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About this book

A central asset of eco-efficiency analysis is that it does not depend on a specific evaluation of environmental impacts against economic effects, avoiding the often disputed results of neo-classical evaluation methods. For integrating the different environmental scores several evaluation methods may be used including those based on willingness-to-pay, panel procedures, and public statements on policy goals.

A substantial Japanese paper on Maximum Abatement Cost method and a paper on revealed public preferences in The Netherlands comprise the first section on methods. Next, there are four sections on domains of application of eco-efficiency analysis. In the Agriculture section, a case on conservation agriculture in China is worked out, using input-output analysis. In the Industry section, cases range from supply chain management to waste water management and methods to speed up innovation. In the Products & Consumption section, cases refer to overall household performance, specific energy products and methods for upgradeable product design. Finally, in the Recycling section, cases relate to increasing the supply of secondary materials and to increasing secondary materials use.

Table of Contents


An introduction to quantified eco-efficiency analysis


1. An introduction to quantified eco-efficiency analysis

Without Abstract
Gjalt Huppes, Masanobu Ishikawa

General Methods


2. Maximum abatement costs for calculating cost-effectiveness of green activities with multiple environmental effects

Without Abstract
Tosihiro Oka, Yoshifumi Fujii, Masanobu Ishikawa, Yu Matsuno, Shu Susami

3. From thermodynamic efficiency to eco-efficiency

According to Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, efficiency is (1) the quality of being efficient or producing an effect or effects and (2) (in the context of mechanics) the ratio of useful work to energy expended. The first description obviously relates to more everyday language than the more science-focussed second description. This second one, however, is restricted to mechanics and thermodynamics. The efficiency concept is also used in economics, but there it appears to indicate the state of optimality, and not a quantifiable degree of optimality.
There is as yet no unambiguous and generally accepted definition of eco-efficiency. Obviously, eco-efficiency is a term that has emerged from everyday, rather than scientific arguments. It is, however, equally obvious that eco-efficiency should in the course of time, and in its development into a quantifiable and communicable term, be further specified on a scientific basis. Admittedly, consensus seems to be growing that an eco-efficiency indicator expresses the ratio between an environmental and a financial variable, witness the various texts by Schaltegger, the WBCSD, the OECD and the UN. But there is still much confusion.
This paper argues that this confusion may be due to an unconventional use of the term ‘efficiency’. In order to develop a better understanding of the exact meaning of eco-efficiency, it reviews the thermodynamic origins of the efficiency concept. This serves as a point of departure for a generalisation of this concept to a form that will accommodate eco-efficiency as well.~~~The interpretations of the term efficiency in the economic vocabulary are also reviewed in this context. I then present an axiomatic scheme for an efficiency indicator, on the basis of a ratio of input to output exergy. Its usefulness is illustrated by an example relating to iron production. Finally, the paper shows that the ‘economy–environment ratio’ – even though it is not an actual efficiency or eco-efficiency – is still a useful indicator. I propose to call this the ‘eco-productivity’.
Reinout Heijungs

4. The price of toxicity. Methodology for the assessment of shadow prices for human toxicity, ecotoxicity and abiotic depletion

Weighting of environmental impacts is necessary to arrive at a single environmental indicator. One of the methods to weigh impacts, which has been operationalised for a number of impact categories in the Netherlands, is known as the shadow price method, using the highest acceptable costs for mitigation measures as a weighting factor. Up to now, no shadow prices were available for the more complex and less documented Environmental Impact Categories (EICs) in the field of human toxicity, ecotoxicity and depletion of abiotic materials. Therefore, a method was developed and applied to assess the shadow prices of these EICs. It consists of four steps: (1) characterising current environmental policy; (2) concentrating on the most relevant substances; (3) collecting abatement cost data and (4) calculating the shadow price.
The paper describes the method, discusses the results and concludes by presenting the full set of shadow prices in the Netherlands for the ten EICs of the CML-2 method. They are ready to be applied in the assessment of environmental profiles and the evaluation of measures in cost–benefit analysis, according to present policy preferences. We show that the external costs of the toxicity impact categories are, on average, substantial compared to those of the EICs for which shadow prices had already been established.
Toon van Harmelen, René Korenrompa, Ceiloi van Deutekomb, Tom Ligthart, Saskia van Leeuwenc, René van Gijlswijk

Cases in Agriculture


5. Conservation reconsidered: a modified input-output analysis of the economic impact of China’s land conservation policy

