In the compliance mode, industry ultimately accepts the goals set by the government and promises to comply with whatever implementing regulations follow. By far the bulk of past industrial efforts have been expended to keep such promises. There is an important set of secondary goals that accompany these formal promises of compliance. They are to comply as cheaply as is possible, taking account of normal capital and operating costs and also the costs of non-compliance. Penalties for non-compliance have been severe in terms of civil and criminal penalties and loss of public image. In this regard, industry reacts no differently to environmental rules than to any other set of public mandates.
As we shall see, corporate environmental goal-setting becomes much richer in the proactive phase of environmental management. Cost-cutting and other rationalizing actions remain a strong driver, but environmental goals begin to reflect what are underlying broad social environmental concerns more explicitly. This is the period in which environment emerges as an explicit area of concern in corporate policies and public communications.
In the last stage, managing for the environment, companies broaden goals to deal with problems such as global warming, ozone depletion, excessive resource depletion, and loss of productivity. With the publication of the Brundtland report in 1987, the overarching paradigm has become sustainability, even while no consensus on its operational meaning has been reached. The change towards aggregate goals such as the prevention of ozone depletion is problematic in terms of establishing discrete industry or firm goals as so many sectors and firms are causal agents. (See, however, the discussion of the Dutch target group approach, below.) At this stage, sectoral and collective approaches to goal-setting become more important.
The following sections discuss trends in and examples of corporate environmental goal-setting in the final three stages of environmental management. Much of the information presented below has been obtained from phone interviews and literature provided by industry associations and firms, corporate annual reports, and a number of recent books on the subject of corporate environmentalism. While it is by no means a comprehensive study, it is intended to provide an outline of some of the trends in environmental goal-setting and some conjectures for the future.
GOAL-SETTING IN THE STAGE OF ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE
The natural environment has been inextricably linked to human society since the earliest stages of human development. Much of what we call civilization consists of the technological artifacts that humans use to gain both sustenance and protection from the natural world. For much of human history, the environment was just there, to be treated as a regenerative resource for human use. Social consciousness about the environment in the United States became organized late
There are many things you can do to reduce your impact on the environment. If we all use energy, transport and other goods and services more carefully, we can reduce harmful emissions to our air, land and water. Everyday choices have the power to make a difference, and help protect our environment for a clean and sustainable future.
What you can do
Be a part of the solution to pollution.
The choices that we make every day can help to make a difference.
Here are some simple steps you can take:
- Commute smart by walking or riding to work or the shops instead of driving. Motor vehicle emissions remain the most significant source of most common air pollutants.
- Choose a fuel-efficient vehicle next time you are replacing your car. The Green Vehicle Guide provides ratings on the environmental performance of new vehicles sold in Australia. www.greenvehicleguide.gov.au
- Save energy, by turning off the television and make sure you flick the light switch when you leave the room. Not only will you save money on your electricity bill, you will be reducing emissions from coal-fired electricity plants.
- Buy energy -efficient appliances. Check the energy rating label when buying new or second hand electrical appliances. More stars mean less emissions. The Energy Rating web site will help you select energy efficient appliances: www.energyrating.gov.au
- Use environmentally friendly cleaning products. Phosporus in detergents increases nutrient loads in rivers and can cause excessive algal growth. Never pour chemicals or fertilisers down the drain as they get washed into stormwater drains and into rivers or the ocean.
These are just a few small changes you can make to reduce your household's impact on the environment.
What industry is doing
Industry can use NPI data to improve manufacturing processes, and can benchmark their emissions against similar facilities. Annual reporting also assists industry in documenting progress in reducing emissions and provides a measure of current environmental performance.
One of the main goals of the NPI is to encourage facilities to use cleaner production techniques to reduce substance emissions and decrease waste. Reporting facilities have the option of reporting on cleaner production activities and pollution control developments that they have undertaken during the reporting year.
The Carter Harvey Holt particle board mill in Tumut, New South Wales has implemented several emission reduction activities resulting in decreased emissions and better management of waste.
In the NPI summary report of sixth year data 2003-04, the Toyota vehicle manufacturing facility in Altona Victoria is provided as a success story for innovative solutions introduced to help reduce substance emissions.
What government is doing
Governments can use NPI data to assist with environmental planning and management. NPI data is often used in the preparation of State of the Environment reports, and to support initiatives which help protect the environment.
Pollution control is the responsibility of state and territory environment agencies.