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E-M:/ (no subject)



Enviro-Mich Friends,
I received a question regarding Mich businesses and recycling costs and thought you might all be interested in my response.  The question was:
 
        Why would a business who is currently located somewhere else, voluntarily re-locate to Michigan if it meant having to participate in "that damned waste reduction program they got goin' there"?  Unless we, as a society (read government) are willing to pay companies (or give other incentives, [...or] "corporate welfare") why should companies voluntarily subject themselves to that cost?
 
My RESPONSE: They probably won't.  However, the assumption is that short term financial gain is the only "thing going".  In 1995 I was asked by the Chemical Manufacturers Assoc (now the Am Chemical Council) if I would be willing to serve on their Responsible Care Public Advisory Panel, a 15-20 member public panel from around the US who were asked to provide candid feedback on the industry's efforts at "responsible care".  Responsible Care (RC) is a code of corporate behavior that was developed in response to the Bophal incident (Union Carbide).  The entire industry recognized they had significant failures not only in plant safety, but in other areas as well including product and env stewardship.  These changes in corporate behavior came not from Ralph Nader nor government (not that they didn't have their say), but from the recognition that they needed to develop a code of ethics AND change corporate behaviors. 
 
As part of that panel, we saw much more than window dressing and PR (althought with coroprate mergers and the present administration there has been some serious regression on this issue, in my estimation).  The impetus came from the corporate CEO level structure, based on real concerns for whether or not the industry (not just the individual corporation would be there in 15 years if the status quo was maintained.  In spite of the increased costs of doing the business of Resposible Care, what developed were some interesting economics that showed increased product reliability, improved corporate image that was translating into stock market improvements, reduced governmental liability and insurance cost savings.
 
RC has evloved and the public advisory panel was responsible for some of those changes, including 3rd party verification of implementation of RC codes.  As you may know, RC has further evolved as the result of   9/11.
 
Anyway, my response is not Mich specific, but it illustrates that Mich govt and enviros can and should sit down as easily as CMA and EPA, etc, and find economic improvements AND address economic goals if they are willing to be innovative and NOT adversarial as was the common denominator for 12 years.
 
Are you familiar with RETAP?  It is a free (retired engineers technical assistance program).  It is a confidential assessment by professional engineers seeking to help an industry of facility find ways to improve safety and economics.
 
Regards,
Chuck