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Open window on sustainable material innovation: evidence from Flemish production industries Ann Crabbé and Veronique Van Hoof ERSCP conference, 27.10.2010.

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Presentation on theme: "Open window on sustainable material innovation: evidence from Flemish production industries Ann Crabbé and Veronique Van Hoof ERSCP conference, 27.10.2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 Open window on sustainable material innovation: evidence from Flemish production industries Ann Crabbé and Veronique Van Hoof ERSCP conference,

2 Content  Open Window project Aim Working plan  Reflections on meta-level scale of company testimonies 3P evaluation grids benefits of individual sustainable material innovation (SMI) cases analysed with respect to people, planet and profit Drivers & barriers for SMI On micro, meso and macro level  Conclusions

3 Funnel Testimonies - Interviews - Evaluation reports - Interviews - Evaluation reports Opportunity scans Implementation inspiration scans implementation projects Aim: creating awareness of possibilities for increasing product and production process sustainability through material innovation

4 Inspiration:

5 Material life cycle

6 Results: SMI in production processes

7 Results: SMI in products

8 Drivers and barriers for SMI Plural interviews with business representatives: selection of inspiring cases identification of drivers and barriers Classification of drivers and barriers: Micro level: individual company Meso level: networks of companies Macro level: system/society

9 At micro level Financial risk of green investments “No green innovations without a considerable financial basis.” “Wearing the hat of the R&D manager, I would most certainly invest again in our [sustainable innovation], but from the perspective of shareholder I have my doubts. The problem is that investments require a certain payback time. In our company, it is very clear that finance would rather get rid of the capital-intensive innovations the R&D department comes up with.”

10 At micro level Position and role of green advocates “Our CEO is really passionate about green thinking and sustainability. He continuously stresses the importance of sustainable development in the business’ strategy. He hardly ever talks about anything else (laughs).”

11 At meso level Finding cooperative and satisfying suppliers “We wanted to innovate sustainably with a new material, so we talked to our suppliers. They considered it a strategic fit and were very enthusiastic. You cannot imagine how important that was for us to start off with our innovation.” “You need formal agreements with suppliers, not at least because of intellectual property issues.”

12 At meso level Customers demands for green products “Ten years ago, recycling was still an ugly word for many people and industries. But times have changed remarkably. Today it is really fashionable to say: we use recycled materials. Even in sectors that are traditionally rather conservative.” “Customers are green, but only until they reach the cash desk.”

13 At meso level Access to knowledge centres and networks of expertise in- and outside the sector “You nearly have to be an expert to retrieve the desired information”

14 At macro level Socio-economic pressures “Never waste a good crisis!” Pressure from the booming Chinese production industry

15 At macro level Pressures from European and other regulations “You have to follow discussions at European level and read articles on what is about to come on the legislative level: you have to be pro-active and anticipate on what you think is about to come” “Contemporary European product norms favour [a competing product]. (…) In my view, we have to get rid of these specific product norms as soon as possible. Europe should come to insight.”

16 At macro level Pressure from NGO’s and the media Restore a bad reputation

17 Conclusion Sustainable material innovation is of major importance for the future of our economies Companies must not led themselves be blinded by highly pitched expectations on fundamental and radical change towards other production processes and consumption patterns Business testimonies in Flemish production industry  equally important to invest in discrete improvements


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