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Evaluation of predominant environmental management practices in the Canadian pulp and paper industry Zerbe, Piotr Maciej


This study investigated whether formal environmental management systems (EMS) exist in the Canadian pulp and paper industry, and whether the development of EMS by companies positively affects the environmental performance of their mills. The study further examined the array of environmental strategies pursued by pulp and paper companies in Canada as well as the selection of approaches to corporate environmental management from among those in increasing use in the larger environmental management field: environmental auditing, life cycle analysis, activity-based costing, environmental benchmarking and Total Quality Environmental Management. Finally, the study examined which factors influence Canadian pulp and paper companies in undertaking action on environmental issues. Information was collected directly from a sample of 33 companies and 55 mills in four provinces, through questionnaires and follow-up interviews as well as from published reports. The results confirmed the existence of some rather well-developed EMS across the majority of firms in the Canadian pulp and paper industry. However, the level of EMS development appeared to vary significantly. In general, pulp and paper companies were found to succeed at securing appropriate people and information, but weaknesses were identified in terms of system design and follow-up action. Among the exogenous and endogenous factors studied, the most salient influences on a firm's environmental decision-making were environmental regulations and the degree of vertical integration. Other factors found to be important influences were: customer requirements, owners' requirements, directors' liability, and production technology. The Canadian pulp and paper companies seem to favour two types of environmental strategies with respect to government regulators: cooperation and collective proactivity. In general, companies reported that they tend to cooperate with regulators on environmental issues and seek to influence the government, particularly with regard to regulations, through collective action. The study showed that environmental auditing and environmental benchmarking are the most popular approaches to environmental management in this industry in Canada. While environmental performance at most companies has improved over the three-year period studied (1993-1995), no clear correlation was found between environmental performance and EMS scores, due in part to the presence of confounding variables and the sampling methodology. Mill location, effluent treatment technology and the degree of vertical integration were found to be more important predictors of environmental performance than the level of development of EMS.

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