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Firms Slow To Adopt "Progressive" Environmental Steps

Although companies in North America and Europe are aggressively pursuing environmental initiatives leading to sustainable development, they're moving slowly in implementing the more progressive concepts, indicates a just-completed survey by Arthur D. Little Inc.

The poll, covering nearly 500 executives in the U.S., Canada, and European nations, finds that firms are making real progress in traditional areas of sustainable development. Fifty-one percent, for example, report progress in preventing pollution; 48% in performing environmental audits; and 37% in improving energy efficiency. Yet, says the Cambridge, Mass.-based consulting firm, only 20% say they've made progress in environmental performance measurement; only 11% have implemented industrial ecology (co-locating facilities so that waste from one can be used as feedstock for another); and a mere 7% in full-cost accounting (calculating environmental costs by including indirect as well as direct costs).

Only 17% of the firms -- 13% in North America, 22% in Europe -- call themselves "well down the road" to implementing sustainable development.

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