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Voluntary Initiatives

Voluntary Initiatives: The New Politics of Corporate Greening

Robert B. Gibson Editor
Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 268
  • Book Info
    Voluntary Initiatives
    Book Description:

    "The diverse range of authors highlight the inherent complexities and controversial nature of the use of corporate voluntary initiatives for environmental improvements. This is an excellent reference book." - Dianne Humphries, Pollution Probe

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-0306-6
    Subjects: Environmental Science, Political Science, Business

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. preface
    (pp. vii-x)
    Robert B. Gibson
  4. Part I Introduction

    • one Questions about a Gift Horse
      (pp. 3-12)
      Robert B. Gibson

      Ever since the fall of Troy, gift horses have been treated with some suspicion. Etiquette may rule against looking them in the mouth, but other parts are worth checking.

      In the world of business activity and environmental protection, voluntary initiatives are gift horses of considerable significance. All manner of corporations and industrial organizations are now promoting, even undertaking, socalled voluntary initiatives. They are minimizing resource use, reducing waste, cutting pollution, enhancing environmental aspects of product quality, preventing accidents, repairing ecological damage, and strengthening the environmental sensitivity of corporate decision making, all without being compelled to do so by government authorities,...

  5. Part II Options and Issues

    • two Non-Regulatory Environmental Measures
      (pp. 15-31)
      John Moffet and François Bregha

      In recent years, so-called “voluntary approaches” have taken on greater prominence as complements or substitutes for traditional regulatory approaches. Increasingly, they have also been adopted as good business practices. While, as we shall see below, many of these approaches are not truly voluntary, they are being used to address subjects as diverse as public participation, toxic chemicals reduction and phase-out, pollution prevention strategies, product stewardship, life-cycle programmes, environmental labelling, environmental management systems, procurement policies, and international standards. These approaches range widely from individual company initiatives to collective actions by several industry sectors, from specific pollution control responses to broad pollution...

    • three Voluntary Initiatives and the Law
      (pp. 32-50)
      Kernaghan Webb

      In spite of their seemingly innocuous name, voluntary environmental initiatives¹ can have significant links to the legal system, and important legal implications for individuals, environmental groups, the private sector, and governments. Indeed, the connections between voluntary measures and the law are critical to understanding why such arrangements do or do not work.²

      Such connections are numerous and varied. An important impetus for industry developing voluntary initiatives is often the perception that the initiatives will decrease the likelihood of new regulations being imposed. Adherence to the terms of voluntary programmes may diminish the likelihood of enforcement actions being initiated or successful,...

    • four A Sober Second Look
      (pp. 51-66)
      Paul Muldoon and Ramani Nadarajah

      Since at least the early 1990s, the idea of using “voluntary initiatives” as an approach to environmental protection has been aggressively promoted by industry, many government departments, and some leading scholars. Like using antibiotics as a response to infections, voluntary initiatives are being touted as the cure-all. While those promoting voluntary initiatives continue to market this approach, however, public interest groups have been raising concerns and calling for a more cautious, methodical examination of the role and potential effectiveness of these initiatives.

      An initial, more sober look at voluntary initiatives reveals more questions than answers. How should voluntary initiatives be...

  6. Part III Experience with Voluntary Initiatives in Canada

    • five Responsible Care
      (pp. 69-92)
      John Moffet and François Bregha

      In 1990 the United Nations Environment Programme granted Canadian Chemical Producers’ Association¹ president Jean Bélanger a Global 500 to award recognize the significant environmental benefits that have flowed from the CCPA’s Responsible Care programme. Probably the leading sectoral voluntary environmental programme in the world, Responsible Care was initiated in Canada after a series of highly publicized accidents in Europe, Asia, and North America had undermined the public reputation of the chemical industry, and raised the spectre of more costly and intrusive government regulation. Over the past decade and a half, it has evolved gradually to become an elaborate management system...

    • six The ARET Challenge
      (pp. 93-100)
      Debora L. VanNijnatten

      The Accelerated Reduction/Elimination of Toxics(ARET) Challenge – likely Canada’s most high-profile and best known voluntary pollution prevention initiative – asks that industry participants achieve programme goals by the year 2000. Already, however, both critics and proponents are lining up to pronounce upon the success or failure of the programme. ARET appears to represent much of what is possible through voluntary initiatives and, simultaneously, much of what is wrong with them. Criticisms have come fast and furious, yet many continue to hope that, in an era of declining government commitment and resources, voluntary initiatives such as ARET can aid in achieving environmental...

