Archive for June, 2010

So, who’s minding the store?

Frank Brandauer

I came up in a time when an “engaged and fair” regulator was viewed (if not begrudgingly) by industry as a necessary and valued partner. Their actions kept the playing field level, provided a measure of protection and helped industry keep its risks in focus. Whatever the relationship, regulators were seen as a real and significant force both in terms of actions and outcomes.

Nowadays there seems to be a never ending list of government branches and agencies that are unable to effectively regulate. And their failures have had profound and wide-ranging impacts on our society. From the financial sector (Enron, the mortgage collapse, AIG and Madoff) to Consumer Product Safety (imports from China, contaminated meats and vegetables) and most recently oil and gas exploration (BP and natural gas fracking), enforcement does not  appear to be what it once was.

Clearly there has been a shift away from strong and aggressive regulation toward a belief in the power of corporate governance, transparency and market forces. In light of recent events, I wonder if we can afford the costs when these other approaches fail?

We are in the midst of a great social experiment, be it planned or not. My brother-in-law says that “no one ever goes to jail,” and other than a few executions in China (in extreme cases), it seems that individuals are not being held accountable for their mistakes. Thus said, I believe (and truly hope) CEO’s around the world are taking a second look at their EHS risks and efforts after seeing how their colleagues at BP have fared in recent weeks.

From the perspective of an EHS manager, the questions I think are most interesting are:

  • Does reduced regulatory oversight or effectiveness actually increase or decrease industry’s EHS risk and associated costs?
  • Is the amount of EHS citations still an effective EHS metric?
  • Are market forces and NGO’s an effective substitution for regulation?
  • Have you talked with your management today, and if so what did you say? If not, why not?

Frank Brandauer is Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at Therapak Corp., President of Avail Consulting Services LLC and a member of the NAEM board.

June 28, 2010 at 11:17 am 2 comments

How safe are the chemicals in your supply chain?

Jill Kauffman Johnson

Jill Kauffman Johnson

We all knew that U.S. chemicals policy reform was coming… Europe made the first move, with its sweeping new laws governing the design, production and use of chemicals in products (primarily REACH), and now the US is following.

On April 15th  Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced the Safe Chemicals Act of 2010.  This legislation aims to reform the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), by requiring companies to prove the chemicals it uses are safe, rather than presuming such substances are safe until proven dangerous.  California passed similar legislation in 2008.

What this new legislation means is that companies will need to start communicating and exchanging data up and down the supply chain, including providing chemical suppliers with information on how they are using their chemical products. There are several approaches that companies are taking to obtain and analyze this chemical information for both regulatory compliance and for use in business decision-making.

The first approach is for the chemical users to expand upon the chemical information software they already have, to provide more detailed information on chemical usage.  This puts the burden of chemical information management upon the customer to coordinate among the hundreds or thousands of chemical suppliers to provide usage data.

Another more proactive approach we’ve seen in industry is called chemical management services (CMS). The basic concept is that a customer engages a Tier 1 chemical provider to optimize their chemical supply chain and reduce chemical use, costs and environmental impact.  The Tier 1 chemical provider is compensated for providing chemical management services and for not selling chemical product, thereby financially aligning both parties to reduce chemical use and cost.  Currently implemented 12 industry sectors, including automotive, aerospace,  government, biotech and utilities, we’re finding that this CMS approach provides a robust infrastructure to better track chemical information.

As the new legislation makes its way through Congress, how are you beginning to prepare for TSCA reauthorization? Has the new legislation in California already changed the way you work? We’d love to hear from both manufacturers as well as chemical users.

Jill Kauffman Johnson is executive director of the Chemical Strategies Partnership (CSP), a San Francisco-based nonprofit dedicated to promoting chemical use and cost reduction through better supply chain management. CSP will share case studies of successful CMS programs and the latest on TSCA reform at its 13th Annual CMS Workshop: Supply Chain Sustainability in Practice on October 12 in Indianapolis,  kicking off the week at NAEM’s EHS Management Forum. For more information, please visit http://chemicalstrategies.org/workevents_conf10.html.

Other links: https://portal.acs.org/preview/appmanager/corg/memberapp?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=PP_SUPERARTICLE&node_id=64&use_sec=false&sec_url_var=region1

June 24, 2010 at 10:41 am 5 comments

Begin with the End in Mind

Alex Pollock

Over the past year, I’ve attended a lot of retirement celebrations. Some are more celebratory than others, I must confess, but they all have one thing in common: people reflecting on their relationship with the retiree.

I was privy to a true celebration recently, where for more than 90 minutes people eagerly shared their deep respect for a senior EHS leader in an amazingly consistent manner. Traits they all expressed included honesty, integrity, kindness, humility, compassion, courage, purpose, justice, fairness, wit, wisdom, team-developer, communicator, performance-encourager and “the best leader I ever had.”