To estimate the economic impact of China’s land conversion policy, I present a modified input–output model, applying supply constraints to the cropping sector to reflect exogenous restrictions on land availability. Strong biophysical linkages are integrated into the model to capture heterogeneities of climate, soil and terrain conditions relevant to agricultural production. Empirical study demonstrates that this long-term land-retiring programme has evident negative impacts on the rural economy. In Western China, the net present value of total social cost is USD 487 per hectare per year or a capital equivalent of land rent of USD 1,508 per hectare over 10 years, with 5% discounting.
Fan Zhang

Cases in Industry


6. Eco-efficiency in redesigned extended supply chains; furniture as an example

This paper shows how the eco-efficiency concept can be used to evaluate value and environmental performance when considering different scenarios for redesigning extended supply chains (ESCs). Results from a case study on furniture production in Norway are used to illustrate the concept.
An extended supply chain includes all processes necessary for production, use and end-of-life treatment of a product. The environmental performance of the products was assessed using LCA, and value performance was measured as life cycle cost. Instead of calculating absolute values using a traditional eco-efficiency ratio, relative values for different scenarios were calculated and presented graphically in an XY-diagram. This clearly visualises the alternatives that have the best environmental and value performance.
Six different scenarios were developed to assess how the performance of an existing ESC can be improved. The eco-efficiency for each scenario was compared with the present ESC. The results show that there is large and realistic potential for environmental improvements in the extended supply chain without an equivalent increase in life cycle costs.
Ottar Michelsen

7. Practical experiences with reducing industrial use of water and chemicals in the galvanising industry

While ‘Soft’ factors, like employee training, experience and work instructions can significantly reduce the consumption of water and chemicals by galvanising companies, further significant improvements can be achieved by technical measures. This article demonstrates that the reduction of water and chemicals use can yield significant financial benefits to a company, without compromising product quality or productivity.
Based on the results of a benchmarking survey, a systematic optimisation approach was developed to identify all options that help to minimise water consumption and the use of chemicals, and therefore also sludge generation, while at the same time saving the companies money.
Five case studies identified and implemented measures, including changing the rinsing technology in three pickling plants at the wire producer Joh. Pengg GmbH, the use of spent caustic for neutralisation and an electrolysis plant for copper recovery at the printed circuit board manufacturer AT&S, changing the rinsing technology in the production of printing cylinders by Rotoform and a reorganisation of acid management at the Mosdorfer hot-dip zincing plant.
All these measures generally reduced wastewater generation by at least 40 % and the amounts of spent process chemicals that have to be treated by half. All measures paid back according to the financial investment standards used by the companies. The paper also discusses the optimal diffusion of this knowledge.
Johannes Fresner, Josef Mair, Hans Schnitzer, Christoph Brunner, Gernot Gwehenberger, Mikko Planasch

8. Cost-efficient solutions can speed up ecological (and social) development – A proposal

The view that positive ecological, economic and social development need to be combined for sustainable development (SD) is a generally accepted concept. In practice, however, the focus is on achieving ecological advantages to support SD, e.g. through IPP (integrated product policy), ecolabelling etc.
This paper shows that integration of economic advantages – by using them sensibly – can achieve huge ecological savings, compared to ecological advantages alone. By way of example, the paper discusses a case in which part or all of the economic advantage of low-cost products is invested in better thermal home insulation, thus saving heating energy. This mainly yields savings of primary energy and various emissions resulting from the burning of non-renewable resources.
The paper formulates a proposal to better support and speed up SD, by using low-cost products and investing part or all of the resulting cost advantage in ecologically sensible optimisations. In all options investigated, this would lead to much greater ecological gain than could be achieved by just purchasing the ecologically most advantageous product. The cost advantage can of course also be invested in social optimisation, such as improving medical services.
The paper concludes that there is no clear relation between ecological and environmental performance. Low-cost products can have excellent results in quantitative life cycle analysis (LCA) and vice versa.
Ernst-Josef Spindler

Cases in Products and Consumption


9. Environmental performance of households

In this study we discuss and apply ways to assess sustainability of household consumption. We propose an integrated environmental-economic model system providing a basis for identifying products or family types representing high environmental pressure. By using this model system, it is possible to develop a general environmental performance index, including weighting the pressure of numerous environmental impacts. We find that middle income families living in single family homes have the least environmentally friendly consumer basket and also constitute a large share of all families in Denmark. Thus, environmental policy measures should be directed towards middle income families living in houses.
Mette Wier, Line Block Christoffersen, Jesper Munksgaard, Trine S. Jensen, Ole G. Pedersen, Hans Keiding

