Environmental benchmarking – A tool for continuous environmental improvements in the SME sector (NT TR 588)

  • Report #: NT TR 588
  • Approved: December 2005
  • Author(s): Halla Jónsdóttir, Anne Maria Sparf, Ole Jørgen Hanssen
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  The aim of the project was to gather information on existing versions of environmental benchmarking tools for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Nordic countries. Special consideration is given to:
  • The interrelation between environmental benchmarking and well-known environmental tools such as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Green Accounting, Environmental Management Systems (EMS) and Eco-labels
  • Available benchmarking methodologies
  • Generic tools
  • Sector-specific tools relevant for Nordic industries. The sectors analyzed include fisheries, tourism and packaging
Furthermore, the intention was to understand how to acclimatize or construct an environmental benchmarking system for small and medium sized Nordic enterprises. The main results are:
  • Environmental benchmarking is an emerging tool for environmental work.
  • No Scandinavian environmental benchmarking systems were found. Relations of Scandinavian eco-labels and EMS were discussed.
  • A handful of environmental benchmarking tools were found worldwide, both generic and sector specific tools.
  • A large number of the specific tools found pertain to the tourism sector.
An MS research was launched in conjunction with this work. The research question of the work was “Is environmental benchmarking a viable methodology for small and medium sized enterprises in the Nordic tourism industry?” The answer was that benchmarking of environmental performance can be a powerful tool in improving environmental performance of SMEs and that use of this methodology should be encouraged (Sparf, 2005). This project also proposes a framework for an environmental benchmarking tool. The tool:
  • Is based on available scientific knowledge, such as LCA to choose the key indicators.
  • Is supported by Green accounting to collect key figures.
  • Identifies deviations from good practice – by comparison, environmental benchmarking.
  • Cooperates with eco-labels and EMS systems.