Testing for quadratic impact of industrial robots on environmental performance and reaction to green technology and environmental cost

Xinhui Yang, Fushu Luan, Jie Zhang, Zhonghui Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Industrial robots play a crucial role in enhancing productivity but their impact on the environment has produced debates. Some researchers have focused on the relation between industrial robots and energy efficiency (or environmental performance), such as Huang et al. (Energy Econ 107:105837, 2022) and Luan et al. (Sustain Prod Consum 30:870–888, 2022). However, their arguments mainly depend on the assumption of linear relationship between the two. This study infers that there is a nonlinear relationship between them from the theories of energy-saving effect, rebound effect, and scale effect. Our research, using data from 74 countries and regions worldwide between 1997 and 2020, reveals an inverted U-shaped relationship between the use of robots and their environmental impact. This means that the environment benefits from robot use up to a certain point, beyond which it starts to incur damage. Two moderating factors, green technology and environmental cost, are analyzed and tested. Our findings suggest that the high-green-tech left shifts and steepens the inverted U-shaped relationship whereas the high cost right shifts and flattens the relationship. This study explains the influencing mechanism of industrial robots on environmental performance by integrating the energy-saving effect, the rebound effect, and the scale effect. Our findings enrich the understanding of the robot–environment nexus and emphasize the importance of government in balancing robot use and environmental protection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92782-92800
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Volume30
Issue number40
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2023

Keywords

  • Environmental cost
  • Environmental performance
  • Green technology
  • Industrial robots
  • Industry 4.0
  • Nonlinear effect

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