As I reflected on my knowledge of this individual, I knew that these traits did not develop by accident. They were the result of a dedication to learning about how to be a great leader and an intent to leave a specific legacy.

It requires great resolve and discipline to train and then deliver what’s really important to us over the long haul. Have you taken time to list what’s important to you? Have you developed the discipline necessary to maximize the likelihood of you getting there?  Or, are you postponing these decisions until tomorrow, or leaving them to chance?

  • Motivate yourself and others
  • Train yourself mentally and physically
  • Hone your performance skills
  • Observe recovery time, i.e. “Life is a series of short sprints”
  • Value every second of every day

Have you thought much about this legacy stuff? What can you share to help and encourage all of us?

June 22, 2010 at 10:22 am Leave a comment

Memo to the Millennials

Stephen Evanoff

Stephen Evanoff

This is a big, fat, bald-faced, suck-up appeal to NAEM members under age of 30, aka, the Millennial Generation.  You old farts, a.k.a, Boomers, stop reading, put down your bifocals, and go watch M*A*S*H reruns.

My millennial generation-aged son likes to remind me that I am from the Bronze Age.  Yes, I was alive when Kennedy was President, and can remember when telephones had dials and the four local TV channels went off the air at midnight.  But hear me out — because NAEM wants to hear from you.

The EHS profession emerged as the Boomers began entering the work force.  So for the past 30 years, Boomers have dominated the profession to an even greater extent than they’ve dominated every other aspect of our society.  All this is about to dramatically change.  The Boomers will be retiring in large numbers over the next decade and your generation will need to fill the void and take on EHS challenges more complex, more global, and more long-term in nature than ever before.

I’ve visited college towns like Ann Arbor, Mich. and given presentations on EHS management at the University of Denver and University of Colorado.  I’ve concluded that your generation brings a unique set of skills, healthy perceptions and realistic expectations to these issues.  I think my son and his friends are representative.

My son works for Apple Computer in Denver’s Apple Store.  He’s passionate about his work and believes in the product, but he’s not a workaholic like I tend to be.  He understands that our current way of living isn’t sustainable, but he’s not a zealot about the environment like many Boomers were when they were his age.

He and his friends want to live comfortably, but they are not motivated by materialism.  The 1980’s bumper sticker “He Who Dies with the Most Toys Wins” makes no sense to them.  I’ve observed that he and his friends seek balance in their lives and tend to value relationships above stuff.  These are encouraging signs.  After all, achieving balance in one’s own life is the first, important step to achieving balance in the world around us.

NAEM understands this and is ready to change. Over the coming months, we will begin making changes to the NAEM Website, the Green Tie blog and our event offerings to better connect to the needs and values of the future leaders in our profession.

But we need your help to make our efforts a success. So, if you are younger than the band members of Green Day and Coldplay, tell us: What do you like about the EHS profession? How can NAEM help you advance in your career? What kind of tools would you like to see us use to help you do a better job?

And to you Boomers, if you’re not already into your afternoon nap, tell us: What skills do you think our younger members should develop to be successful EHS managers?

Stephen Evanoff is chairperson for the 2010 NAEM Forum. He resides in an assisted living facility, where he spends his ample free time listening to Moody Blues records. He hopes to attend the 2010 NAEM EHS Management Forum in person, if the airline permits him to board with his walker.

June 10, 2010 at 11:09 am 12 comments

Can’t get no job satisfaction?

Alex Pollock

“Why do you do what you do?”

I recently started pondering this question after updating my CRBOH and ABIH certification worksheets. Later, when I came across the Gallup Organization’s latest publication, “Well Being” by Tom Rath and Jim Harter, the question again came to mind. While the authors list social, financial, physical and community well-being as key areas where there must be alignment and balance, I was struck by the importance of career well-being in this mix.

“Do you like what you do each day?”

Their research shows that people who genuinely love their work are more than twice as likely to be thriving in their lives overall. Career downturns also are significant. In fact, unemployment may be the only major live event from which people — especially males– do not fully recover within five years. In addition to the income loss, the lack of social contact and daily mental stimulation may be even more detrimental to our well-being. Research has revealed that people say the worst time of day is the time they spend with their boss. How sad. The authors remind us that when we look for a new job we should be as concerned about who our manager will be as we are with job title, benefits, company reputation and even pay.

With so much riding on our “career well-being” what should we be doing better as employees and leaders to create work environments that stimulate, excite and satisfy? How can we seize control of our career paths to minimize major hits to our well-being? We can all learn from your thoughts and experiences. Thanks for sharing!

June 7, 2010 at 10:44 am 2 comments

The Carbon Gold Rush

Carol Singer Neuvelt

If you type “carbon footprint” into Google, you are likely to get upwards of 5 million hits, a sign of the recent gold rush-like interest in measuring the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) consumed by a person, a building, or a company.  For most businesses, this interest has prompted initiatives to measure and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  According to a recent NAEM poll, 75 percent of companies surveyed identified energy management and reduction as one of their top three sustainability priorities.