    • seven The Day the NGOs Walked Out
      (pp. 101-110)
      Debora L. VanNijnatten

      When the representatives of environment, labour, and other public interest groups walked out of the Accelerated Reduction/Elimination of Toxics (ARET) multistakeholder process, government and industry members drew their chairs closer together and carried on. Yet something valuable had been lost.

      ARET began as a high-profile attempt by government, industry, and non-governmental organization (NGO) representatives to address toxic substance use and emission in Canada. After the NGOs’ departure, the process did produce a major environmental initiative – the ARET Voluntary Challenge – that has won considerable industry participation and has claimed significant toxics reductions. But without the NGOs, the Challenge lacks the blessing...

    • eight A Claim to Sustainability
      (pp. 111-124)
      Mary Louise McAllister

      “Our vision is of a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable and prosperous mining industry, underpinned by political and community consensus.”¹ Such was the conclusion of the ambitious Whitehorse Mining Initiative (WMI), the national roundtable introduced by the Mining Association of Canada as a radically new approach to mining. The WMI was established to deal in a new way with some of the big issues facing the mining sector. It was to be a consensus-seeking exercise involving representatives from such diverse organizations as the Canadian Environmental Network, the Assembly of First Nations, and the major mining unions, as well as from...

    • nine Who Killed CIPSI?
      (pp. 125-133)
      Elfreda Chang, Doug Macdonald and Joanne Wolfson

      On October 30, 1995, six industry associations sharing no formal organizational ties, nor any history of joint lobbying, took what they themselves described as the “unusual step” of writing to Ontario Premier Harris in order “to highlight a key concern with respect to the Canadian Industry Packaging Stewardship Initiative (CIPSI) being brought forward by the Ministry of Environment and Energy.”¹ The CIPSI programme, which had been developed jointly over the previous three years by industrial users of the Blue Box programme, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), and the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Energy (MOEE), would have required...

    • ten The VCR Doesn’t Work
      (pp. 134-140)
      Robert Hornung

      Canada first made a commitment to address climate change in 1990, when then Environment Minister Lucien Bouchard announced that Canada would stabilize its emissions of greenhouse gases at 1990 levels by the year 2000.¹ This commitment was subsequently reconfirmed at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. It was not until 1995, however, that Canada developed a National Action Programme on Climate Change (NAPCC).²

      In the meantime, Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions had grown at a staggering rate. Between 1990 and 1995, Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased by 9.4 per cent.³ It is estimated that emissions increased again to...

    • eleven The Dofasco Deal
      (pp. 141-148)
      Lynda Lukasik

      Canadian steel giant Dofasco Incorporated has entered into a voluntary agreement that surpasses the efforts of its national steel-sector counterparts to reduce emissions of key environmental contaminants. Negotiated with the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Environment Canada, the deal is being praised and condemned as a unique environmental management agreement between government authorities and an individual company.

      The eight-year agreement was officially signed by the Hamilton steel producer and its government partners in November 1997. No meaningful evaluation of its progress will be possible for some time. However, a survey of opinions reveals a rift between the attitudes of the...

    • twelve Reluctant Followers
      (pp. 149-158)
      Erin Windatt

      Since the early 1990s, governments internationally and in Canada have placed increasing emphasis on the use of voluntary initiatives as key tools for meeting commitments to protect environmental health. Ontario, for example, has promoted voluntary initiatives as cornerstones of its Pollution Prevention Strategy and the Canada-Ontario Agreement on the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem.¹

      So far, the successes of these initiatives have been unevenly distributed. While some companies are willing to work to improve their environmental performance, moving beyond their regulated emissions requirements, others lag behind. In many industry sectors, small businesses pose the greatest challenge to increasing voluntary initiative participation,...

