Sustainable Business Concepts
Going Green

Hari Srinivas
Concept Note Series E-077. June 2015.


his is a special feature of GDRC's Sustainable Business programme. It looks at four sustainable business concepts that enable businesses to 'go green'. It covers (1) Green Productivity, (2) Green Consumerism, (3) Green Procurement, and (4) Green Labelling.

Businesses are increasingly looking at making their operations more environmentally sustainable - driven by pressures that are:

  • internal (cutting costs, preventive or remedial measures etc.), and
  • external (an aware clientele, discerning consumers public policies/laws etc.).

A number of concepts are currently in vouge to help businesses become more environmentally sustainable. They are directed at both the supply and demand ends of the product lifecycle, and often span the entire continuum.

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  Productivity  Consumerism Procurement Labelling

Green Productivity


reen Productivity (GP) is a strategy for simultaneously enhancing productivity and environmental performance for overall socio-economic development that leads to sustained improvement in the quality of human life.

It is the combined application of appropriate productivity and environmental management tools, techniques and technologies that reduce the environmental impact of an organization's activities, products and services while enhancing profitability and competitive advantage.

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 Productivity   Consumerism   Procurement   Labelling 

Green Consumerism


reen consumerism creates a balance between the expectations of consumer behaviour and businesses' profit motives - within the orbit of environmental protection. It is increasingly calls upon to look at the entire life cycle of a consumer's purchases - because a consumer does not just buys 'a' product, but also everything that went into its production, and everything that will happen in the future as a result of that product.

We need to realize that all products have an environmental impact, however small. The concept of green consumers also focusses on businesses, and their survivability as they respond quickly to demands of consumers for products and services that are also environmentally friendly.

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 Productivity   Consumerism   Procurement   Labelling 

Green Procurement


business' green procurement policy (also called a Green Purchasing Policy) should strive to purchase products and services that have less negative impact on the environment.

Environmental considerations forms part of the evaluation and selection criteria, which could cover, depending on goods and services to be purchased, their manufacture, transport, packaging and disposal.

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 Productivity   Consumerism   Procurement   Labelling 

Green Labelling


co-labelling schemes help consumers make decisions about the products they buy and whether they are environmentally friendly. There are several existing eco-label schemes around the world including the German Green Spot, the Nordic Swan and the US Green Seal.

Most current eco-label programs are ‘cradle to graveE that is, they involve some form of analysis based on the environmental consequences of their manufacture, use and disposal.

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 Productivity   Consumerism   Procurement   Labelling 

Bringing it all together

The integration of Green Productivity, Green Consumerism, Green Procurement, and Green Labeling within the overarching framework of a green economy forms a comprehensive strategy for fostering sustainable and environmentally conscious practices in both production and consumption. Green Productivity emphasizes enhancing efficiency in resource utilization and reducing environmental impact during the production process. This concept aligns with the green economy's core principles by promoting economic growth while minimizing resource depletion and ecological harm.

Green Consumerism plays a crucial role in the transition to a green economy by encouraging environmentally responsible choices among consumers. By making informed decisions based on the environmental impact of products, consumers actively contribute to the demand for sustainable and eco-friendly goods and services. This shift in consumer behavior, when widespread, serves as a catalyst for businesses to adopt more sustainable practices, thereby driving the transition towards a green economy.

Green Procurement and Green Labeling further reinforce this transition by influencing the supply chain and providing transparent information to consumers. Green Procurement involves organizations sourcing products and services with minimal environmental impact, aligning procurement practices with sustainability goals. Green Labeling, on the other hand, empowers consumers with information about the environmental credentials of products, facilitating informed choices. Together, these concepts create a symbiotic relationship between producers and consumers, fostering a market environment where sustainability is prioritized.

In essence, the integration of Green Productivity, Green Consumerism, Green Procurement, and Green Labeling collectively propels the green economy forward by aligning the interests of businesses, consumers, and environmental conservation. This interconnected approach envisions a sustainable future where economic activities contribute positively to ecological well-being.

Exploring the Green Economy

The green economy concept represents a transformative approach to economic development that prioritizes sustainability and environmental responsibility. Rooted in the idea of decoupling economic growth from resource depletion and environmental degradation, it seeks to harmonize economic prosperity with ecological well-being. At its core, the green economy emphasizes the efficient use of resources, the reduction of carbon footprints, and the promotion of renewable energy sources.

Often used interchangeably with the circular economy and bioeconomy, the green economy encompasses broader environmental strategies. The circular economy emphasizes minimizing waste by fostering a closed-loop system where resources are reused, recycled, and repurposed. On the other hand, the bioeconomy accentuates the sustainable utilization of biological resources, including biomass and biological processes, for economic activities. Together, these concepts converge to redefine economic models by integrating environmental considerations, fostering innovation, and promoting resilience against climate change impacts.

The synergy between the green economy, circular economy, and bioeconomy underscores a holistic vision for sustainable development, where economic prosperity aligns with ecological integrity. This interconnected approach aims to create regenerative systems that prioritize long-term environmental health while meeting the needs of present and future generations. As societies increasingly recognize the imperative of sustainable practices, the green economy, with its circular and bioeconomic components, emerges as a pivotal framework guiding the global transition towards a more resilient, equitable, and environmentally conscious future.

Annex 1: Bio, circular and green economies Bioeconomy:
Bioeconomy involves the sustainable use of biological resources, including renewable raw materials and bio-based processes, to produce food, energy, and industrial goods. It emphasizes the efficient utilization of biological systems and promotes innovation in sectors such as agriculture, forestry, and biotechnology.

Circular Economy:
A Circular Economy seeks to minimize waste and promote resource efficiency by designing products with longevity, encouraging recycling, and fostering a closed-loop system where materials are continuously reused, recycled, or repurposed.

Green Economy:
The Green Economy focuses on sustainable economic development by incorporating environmental considerations into decision-making. It seeks to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, promoting resource efficiency, renewable energy, and ecological responsibility.

While bioeconomy specifically emphasizes biological resources, the circular economy centers on minimizing waste through closed-loop systems. The green economy encompasses a broader spectrum, incorporating environmental considerations into all economic aspects.

All three concepts contribute to sustainable development by advocating responsible resource use, minimizing environmental impact, and fostering innovation. Together, they represent holistic approaches to address the challenges of our interconnected global environment.

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