Integrative Approach to Eco-Innovation
The termeco-innovation is used to describe products and processes thatcontribute to sustainable development. Eco-innovation is the commercialapplication of knowledge to elicit direct or indirect ecologicalimprovements. It is often used to describe a range of related ideas,from environmentally friendly technological advances tosocially-acceptable innovative paths towards sustainability. One of thefirst appearances of the concept of eco-innovation in the literature isin the book by Claude Fussler and Peter James (1996).
Eco-innovation requires a workforce that can consider problems from multipleperspectives and that can effectively work in cross-functional teams.For example, experience in chemistry and physics is required to tacklethings like photovoltaics, polymers and greener chemical production.
For an integrative approach, research and development need to encompass the entire life cycle, and this information needs to be continuously shared among the various work groups. Green innovation requires that youcontinuously evaluate a project from idea to commercialization withsustainability in mind, and ensure that each phase creates a feedbackloop that continually informs decision-making.
The commonbusiness basics of location, capital construction, and equipmentconsiderations, need to be viewed from a sustainability perspective. For some, the hurdle for green innovation is related to physicalinfrastructure rather than human resources or knowledge.
Greeninnovation is a significant challenge, but an integrative approachincreases the possibilities for significant rewards.
Richard Matthews is a consultant, sustainable investor, writer and owner of The Green Market Oracle, a leading sustainable business blog that covers the convergence of sustainable capitalism and the global environment.The Green Market is one of the most comprehensive resources for information and tools on sustainability. Follow The Green Market's twitter feed and see the Facebook Fan Page. Richard is a contributor to more than 50 publications. Find him on Facebook and Linkedin.
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