  7. Part IV International Voluntary Initiatives

    • thirteen Beyond Command and Control
      (pp. 161-175)
      Bradley D. Wylynko

      In January 1997, the manager of FMC Inc.’s hydrogen peroxide plant in Prince George, British Columbia, ordered the re-routing of a methanol transfer pipe. He had determined that large quantities of carbon dioxide were being emitted from burning the methanol in FMC’s power boiler. Re-routing the pipe enabled the company to recycle the methanol rather than burn it. FMC eliminated a hazardous source of pollution and realized $200,000 in annual savings.¹

      A sound business decision? Yes. A good environmental decision? Absolutely. Required by regulation? Not at all. FMC’s manager issued his order as a result of the company’s participation in...

    • fourteen Environment and Value at Nortel Networks
      (pp. 176-181)
      Margaret G. Kerr

      At Nortel Networks (Northern Telecom), we believe that minimizing the impact of our products and operations on the environment is part of our ethical responsibility as a global corporate citizen. Clearly, we owe it to the communities in which we do business around the world to comply with local legislation and guard against environmental accidents. Wherever we can, we also want to serve as a positive force, actively contributing to environmental improvement.

      We’ve learned over the years, however, that environmental protection is not just the “right thing to do” – it actually translates into competitive advantage for the company. Advantage has...

    • fifteen Aiming Low
      (pp. 182-198)
      Saeed Parto

      Most corporate leaders interpret sustainable development as sustained growth with increased profitability and see it as an opportunity for further growth along the conventional paths of doing business.¹ Similarly, the corporate version of environmental protection consists mainly of pollution minimization programmes with a preference for those offering financial benefits. This prevalent misinterpretation of sustainable development has led to satisfaction with initiatives that reduce but do not reverse the social, economic, and ecological damages of business activity. As Paul Hawken has observed, the result is that even “if every company on the planet were to adopt the best environmental practices of...

    • sixteen Standard Inequities
      (pp. 199-210)
      Jennifer Clapp

      Recent years have seen the emergence of several international initiatives to establish voluntary codes of environmental conduct for industry. These include, for example, the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies’ (CERES) Principles, the International Chamber of Commerce’s Business Charter for Sustainable Development, and the International Organization for Standardization’s ISO 14000 environmental management standards.¹ The idea behind these codes and standards is that firms should be able to set their own environmental goals, and that they should establish their own procedures to enable them to work toward meeting those goals.

      The rise of these voluntary environmental codes at the international level has...

    • seventeen Demanding Good Wood
      (pp. 211-226)
      Martin von Mirbach

      Environmental activists have found that nothing catches an industry’s attention as successfully as a threat to sales. When unsustainable forestry practices in the world’s tropical regions attracted attention in the 1980s, activists in some industrialized nations initiated campaigns to persuade consumers to boycott tropical timbers. More recently, similar campaigns have targetted producers of forest products from temperate and boreal forests, including those of Canada.

      The 1993 publication of the spectacular and disturbingClearcut: The Tragedy of Industrial Forestry¹ and the more specific efforts directed against companies with logging operations in Clayoquot Sound have raised European consumer concerns about Canadian forestry...

  8. Part V Conclusions

    • eighteen The New Directions Group Position
      (pp. 229-238)
      The New Directions Group and Paul Griss

      The proliferation of consultative processes that began in the 1980s increased the exposure of the traditionally polarized business and environmental communities to each other, albeit usually in the presence of government. Through these exercises, it became evident to many that there were points of convergence as well as polarity between business and environmental interests and that these issues might best be explored by direct interaction.

      Glen Toner of the School of Public Administration at Carleton University, in a paper entitled “Whence and Whither: Business, ENGOS and the Environment,” concluded that there was potential for innovative collaboration between the progressive elements...

    • nineteen Voluntary Initiatives, Regulations, and Beyond
      (pp. 239-257)
      Robert B. Gibson

      The story on the surface is misleading. Voluntary initiatives just seem to be an alternative to regulation. True, they are typically defined as non-regulatory measures, advocated as more efficient than regulations, and criticized as excuses for eliminating regulatory capacity. Moreover, the contrast between voluntary initiatives and regulatory controls is central to the debate about whether, and if so how, voluntary initiatives should be widely adopted. But only part of the actual history of voluntary initiatives so far follows this simple adversarial depiction, and if voluntary initiatives are to have a useful future, it will be a future in which both...

  9. appendix: The Alternatives Pocket Guide to Voluntary Corporate Initiatives For Environmental Improvement
    (pp. 258-264)
    Jennifer Lynes and Robert B. Gibson
  10. index
    (pp. 265-268)