Estonian eco-innovation performance has increased steadily throughout 2013-2015. The highest development can be seen in the Eco-Innovation Scoreboard indexes for socio-economic outcomes and eco-innovation activities, which continuously perform above the EU average. Despite these positive trends, Estonia still scores below EU average overall, mostly due to resource-intensive industrial structure, lack of seed funding opportunities for early-stage start-ups and low level of media coverage on eco-innovation subjects.
While in general Estonia does not target eco-innovation in policy documents specifically, the smart specialisation strategy, together with the Estonian research, development and innovation (RD&I) Strategy 2014-2020 and Entrepreneurship Growth Strategy 2014-2020, aim to tackle the major barriers of the Estonian innovation system, which also hold back eco-innovation. The biggest potential for eco-innovation initiatives within the smart specialisation framework arises in the areas of ICT, as an enabler of eco-innovative ICT solutions, and the use of smart technologies for more efficient resource management in the building and energy sectors. The field has seen numerous eco-innovation solutions in the past few years, largely due to initiatives that have raised awareness and the financial support available for companies.
Despite the newness of the term circular economy, the most recent policy initiatives in the field, notably the Estonian National Waste Management Plan 2014-2020, have already adopted the underlying principles of circular economy – for example, aiming to reduce the amount of waste produced and recycling it to the maximum level.
2015 Eco-innovation Scoreboard ranking and eco-innovation index composites for Estonia