Development of eco-efficiency in Finnish forest industry: 1997-2007

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In this article I reconsider if eco-efficiency (EE) concept is suitable practical tool and instrument to measure the progress towards sustainable development (SD) and the aims of industrial ecology in forest industries. The SD strives for material and energy metabolism that is within the ecological carrying and regeneration capacity of the nature. The aim of eco-efficiency is commonly to reduce the use of natural resources in order to alleviate the environmental consequences from overburdening of the environment. This article analyses the EE of Finnish forest industry and some of the largest forest companies. Results show that the EE has decreased during the time period 1997 to 2007. This is due to the stagnating demand for pulp and paper and expanded production capacity. Yet there have been no improvements in the efficiency of materials use. The EE measures suggest a need for major structural changes within the industry to become more eco-efficient and sustainable.

Keywords: eco-efficiency, indicators, dematerialisation, industrial metabolism, sustainable companies, forest industry, Finland, industrial ecology, sustainability, sustainable development, efficiency, materials use

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