Measure

What It Measures

Advantages

Disadvantages

Energy Use

Total energy use by all aspects of corporate operations; can be expressed also as carbon dioxide releases.

A comprehensive measure that focuses attention on efficiency in use of a key resource; anticipates possible global warming concerns; readily communicated to customer.

Energy efficiency is important, but not the only basis on which to evaluate environmental performance; other measures also needed.

Solid Waste Generation

Total solid waste going to landfills or other disposal facilities.

An important measure in the public mind because of publicity surrounding landfill capacity shortage; often reflects efficiency in resource use.

A very narrow measure of environmental performance; often misinterpreted as the most important criterion to judge performance.

Product Life Cycle

The total impact of a product on the environment from raw materials sourcing through production use and ultimate disposal.

The most comprehensive measure of product level impact; a meaningful goal to strive for in resource use efficiency and pollution prevention.

Extremely complex to implement; methodologies are not commonly accepted; claims based on product life cycle analysis are frequently treated with skepticism; difficult to apply at a corporate or unit level.

a SARA = Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986. SOURCE: Wells et al., 1993.



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