Analysis of Intangible Factors in Waste Minimization Projects

Halvard E. Nystrom, Missouri University of Science and Technology
William Ralph Kehr

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Continual population growth and rising standards of living that accelerate the consumption of limited resources, are forcing society to encourage conservation of these resources. These resources not only include raw material, but also the areas to dispose of the wastes. As a result, communities are driving industries towards waste minimization by limiting waste generation and landfill availability. Firms'' environmentally friendly strategies can gain competitive advantage by leading in environmental practices. This advantage emanates from the reduction of risk of environmental regulatory overreaction, as well as improved asset utilization and landfill utilization. However, these intangible benefits are difficult to identify and evaluate particularly with tools that were developed when intangibles were less critical. Many firms simply institute policies that force the tactical decision-makers to make environmentally friendly decisions. However, these policies can commit the firm to act in ways that are not in their best interest, since actions that absorb too many of the firm''s resources without sufficient beneficial impact, can generate competitive disadvantages. This paper surveys the available analytical tools that are available to support effective decision-making dealing with intangible costs and benefits. It provides ways to identify some of the intangible benefits and address the value they generate. This paper looks at a case study, where there was an opportunity to reuse a large volume of oven bricks, showing how two companies addressed this opportunity