Business and the environment are not usually described as helpful to each other, but speakers at a conference Friday asserted that they are. The Lauder Institute presented an all-day conference focusing on the opportunities that exist for industry to help protect the environment in the face of challenges from environmentalists. At a session on legal and policy issues, panel members discussed the history and future of businesses's management of the environment. "Environmental business used to be an oxymoron," said James Seif, an attorney and a former Environmental Protection Agency administrator. Seif said there has been a change in workers' attitudes about environmental regulations, asserting that many no longer see regulations as simply being burdens. He said new, highly specialized business opportunities for the protection of the environment will be available in the future. Environmental needs "will continue to grow and provide economic opportunity in the U.S. and abroad," he said. Ladd Greeno, vice president in charge of environmental health and safety at Arthur Little, Inc., said that the role of business in the environment will become greater as people become more vocal in demanding environmentally sound products. In a session entitled "Marketing in the Green Business," Kathy Loving, a senior consultant in Arthur Little's environmental management section, discussed the increasing pressure of environmental issues on the marketing of products. She said manufacturers are becoming more sensitive to consumers' environmental demands. "Environmental attributes of products are becoming increasingly important -- in some cases, as important as quality and price," she said. Loving said companies must identify key environmental issues, examine their impact on these issues and evaluate the companies' internal strengths and weaknesses in order to be successful. Lynn Johnson, director of corporate safety, health and environmental affairs for the Rohm and Haas Company, a Philadelphia chemical firm, expressed his concern for the prospects of making significant environmental improvement in this country. "In the U.S., environmental change is more of a legal process than an engineering process," he said. "The process is often made more important than getting something done." But Greeno expressed optimism, noting that all people want a clean environment, and said environmental concerns are no longer a "we vs. them issue" between businesses and environmental regulators. In all, the conference was composed of six sessions that followed a keynote address by Deborah Anderson of Proctor and Gamble. The sessions covered a variety of topics, including a panel on risk assessment and on waste management and control. The conference was open to the public, and was attended mostly by Wharton MBA students, professors and business representatives.Comments powered by Disqus
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