Why Do Companies Comply with Environmental Regulations?
No longer than a century ago, the problems of ecology concerned no one. Companies around the world pumped oil, dug out coal, killed whales for fat and bone, dumped waste into rivers and oceans, and did not think about the consequences all this could have on the environment. Nowadays, the situation has changed to the opposite: the problems of ecology are the subject of public attention, and companies are required to organize their production in such a way that they cause as little harm to the environment as possible. Although there still are a lot of people who somehow do not believe in global warming and the extinction of species, and tend to underestimate the outcomes of humanity’s vital and industrial activities, numerous research studies show they are wrong: all the environmental problems we hear about every day are indeed threatening the planet, and it is the task of every person on the planet to make it a cleaner and safer place. The same applies to business—large or small, industrial or service-oriented. In fact, there is a positive trend among the governments of many developed countries, obliging companies to protect the environment.
In the United States, there are numerous permits a company must get in order to proceed with its business. First comes Clean Air Permits, which must be obtained by all companies whose industries produce air pollution. Carbon dioxide, particles of heavy metals, and other substances that make air dirtier are emitted into the atmosphere every day, so there is a strong need to regulate the amounts of these emissions, as well as to oblige companies to constantly seek ways of making their industries cleaner and more efficient in terms of protecting the environment. Next is the Endangered Species Act, which aims to protect animals inhabiting areas that suffer due to human industrial activities. In particular, the Act prohibits and/or limits the activities that threaten species, the population of which has decreased throughout recent years, and obliges companies to get a permit from the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and other institutions protecting wildlife in the U.S. Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. This regulates the procedures of treatment of hazardous wastes, and requires companies working with such materials to obtain state permits, proving that they are capable of proper waste storage and management. Besides, there are legislative norms regulating how companies should discharge waste waters, pollutants, and other substances in American water reservoirs, including wetlands and shorelines. These are just the basic acts and permits regarding environmental protection in the United States, but it can be easily seen how seriously the problem of ecology is treated (SBA).
Naturally, companies that do not wish to comply these regulations can incur serious sanctions. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has a number of enforcement programs, or, in other words, ways of making environmental violators comply. For example, the EPA’s cleanup enforcement program implies contacting the violator, negotiating with them to perform a cleanup (on their own, or using the services of other companies), and/or making them pay a fee for contaminating the environment. Or, there is a number of civil and judicial procedures ensuring that a person or company responsible for contamination complies with the acts aimed at protecting the environment (EPA).
However, companies choose to comply with the environmental regulations not only because of the fear of sanctions. There are many business professionals who feel the responsibility for the ecological condition Earth is in, and constantly seek ways to make their industries cleaner and more efficient in terms of protecting the environment. For example, a company may opt in favor of electronic document management, instead of using old-fashioned paper; or, a green-oriented company may want to recycle, manage its power consumption (turning off air conditioners and personal computers in the office when no one is there can save a lot of energy), build its offices from environmentally-friendly materials, and cooperate with other companies oriented at saving the planet from contamination by all means possible (Ecopreneurist). Such companies promote their style of business, inspiring further generations of entrepreneurs to follow their track, thus contributing to making Earth a cleaner place.
There is a wide range of laws and regulations making sure companies protect the environment, or at least to minimize the negative impacts of their industrial activities on nature. The Environment Protection Agency of the United States, as well as other institutions, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have a number of enforcement measures forcing companies to comply with these regulations, starting from negotiations and paying fees, and onward to judicial means and sanctions. However, companies comply not only because of the fear of sanctions, but also due to the progressive way of thinking and personal responsibility that many modern open-minded CEOs and other business professionals possess.
Environmental Regulations." Small Business Administration. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 July 2017. https://www.sba.gov/managing-business/business-law-regulations/industry-laws-regulations/environmental-regulations
Enforcement Basic Information." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 01 Feb. 2017. Web. 31 July 2017. https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/enforcement-basic-information
10 Green Business Practices That Reduce Your Footprint." Ecopreneurist. N.p., 11 Mar. 2016. Web. 31 July 2017. http://ecopreneurist.com/2008/04/11/10-green-business-practices-that-reduce-your-footprint/