Increased Pollution Levels

Some industrial activity will inevitably damage the natural environment. Consider the dangerous mercury levels in the ocean, the quantity of DDT and other chemical pollutants in the soil and food supply, and the littering of the environment with bottles, plastics, and other packaging materials.

Research has shown that about 42 percent of U.S. consumers are willing to pay higher prices for "green" products. This willingness creates a large market for pollution-control solutions, such as scrubbers, recycling centers, and landfill systems. It leads to a search for alternative ways to produce and package goods. Smart companies are initiating environment-friendly moves to show their concern. 3M runs a Pollution Prevention Pays program that has led to a substantial reduction in pollution and costs. Dow built a new ethylene plant in Alberta that uses 40 percent less energy and releases 97 percent less wastewater. AT&T uses a special software package to choose the least harmful materials, cut hazardous waste, reduce energy use, and improve product recycling in its operations. McDonald's and Burger King eliminated their polystyrene cartons and now use smaller, recyclable paper wrappings and paper napkins.27

New concern over the toxic nature of dry cleaning solvents has opened up opportunities for a new breed of "green cleaners," although these new businesses face an uphill battle. See the Marketing for the Millennium "A New Guard of Green Cleaners Vies for Concerned Customers."

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