This report analyzes the environmental impacts of the tourism industry, which is the third largest retail industry in the United States, behind only automotive dealers and food stores. In 1998, travel and tourism contributed $91 billion to the U.S. economy, supporting 16.2 million jobs directly and indirectly. While extensive research has documented the significant economic impact of such service industries as tourism, little has been written about their effect on environmental quality.
This study uses a framework developed from the industrial ecology literature to assess the impacts of the tourism industry on the environment. Three categories of impact are discussed: direct impacts, including impacts from the travel to a destination, the tourist activities in and of themselves at that destination, such as hiking or boating, and from the creation, operation, and maintenance of facilities that cater to the tourist; "upstream" impacts, resulting from travel service providers’ ability to influence suppliers; and "downstream" impacts, where service providers can influence the behavior or consumption patterns of customers.
We have identified impacts from tourist-related transportation, including aircraft, automobiles, and recreational land and marine vehicles; tourist-related development, tourist activities, and direct impacts of the lodging and cruise industries. Although the direct impacts of the lodging and cruise industries and impacts of tourist-related transportation were not very significant, we found on the other hand that tourist activities can have significant impacts, depending on the type and location of activity. Tourist-related development can also have significant cumulative impacts on water quality and the aesthetics of host communities. Opportunity for upstream and downstream leverage within the tourism industry is considerable. Hotels can exert upstream influence on their suppliers to provide environmentally sound products, such as recyclable toiletries. Similarly, the cruise industry can use its leverage to convince suppliers to improve the environmental quality of shipboard products. Opportunity for downstream influence exists as well. Travel agents can influence where and how a tourist travels, and tour operators can educate tourists about ways to minimize their impact on the environment.
The fragmented nature of the tourism industry is not conducive to regulation that encompasses all aspects of the industry. Therefore, educational efforts aimed at supporting existing regulations and encouraging environmentally responsible behavior where no regulations exist seem most promising as a management scheme. These educational efforts should be framed in accordance with the targeted audience (i.e., tourists and industry sectors). Tourists may be more receptive to educational initiatives that focus on the environmental benefits of altering their behavior, while industry sectors are more likely to be responsive to educational efforts that emphasize cost savings and an improved public image.
The growing size and importance of service sector industries in the U.S. economy raises questions about the suitability of the current environmental management system to deal with perhaps a changing set of environmental concerns. This paper analyzes the environmental impacts associated with the activities undertaken and influenced by two service sector industries—foodservice (e.g., restaurants) and food retail (e.g., grocery stores). This paper is not a definitive analysis of the magnitude of the environmental effects of these industries, but is intended to be a comprehensive survey of the types of environmental implications—positive and negative—of these two service sectors.
The foodservice and food retail industries are components of a larger industrial system, the food marketing system, that extends from the production of food to the marketing of food products to consumers. The U.S. foodservice industry comprises an estimated 831,000 individual establishments, employs an estimated 11 million people (about 8.6% of the U.S. workforce), and is expected to have total sales of $376 billion in 2000. The U.S. food retail industry encompasses approximately 126,000 grocery stores, employs approximately 3.5 million people (about 2.7% of the U.S. workforce), and had sales totaling $449 billion in 1998.
For this analysis, we use a simple conceptual framework that segregates the environmental impacts of these industries into three categories: direct, upstream, and downstream. We conclude that, while the direct environmental impacts (e.g., energy use, solid waste generation; air and water emissions; food safety concerns; refrigerants) of these industries are important to recognize and address, opportunities also exist for these industries to address their upstream and downstream environmental impacts.
This report analyzes the environmental effects associated with activities undertaken and influenced by the health care service sector. It is one part of a larger study to better understand the environmental effects of service sector activities and the implications for management strategies. Considerable analysis has documented the service sector's contribution to domestic economic conditions, yet little analysis has been performed on the broad impacts service firms have on environmental quality.
