Industrial waste audit club set to expand

Corporate majors plan continent-wide growth for cost-saving cooperation model

A group of large industrial firms that have clubbed together in the UK to share the costs of auditing the environmental performance of waste management facilities they use is to expand the concept across Europe, ENDS Daily has learned.

The Waste Facilities Audit Association (WFAA) was created in 1993 following the introduction of a national law that gave all firms a "duty of care" over waste they produced. Its 23 members, which include Allied Signal, BP-Chemicals, British Airways, British Steel, Knoll Pharmaceuticals, National Power and Pfizer, have now carried out 60 audits of major waste facilities, with each firm contributing to consultancy costs only for sites it uses.

The group is now looking to expand across Europe, according to David Denley of EAG Environ, the company that provides the network's secretariat. At a first meeting held in Paris in mid-January, several new members joined the group, including Du Pont, Smithkline Beecham, Johnson and Johnson, General Motors and IBM, Mr Denley said. A final decision on how to expand the scheme should be taken this autumn.

Before then, the group plans to undertake up to 150 pilot audits of waste management facilities in up to 25 European countries. This should enable legal and audit protocol issues to be examined clearly at an early stage, according to Mr Denley. He notes in particular that whereas the WFAA audits in the UK have been purely environmental, some companies operating on the continent usually work with audits that also include safety and health issues.

All parties benefit from the audit club approach, Mr Denley claims. Industrial members get regular professional audits of the sites they use and can share the costs with other members interested in the same sites. If new companies join the club and want access to a completed audit report, then the fee is partly distributed to the firms who first paid for it. Though the audits are not required by law in the UK, they can safeguard a firm's environmental reputation, he continued.

Experience in the UK suggests that major waste operators are also in favour of the scheme, according to Mr Denley. Instead of receiving requests for information from tens of industrial customers they get one visit every three years. Three UK waste facilities have been struck off the club's books since the programme began, Mr Denley told ENDS Daily. But he stressed that the group tried hard in the first instance to help waste firms improve their environmental performance.

Follow Up:
EAG Environ, tel: +44 171 495 0576.

Clarification, 4 March 1999
The Waste Facilities Audit Association has asked us to clarify a point in the last paragraph of the 2/3/99 article, "Industrial waste audit club set to expand". Member companies have stopped using some waste sites following a WFAA audit, the association confirms, but it stresses that such decisions are made by individual companies and that the WFAA has no powers to "strike off" sites centrally.

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