Assessing Environmental Costs and Benefits
Whether it has been through improved education from environmental training courses like the NEBOSH Environmental Certificate, the introduction of environmental legislation and the threat of fines and punishments for non-compliance, the rise of social media which can have a dramatic and fast negative impact on global company sales, or indeed any other reason, there can be little doubt or argument that protecting the environment is given more consideration these days than at any other time in the past.
Households and businesses alike are engaging in activities such as recycling or improving energy efficiency, either through a greater feeling of moral responsibility or to take advantage of the cost savings which can come with re-using items or reducing energy usage.
As far as environmental initiatives are concerned it is important that individuals, businesses and governments have a long-term approach to their thinking and planning as the initial costs of energy saving measures are often high, but after a certain amount of time will have paid for themselves and then some. A major barrier to the uptake of an environmental scheme or initiative is through short-term thinking where a decision maker cannot see past the high initial cost. In their defence though, the cost of sanctioning an energy-saving or environmentally-friendly process can be so high that even though they can appreciate the long-term benefits they are simply not able to raise the funds necessary to put it into place even though they want to. Whilst governments may struggle to find the money needed to finance a multi-billion dollar project, they can and do offer financial incentives and assistance schemes to help homes and businesses with the cost of introducing energy saving measures such as cavity wall insulation or energy-efficient boilers for example.
Another issue apart from cost is that facilities and equipment intended to reduce pollution, use less energy and generally be more beneficial for the environment can actually require huge quantities of raw materials and directly or indirectly create large amounts of pollution to build and set them up. This can seem counterproductive and can also be a short-termist barrier to introduction. For example, local councils which provide every household with a wheelie bin for recycling plastic will actually lead to huge amounts of plastic being used up in the manufacturing of the bins themselves! Although in the short term this will seem to go against logic, during the lifespan of the wheelie bins they will take in far more plastic than will be used for their construction.