That’s the subject of the latest ‘New Bottom Line’ — my monthly articles on business strategy and environmental opportunity.
An excerpt:

  • inexpensive sensors could monitor waste-water flows in real time;
  • remote laser sensing could track smokestack emissions;
  • molecular tagging could tie specific pollutants to their sources;
  • RFID tags could support chain-of-custody management;
  • wireless networks could feed data in real time to secure servers;
  • internal and external dashboards could enable managers, regulators and interested stakeholders to track trends and compare performance —
    driving the sort of pollution prevention competition that has resulted from publication of Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) data;
  • open information standards, using BXML or other standardized tagging systems, would enable researchers to analyze and add value to raw data streams.

Some businesses may be concerned about potential damage to competitiveness by disclosure of ‘proprietary’ data. But anything that leaves a plant is no longer private. Release it to the commons, and the public has a right to know. Don’t want the public to know? Don’t emit. (No one would throw confidential financial records out on the street, and expect them to be private. Why should it be any different with chemicals that leave a factory — their private property — and find their way into my lungs — my private property? Any standard Confidentiality Agreement declares a duty to protect confidential data; if you emit it, you’re not protecting it.)

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