Environmental problems are among the top priorities of the current world. In response, eco-innovation has been invented to reduce consumption of energy and natural resources and ultimately solve these pressing issues.
In the industrial sectors, more and more entrepreneurs are beginning to take eco-innovation seriously. Assoc. Prof. Singh Intrachooto, Head of the Creative Center for Eco-Design at the Department of Building Innovation, Kasetsart University, and one of Thailand’s pioneers on eco-products, told us that this trend presents a golden opportunity for SME entrepreneurs, as whoever blazes this path would reap the greatest benefit.
Here Comes the Chance to be “The Trailblazer.”
Only a handful of entrepreneurs have taken up eco-products because a shift towards an eco-friendly production entails major changes. While most view such a step as risky, Singh believes that the first entrepreneurs to take the leap and make their entire value chain completely green will enjoy an advantage.
“Everyone is waiting for the demand to arise. However, without any supply, how can there be any demand?” he explained. “This has long been discussed, but only a few have taken the initiative. Those who grab the opportunity will have the upper hand. The wheel of eco-industry will only turn faster in the future.”
Consumers Are Governed by Self-Love.
It’s generally accepted that it is consumers that keep businesses alive. However, Singh bitingly remarked that it is important to know that when we say “love the world,” we actually mean “love ourselves.”
“We are governed by self-love. The love we have for the world is actually the love we have for ourselves, our children, and our bodies,” he stated matter-of-factly. “To inspire people to love the environment, we need to make everyone aware that every supply chain relevant to their lives owes its origin to the environment. Therefore, each manufacturing will affect them one way or another.”
Simply put, the world would be a better place if everyone loved themselves more and better understood how they are affected by industrial processes.
Why Entrepreneurs and SMEs have to Pay Attention
As international markets begin to bar non-green products, entrepreneurs and SMEs refusing to adjust their production processes will see a drop in their exports and encounter more difficulties in their businesses.
In addition, as a shift to a green production usually means reduced water and energy consumption and decreased waste, entrepreneurs will be able to bring down their production costs as well.
“Entrepreneurs should ask themselves where they would get raw materials from if the environment was in a poor condition and who they would sell their products to if people were sick. They should look at how to run their businesses in the long term without hurting the environment. Personally, I don’t think putting these issues off is a sustainable solution.”
Governmental Authority and Support
“If I had the authority, I would implement a top-down environmental conservation policy,” replied Singh when asked how he would motivate entrepreneurs and SMEs to make their businesses eco-friendly.
“I would enforce environmental laws. For example, everyone had to pay for waste disposal by weight. I would offer tax cuts for those purchasing eco-friendly products. Imagine how that kind of program would speed up the growth of the green industry.”
The Future of the Plastic Industry and the Environment
One thing that Singh stressed throughout the interview was that the green product industry in Thailand had a prospect of continuous growth and would enable Thailand to transform its economy through its existing markets.
“I believe that eco-innovation in the plastic industry can generate massive income because plastic is simply indispensable. However, there are common challenges for everyone. Why don’t we take this opportunity to plan smart resource utilization to reduce long-term impact?”
The environment is everyone’s responsibility. It is time for the industrial sector and SME entrepreneurs to step up their environment management with practical eco-innovation in order to inspire confidence among the general public as well as ensure the sustainable development of Thailand’s industries.
It is time to become a pioneer and get ahead of others.
Ecology + Innovation = Eco-Innovation
Eco-innovation is a portmanteau of “innovation,” which means something new that has been put to use and has demonstrated practical benefits, and “ecology,” which means the environment or ecosystems. Therefore, eco-innovation refers to new technologies, services, or systems that have been implemented and shown to benefit the environment.
Did You Know? Innovation can be classified into five types:
1. Incremental innovation: a series of small changes made to existing products or services that can result in significance improvement
2. Modular innovation: a change made to a component of the product without altering the overall structure
3. Architectural innovation: a change that is made to the overall structure and how components are put together, with relatively little changes in the actual product
4. System innovation: an arrangement of technology, agencies, organizations, or relevant parties that results in new functions
5. Radical innovation: a sudden and unprecedented disruption that leads to a new industry
Singh stated that radical innovation is not always necessary. Only incremental, modular, architectural, or system innovation would be suffice to generate an enormous number of solutions for problems in the world.