The concept of the eco-costs


Eco-costs are a measure to express the amount of environmental burden of a product on the basis of prevention of that burden. It are the costs which should be made to reduce the environmental pollution and materials depletion in our world to a level which is in line with the carrying capacity of our earth.
For example: to prevent 1000 kg CO2 emission, one should invest € 116,- in offshore windmill farms (and the other CO2 reduction systems at that price or less). When this is done consequently, and all possible prevention measures which are less expensive are taken as well, the total CO2 emissions in the world will be reduced by 70% compared to the emissions in 2008. As a result global warming will stabilise. In short: “the eco-costs of 1000kg CO2 are € 116,-“.

Similar calculations can be made on the environmental burden of acidification, eutrification, summer smog,

fine dust, eco-toxicity, and the use of metals, rare earth, fossil fuels, water and land (nature). As such, the eco-costs are virtual costs, since they are not yet integrated in the real life costs of current production chains (Life Cycle Costs). The eco-costs should be regarded as hidden obligations: this is also called “external costs”.
The business relevance of eco-costs is that it is the financial risk of non-compliance with future governmental regulations. Cleaver entrepeneurs are proactive and reduce the eco-costs of their products and services by innovation: ecoefficient value creation. The practical use of eco-costs is to compare the sustainability of different product and/or services with the same functionality. This is done by Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), see Fig. 2.1a. The eco-costs can be used in classical LCA, applying classical software programmes like Open LCA or Simapro. However, the eco-costs system provides also a practical method for LCA, which is called “Fast Track LCA”. This is a practical