What is Eco-innovation
  ‘eco-innovation allows businesses to respond to the sustainable development challenge by identifying and evaluating opportunities to engage in resource effective practices, and offer tailored solutions to their specific structures and capacities’

While LED technologies represent a significant energy efficiency innovation within the lighting sector, the aim of eco-innovation is to decouple the market growth of important low carbon technologies (such as LEDs) from the environmental & social impacts resulting from resource consumption, particularly for designated cycLED target metals. Eco-innovation can provide businesses with the opportunity of reducing risks, reducing costs while at the same time adding value. The opportunity to add value through better products, processes and services is what separates eco-innovation from other resource management actions available to business (EDCW 2013).

The need for eco-innovation is that existing environmental innovation practices only offer incremental improvements to the environmental profile of technologies, these improvements are insufficient if we are to achieve required environmental targets (Hellström, 2007; Huesemann, 2006). Eco-innovation seeks more radical (step-change) improvement resulting from influencing social, business model and institutional change alongside the technological innovation required to deliver ‘absolute’ rather than ‘relative’ decoupling of market growth from environmental impact (UNEP, 2011).
  Figure 7: Resource decoupling
  Figure 8: the eco-innovation challenge

CycLED aims to support the LED lighting sector in the transition from incremental innovation (small modifications to existing product & processes) to significant product re-design or the development of new alternate products, services and business models. This will be through the development of an eco-innovation approach including technical guidelines and strategic tools which support business processes, management and strategic descision making.  
This approach will allow businesses to respond to the eco-innovation challenge by identifying and evaluating opportunities to engage in resource effective practices, and offer tailored solutions to their specific structures and capacities. While there is no one size fits all process, the guiding principles of eco-innovation are:

Principles of design for eco-innovation

  1. Design product attributes that maximise the potential for resource efficiency across the entire product lifecycle.
  2. Align the product or service across value chain systems to realise designed-in eco-innovation potential
  3. Support the business case for organisational shift from product to Performance value propositions
  4. Valorise new market models which slow the rate of resource consumption
  Figure 9: The eco-innovation process

Figure 8 represents a set of interdependent activities and inputs that support a company level approach to eco-innovation.

There are some significant barriers at policy, market and organisational levels that need to be mitigated or overcome before the full potential of the eco-innovative project can be obtained. Understanding the business motivations, requirements and institutional support structures forms part of a defining this tailored approach. 

Collaboration to better spread the costs and benefits over the stakeholders in an economically viable business model will be worked out in the demonstrator projects.

  For more information please contact: Phil Harfield (phil at edcw dot org) or Thomas Vandenhaute (Thomas dot Vandenhaute at sirris dot be)