Humanity is polluting air, sea and soil to such an extent that we seriously endanger biodiversity and even our own health. Traces of various toxins have become ubiquitous and invaded our daily intake; antibiotics create super resistant bacteria which already have invaded our hospitals; we have insuficient knowledge on the long term impact of our pollution of the seas; dramatic climate changes ever become more probable.
Pollution is a typical example of an issue that, at certain costs, may be prevented and actually is a purely economical issue. Apart from gas emissions for energy creation and agricultural purposes, many types of pollution may be prevented almost completely with modern technology, best practices or sometimes by returning to old ways.
There are too many types and causes of pollution to cover with one simple criterion.
The Oiconomy Standard distinguishes 5 different types or causes of pollution:
- Air pollution with gasses or fine dust.
- Pollution of water or soil by agricultural practices, the quantity of which regularly is not easily measurable.
- Pollution of air, water or soil, the quantity if which is or should be measurable.
- Heat pollution.
- Potential pollution of any type, only occurring by incidents or accidents.
The Oiconomy Standard requires to measure the quantity of all different pollutions and risks. The Oiconomy Database lists the marginal preventive costs for every major type of pollution per kilogram of the substance.
For measurable quantities of polluting substances these marginal preventive costs are directly applied.
For not easily measurable quantities the risk of pollution is measured by the level of management control (or governance) on the issue, resulting in a reducing risk factor applied to the maximum possible pollution.
These marginal preventive costs are the most expensive of all globally required preventive measures needed to reach a goal or standard on the relevant pollution. For these goals, where available internationally agreed standards are taken and without such availablity of a standard that would really solve the problem, a 80% reduction (to the 1990 situation) or the practices of the top 20% performers are taken.
For products with known risks of pollution, the standard requires a certain frequency of sampling and analyses by independent accredited bodies of analyses.
The quantity of pollution is multiplied with the preventive costs to result into the ESCU score for pollution.