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Swedish SMEs in the environmental technologies and services sector and their corporate social responsibility performance.
Mälardalen University, School of Sustainable Development of Society and Technology. (PRO)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3167-9389
2007 (English)In: Paradigms of Corporate Sustainablity.: Proceedings of Track 16, International Sustainable Development Research Conference 2007 / [ed] Tarja Ketola, Vaasa: Vaasan yliopisto , 2007, p. 80-91Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Environmental technology companies operate according to a business model in which they deliver solutions to improve the environmental performance of their customers. Little is known about whether these companies set and implement environmental objectives relating to their own activities and products. This paper presents results from a questionnaire-based survey on implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) agenda in Swedish small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the environmental technologies and services sector (ETS). The survey found that a large majority of the companies that responded (83 %) actively set environmental objectives and that nearly half of these companies set environmental objectives both for company processes and for their products. A quarter of the companies set environmental goals that only relate to their products and a quarter  only set environmental goals for the company processes. ISO 14000 is the most commonly applied tool for setting these goals, although 31 % of companies do not use any particular tool for this. The results show a significant increase in environmentally active companies compared to a survey conducted four years previously. We conclude that initiatives to encourage growth of the ETS sector should include environmental management issues among SMEs in this sector.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Vaasa: Vaasan yliopisto , 2007. p. 80-91
Keywords [en]
environmental technology and services sector (ETS), environmental work, environmental impacts of company processes and of company products, SMEs.
National Category
Other Environmental Engineering
Research subject
Energy- and Environmental Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-8266OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mdh-8266DiVA, id: diva2:293852
Conference
13th Annual International Sustainable Development Research Conference
Available from: 2010-02-15 Created: 2010-02-15 Last updated: 2014-12-02Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Is the Swedish Environmental Goods and Services Industry Green?: Product and production perspectives
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Is the Swedish Environmental Goods and Services Industry Green?: Product and production perspectives
2010 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In most business sectors environmental programs focus on direct, production-related environmental impacts. The design and development of products with reduced environmental impact is considered more difficult. The opposite applies in the environmental technology sector. The business model of environmental technology companies focuses on delivering solutions that contribute to improving the environmental performance of their customers. Products and services delivered by this sector have prominent environmental profiles. However, companies in this sector may not necessarily set and implement environmental goals for their own activities and manufacturing processes, and may not clearly distinguish between production and product related environmental aspects.

This thesis presents results of an online survey of environmental technology companies listed by the Swedish Environmental Technology Council (Swentec). The survey found that depending on the subsector, only between 21% and 45% of companies provide information about their environmental work on their website.

Environmental impacts of a company may be product and/or production related. The survey found that these dimensions are treated differently, and are not always clearly differentiated in environmental tools and guidelines, such as the ISO 14000 series, the Reporting Guidelines for UK Business, the GRI and The Swedish Annual Accounts (ÅRL). There are also differences in the ways that information about production and product related environmental impacts are considered within the environmental technology industry. Some companies clearly distinguish between product and activity related environmental issues, while others are unclear about the distinction between their products and their activities in environmental policies and management. While some companies in the sector limit the environmental information they disseminate to the environmental benefits of their products, others explicitly articulate that the predominantly product related environmental profiles in the sector drive them to additionally minimise environmental impacts of their own activities.

This thesis proposes environmental aspects of products and production as bases for corporate environmental profiles, corporate greening, and for defining ‘green’ and ‘green-green’ business, and concludes that companies within the environmental industry should be expected to be green-green business. This thesis concludes that companies within the environmental technology sector should increase their use of both production and product related environmental profile information in their presentations on their own websites and at platforms such as Swentec. Furthermore, the thesis shows that the use of the term ‘process’ within environmental technology sector to describe both the companies’ own operations and their products can create ambiguities in understanding. Companies that deliver ‘processes’ as products should avoid ambiguity by describing their own operations with terms such as ‘production processes’, ‘production’, ‘manufacturing process’, ‘operation’ or ‘activity’.

Abstract [sv]

Ett företags miljöpåverkan kan vara kopplad till tillverkningsprocesser och till produkter. Miljöprogram inom de flesta industrisektorer är inriktade på direkta, produktionsrelaterade miljöaspekter. Däremot anses design och utveckling av produkter med minskad miljöpåverkan svårare. Inom miljötekniksektorn gäller det motsatta. Miljöteknikföretag erbjuder produkter och tjänster med framträdande miljöprofil och levererar lösningar som bidrar till förbättrad miljöprestanda hos deras kunder. Det betyder inte nödvändigtvis att dessa företag arbetar med miljömässiga mål för egna aktiviteter och tillverkningsprocesser, dvs. att dessa företag gör distinktion mellan tillverknings- och produktrelaterade miljöaspekter.

