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Coordinated Action to Signal Environmental Leadership

Several industry groups have taken action to preempt regulation or negative public reaction by initiating research efforts aimed to provide solutions to emerging environmental concerns. The aim of such programs is often to promote leadership amongst the industry on certain issues, rather than set formal targets and principles industry members must operate under. The semiconductor industry and forest products industry have been active in pursuing common research agendas and promoting technological solutions.

The American Forest and Paper Association (AFPA) published a report in November 1994 on its technology vision and research agenda for America's forest, wood, and paper industry. It states, "Recognizing the inability of humans to accurately predict the future, the focus is on direction and broad, general goals rather than specific endpoints and solutions."54 The only numerical goal mentioned is an intention to increase the rate of paper recovery from recycling from its current 40% to 50% by the year 2000. However, the document outlines six research priorities for the industry as a whole, four of which deal directly with environmental issues. These include research into sustainable forest management, environmental performance, improved capital effectiveness, recycling, and sensors and control. The AFPA sees these actions as necessary to ensure the long-term success of the industry, which, along with other pressures on performance and competitiveness, faces "more demanding environmental requirements" as a "major burden … over the next decade and beyond.''55 While it believes that specific product research and development should be left to individual companies, the AFPA sees a need for the industry as a whole to partner with government, suppliers, national laboratories, and universities to leverage all available resources for its long-range research agenda.

Despite the many positive goal-setting activities described above, perhaps the greatest effort expended by industry groups is in lobbying to restrict or control environmental regulation. However, lobbying to manipulate regulatory boundaries seems to be increasingly aimed at finding flexible, voluntary solutions that may be more effective environmentally and more efficient economically than "one-size-fits-all" regulation.

The semiconductor and electronics industries also have taken proactive stances on developing research agendas for environmental and safety issues. The Industry Cooperative for Ozone Layer Protection (ICOLP) is an initiative of leading firms within the semiconductor industry working in cooperation with the U.S. EPA. ICOLP was founded by Northern Telecom (NT) and AT&T in response to the Montreal Protocol ban on CFCs and other ozone-depleting substances. A certain solvent, CFC-113, used in the electronic industry, lacked any suitable alternative at the time the ban was announced. Both AT&T and NT developed their own technological solutions and substitutes, and eliminated the solvent from their operations in the early 1990s, well ahead of schedule. ICOLP was seen as a

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