Overall, resource efficiency has improved by about 2 percent per year in industrialized countries since 1970 (though energy efficiency has barely changed since 1990) . (See Industry Has Gradually Improved Its Energy Efficiency.) These gains are due to technological advances and structural economic changes such as the shift away from energy-intensive heavy industry. A key aim of eco-efficiency is to accelerate this process. (See Seven Dimensions of Eco-Efficiency.) Indeed, the Factor 10 Club, a group of prominent figures in environment and development, have called for a 10-fold increase in the average resource productivity of industrialized countries over the long term . Many eco-efficiency initiatives to date have been driven by legislated pollution controls, either actual or anticipated. However, a number of companies are going beyond legal requirements and are attempting to reduce dramatically their raw material requirements and emissions through the development of “closed-loop” processing cycles in which wastes are completely recycled or reused and never enter the environment.
An eco-efficiency program established at SC Johnson Wax in 1990 has cut the company