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Varieties of Green Business

Industries, Nations and Time

Geoffrey Jones

This book provides rich new empirical evidence on green business as it examines its variation between industries and nations, and over time. It demonstrates the deep historical origins of endeavors to create for-profit businesses that were more responsible and sustainable, but also how these strategies have faced constraints, trade-offs and challenges of legitimacy. Based on extensive interviews and archives from around the world, the book asks why green business succeeds more in some contexts than others, and draws lessons from failure as well as success.
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Chapter 2: Business and waste management in Europe before 1945

Geoffrey Jones and Andrew Spadafora


This chapter explores how a number of central and northern European entrepreneurs built substantial waste management businesses that aimed to make positive social and environmental contributions to their societies before World War II. These firms held strikingly modern views of environmental challenges, and they prefigured many late-twentieth-century recycling processes. The profit motive encouraged technological innovation and left a legacy of scientific and engineering knowledge of waste materials and their processing and utilization. The historical experience seen here revealed the challenges of achieving profitability in large-scale recycling. There was a tension between the cyclicality of demand for recycled materials and the continuousness of waste production. In waste management, governments emerge as facilitators for private firms, but also competitors through their own municipal businesses.

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