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Quality Programs



P2 techers,

I believe that all aspects of prevention, compliance,results
measurement, design for environment, innovations, etc can be achieved by
using all the elements of a total quality program in a TRULY pollution
prevention-based environmental management system.  Baldrige criteria has
a set of core values which serve as guiding principles for a quality
program.  We have distilled these core values down to five for a
prevention-based environmental management system in our Green Zia
Program: Management Commitment; Efficient Product, Service and Process
Design; Valuing Employees; Partnerships; and Continuous Improvement and
Learning.  I believe continuous improvement (the gospel according to Bob
Pojasek) is truly the most important element and litmus test of such a
program.

The Baldrige criteria then have a series of criteria that form the
framework or infrastructure for a systematic management approach:
Leadership, Strategic Planning, Customer and Market Focus, Information
and Analysis, Human Resource Focus, Process Management and Results. 
These criteria can be used to assure that  all aspects of business are
considered in terms of the development of a systematic management
approach.  I cannot understate how powerful this approach is.  We have
used these same criteria categories for our program, but adapted them to
call out environmental excellence.  This assures that the companies'
prevention PROGRAMs are fully integrated into core business practices
(and it includes things like activity-based costing, which is a common
quality tool, by the way).  I am curious if the existing planning laws
or other envrionmental management approaches encourage this level of
deep integration of prevention  into core business practices.  What a
coup if they do!

We give awards at three levels, which encourage companies to gradually
develop these programs over time.  We have developed a series of
questions under each of these 7 criteria categories that lead a
businesses through deeper levels of P2 integration and implementation. 
At the higher levels they must demonstrate measurable results of this
system in place, unlike ISO 14000.  Also, again, continuous improvement
is one of the cornerstones of quality and our program ...do the existing
planning laws and ISO 14000 put this forth continuous improvement as a
core value, a central ethic?  They HAVE to to get us to sustainability,
otherwise it is just another less-than-dynamic approach!!  I am putting
the finishing touches on our 1999 criteria and will be happy to share
them with you.  We are also publishing this program in the Winter, 1999
volume of Pollution Prevention Review.

My point is that a good quality program is more than just using a few
quality tools. It covers all aspects of a business thoroughly. The
Systems Approach that Bob Pojasek puts forth provides the  tools to
begin building and developing such a program. It's great because it is
designed for prevention. And the Nothing to Waste Program distills it
down to a level that ANYONE can understand. (I took the original Nothing
to Waste document and made it NM-specific, changing the names of the
characters to our environmental bureau chiefs...so the head of hazardous
waste in NM is making chicken sandwiches in out manual...he was
amused!)  Believe me, the quality folks love this manual, too, since
they are struggling with how to get small businesses into quality
approaches (small businesses are just plain hard to reach...it ain't
just prevention programs that struggle with this). They can use this
manual to get smaller businesses engaged in a broader (broader than
environment) quality program.  By the way, the SBDCs in New Mexico are
getting more involved in the Quality New Mexico program, recognizing
that quality concepts ABSOLUTELY apply to small businesses!  We just
wrote a proposal to support the  SBDCs to teach the Nothing to Waste
tools to community folks and small businesses as part of a
community-based environmental protection pilot.

The small businesses I have worked with so far really like the tools,
mostly because they are simple, visual and interactive.  This has
included dry cleaners, printers, auto repair shops and jewelry
manufacturers. One of these companies has only three employees. I do
believe these quality concepts apply to small businesses....core values
are core values to all of us and most aspects of managing a business
apply equally (but at different levels of complexity) to a large
business as well as the very smallest business. 

One more comment....I have always thought that more stringent standards
for pollutants (regulatory levers) were an indicator that we had too
much growth and/or had not done our jobs as pollution preventors (or
that we had new information on health threats(endocrine disruption,
etc).  It seems to me that this ratcheting down is in response to a
human health threat or problem... a last ditch approach to protect our
environment, which seems reactive and a little too late...some damage
has already been done.  I see prevention as being much more proactive
than that.  I know that the regulations will get more stringent as we
pollute more, and that regualtions seem to get the attention of
businesses but I see it more as a safety net rather than a strategic
approach.  

Pat Gallagher
New Mexico Environment Department