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Re: Measuring pollution prevention performance: metrics


Your comments below got me wondering about the value of Activity Based
Costing in determining environmental performance. I'm working on a team
that is in the process of helping a food manufacturer lower its operating
costs by minimizing the amount of wastes it generated. The client has
agreed to implement an ABC accounting system with help from team members to
1) develop a baseline for future comparison and 2) to better understand
what quantity of raw materials are used to make what sized batches of
vegetables. The study team plans to use the ABC system to gather data to
evaluate opportunities for improvement, environmental performance and,
after we've worked with them to improve, to determine the improvements that
were made with our help. Are we looking for "precisely right" or
"approximately right"? And if the latter, how do we know we're "close


>I have some trouble with the one about tracking the full true costs --
>sometimes one can get close without spending inordinate resources on
>accounting.  It is my complaint with much of the EPA approach to waste
>minimization and pollution prevention.  A company that is committed to
>finding better ways and reducing pollution will sometimes make investments
>that are not otherwise cost effective -- they do it because it is the right
>thing to do.  That company should score better than one that spends a lot of
>effort on and waits for the results of an extensive pollution accounting
>Ralph E. Cooper, Ph.D., J.D.
>14139 Woodstream
>San Antonio, TX 78231
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Burt Hamner" <bhamner@cleanerproduction.com>
>To: <p2tech@great-lakes.net>
>Sent: Friday, March 17, 2000 9:20 AM
>Subject: 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
>> 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 -
>> 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
>> improve;
>> 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
>> P2
>> 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
>> 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
>> 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
>> P2 competence or potential for sustainability, or to figure out which of
>> 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
>> 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
>> 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
>> unit
>> > of production basis.  What we saw was that there are vast differences
>> > 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
>> > This is very useful and interesting information, and comparing a
>> to
>> > 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
>> > of these types of studies to be done.  However, this is a really
>> complicated
>> > and expensive type of analysis, requiring a knowledge of what compounds
>> are
>> > emitted during the production of each product, what production
>> > are, etc.
>> >
>> > Even within the chemical industry, it would be misleading to adopt any
>> > 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
>> example,
>> > potency-weighted releases, summed by facility over time and adjusted for
>> > production, give a quantitative measure of environmental progress and
>> > fairly easy to develop.  However, a facility can make a tremendous
>> of
>> > environmental progress and still not have good environmental
>> > 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
>> > 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
>> > 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
>> > may have missed a particular report.
>> > >
>> > > Thanks,
>> > >
>> > > Jenna Latt
>> > > Pollution Prevention Section
>> > > Environmental Assistance Division
>> > > Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality
>> > >
>> >
>> >


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