What is an Environmental Issue?

Wikipedia defines an Environmental Issue as “harmful effects of human activity on the biophysical environment.”  Regulations are put in place to prevent these harmful effects.  Compliance is adherence to the letter and spirit of the Regulations.  Remediation occurs after a release of what’s believed to be harmful has occurred.

What’s believed to be harmful today may not have been in the past; careful foresight is needed to avoid future environmental issues.

Environmental issues are very difficult, if not impossible, to completely transfer to others.

How do I minimize environmental cost and exposure?

Those that create Environmental Issues are held responsible for their solution.

As such, industry and governments should consider:

  1. Understanding that what is not an issue today may be in the future and to conduct oneself accordingly
  2. Minimize waste creation; know that what you do produce goes to a secure place or process
  3. Don’t inadvertently move contaminated material such as fill
  4. Use containment to prevent releases
  5. Destroy what makes is harmful
  6. Isolate it
  7. Contain it

Environmental is people business

Like a stain left on a borrowed jacket, nobody wants to deal with somebody else’s environmental problem.  If the stain can’t be eliminated, the owner wants compensation for damages or for the stigma of the stain being present.  If you can remove the stain, you may still be asked to reimburse for the owner’s inability to use the jacket while it was being cleaned.  Such is the case with affecting the environment.

My company operates globally.  How do I maintain strict environmental standards while competing in countries where regulations are lax?

This is a difficult issue and complex answer, but it should be noted that that much of the remedial spend today is a direct result of acceptable practices years ago that are not today.  If you plan to compete for the long run, it’s best to maintain strict standards globally regardless of local practice.

What’s the best approach?

  • Get advice from the experts; use them to audit and adjust internal procedures
  • Be honest and hide nothing
  • Comply with the letter and intent of all regulations
  • Minimize waste and destroy any that you create
  • Proactively maintain equipment and use secondary containment where appropriate

Manage your risks wisely, and always head for the prize with the big picture in mind.