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Corporate Obstacles to Pollution Prevention

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Case Study - Corporate Obstacles to Pollution Prevention


This case focuses on corporate obstacles to pollution prevention. Pollution prevention can complex especially for large corporations. There are many different forms of pollution prevention including emissions control devices and incremental changes in existing technology. The author reviews the impact of emissions controlled devices, however the focus of the case study is on incremental changes in existing technology. Incremental changes include substituting one or two steps in a production process or relationship changes between production steps. One example of incremental changes that was provided by the author was eliminating chlorofluorocarbons and saving energy by replacing a refrigeration process with a heath exchanger that can exploit waste cooling from another part of the process. There are three critical decision-making stages for incremental changes; identifying a pollution prevention opportunity, finding a solution appropriate to that opportunity, and implementing that solution. The author discusses the three aspects of an organization (culture, ability to process information, and its politics) and how they impact the decision-making stages.

Culture can affect an organizations pollution prevention in a number of different ways. First, organizations can make a cultural assumption that knowledge cannot be built based on hands-on experience. Also, corporations use committees or "SWAT" teams and due to their limited knowledge of the production processes they typically conclude that there are no preventative opportunities.

Politics can also prove to be an obstacle to pollution prevention. When the environmental manager develops a solution, it requires the engineers and operators to work together. Engineers are often younger and lack the advanced interpersonal skills needed to solicit and obtain help from operators. Operators are older and generally do not relay possible improvements to the engineers.

The following will discuss the problem, stakeholders, solution and implementation.

Statement of the problem

The problem with pollution prevention is that it requires people to understand more than the intimate details of the production process; they must also understand the technical possibilities. Many corporations have environmental managers, which are generally responsible for helping corporations comply with the law. According to the case study, the work of environmental managers often expose them to many pollution prevention solutions, but they often have trouble getting access to production areas. Production often sees Environmental Managers as "the compliance police".


The stakeholders in this case study include the corporation, the community and the countryside. Although not mentioned directly in the case study, additional stakeholders include employees, shareholders, suppliers and customers.


Two potential solutions to a corporation's pollution prevention obstacles would be the following: provide additional



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