Environmental Protection Must Be Tied to Profits

It's little surprise that 18- to 34-year-olds are at the heart of a nationwide increase in illegal drug use, and the manufacturing industry traditionally draws heavily from this pool of job seekers.

Unless a company incorporates environmental protection into its business policy it will not be viable in the 21st century, an executive said at a conference on sustainable development in New York. "Environmental issues are here to stay," said Frank Popoff, chairman of the board of Dow Chemical Co. "Industry must shift mentally from prescriptive mandates to voluntary, incentive-based initiatives. We have done it and we have seen our profits increase." At Dow, business performance goals are matched with environmental ones so every decision made is based on several layers. "If we don't hit our EH&S goals, it's not likely we'll hit our economic goals," he said. "By reducing work-related injuries by 90 percent, we expect to save as much as $200,000 in workers' compensation. And, we link pollution goals directly to financial goals whenever possible." To ensure it remains on track, the company publishes its goals and follows up with an annual report. "It makes it very difficult to backslide," Popoff said. "Make no mistake about it, Dow is not a nonprofit company. We don't lose sight of our profit margin. But what we found is the more we focus on environmental protection, the more we find ways to increase our profits." The key to achieving a marriage of EH&S and economic viability is for the company CEO to take the lead, said Popoff. "The CEO has to be the poster child for your environmental initiative," he said. "Without that, it's tough. CEO's must know the issues. They can't delegate this. They can't pass it on to competent people. They have to be at the forefront."

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