Home > Articles > Business & Management

This chapter is from the book

Breaking Free of Command-and-Control

Accompanying the greening revolution in the corporate sector was the emergence of a new philosophy in regulation and public policy that recognized the limitations (and expense) of conventional regulation and the end-of-the-pipe mentality. In response, a slew of new voluntary initiatives were introduced that recognized the power of information disclosure and transparency.14 The pioneering initiative was the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) in the U.S. Passed in 1988 as a rider on the Superfund Reauthorization (the law establishing strict liability for toxic waste sites), the TRI received relatively little attention in its early days. This seemingly innocuous provision required only that manufacturers disclose their use, storage, transport, and disposal of more than 300 toxic chemicals (all of which were perfectly legal at the time). Much to everyone's surprise, this data, maintained by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, became an important new source of information for activist groups, the media, and third-party analysts to track corporate environmental performance. Top 10 lists of corporate polluters became de rigeur.

The TRI also provided, for the first time, a metric for corporate and facility managers to track their own firms' performance and benchmark it against competitors. What gets measured gets done. Ten years later, toxic emissions in the United States had been reduced by more than 60 percent, even though the U.S. economy boomed during the 1990s. Indeed, many companies actually saved tens of millions of dollars in the process of reducing or eliminating their toxic emissions.15 We could argue that the TRI was one of the most important and effective pieces of social legislation ever passed. And it required nary a lawsuit, court battle, or inspector to make it happen. Since then, many developing countries have adopted a similar philosophy of transparency and information disclosure as the basis for their environmental policies, given that these can be implemented at a fraction of the cost of command-and-control regulations.

Equally important was the advent of "extended producer responsibility" laws, primarily in Europe.16 Quite simply, these laws stipulate that manufacturers are responsible for the products they create all the way to the end of their useful lives. Beginning with regulations on packaging waste in Germany in the late 1980s, these laws now extend to several industrial sectors, including automobiles, consumer electronics, and computers. Requiring that producers take back their products after they have reached the end of their lives has obvious effects on the way companies go about designing products in the first place. This simple requirement has fomented a revolution in product stewardship and "green design" protocols, using life-cycle management as its core principle. Rather than focusing only on the phase of the product's life cycle that the company controls (manufacture or assembly), product stewardship means designing products to take account of their entire life cycle, from the sourcing of raw materials and energy from the Earth to the reuse, remanufacture, or return of the materials to the Earth. Rather than thinking linearly, in terms of "cradle to grave," increasingly, designers think cyclically, in terms of "cradle to cradle."17

In the process, companies have discovered that life-cycle design principles can yield competitively superior products. During the early 1990s, for example, Xerox pioneered take-back, remanufacturing and design-for-environment strategies in the photocopier business and reaped significant competitive benefits. Given the company's extensive field presence for servicing commercial copiers, it was relatively easy to take back used machines, refurbish parts and components, and produce a line of remanufactured machines. However, it was not until the mid-1990s that Xerox actually began to design copiers with an eye toward taking them back. This program, dubbed Asset Recycle Management, was founded on the notion that by reusing assets as many times as possible (recall that most Xerox commercial copiers were leased, not owned by customers), the company would not only reduce its environmental footprint, but also lower its costs and increase its return on assets. It set the goal of producing "waste-free products from waste-free factories."18 By the late 1990s, Xerox was saving close to $500 million per year through this program, a figure approaching 2.5 percent of company sales. In fact, it can be argued that, given Xerox's failure to shift its strategy toward printers (considering documents were increasingly being stored electronically and printed rather than duplicated), the Asset Recycle Management Program kept the company afloat for much of the 1990s.

As the green revolution progressed, leading companies began to shift their energy and attention more toward proactive strategies that reduced waste, emissions, and impacts while simultaneously reducing costs and risks. Paying real money for raw materials and inputs only to dump substantial amounts of these into the environment in the form of waste made little economic sense. In fact, Dow Chemical estimated in the early 1990s that reactive efforts such as regulatory compliance, cleanup, and remediation result in returns in the range of -60 percent while proactive initiatives typically produce positive returns in excess of 20 percent.19 The problem was that most corporate activity (perhaps as much as 90 percent) was still of the reactive variety. The challenge was to transform the portfolio so that more was of the proactive sort. Ultimately, the goal is to get out of the regulatory compliance business entirely.

It was becoming clear that under the right circumstances, firms could actually improve their own competitive position by creating societal value. They could, for example, lower costs by internalizing externalities through pollution prevention. Furthermore, through product stewardship, it was sometimes possible to supply public goods and achieve superior performance. Witness Volvo's new radiator that actually cleans the air as it cools the engine or BP's climate-change policy that reduces its greenhouse gas emissions while reducing its costs. We should emphasize, however, the caveat "under the right circumstances:" Only through creativity, imagination, and the persistent development of particular skills and capabilities can firms simultaneously optimize financial, social, and environmental performance.

By the early 1990s, the greening revolution had led to the creation of a new dual-degree program at the University of Michigan involving both the Business School and the School of Natural Resources and Environment: the Corporate Environmental Management Program (CEMP), now the Erb Institute's dual masters program. Integrating pollution prevention and product stewardship into the management curriculum was the backbone for this program. As the founding director of CEMP, I had completed a virtual turnabout: It was now clear to me that the corporate sector itself was the key leverage point for achieving substantial and lasting change in societal performance and that financial performance need not suffer in the process. I could finally put aside the demons from the past associated with "the smell of money." I came to realize instead that pollution was the smell of waste and poor management.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020