a position of quality indicator. This process innovation extended the scope of usability from environmental certifications (e.g. EMAS, ISO 14 001, ISO 26 000, EU Ecolabel, TourCert, etc.) towards quality evaluation. Life Cycle Assessment shall include information about environmental impacts from previous phases of product life cycle, Italians, however, presented this analysis to Bureau Veritas Swiss authorities during ISO 9001 quality evaluation process. According to their own words, Life Cycle Assessment helped them to renew their ISO 9001 quality certification for another period. This is good news to hear that environmental assessments are having multi-purpose character and tend to be Pareto efficient. We are grateful to our Italian clients for this discovery.

Generally speaking, green investments should ideally be Pareto efficient, i.e. 20% of money invested into green innovations should be responsible for 80% of all positive consequences. According to our experience, an investment into Life Cycle Assessment processes pays back with a very good rate of return. During Life Cycle Assessment, we have always discovered material savings (economy and ecology are often having synergic goals = to spare, to consume less), easily presentable by a marketing department (green innovations are very good topic to sell using cause-related marketing approach). Such cases were initially economic efficiency-driven, their environmental dimension was discovered later on during our on-site sustainability audit, when we applied a suitable environmental measurement metrics. Having this approach, marketing department quickly receives easily presentable sustainability-related information without a need to further invest into additional green innovations.

Is everything with green label really environmentally friendly? We have been once analyzing ecological impact of “environmentally friendly” varnish advertised by Australian producer as being gentle to the climate and resources and composed of natural and non toxic ingredients. We compared compositions of this Australian product with its cheap synthetic counterpart. Titanium dioxide appeared to be the most problematic ingredient in terms of negative environmental impact (Titanium dioxide is widely used compound in various industries, you could, for example, check your cosmetics or the composition of Lutein pills you take to improve your eyesight). We were not able to prove that Australian “ecological” varnish is more environmentally friendly than its synthetic alternative, because Australian producer didn’t specify the exact share of Titanium dioxide contained in their product. There was even one scenario under which the negative environmental impact of “green” Australian product was higher than the case with cheaper synthetic alternative. There are many entrepreneurs not willing to invest additional money for “green added value”, considering it useless. A well done Life Cycle Assessment could provide them with scientific reasoning why to refrain from particular “green” investment, if there are doubts whether they are really environmentally friendly.

Do you need an Environmental Footprint assessment of your products and services? We are ready to give you a hand and to help you minimize the negative effects of your products and services on the environment.