There are worse places to start that Vol 18, no 3 of Industry and Innovation, which is a special issue on eco-innovation dynamics. In the introduction, Kemp and Oltra write –
Ecoinnovations are innovations whose environmental impact on a life cycle basis is lower than those of relevant alternatives and many innovations qualify as such. The innovation may be an adaptation of an existing product or technology process, a product or process new to the world, something organizational, distributional or presentational, and a mix of old and new elements. Like normal (non-eco) innovations, eco-innovations may be technological, organizational, intangible or systemic, and, like any innovation, they require knowledge, attention, capabilities, resources and coordination for their development and adoption.
(Kemp and Oltra, 2011:249)
Kemp, R. and Oltra, V. 2011. Research Insights and Challenges on Eco-Innovation Dynamics. Industry and Innovation, Vol. 18, (3), pp.249-253.
There are two key differences with “normal innovation”
- Above and beyond the normal demand-pull/technology-push you also have the question of the role of policy and regulation. “Policy is crucial for giving environmental benefits a value in the marketplace through the use of regulations, taxes and tradable emission rights. No other actor than the government can do this on a large scale and systematically. Eco-innovation is also supported by innovation policy, industrial policy and sectoral policies.” (Kemp and Oltra, 2011:250)
2. “A second difference with normal innovation is that suppliers and especially users must understand environmental issues in a way that is meaningful for them (consumers must be able to make a link with climate change when learning about low-carbon products). Ecoinnovation depends on values, the attribution of meaning and on environmental knowledge. In the absence of special regulations and incentives, a sense of responsibility is needed for dealing with the conflict between individual rationality and collective rationality.” (Kemp and Oltra, 2011:250)
There are better places to start than this video I made in July 2016…