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Re: Measuring pollution prevention performance: metrics

Over a year ago I asked a similar question re comparative metrics, and the
result was similar to what I am reading on P2Tech so far:  There are metrics
for process-level P2 performance, and some tools for compaing between
comanies in the same industry, but not for comparing across industries.
After a lot of interesting discussion, I proposed that a "de minimis"
approach to metrics be taken;  What is the simplest set of indicators we
could use that would tell us if one organization is doing better on P2
progress than another?  This would at least help us focus TA and also
identify firms that can be benchmarks for the laggards in their groups.

The criteria I came up with - and no one on P2TECH seemed to disagree - were
as follows:

1.  Firm has some kind of organized EMS that the middle managers and
employees can describe, ie. they are organized about their efforts to
2.  They practice toxics reduction as a formal priority; ie. they really
understand that prevention is better than cure
3.  They understand and track the true full costs of environmental
management and waste; ie. they are capable of making informed investments in
4.  They participate in the P2 network of TA, training etc; ie. they know
enough to look around for best practices and free help.

In my opinion, those 4 simple metrics can be used to quickly compare
progress of firms.  Many firms in states with mandatory P2 planning will do
ok on most of these criteria, perhaps with exception of 3. Costs - many
firms still don't understand how much money they lose to waste, and that is
probably because P2 planning laws generally don't require such analysis
beyond "describe your environmenatl accounting methods".

If your objective is to target TA, to rank facilities on a relative scale of
P2 competence or potential for sustainability, or to figure out which of the
criteria need the most program support, the four simple metrics would work
fine.  If your objective is to determine whether P2 has made one facility
pollute less than another, that's very hard.  If you want to prove to
legislatures that the P2 program is really reducing total pollution
generated, then the best you can do is normalized waste generation in the
target groups.  So the question back atcha is,  what do you want metrics
FOR?  What is the minimum amount and type of data needed to choose between
alternatives in support of your goals?  Unless you are doing basic research,
the only reason to do an evaluation of P2 progress is to decide between
alternative future courses of action.  If metrics don't enable you to make a
decision about what to do, then they are the wrong metrics.
Burton Hamner
Hamner & Associates LLC/ CleanerProduction.Com
5534 30th Avenue NE
Seattle, WA USA 98105
tel:  206-526-5308
fax: 208-279-4991
email: bhamner@cleanerproduction.com
----- Original Message -----
From: "Kirsten Sinclair Rosselot" <rosselot@ix.netcom.com>
To: "Jenna Latt" <LATTJ@state.mi.us>; <p2tech@great-lakes.net>
Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2000 5:33 PM
Subject: Re: Measuring pollution prevention performance: metrics

> There's a big difference between measuring environmental performance and
> measuring environmental progress.
> I've compared the environmental performance of chemical plants that have
> similar product slates by looking at potency-weighted releases on a per
> of production basis.  What we saw was that there are vast differences from
> one facility to the next not only in how much waste was generated on a
> per-unit-of-production basis but in how the wastes were managed.  Some
> facilities were clearly ahead of others on the pollution prevention curve.
> This is very useful and interesting information, and comparing a facility
> other like facilities in this manner is an excellent way to evaluate
> environmental *performance*.  As time goes on, it's becoming clear that
> environmental performance is linked to shareholder value and I expect more
> of these types of studies to be done.  However, this is a really
> and expensive type of analysis, requiring a knowledge of what compounds
> emitted during the production of each product, what production quantities
> are, etc.
> Even within the chemical industry, it would be misleading to adopt any one
> indicator of production (sales, man-hours, cost-of-production,
> pounds-of-production, etc.) across the board and measure environmental
> performance using that single metric.  Using a single metric across many
> industries would be even less meaningful.
> Evaluating environmental *progress* for a facility is simpler.  For
> potency-weighted releases, summed by facility over time and adjusted for
> production, give a quantitative measure of environmental progress and are
> fairly easy to develop.  However, a facility can make a tremendous amount
> environmental progress and still not have good environmental performance,
> and that distinction must be made.
> ===============================
> Kirsten Sinclair Rosselot, P.E.
> Process Profiles
> P.O. Box 8264
> Calabasas, CA 91372-8264
> rosselot@ix.netcom.com
> http://home.netcom.com/~rosselot
> (818) 878-0454
> ===============================
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Jenna Latt <LATTJ@state.mi.us>
> To: <p2tech@great-lakes.net>
> Sent: Wednesday, March 15, 2000 8:35 AM
> Subject: Measuring pollution prevention performance: metrics
> > I was wondering whether anyone have information on corporate or state
> programs that are measuring pollution prevention progress or performance.
> Usually this is referred to as environmental performance indicators or
> metrics and goes beyond the traditional SARA TRI data reporting, "pounds
> released" or emissions reporting. For example, measurements used can be
> "amount of constituent reduced per amount of product produced," or some
> other similar metrics. I am particularly interested in what state programs
> are doing in this area.
> >
> > Are there any websites or reports (specifically report names) I can be
> referred to? I have already checked www.epa.gov and the EPA P2 site but I
> may have missed a particular report.
> >
> > Thanks,
> >
> > Jenna Latt
> > Pollution Prevention Section
> > Environmental Assistance Division
> > Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality
> >