UK companies are spending more on integrated environmental protection

Companies in the UK spent considerably more on integrated environmental protection in 1999 than they did in 1997, as opposed to ‘end-of-pipe’ pollution control, says a new report on environmental expenditure.

According to the UK Environmental Protection Expenditure Survey, by environmental consultants URS Dames and Moore on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), UK industry spent an estimated £4.1 billion on environmental protection during 1999, representing 0.75% of total turnover. Although this is similar to the total spent in 1997, in that year only 30% of expenditure was on integrated processes preventing the production of pollution, with the rest being spent on ‘end-of-pipe’ control of emissions, such as wastewater treatment and treatment of air emissions. In 1999 50% of environmental protection spending was on integrated systems, the trend reflecting changes in legislation.

The primary industries spending money on environmental protection in 1999 were food production, beverages and tobacco products, chemicals and metals. These tend to be industries with large sites and the highest polluting potential, and have rigorous production standards. Although the chemicals industry is one of the largest spenders on the environment, the new report found that this sector’s expenditure was down in 1999 from 1997, though this is probably due to the sector’s early response to environmental legislation in the mid 1990s, says Dames and Moore.

According to the report, 80% of environmental expenditure was for the protection of air and water and for the treatment and disposal of solid waste. The results of the survey do not include spending by environment industries such as the waste management industry, other than where it relates to their own production processes.

Dames and Moore sent out questionnaires to over 7000 companies in the UK, nearly 2,500 of which replied.

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