Purpose: This paper focuses on the application of eco-efficiency as an environmental performance indicator. The aim of this paper is to introduce a novel way to measure eco-efficiency in the Finnish forest industry. First, the indicator is compiled on the previous literature and the evaluation of the experts in the Delphi panel. The experts evaluated the suitability of different indicators for measuring the economic and environmental performance in eco-efficiency in the Finnish forest industry. The panel was organized in autumn 2010 and 17 experts responded yielding a response rate of 29%. Second, the paper evaluates how eco-efficiency can be calculated with the publically available data. The data is gathered from the annual corporate environmental reports, Finnish Forest Industries Federation’s annual environmental reporting and Finnish environmental protection authority’s register of environmental pollution. The three biggest Finnish forest industry companies are used as case studies since their environmental data is available in all of the before mentioned sources.
Theoretical framework: As mentioned, the definitions of eco-efficiency vary from a business strategy perspective to an environmental indicator. As an environmental indicator, eco-efficiency can be seen as a relationship between environmental and economic performance. Economic performance can be a product or a service value, value generation or value added, net production, company turnover or simply welfare. Environmental performance is usually defined as ‘environmental influence’ or ‘environmental impact added’.
Results: The experts evaluated that environmental performance would be best calculated by emissions groups or by environmental impacts. Emissions groups here were emissions to air, emissions to water and solid waste. From the environmental impacts, the highest was ranked the use of fossil fuels but also smell, climate change, environmental impacts of chemical use and eutrophication were rated high. In the case of economic performance, the experts were rather unanimous by voting ‘value added’ as the best indicator. The selected databases can be variously used to measure eco-efficiency: The databases either 1) can directly be used to gather e.g. the amounts of emissions to air and water; 2) provide figures in order to calculate e.g. the climate change or value added or 3) do not provide the means to evaluate the environmental impacts of the chemical use.
Conclusions: The aim of this paper is to present a way to calculate eco-efficiency in the Finnish forest industry. Eco-efficiency is a relationship between environmental and economic performance. The Delphi panel suggest that environmental performance could be expressed as emissions groups or as environmental impacts. Economic performance equals to value added. The emissions groups are directly available and, environmental impacts and valued added can be mostly calculated from the databases.