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Case Story Title

Eco-Efficiency for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)

Case Story Date


Issues Addressed

  • Principle 7 - Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges
  • Principle 8 - Undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility
  • Principle 9 - Encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies

Case Story Category

Internalization Project

Countries of Impact

Case Description

The successful participation of any firm in global markets depends heavily on the capacity to innovate and improve its international competitiveness. Moreover, the environmental soundness of products and production processes is becoming more and more important. However, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) often lack the know-how or financial resources to keep abreast of cutting edge technologies. Partnerships provide access to specialized expertise and encourage changes among all partners ? greater openness, efficiency, new ideas ?, which can lead to a sustainable development.

In order to support SMEs in their endeavor to follow the process of sustainable development BASF, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UNEP?s National Cleaner Production Centres (NCPC) have established a cross-sector partnership to promote eco-efficient production in SMEs in developing countries. At the core of the project is the dissemination and transfer of BASF?s know-how on the eco-efficiency analysis with the objective for SMEs to offer the best possible products, which are also environmentally sound ? at the best possible price. This was achieved on the basis of a pilot project in Morocco?s dyeing industryBASF developed a software package that uses key technical data to calculate how the eco-efficiency of various stages in the production process can be improved. In collaboration with staff from the NCPC, companies can use this software to calculate and compare the costs and environmental impact of their processesEach participant stood in for his costs (travel expenses, costs of labor). The development of the tool was financed by BASFThe outcome of the pilot study in Morocco were, on the one hand, process improvements and a change in chemical input: The effects were positive environmental impacts from a reduction in water and energy consumption and a lower environmental burden . On the other hand, the associated costs were the same or even lower and employees were trained in using a new tool to test the eco-efficiency of their products.

The results from the first phase will serve as a foundation for comparable projects in other countries. In the near future, BASF will train UNIDO/UNEP staff so that they can prepare a version of the tool for wider dissemination to SMEs in developing countries. The network of the National Cleaner Production Centres, which is jointly operated by UNIDO and UNEP in 27 developing countries, will help extend the scope of the program. This joint work will not only build up a new sustainable service for the NCPCs, but will support the formation of cutting edge know-how and capacity at the NCPCs. In turn, this will further foster the outreach and sustainability of this unique service


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