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Re: EMS and P2

"Kelly D. Moran" wrote:

> Aha--a chance for a discussion on whether EMSs actually cause P2 or
> environmental improvement!  Does anyone have any data that shows that
> ISO 14000 certification and/or implementation of an EMS can be linked to
> implementation of P2 or other environmental improvement?  This is a
> topic of ongoing debate here in CA.
> Thanks,
> Kelly Moran
> TDC Environmental

By December, 2001 I hope to have hard data to share with P2 tech on this
very question.

Since I view an EMS as a tool to get improved environmental performance
just like an on-site P2 assessment is a tool, I too, am curious to know
which tool gets better results for the time/money invested.

We currently have a fairly robust experiment at work to help answer this
question: I already have multimedia waste reduction data to conclusively
state what a dollar invested in on-site assessments gets me (using one
contractor at 14 metal finishing facilities). I will soon have multimedia
waste reduction data on what a dollar invested in creating an EMS for a
similar group of plating facilities can fetch (same contractor, same rates,
new group of platers). While the experiment is by no means perfect (small
sample size, one small business sector, varying facility capabilities,
etc.), I believe that it will get me as close as I need to get to answering
the question of which tool is my tool of first choice.

The problem I foresee already though is: how long do you run the
experiment? The "promise" that an EMS holds out is that once its created,
it provides for continuous improvement over time. An on-site P2 assessment,
on the other hand, may get great short term results, but does it spur
continuous improvement? Often it does, but again, more or less than an EMS?

I can already report that six months after helping ten platers create a
very robust EMS there is less waste reduction to report than an equivalent
investment in an on-site assessment (the EMS facilities have a "living EMS"
- a bulletin board prominently displayed for all workers to see containing:
the policy statement, goals/objectives and 6-15 graphs which chart the
facility's monthly progress at meeting its goals). But will the "EMS
promise"  hold? Will I be able to walk into these same ten facilities one,
two, three years from now, stroll up to the bulletin boards and see greater
and greater reductions charted?

As for how long to run the experiment, Dave Waddell in King County, WA
asked a project statistician; for how long can I take credit for having
spurred the implementation of a P2 or compliance "fix" at a facility? The
answer was three years: after that it was deemed that the facility would
have found its way to doing it on its own. Therefore, I hope to run the
experiment for three years before my definitive answer is finally given.

Nevertheless, by December, 2001, I will have the results after 1 year of
EMS implementation. I will have revisited my on-site assessments group to
see how they've progressed over time, and the EMS group, and compare the

I suspect though, that ten to fifteen years from now, history will show
that what was most effective in spurring environmental improvement at the
platers in our region, is not which tool I used, but the fact that I
maintained a long-term relationship with them and offered them everything
new I could afford that could add value. Curbside recycling took twenty to
thirty years to become established across this country. Buying organic food
is on a similar trajectory. Perhaps P2 is still ten to fifteen years from
getting into its own orbiting path: we just need to keep priming the
engines with all the mojo we've got!


Leif Magnuson
Pollution Prevention Coordinator
US EPA Region IX, WST-7
75 Hawthorne St.
San Francisco, CA  94105
Tel (415) 744-2153
Fax (415) 744-1680