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Perceptions of and Motivations for Eco-Lighthouse Certification in Ringerike

Elstad, Aleksander (2019) Perceptions of and Motivations for Eco-Lighthouse Certification in Ringerike.

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Abstract:Environmental certification (EC) is a means through which businesses and organizations can communicate their environmental commitment towards stakeholders. Since 1993, with the early beginnings of environmental management systems (EMSs) through the standard BS 7750, businesses across the world have adopted such management systems and become certified. Today, most EMSs are based on the standard ISO 14001, and the EU has devised its own framework based on this standard, the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS). Among the businesses that have adopted some form of EMS and subsequently become certified, motivations vary greatly; while some appear to show genuine care for the environment, some are instead primarily focused on the economic benefits and the potential for competitive advantages. Norway is no exception, and certified businesses in the country show similar motivations as is seen in the international trend. What is different for Norway, however, is that they have developed their own EC scheme, the Eco-Lighthouse Certification (ELC) scheme (developed by the Eco-Lighthouse Foundation, ELF), which has recently (in 2017) been acknowledged by the EU as being a valid substitute for EMAS in public procurement processes. Notwithstanding, motivations for the ELC scheme are similar to those of EMSs in general. Furthermore, businesses (certified and uncertified) that have previously been consulted, agree that ELC is important if the business wishes to participate in public procurement processes, owing to the requirements imposed by the government (but also the EU). However, businesses are not flocking to become certified, and even though there exist studies that attempt to document the motivations for and effects of ELC, this is a topic that requires more research. This research project therefore strove to investigate perceptions and motivations for ELC among certified businesses, but also among businesses without ELC, as well as businesses who have previously been (but are not currently) certified. In addition to consulting with 21 different businesses in Ringerike, single interviews were also carried out with both ELF and the municipality of Ringerike (RK). Ultimately, it was discovered that businesses’ perceptions of the ELC scheme (e.g. with respect to workload, benefits, cost) vary significantly, depending on whether they are certified or not. Intuitively, certified businesses are more likely to view ELC as a positive contribution, but they also admitted that their pre-certification perceptions of the ELC scheme (e.g. of the perceived workload) had been wrong, indicating that there are, at present, misconceptions surrounding the ELC scheme among businesses. Thus, efforts to communicate and promote the scheme can be improved and the information clarified. Furthermore, it is clear that the market demand for ELC varies, and it is in some cases (e.g. at consumer-level) non-existent. Because market demand is important for businesses, it is crucial that the market is educated on the importance of environmental performance. This could cause a shift towards an increasingly higher demand for businesses that are environmentally conscious, with ELC being an ideal tool that businesses can utilize to increase their environmental performance and to become regulatory compliant. Educating the market can also be facilitated by certified businesses viewing the ELC as a mark of honour, and to actively use it to promote themselves as environmentally conscious. However, this is, at present, not something businesses are doing to any significant extent. Moreover, RK themselves can “lead by example” and strive to certify their own institutions, as this would increase awareness of the ELC scheme and would incentivize businesses to follow suit. Lastly, it is critical that RK exerts its authority as a supervising body, and penalizes those businesses that neglect their environmental responsibilities, thus preventing them from undercutting competitors who are, on the contrary, environmentally conscious.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:01 general works, 70 social sciences in general
Programme:Environmental and Energy Management MSc (69319)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/79547
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