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Examples of Industry-Initiated Environmental Programs

Industry's motivations for initiating environmental programs are undoubtedly varied, not well understood, and typically multifaceted. Possible cost savings appear to be a major motivator. The descriptions presented in Table 2.1 illustrate a range of approaches and perspectives relevant to industry-initiated environmental efforts. The information was provided by companies in response to requests from the committee; additional descriptive information is provided in Appendix A.

Many corporations emphasize the attractiveness of combining environmental protection efforts to achieve savings in human resources, time, material, and product and environmental quality. All of the programs cited in Table 2.1 claim significant benefits to the enterprise as well as to the environment.

Regarding other motivations, the public image aspect of such activities is an obvious benefit. Many corporations, regardless of size, publicize their self-initiated programs to demonstrate their commitment to environmental protection to customers, regulators, and the public. Such information also can help to attract employees, increase employee loyalty, and encourage employee participation in environmental programs.

Pressure from customers, suppliers, community leaders, environmental groups, and regulatory agencies can influence corporate decisions to initiate or participate in voluntary programs. However, in most cases, management must be committed to an effort for it to be successful.



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--> 2 Examples of Industry-Initiated Environmental Programs Industry's motivations for initiating environmental programs are undoubtedly varied, not well understood, and typically multifaceted. Possible cost savings appear to be a major motivator. The descriptions presented in Table 2.1 illustrate a range of approaches and perspectives relevant to industry-initiated environmental efforts. The information was provided by companies in response to requests from the committee; additional descriptive information is provided in Appendix A. Many corporations emphasize the attractiveness of combining environmental protection efforts to achieve savings in human resources, time, material, and product and environmental quality. All of the programs cited in Table 2.1 claim significant benefits to the enterprise as well as to the environment. Regarding other motivations, the public image aspect of such activities is an obvious benefit. Many corporations, regardless of size, publicize their self-initiated programs to demonstrate their commitment to environmental protection to customers, regulators, and the public. Such information also can help to attract employees, increase employee loyalty, and encourage employee participation in environmental programs. Pressure from customers, suppliers, community leaders, environmental groups, and regulatory agencies can influence corporate decisions to initiate or participate in voluntary programs. However, in most cases, management must be committed to an effort for it to be successful.

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--> Table 2.1 Examples of Industry-Initiated Environmental Programs1 Company Name Type of Environmental Program Intended Benefits of Program Reported Factors in Program Success 3M Pollution Prevention Pays program involves efforts to prevent air pollution, water pollution, and solid-waste generation. Reductions are compared with environmental releases of first project year. Develop technically sound, cost-effective approaches. Enhance strong environmental culture throughout the company. Strong commitment from top management that incorporate program objectives. Dow Waste Reduction Always Pays program provides financial support for internal projects that reduce waste or emissions. It recognizes successful projects and individuals involved in those projects. Stimulate a cultural shift in thinking of Dow employees concerning waste reduction and emissions reduction. Make real environmental progress and reduce long-term costs. Because it is done on a project-by-project basis, WRAP is simpler and probably easier to emulate than companywide programs. 1 Information presented in this table was taken from responses provided to a committee survey of various corporations. See Appendix A for more detailed information.

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--> Company Name Type of Environmental Program Intended Benefits of Program Reported Factors in Program Success Lucent Streamlined life-cycle assessments to identify useful actions in designing products for reducing environmental effects. Product designers make environmentally preferable choices that would otherwise not be made. Training personnel to perform stream-lined life-cycle assessments. Ford Manufacturing Enviromnental Leadership Program to prevent pollution at early stages of process and product development. To reduce or eliminate use of materials of concern, promote recycling, meet or exceed regulatory requirements, protect wildlife habitats, obtain supplier involvement. Overcoming communication difficulties within a large organization. Full commitment from top management. Corning Use materials substitution and process modification to reduce waste and pollution from core manufacturing processes without decreased product quality. Reduce or eliminate use of materials such as arsenic, lead, barium, and chlorides. Gaining customer acceptance of the modified products.

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--> Company Name Type of Environmental Program Intended Benefits of Program Reported Factors in Program Success Jamestown Paint Company Recycling, reuse, and waste reduction. Improve product quality, cut costs, and prevent pollution. Active employee participation and total commitment from management throughout the company. Cerdec Corp./Drakenfeld Products Reduce solid wastes, improve worker safety and health. Substantial reductions in waste generation, accident frequency, and blood lead of workers. Increase product output. Making its program exportable to member companies in Europe. The financial ability of a company to initiate voluntary environmental programs is a factor in whether such programs are undertaken. Small companies have limited resources, finances, personnel, and technical abilities, and therefore might choose not to expend resources on voluntary activities if the benefits are not readily discernable. Even within larger companies, environmental initiatives sometimes must compete for capital with other types of investments. Evaluating Industry Environmental Programs The immediate objectives of industry-initiated environmental programs are generally to reduce emissions, waste, and energy

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--> consumption while being economically efficient. However, evaluating the environmental effectiveness of such programs is intrinsically difficult. Despite many successes reported by companies involved in environmental initiatives, the effectiveness of industry-initiated programs is difficult to assess independently due to the lack of information regarding the resulting environmental effects. Often, no uniform metrics are available to measure progress objectively, baseline data usually are inadequate, and goals (targets) for the programs often are not fully described so that success can be measured. As a result, many of the programs that are deemed highly successful by a particular company, partnership, or regulatory group, are questioned by others. Without good data and well-defined metrics, the merits of the programs cannot be verified independently. Technical difficulties involved in accurately characterizing emissions, the broad diversity of manufacturing processes and products, a lack of adequate toxicological data regarding the hazards of chemicals, and disagreement over the true environmental benefits of different activities all add to the uncertainty surrounding assessments. It is important to note that many regulatory programs also lack a rigorous assessment of environmental effectiveness. Despite the difficulties in evaluating industry-initiated programs, the committee believes, based upon the information gathered, its deliberations, and its collective expertise and experience, that business and the environment both benefit from programs that fit the business culture and achieve desirable environmental objectives. Although it often is not possible to quantify the effectiveness of industry's programs, their potential positive effects should not be dismissed merely because they cannot be measured rigorously. However, every industrial initiative is not necessarily an effective effort for protecting or improving environmental quality.

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--> Next Steps Self-initiated corporate environmental programs, most of which started only recently, need time to accumulate experience and specific data. More baseline data are needed regarding chemical use, waste generation, energy consumption, environmental releases, and transfers of waste to other facilities. Such information will help to identify new opportunities for government and industry for environmental improvement. Additional information is needed on the environmental fate of manufactured products. Until sufficient data are obtained, a pertinent and practical question to ask is whether available information indicates that these programs are at least heading in the right direction in their efforts to improve environmental quality. To make the programs more widely acceptable and to verify effectiveness, government agencies and other organizations should direct substantial effort toward establishing commonly accepted metrics, data-gathering, and publically-accessible reporting systems that will provide all the stakeholders with information sufficient to allow conclusions to be drawn on the overall effectiveness of an activity or program.