The "ecological friendly" assertion could have just been marketing as well. I'd just changed cities and worked in a camera store for a year, to decide if we were staying before reopening my studio and the reps were all touting digital as the newest, best, ecological friendly etc etc and I'd been analog at that time (obviously) for 15 years and wondered what all the excitement was about.
I think the EPA was tightening rules, globalization was starting, tech was finding it's way, and a whole lot of factors were happening help spread the digital revolution. I may have the dates off a bit but it seemed like a lot of factors fell into place for digital to grab a place in the market. I remember one of the reps saying, yeah, the EPA is killing these companies that's why they're getting away from chemicals.
But I do remember I was surprised, and saw the writing on the wall when Kodak went from whatever it was, to now, Kodak Imaging. I thought, wow, for a giant like Kodak to change its name, this digital thing must be real.