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Is the Swedish Environmental Goods and Services Industry Green?: Product and production perspectives
Mälardalen University, School of Sustainable Development of Society and Technology. (PRO)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3167-9389
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. , 91 p.
Series
Mälardalen University Press Licentiate Theses, ISSN 1651-9256 ; 117
Keyword [en]
Environmental technology sector; Environmental goods and services; Clean technology; ‘Green’ business; ‘Green-green’ business; Production and product related environmental profile
Keyword [sv]
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: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-9427ISBN: 978-91-86135-68-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mdh-9427DiVA: diva2:305263
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
List of papers
1. Swedish SMEs in the environmental technologies and services sector and their corporate social responsibility performance.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Swedish SMEs in the environmental technologies and services sector and their corporate social responsibility performance.
2007 (English)In: Paradigms of Corporate Sustainablity.: Proceedings of Track 16, International Sustainable Development Research Conference 2007 / [ed] Tarja Ketola, Vaasa: Vaasan yliopisto , 2007, 80-91 p.Conference 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
Keyword
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:nbn:se:mdh:diva-8266 (URN)
Conference
13th Annual International Sustainable Development Research Conference
Available from: 2010-02-15 Created: 2010-02-15 Last updated: 2014-12-02Bibliographically approved
2. Is the Swedish environmental goods and services industry ‘green’? 
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Is the Swedish environmental goods and services industry ‘green’? 
2009 (English)In: Proceedings of the 15th Annual International Sustainable Development Research Conference. Track 4B Clean products and production: implementing zero. Utrecht University, Netherlands  July 5-8, 2009, 2009Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Environmental technology sector (ETS) delivers environmentally preferably products. Little is known about whether these companies set environmental objectives relating to their own production processes. This paper presents results from an online survey on environmental work in enterprises listed by the Swedish Environmental Technology Council (Swentec). The survey found that only 21 % to 45 % of companies provide information about  environmental work on their website. This paper proposes environmental aspects in production and product as bases for corporate greening, as well as defining ‘green’ and ‘green-green’ business and concludes that companies within environmental industry should be expected to be green-green business.

Key words: Environmental technology sector, environmental goods and services, clean technology, ‘green’ business, ‘green-green’ business

 

Keyword
Environmental technology sector, environmental goods and services, clean technology, ‘green’ business, ‘green-green’ business
National Category
Other Environmental Engineering
Research subject
Energy- and Environmental Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-8261 (URN)
Available from: 2010-02-15 Created: 2010-02-15 Last updated: 2014-12-02Bibliographically approved
3. Product and production related dimensions of environmental work in the Swedish environmental technology industry.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Product and production related dimensions of environmental work in the Swedish environmental technology industry.
2009 (English)In: Proceedings of the 15th Annual International Sustainable Development Research Conference. Track 4B Clean products and production: implementing zero. Utrecht University, Netherlands July 5-8, 2009, 2009Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Production and product related environmental impacts are treated differently, and are not always clearly differentiated in different environmental tools and guidelines. The companies within environmental technology are not always aware of these dimensions in information about their environmental engagement. Companies within this sector should increase their use of both product and production related environmental profile information in their presentation at their own websites and at platforms such as Swentec. The paper reveals confusion in the use of the term ‘process’ for both the companies’ own production processes and for companies’ products. Companies which deliver ’processes’ as their products should in order to avoid obscurity  describe  companies’ own operations with  terms  such as ‘production process’, ‘production’ ‘manufacturing process’, ‘operation’ or ‘activity’.

Keyword
Product and production related environmental impacts, ISO14000, the GRI, Environmental technology, Environmental profile
National Category
Other Environmental Engineering
Research subject
Energy- and Environmental Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-8264 (URN)
Available from: 2010-02-15 Created: 2010-02-15 Last updated: 2014-12-02Bibliographically approved

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