Managing the Environmental Change Process
: How to Use Waste Minimisation as an Effective Tool for Business Improvement

  • Maria de Oliveira

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    In the Business sector there is increasing pressure for organisations to embrace Sustainable Development - but -what does it really mean for the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise Sector? While this concept has received considerable attention in the academic literature, legislation and common language, it has perhaps inevitably lost some of its precision. Within business ventures in the industrialised world, sustainable development has only been applied in a few bigger enterprises. Given that Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) make up the majority of manufacturing capacity in industrial economies it is -worthwhile to examine the concept in order to assess its relevance to the specific needs of SMEs.

    The author proposes in this research that a very successful way for SMEs to contribute positively towards sustainable development and indeed to survive in a highly competitive environment is to embrace waste minimisation. The author reports that smaller businesses appear to see waste minimisation as peripheral rather than integral to sound and competitive business practice. She argues that waste minimisation can in fact be the key driver for sustainable change within the Small and Medium-Sized sector.

    The author reports upon her participation in two European Regional Development-funded projects, namely the Environmental Enterprise Project, and the Environmental Mentoring Project, assisting SMEs to establish waste minimisation programmes. These projects served the purpose of gathering raw data for analysis. The projects spanned 3 years and, during that time, a novel -waste minimisation methodology was developed -which generated cost savings and environmental benefits.

    The principal findings of this research are (i) the waste rninimisation methodology can be effectively used to achieve cultural change within the organisation, (ii) defining waste as "anything that doesn't add value to the customer" enabled the companies to more readily understand waste and thus positively contribute to business improvement.

    Date of Award2000
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDawn Story (Supervisor)


    • waste minimisation
    • Sustainable Development
    • Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises
    • SMEs
    • sustainable change
    • Environmental Enterprise Project
    • Environmental Mentoring Project

    Cite this