But there are many ways to reduce a company’s impact ranging from altering an existing manufacturing process to switching suppliers, or even changing the personal behaviors of a company’s employees.  So, how do companies really compare?

Like many environmental and sustainability metrics, there is a lot of variation in how companies set goals and report GHG emissions.  Because greenhouse gas reduction goals and programs are not being consistently developed, even the participants in the EPA Climate Leaders program use drastically different language.

Some have set goals specific to their category and segment.  Best Buy Co., Inc., for example, has pledged to reduce its emissions by 8 percent per square foot (from 2005 to 2012), while Burt’s Bees, Inc. plans to reduce its GHG’s by 35 percent per dollar sales (from 2006 to 2011). Still others, like Sprint Nextel Corp., have committed to absolute reductions of 15 percent by 2017, or pledged to become carbon neutral, as Dell, Inc. has, by 2012.

So with all the inconsistencies, how do we know which companies are finding “pay dirt” by making genuine strides, and who are just shuffling the pan?

When we did our first NAEM climate change event in New York in 2006, most companies were just trying to get a baseline measurement of their emissions. As we prepare for our upcoming Corporate GHG Strategies conference in Chicago in August, we’ve seen a huge jump in the number of companies who have met their initial goals and now are making progress toward more ambitious GHG reductions.   Across the board, however, companies continue to face common challenges such as developing clear boundaries, instituting long-term management processes and achieving authentic results.

While I strongly encourage transparency, I believe that many of the rankings out there are ultimately less important than the existence of actual programs and decision-making processes that help bring about real reductions over time.

Because as far as Mother Nature is concerned, relative success is just not good enough.

Understanding that one size will never fit all, I’m curious to know what metrics you think are most useful to understanding actual GHG reductions? What do you think is the best way to compare companies regardless of industry sector?

June 3, 2010 at 4:36 pm 4 comments

Green Grilling

NAEM President

Kelvin Roth

Introducing the Green Tie’s global business travel blogger, NAEM President Kelvin Roth. The globe-trotting Director of Environment, Health & Safety for AMCOL International, Kelvin knows how to turn any business trip into a tasty adventure. So whether your travels take you to Des Moines or Dubai share your stories of far-flung gastronomy and travel with him today!

Now that summer is here, is there any better way of preparing food than grilling?  After all, man invented fire before the microwave because it was tastier. While enjoying the taste of your grilled food, here are few tips to still be a good environmental steward:

Choose a better charcoal: Gas grills are cleaner burning than charcoal, so from a pure “green” standpoint this may be the way to go.  But let’s face it, the flavor you get from grilling over charcoal is much better. I like “lump charcoal,” which comes from invasive tree species or is harvested from sustainably managed forests. It’s also minimally processed, compared with briquettes, which can contain binders. Some good lump charcoal options include brands such as Wicked Good, Nature’s Own Chunk Charwood, and the Original Charcoal Company, which are made from sustainably harvested wood. Lazzari also produces a 100 percent mesquite lump charcoal made from prunings, dead and fallen wood, and selectively harvested wood.

Lose the lighter fluid: Even though it’s fun to use, get rid of the lighter fluid (seriously, do you want your food to taste like that?) and channel your inner “primitive man” – after all isn’t that the whole point of grilling?  Primitive man would get it going with kindling and so should you. If you need help, get a chimney starter.

Get to know your ingredients: Ask yourself, ‘Where’d the beef come from’?: How you grill is only part of the story, the other is what you grill…When choosing your meat, go for fowl who have led a natural, unconfined, beaks-on life, and beef from cattle who not only knew what grass is, but spent most of their lives in a pasture. Not only will you find these to be tastier, but they’re also healthier and better for the environment.  While there are literally hundreds of labels and certifications to guide you, I prefer the direct approach; get to know the farmer who raised the meat.  It cuts through the clutter and gives you the best information about your food.  Plus, you are helping your local economy and that can’t be bad, either. (Tip: To find local, sustainable, organic meat, dairy and produce from nearby farmers markets, butchers, farmers, stores and restaurants, type in your zip code at the Eat Well Guide site of Sustainable Table.)

I know grilling is all about the meat, but don’t be afraid to mix it up from time to time.  Visit your local farmers market and grab some of the freshest, seasonal vegetables and throw them on the grill.  Is there anything better than in-season grilled asparagus or sweet corn?  Go nuts and grill some fruit up too – it’s a tasty accompaniment for your meal.

Enjoy your guilt-free grilling!

Kelvin Roth shares his suggestions for green eats, great drinks and global business travel every month. When he’s not seeking out boutique wineries, great burgers, classic cocktails, or regional food specialties, he’s the Director of Environment, Health & Safety for AMCOL International.

June 1, 2010 at 10:35 am 5 comments


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