Eco-innovative measures in large Swedish Companies - An inventory based on company reports
The project examines eco-innovative measures among 100 large companies from 11
industries in Sweden. Data from corporate annual reports was gathered and analysed
using a range of criteria that show what types of measures companies pursue in order to
tackle environmental issues. These criteria range from internal measures, such as
developing new products and processes, to measures that include the value chain and
public/private partners that can help boost eco-innovation.
The study shows that the majority of companies see themselves as proactive and that
their main focus vis-à-vis eco-innovation is on internal measures, with an emphasis on
energy efficiency and renewable energy and materials. Examples of measures that focus
on energy efficiency include effective lighting, insulation and lean production. Examples
of measures that focus on renewable energy measures include sourcing electricity
based on wind, biomass and solar power. Examples of measures that focus on renewable
materials include bio- and organic-based products, or biomass-based production.
The study highlights various eco-innovation measures that have the potential to bring
about meaningful change, including “ZERO mission” (Skanska), the “One tonne life”
project to create a climate smart household (ICA as partner), launch of a “left over
dating” matchmaker service to find “dinner partners” with supplementary ingredients
(Lantmännen), smart homes and cars (Semcon), smart application of technologies (ABB
and Ericsson), smart grids to link homes, vehicles and users (Toyota), regenerative
braking systems (SJ), “Zee-weed” membrane techniques for water treatment (ITT),
biomass-based fuels of their own process (SCA), and light-weight materials (SSAB).
The study finds some evidence that drivers of eco-innovation range from business
opportunities to costs and legislation. Companies in the construction and consultancy/
service groups, for instance, see environmental issues as a business opportunity. Generally,
companies note the importance of legislation such as REACH, and consumer
demands as drivers of eco-innovation. However other companies in our sample rarely
mention drivers. The study also shows that annual reports are sufficient for gathering
general information on product development and production processes, while information
regarding R&D is not always presented and needs to be supplemented with
questionnaires and interviews. The project provides a starting point for further research
on eco-innovation regarding the value chain, the consumers and the role of networks.