Waste Costing as a Catalyst in Pollution Prevention Investment Decisions

Collins C. Ngwakwe (2011). “Waste Costing as a Catalyst in Pollution Prevention Investment Decisions.” Journal of Industrial Ecology, online ahead of print, 19 September 2011. DOI: 10.1111/j.1530-9290.2011.00370.x.

Summary: This article presents a case study in a Nigerian firm of how waste costing can be applied to pollution prevention (P2) investment decisions. This case is informed by the priority accorded to P2 as a preferred alternative to end-of-pipe pollution control. It demonstrates that even in the absence of effective regulations in a developing country, cost accounting can spur P2 decisions by management through the system of waste cost allocation. The case used standard cost data from the Wonder Beauty Care Company and applied the activity-based costing (ABC) system to waste cost allocation using waste cost drivers, which yielded another genre of waste costs—waste-induced overhead. Subsequently, the waste-induced overhead was applied to P2 investment analysis. This analysis indicated that the P2 investment alternative that incorporates the waste-induced overhead produced a preferred alternative choice. The case further revealed that managers’ knowledge of waste costs in a Nigerian firm may influence their P2 decisions. The case illustrates practically a possible dual advantage of an improved costing system for Nigerian firms — cost reduction and cleaner production.

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