For this study the authors developed a framework to examine the nature of service sector industries' influence on environmental quality. Three primary types of influence were identified: direct impacts, upstream impacts, and downstream impacts. In addition, indirect impacts induced by service sector activities include their influence over settlement patterns and indirect influences over other sectors of the economy. In their initial analysis, the authors noted that many functions performed in the service sector also are commonly found in other sectors. The impacts of these activities have been analyzed separately from those unique to the health care sector, as they present different challenges.
Health care is one of the largest U.S. industries, employing one in nine workers and costing one in seven dollars generated in the economy. Functions performed in the industry that are common in other sectors include: transportation; laundry; food services; facility cleaning; heating and cooling; and photographic processing. Activities unique to the health care industry include: infectious waste generation and disposal; medical waste incineration; equipment sterilization; dental fillings; ritual mercury usage; x-ray diagnosis; nuclear medicine; pharmaceutical usage and disposal; and drinking water fluoridation. The industry has considerable leverage upstream on its suppliers, which is important to managing risks from the use of goods commonly used in the industry, including: mercury-containing products, polyvinyl chloride plastics, latex gloves, and syringe needles.
The authors identified a number of areas for potential environmental management initiatives: controlling emissions from on-site "production" type functions; mercury use; the environmental consequences of infection control measures; pollution prevention through substitution of alternative health care services; and research and data collection.
Pollution control, a key component of U.S. environmental policy, has made important progress in recent decades. Yet important problems remain and there is need for improvement in the pollution control regulatory system. This book is the most extensive evaluation of that system ever produced. It reveals many strengths and accomplishments, but also illustrates serious shortcomings and the need for reform.
The volume emerges from three years of research on a fragmented "system" of institutions, statutes, and procedures that is often inefficient and ineffective, hobbled by misplaced priorities. Part I provides an in-depth description of this system, centered on the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the labyrinthine laws it must implement. The authors evaluate the federal legislation, administrative decisionmaking, and the state-federal division of labor that defines the system.
Davies and Mazurek assess the effectiveness and efficiency of U.S. pollution control. They discuss the performance of U.S. laws and regulations in comparison with those of other nations, assess the ability of the U.S. pollution control system to meet future problems, and consider proposals for reform and repair. Within this far reaching analysis, they include criteria that are often overlooked by policymakers and analysts, including social values, equity, nonintrusiveness, and public participation.
The authors, analysts with RFF's Center for Risk Management, examine the fragmented tangle of statutes, regulatory bodies, and programs designed to control environmental degradation in the United States. CRM Director Davies and Mazurek employ carefully chosen criteria such as pollution reduction, economic efficiency, and responsiveness to social values in order to judge the effectiveness of the various instruments—and the system as a whole—in protecting the environment. Their description of the system is concise and clear, and their selection of criteria is an important contribution to program evaluation. The book also compares U.S. performance with that of other countries. The authors' goal is a critical understanding of pollution regulation in the United States, thus laying the groundwork for improving it.
Regulating Pollution emerges from a major research project undertaken by RFF's Center for Risk Management with support from the Andrew W. Mellon and Smith Richardson foundations. The three-year project constitutes the first in-depth, systematic evaluation of U.S. pollution control efforts.
This paper examines and ranks the District of Columbia's environmental problems. Four criteria are used to determine each problem's severity: public opinion of the problem, health effects, the number of people affected, and ecological and welfare effects. Public opinion is measured via 345 city resident and 23 stakeholder interviews. Stakeholders included environmental experts familiar with issues in the District. Health and ecological effects are captured by analyzing both the EPA's and District of Columbia's environmental data. The results show that the top four problems facing the city, in order of importance, are: drinking water, air pollution, the Anacostia River, and lead poisoning. Several recommendations for resolving the District's problems are offered and including creating a separate D.C. Environmental Agency, applying for EPA grant monies, publishing a D.C. environmental report, fostering community cooperation, and increasing education about the environment.