Myths and Realities of Business Environmentalism

Myths and Realities of Business Environmentalism

Good Works, Good Business or Greenwash?

New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series

Kurt A. Strasser

Many businesses profess to be voluntarily taking steps to protect the environment, and going beyond compliance with environmental regulations to do so. Kurt Strasser evaluates these claims in this timely and cutting-edge inquiry.

Chapter 2: Business Environmentalism: What are Companies Doing and How is it Working?

Kurt A. Strasser

Subjects: business and management, corporate social responsibility, environment, corporate social responsibility, environmental law, law - academic, company and insolvency law, environmental law


As even a casual glance at the media shows, companies are doing many different things to protect the environment today. Some advertise broad environmental commitments, others implement internal management systems, many large companies now prepare and distribute sustainability reports, and some enter into negotiated environmental arrangements with government regulators. They do these things in different ways, sometimes adopting policies for an individual company, other times working through trade association or other industry groups or with the government. Some companies trumpet their environmental efforts; others appear to take a more restrained approach to promoting theirs. With such diversity of programs, methods and styles, it is no surprise that analyzing the results proves challenging. To try to make some sense of this diversity, this chapter will group this diverse array of programs into four types. For each of these, I will present evidence on the extent to which companies use this type of program and then consider the empirical evidence of how well the programs work. The focus here is on what has been measured and can be shown empirically about the programs and their results; it will then serve as a basis for considering policies toward them in later chapters. This chapter will group these varied company environmental programs into four different types, organizing the discussion loosely by degree of voluntariness of company participation. Of course, the concept of voluntariness is somewhat problematic here. All the programs discussed are voluntary in the sense that they are not directly required by affirmative...

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