 

Det övergripande syftet med avhandlingen är att öka förståelse av och insikt i miljöengagemang och miljöprofil inom miljöteknikföretag. Studien innehåller en onlineundersökning av miljöarbetet inom företag som är listade av Sveriges miljöteknikråd, Swentec i dess nätverk för den svenska miljöteknik­ sektorn. Studien visar att, beroende på undersektor, mellan 21 % och 45 % av företagen i undersökta miljöteknikområden har lagt ut information om sitt miljöarbete på företagets hemsida. Information om produktions- och produktrelaterade miljöfrågor varierar. Det finns företag som tydligt skiljer mellan produktorienterade miljöfrågor och miljöfrågor som berör deras tillverkningsprocesser och aktiviteter. Andra företag gör ingen tydlig åtskillnad mellan dessa frågor i sina miljöpolicydokument och miljöprogram. Vissa företag i branschen begränsar sin miljöinformation till miljömässiga fördelar med deras produkter. Det finns dock företag som tydligt uttalar att sektorns produktrelaterade miljöprofil är en drivkraft för att minimera miljöpåverkan från sin egen verksamhet.

I studien framkommer också att produktions- och produktrelaterade miljöaspekter behandlas på olika sätt, och är inte alltid tydligt differentierade i olika miljöverktyg och riktlinjer, som i ISO 14000 serien, Rapporteringsriktlinjer för UK Business, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) och i den svenska årsredovisningslagen (ÅRL).

 

Produktions- och produktrelaterade miljöaspekter föreslås som dimensioner i ett företags miljöprofil och i beskrivning av företagets miljövänlighet. Det samma gäller som grund för definition av ’gröna’ och ’grön-gröna’ företag. En viktig ståndpunkt i denna avhandling är att företag inom miljötekniksektorn bör vara ’grön-gröna’ företag och att dessa företag bör öka användningen av informationen om produktions- och produktrelaterad miljöprofil, både på sina egna hemsidor och i sina presentationer inom nätverk som Swentec. Dessutom visar studien att användningen av begreppet "process" inom miljöteknikföretag för såväl den egna verksamheten som för sina produkter i vissa fall är otydlig. För att undvika denna oklarhet bör företag med ’processer’ som egna produkter, beskriva företagens egna verksamheter med begrepp som ’produktionsprocess’, ’produktion’, ’tillverkningsprocess’, ’aktiviteter’ eller liknande.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Västerås: Mälardalen University, 2010. p. 91
Series
Mälardalen University Press Licentiate Theses, ISSN 1651-9256 ; 117
Keywords
Environmental technology sector; Environmental goods and services; Clean technology; ‘Green’ business; ‘Green-green’ business; Production and product related environmental profile, miljöteknik sektor, miljöprodukter och miljötjänster, cleantech, ’gröna’ företag (’green’ business), ’grön-gröna’ företag (’green-green’ business), produktions- och produktrelaterad miljöprofil
National Category
Other Environmental Engineering
Research subject
Energy- and Environmental Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-9427 (URN)978-91-86135-68-3 (ISBN)
Presentation
2010-04-27, Lambda, Högskoleplan 1, Västerås, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2010-03-23 Created: 2010-03-23 Last updated: 2014-12-03Bibliographically approved
2. Corporate Greening: Product and Production Perspectives
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Corporate Greening: Product and Production Perspectives
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis describes corporate greening in general, and specifically the environmental technology (ET) sector as a green sector. The thesis has also particular focus on production and products related aspects and the influence of the environmental profile of the ET sector on the environmental engagement of companies in the sector. The study is based on a questionnaire-based survey, online surveys and on semi-structured open-ended interviews. The organizations within the ET sector were identified using existing platforms within this sector: Sustainability Sweden and Swentec. The results show that not all companies and industry associations in the ET sector clearly distinguish between product and production related environmental aspects. Furthermore, the product related environmental profile, which constitutes the legitimacy for the sector, can influence companies’ environmental strategy, not only positively but also negatively. The results from the survey on Global Supersector Leaders 2009/2010 in Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes (DJSI) show that all companies are aware of production and product related environmental issues. Based on results from this survey a model of corporate environmental profile consisting of product and production oriented activities as well as initiatives that go beyond the core business operations is proposed. These initiatives can be divided into two groups: environmental education and environmental projects and sponsorship. This thesis proposes products and production related impacts and environmental activities as bases for defining corporate environmental profiles, corporate greening, and for defining ‘green’ and ‘green-green’ business as well as environmental leaders. The distinction between product and production related environmental initiatives as well as the other dimensions of the proposed model in this thesis can support companies in their communication of environmental performance and environmental activities.  Furthermore, ‘competitive advantage’, ‘environmental responsibility’ and ‘environmental leadership’ should motivate companies within the ET sector to be ‘vocal’ green-green firms.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Västerås: Mälardalen University, 2013. p. 116
Series
Mälardalen University Press Dissertations, ISSN 1651-4238 ; 137
Keywords
Greening, ‘Green’ business; ‘Green-green’ business; Environmental leaders; Environmental profile; Environmental technology; Product and production; Communicating; CSR; Ecopreneurs, Företags miljöarbete; ’Gröna’ företag; ’Grön-gröna’ företag; Miljöledande företag och organisationer; Miljöteknik; Produkt och tillverkning; Kommunikation; CSR; Ecoprenörer
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Energy- and Environmental Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-18667 (URN)978-91-7485-105-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-05-24, Lambda, Mälardalens högskola, Högskoleplan 1, Västerås, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2013-03-28 Created: 2013-03-27 Last updated: 2015-11-16Bibliographically approved

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