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How waste operations in areas with Environmental Justice laws are staying ahead of community impact

Passing of Environmental Justice (EJ) laws in the United States such as New Jersey’s recent Bill S232 brings increased oversight on existing industrial facilities in locations identified as “overburdened communities”. It’s expected that similar laws may appear in other countries in the near future, including Australia.

EJ laws can subject facilities to closures or even permit denials if they are found to be producing negative impacts to human health and the environment. For waste and wastewater operations, this can be focussed on operational odours and community complaints.

Can Environmental Justice and economic growth coexist?
A growing number of business stakeholders have expressed concern about the potential negative impact of Environmental Justice legislation on job creation and economic growth, especially when a recovery is needed after COVID-19 global pandemic.

The reality is that industrial and operations and communities are mutually dependent for a healthy economy. However, waste operations can often get caught up in a litigious catch 22 of impacting nearby communities they serve or being blamed for emissions they weren’t responsible for.

What is Environmental Intelligence?
Environmental Intelligence (EI) offers a viable way forward.  A growing number of waste operators are using EI to unlock value beyond environmental compliance by capitalising on data from monitoring networks and live weather feeds to make decisions based on situational awareness at their site.

Waste and wastewater operations are using EI to diagnose issues before they occur, eliminate friction with communities, and sustain growth and mitigate impact at the same time.

Environmental Intelligence technology is currently being implemented at waste and wastewater operations in US states with EJ laws to:

  1. Maintain constant vigilance over pollution levels and helping take immediate action where needed,
  2. Quickly validate community/staff observations and use them to identify the likely source of environmental issues;
  3. Accurately predict when external conditions will increase risk of impact.

A path forward to a sustainable operation
EI technology offers a way to address the concerns of citizens and other environmental stakeholders, while also helping industry do a better job at preventing negative impacts due to their activities. It can also help government better identify the actual source of specific issues and keep the right parties accountable.

Envirosuite, a technology company and a huge believer of EI, offers a range of EI solutions to help reduce the friction between industry and community, and provide a path forward for addressing the concerns of multiple stakeholders.

About the author:
Alex Zamudio is Envirosuite’s leading Advisor in the Eastern USA region, helping organizations in waste, wastewater and industrial operations transform their business and increase value-creation across the board through Environmental Intelligence. Alex has over 15 years of experience helping clients succeed through digital transformation, and continues to drive Envirosuite’s growth in the region by providing operators with intelligent tools that help them maintain their social license and increase operational efficiencies.

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