10. Eco-efficiency analysis of an electrochromic smart window prototype

The environmental efficiency of a prototype electrochromic window was studied using eco-efficiency methodology, combined with life cycle assessment. The data obtained on the specified eco-efficiency indicators provide significant information that could be used in decision-making for the optimisation of the window's energy and environmental performance. The energy efficiency of the product is affected by its life expectancy and the climatic zone. It was found that in cooling-dominated areas the energy needs of buildings can be reduced by more than 55%, while the total energy saved can be 30 times the energy consumed during an expected 25 years life cycle. The corresponding CO2 and human toxic emissions reductions were estimated to be 6 times those achieved with a conventional double-glazed unit. An expected retail price of 200 euros per m2 for an electrochromic window would result in a cost of less than 0.10 euros for each kWh saved over a 20-year lifetime. Consequently, purchase cost reduction will be necessary if such devices are to meet market expectations for solar control window products.
Spiros Papaefthimiou, Elleni Syrrakou, Panayiotis Yianoulis

11. Upgrade planning for upgradeable product design

The current mass production paradigm contributes significantly to environmental degradation. To solve these environmental problems, concepts involving the reuse and remanufacture of products and materials are being proposed. The design of upgradeable products, which could be used for longer than conventional products and encourage people to reuse artefacts, is one of the most promising approaches using these methodologies. In addition, they might provide new business opportunities in the later stages of their product life cycle. Achieving upgradeable design requires a proper plan, which must include information on the upgradeable design, including when a product should be upgraded, with regard to which function, and to what extent. The upgrade plan should also include a solution lineup for upgradeable design that satisfies these conditions. To devise such an upgrade plan, designers need to predict technological trends and user demands. This paper proposes a methodology for upgrade planning based on the prediction of user demand, and on the assumption that technological trends influence user demands. In addition, a methodology is proposed for changing upgrade plans after target products have been distributed, to meet possible fluctuations in technological trends or user demands.
Kentaro Watanabe, Yoshiki Shimomura, Akira Matsuda, Shinsuke Kondoh, Yasushi Umeda

Cases in Recycling


12. A strategic policy model for promoting secondary materials use

This paper discusses problems associated with the development of a tax and subsidy policy to promote the use of secondary materials converted from industrial waste as a substitute for virgin materials. The main purpose of the study was to examine how a set of tax and subsidy levels modifies consumption and affects welfare. For this purpose, a static partial equilibrium model was developed, taking into account welfare effects in production and consumption under economic and ecological constraints. The results of the study indicate that a virgin materials tax combined with subsidies for waste converters could be an effective policy to promote the use of waste-based secondary materials.
Nur Indrianti, Shinobu Matsuoka, Masaaki Muraki

13. Eco-efficiency analysis of the plastic recovery systems in Hyogo eco-town project

Japan started the promotion and development of eco-towns in 1997, with the aim of reducing the environmental pressure through a symbiosis of industries and cities. Hyogo prefecture (located in the west of Japan) has been promoting a recycling-oriented society with the cooperation of industries, citizens and businesses.
This study analysed the possibilities of implementing a reverse logistics network for plastics recovery and its coupling with existing industries and technologies. Since many industries are operating in Hyogo, the use of their facilities and/or equipment for plastics recovery has been proposed, specially the steel and chemical industries. Reverse logistics was used to analyse the supply of input plastics in terms of quantity and quality. This means clustering small neighbouring cities for synchronised sorted collection (there is a difference between small cities, which already use sorted collection, and big cities, where no sorted collection for plastics exists), and coordinating activities between larger cities.
This study was part of a research project aimed at closing the loop in the Japanese plastics industry by introducing an integral approach with improvements to the upstream and downstream sides of the plastic supply chain life cycle.
This paper presents the results of the first part of the study, which included the use of domestic plastic packaging as plastic sources and material, feedstock and energy recovery as recovery technologies. The results of this study indicate that the application of reverse logistics, combined with the appropriate recovery technologies in Hyogo eco-town, is both environmentally and economically beneficial. However, it requires close collaboration between local governments and the industrial sector.
Helmut Yabar, Tohru Morioka


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