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Fwd: EMS question



Kenny:

Here is my take on your EMS question. I think the key here is how you define 
credibility. It seems to me the Biocycle article is not talking about 
credibility of the EMS system itself, in the way you or I would evaluate an 
EMS to see if it WORKS. I think the article is speaking about public, 
PERCEIVED credibility, and that's a recycled plastic horse of a different 
color.

Like it or not, the general public is too busy to evaluate the true efficacy 
of the EMS of a given facility or industry. Yet often the public is asked to 
buy their products, or support their expansion, or approve their permits. At 
the same time, there have been simply too many special interest "educational" 
organizations funded by industry toting the industry line, and too many 
"trust us... there's no spying going on here" claims by government. I think 
the public is inherently distrustful of any institution tooting its own horn, 
yet they don't have time to evaluate the claims especially when technical 
issues are involved.

This distrust is particularly evident in cases where one ulterior motive 
might be to avoid future regulations or oversight, such as voluntary adoption 
of an EMS by a facility. I think the public is aware and suspicious of 
institutional self interest, even where industry and public interest may in 
fact coincide, such as with an effective EMS.

Don't forget, the public LIKES environmental regulations on those dirty, 
nasty, money-grubbing industries and factories that produce nothing but green 
toxic goo. Look at public opinion surveys. And the public understands 
history, when both government and industry created vexing environmental 
problems because they were focused on other issues of more short term 
importance to them rather than the long term health of the environment.

So I think the article is saying that a disinterested third party might help, 
and that the public might trust the third party. I think the article is 
saying that one way to circumvent this inherent distrust is to have a) the 
EMS meet certain standards controlled by the public through our legislatures 
or, less directly, through government agencies, and b) have an EMS evaluated 
for efficacy by an impartial government agency with no vested interest, or 
better yet c) by the regulatory agency who HAS a vested interest in 
addressing the problems the facility EMS is designed to eliminate. Its a 
question of public trust. I think.

And that's my cent and a half. (It used to be TWO cents, but I saved half a 
penny through source reduction...)

Mark Boylan
WASTREN, Inc.
22 Executive Park Court
Germantown  MD  20874
301/540-5403
wastemin@aol.com

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I wanted to pose this question in hopes of understanding the thought
process behind this statement.  I was reading the latest edition of
Biocycle today.  Page 30 features an article entitled, "How to
Successfully Manage a Compost Facility."  The articles make the
following statement concerning Environmental Management Systems:

"It is often meaningful and credible if an EMS is implemented at the
request or suggestion of the regulating agency.  If a facility is willing to
proceed with EMS development, the permitting or regulating agency can
lend support and value to the process by sharing in any public
disclosure.  The agency can and should then protect its reputation by
participating in the review and approval of the final EMS."

My question begins with why an organization would value its EMS as
credible only if its initiation was a direct result of a regulatory agency's
request.  It seems to me that an EMS is a much better business system
for management of a company's environmental impacts.  However, its
development is independent of the regulatory community.  Am I way off
base?

Thanks!

Kenny
Kenny Steward
Pollution Prevention Group
Pantex Plant
ksteward@pantex.com

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