Since the Bruntland Commission first defined the concept of business sustainability in 1987, there have been several attempts at making it simple to communicate: “the Three E’s of Environment, Economics and Equity,” or “Planet, Profit, People,” to name two. The first two concepts are simple. Environment/Planet means conserving natural resources, recycling, reuse and pollution prevention. Economics/Profit means what it says. But Equity? People? How do those concepts relate to the idea of Sustainability? What are some examples of putting into practice the sustainable side of equity and people?
Why is this argument in a blog about odor management? It is to make the case that managing odors is one of the things responsible companies and public utilities do in support of social justice. While many of the previous blog entries clearly described how odor management directly impacts the environment and the economics of a business, one can also make the case that managing odors well also supports the “people” part of sustainability.
It is a fact that over 70% of pollution complaints are related to odors. When people smell offensive odors, it affects their sense of personal safety. Even if the compounds they are detecting are not actually harmful to their health, they feel threatened and unsafe. A responsible utility or business that creates nuisance odors in their daily operations owes it to their community to do the best they can to keep the odors from their enterprise from harming the quality of life of the people who live or work nearby, as well as the people who work there. Uncontrolled odors can result in not only discomfort for the neighbors or spoiling the occasional picnic; they can lower property values, and do serious harm to businesses.
There are some examples of municipalities that have taken this responsibility to heart. The Hampton Roads Sanitary District, for example, has implemented OdoWatch odor monitoring in order to provide the best operating environment for their neighbors.
The City of Camden, New Jersey, has gone beyond the best available odor control; they have reached out to their community to give back even more, including a waterfront park developed on their own property.
If you attend the WEF Odors and Air Pollutants Conference and Expo in Louisville this April, you will hear these stories and more, about what an important role social justice plays in the pursuit of zero nuisance odors. This blog will also be featuring items on this topic in the future.