identifying and addressing issues for which there are minimal or nonexistent regulatory, public, or customer pressures.
Incentives for firms can be created by national environmental policies and legislation (such as the German take-back legislation, Japan's Law for Promotion of Utilization of Recyclable Resources, and the Dutch National Environmental Policy Plan) or voluntary programs (such as EPA's Industrial Toxics and Green Lights programs) that encourage comprehensive, long-term solutions to environmental problems through the development of more environmentally sensitive products and the creation of industrial infrastructures and partnerships. For example, the German take-back legislation requiting the recycling of all packaging is forcing the development of a private recycling infrastructure ("Green Dot" program) and the redesign of packaging (Calmcross, 1992). Existing regulations must also be examined to eliminate unnecessary or inappropriate barriers, such as hazardous waste regulations that might discourage the take-back of chemical products by suppliers or antitrust regulations that limit industrial cooperation.
Setting future environmental priorities and goals in both the private and the public sector also will be facilitated by the further development of analytical methods, such as life cycle analysis, that better capture the true and total life cycle impacts of products and processes on the environment. In the near term, the challenge for industry and government is to set priorities and make decisions that will hold up in the face of advancements in analytic methods such as life cycle analysis and will not become costly mistakes to the company and the environment in the future.
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Cairncross, Frances. 1992. HOW Europe's companies reposition to recycle. Harvard Business Review 70(2):34-45.
Frosch, Robert A., and Nicholas E. Gallopoulos. 1989. Strategies for manufacturing. Scientific American 261 (3): 144-152.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Science Advisory Board. 1990. Reducing Risk: Setting Priorities and Strategies for Environmental Protection. SAB-EC-90-021, Washington, D.C.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1992. Safeguarding the Future: Credible Science, Credible Decisions. EPA 600/9-91/050, Washington, D.C.