Sustainability

Company's image is the main reason for environmental innovations

Section: Economic Statistics | Irene Gomes | Design: Brisa Gil

July 03, 2020 10h00 AM | Last Updated: July 09, 2020 02h17 PM

  • At a glance

  • Of the 39,329 innovative companies, 15,975 (40.6%) carried out innovations that had positive environmental impacts between 2015 and 2017.
  • Among the eco-innovative companies, 59.4% indicated as reasons to innovate to improve their reputation and 54.3%, to adapt to the codes of good environmental practices.
  • On the other hand, only 11.2% indicated the availability of government support, subsidies or other incentives.
  • The recycling of waste, waste water or materials for sale and/or reuse was the most observed environmental impact, pointed out by 57.9% of eco-innovative enterprises.
  • The replacement of energy from fossil fuels with renewable energy sources was reported by only 17.2% of these enterprises.
  • The data are from the unprecedented module on sustainability and environmental innovation of the Survey of Innovation (Pintec) 2017, released today (3) by the IBGE.
#PraCegoVer a imagem mostra um Telhado com instação de placas formando um grande painel solar
Just 17.2% of innovative enterprises replaced fossil fuel energies with renewable sources - Photo - George Campos/USP

The implementation of innovations with environmental benefits has been motivated, mainly, by factors related to the image of the enterprises. Among the ones that introduced eco-innovations between 2015 and 2017, more than half indicated that the purpose of the innovation was to improve their reputation (59.4%) and to adapt to codes of good environmental practice (54.3%). This is shown by the Sustainability and Environmental Innovation module, of the Survey of Innovation (PINTEC) 2017, released today (3) by the IBGE. On the other hand, the availability of government support, subsidies or other incentives was the least indicated motivating factor by companies (11.2%).

According to the survey manager, Flávio Peixoto, this concern may be related to a change in society's behavior and consumers' demand. “Over the past few years, we have noticed that not only companies, but society in general, have been gaining awareness about certain social and environmental aspects, which are intertwined. The issue of the environment has been gaining a lot of space, and this is a reflection of this change ”, he analyzes.

Regarding government support, Mr. Peixoto explains that innovation is a systemic process, in which several actors need to be interconnected and coordinated for innovation to occur: companies, customers and the government. “When we talk about public policies, we refer to the instruments and programs designed so that companies actually adopt environmental practices in their production and innovation processes. And what we saw is that there is a lack of better designed and fit instruments for those practices ”.

The survey also shows that the number of eco-innovative companies in Brazil is still small. Of a total of 116,962 companies with more than 10 employed persons investigated at PINTEC, 39,329 (33.6% of the total) had implemented some type of innovation in products or processes, and among these innovative companies, less than half (15,975 or 40.6% of innovative companies) carried out innovations with positive environmental impacts in the analyzed period.

Industry was the activity with the highest percentage of eco-innovative enterprises (43.1%), followed by Electricity and Gas (32.8%) and Selected Services (21.8%).

“In addition to the fact that most companies that make up the survey are industrial, the very nature of the industry's activities, which is related to processes, products and inputs, opens up more space for those practices to be carried out”, explains Mr. Peixoto.

He adds that both the rate of innovation and the rate of eco-innovation are directly proportional to the size of the company: “this is related to the structure of the company, to the possibility that those enterprises have to carry out some type of innovation. Large companies have more resources and structure to carry out innovations ”.

The recycling of waste, waste water or materials for sale and/or reuse was the type of environmental impact most performed by eco-innovative companies, being pointed out by 57.9% of them. Reduction of soil, water, noise or air pollution was also a very frequent impact, observed in more than half of these companies (51.3%). These were also the most performed impacts by Industry, being pointed out by, respectively, 60.3% and 51.3% of those that carried out eco-innovations.

On the other hand, only 17.2% of those enterprises implemented the replacement of energy from fossil fuels with renewable energy sources. However, when looking only at eco-innovative Electricity and Gas companies, this impact stands, having been observed in 71.3% of them: “this sector is already more prepared for this type of innovation, most of the time, they already deal with this issue”, says the manager.

Among the enterprises in Selected Services that carried out environmental innovations, the most common impact was the reduction of soil, water, noise or air pollution (24.2%). The survey manager explains that “those companies belong, in general, to the technology sector, and their activities are not directly related to production processes, which make direct use of inputs. In such cases, the environmental impacts are usually indirect ”.