Keywords: eco-efficiency analysis, strategic eco-efficiency, dematerialisation, industrial metabolism, macroeconomic indicators, sustainable development, sustainability, industrial ecology, Finland
Reconsidering quantification of eco-efficiency: application to a national economy
The concept of Eco-efficiency combines sparing use of natural resources and environmental policy objectives with economic efficiency, the aim being the reduced use of natural resources in order to alleviate the environmental consequences of overburdening the environment. Thus, it seems a potential action strategy for the striving towards sustainable development. One of the publicised quantitative goals of sustainable development is the attainment of the Factor 4 target, i.e., 75% reduction in materials use, and maintenance of a level of welfare no lower, or a level that is higher, than the current one during the next 20–30 years. Eco-efficiency analysis provide many new insights into the physical basis of a society and the welfare-generation processes of Western societies. Eco-efficiency analysis tools also support the strategic eco-efficiency thinking. According to Finnish data, Finnish eco-efficiency has improved over the period from 1960 to 2005. A study of current trends of development suggests that there exists potential in the Finnish economy for the achievement of the Factor 4 targets by 2030, if further actions targeted towards improving eco-efficiency are taken.