Environmental management codes and continuous environmental improvements: Insights from the chemical industry

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Department of Social Sciences


The chemical industry has the highest quantity of toxic releases and hazardous waste generation in the US. We present survey results that examined compliance with seven major environmental statutes at small and medium-sized chemical facilities. This survey was designed to complement the findings of the US Environmental Protection Agency/Chemical Manufacturers Association 'Root Cause' survey, which attempted to determine reasons for environmental noncompliance at large chemical facilities. Results of our study indicated that 30% of the respondents did not have an Environmental Management System in place, including Responsible Care, even though Responsible Care is required for active membership in their trade association. Also, survey respondents looked beyond their own facility for meeting their compliance assistance needs. Statistical analysis of the results showed that for six of seven environmental laws examined, company size had a statistically significant correlation with awareness of compliance requirements. Only in the case of one major environmental statute was the hypothesized relationship not statistically significant. The results point to the need for trade associations, state and federal government and management to devote additional resources to improving environmental compliance for smaller chemical companies.

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Business Strategy and the Environment