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Eco-Business: A Big-Brand Takeover of Sustainability


  • Dauvergne, Peter

    () (University of British Columbia)


McDonald’s promises to use only beef, coffee, fish, chicken, and cooking oil obtained from sustainable sources. Coca-Cola promises to achieve water neutrality. Unilever has set a deadline of 2020 to reach 100 percent sustainable agricultural sourcing. Walmart has pledged to become carbon neutral. Today, big-brand companies seem to be making commitments that go beyond the usual “greenwashing” efforts undertaken largely for public relations purposes. In Eco-Business, Peter Dauvergne and Jane Lister examine this new corporate embrace of sustainability, its actual accomplishments, and the consequences for the environment. For many leading-brand companies, these corporate sustainability efforts go deep, reorienting central operations and extending through global supply chains. Yet, as Dauvergne and Lister point out, these companies are doing this not for the good of the planet but for their own profits and market share in a volatile, globalized economy. They are using sustainability as a business tool. Advocacy groups and governments are partnering with these companies, eager to reap the governance potential of eco-business efforts. But Dauvergne and Lister show that the acclaimed eco-efficiencies achieved by big-brand companies limit the potential for finding deeper solutions to pressing environmental problems and reinforce runaway consumption. Eco-business promotes the sustainability of big business, not the sustainability of life on Earth.

Suggested Citation

  • Dauvergne, Peter, 2013. "Eco-Business: A Big-Brand Takeover of Sustainability," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262018760, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtp:titles:0262018760

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Yenipazarli, Arda, 2017. "To collaborate or not to collaborate: Prompting upstream eco-efficient innovation in a supply chain," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 260(2), pages 571-587.
    2. Brusselaers, Jan & Buysse, Jeroen & Huylenbroeck, Guido, 2015. "Green public procurement of certified wood: The impact on global welfare and welfare calculation itself," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 211374, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    3. Geoffrey G. Jones & Christina Lubinski, 2013. "Historical Origins of Environment Sustainability in the German Chemical Industry, 1950s-1980s," Harvard Business School Working Papers 14-018, Harvard Business School.
    4. Peter Dauvergne & Jennifer Clapp, 2016. "Researching Global Environmental Politics in the 21st Century," Global Environmental Politics, MIT Press, vol. 16(1), pages 1-12, February.
    5. Gallemore, Caleb & Jespersen, Kristjan, 2016. "Transnational Markets for Sustainable Development Governance: The Case of REDD+," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 79-94.

    More about this item


    environment; business economics;

    JEL classification:

    • M2 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Economics
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics


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