Process measures and improvements assess the effectiveness of existing management systems to meet not only current requirements but also anticipate future requirements; this information is typically collected through the audit process. Environmental results evaluate the effectiveness of programs on incremental improvement; this information is typically generated through self-reporting by facilities. Customer satisfaction measurements assess whether changes or improvements are valued by stakeholders. It is important to recognize that corporations have many stakeholders, including the general public, stockholders, employees, senior management, regulatory authorities, raw materials suppliers, and purchasers of products. Although it may be quite straightforward to understand the direct requirements of several of these stakeholders (e.g., current compliance requirements of regulatory authorities or a challenge from senior management to reduce waste by a certain percentage per year), obtaining information from other customers can be more challenging, as illustrated later in this paper by Ciba-Geigy (Ciba) efforts to measure the environmental satisfaction of its customers.
No single measurement will accurately reflect a company's overall environmental performance. A properly selected set of measures, used as a system, is required to provide the types of information necessary for decisions and action plans. Table 1 lists a number of measures, what they measure, as well as their general advantages and disadvantages.
Although the toxic release inventory (TRI) system has been valuable in raising the environmental consciousness of U.S. corporations, some of its measurement protocols do not reflect actual releases to the environment. For example, a facility whose wastewater contains highly biodegradable materials will not have a "measured" release if it has an on-site treatment plant but would show a release according to TRI if the wastewater is piped to a publicly owned treatment works. For these two cases, there is no difference as to what is actually released to the environment, but one is measured as a release whereas the other is not.
Most of the systems listed in Table 1 do not consider efficient use of raw materials, most notably raw water usage. Although the supply of usable water is generally not yet critically limiting, reduced availability of this resource is becoming apparent, and attention to this issue is appropriate to prevent it from becoming a significant problem. Also, most of the systems listed in Table 1 do not recognize the domino effects of addressing environmental issues. For example, hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) substitutes for chloroflurocarbons require more energy to achieve the same results, producing secondary emissions of greenhouse gases (e.g., carbon dioxide). An alternative chloroflurocarbon substitute (ammonia) has good energy efficiency but higher toxicity and would require enhanced safety considerations.
The term "audit" is often misused in that it is used to refer to ordinary controls or inspections that are an integral part of any manager's or supervisor's