Wisconsin Scrap Recyclers, Builders Sign “Green Tier”

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, news of “pioneering efforts at collaborative regulation” between Wisconsin’s scrap recyclers, builders and the state’s Department of Natural Resources: Green Tier.

The heart of the deals is that the industries agree to more ambitious environmental programs and goals in return for more flexible regulation.

In the case of the scrap companies, each of 71 facilities in the state will move to an environmental management system. They will accomplish that through a new corporation set up to provide the training and programs on the new system.

Best management practices will attack levels of mercury, lead, fluids and what’s called shredder fluff. The scrap will be looked at as an asset rather than a waste.

In return, the industries will be able to satisfy storm water prevention requirements in a more flexible manner and will have a single point of contact with the DNR.

Green Tier companies that discover and report violations will be given time to correct the problem. It’s called “deferred civil enforcement.”

The builders will also get a single point of DNR contact and 90 days to fix reported problems.

In return, the builders have promised to do a better job with such issues as erosion on construction sites, post-construction storm water runoff, with green building techniques and siting.

It is important to repeat over and over that no standards are lowered for either industry.

Green Tier isn’t stopping with these two industries, either — the printing industry is also negotiating a similar agreement. While the liberal in me immediately questions “flexible regulation,” this seems like a win-win situation: government sets standards, but allows the private sector to engage its ingenuity to meet the standards. Paul Hawken describes such a relationship between government and business in The Ecology of Commerce (affiliate link); perhaps these ideas are catching on.

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