Company operations can cause the release of a range of chemicals and particles. The emission of substances that are already abundant in nature, and of substances that nature can break down rapidly and without consequence, are not a concern.
Some substances are known to be toxic to people and organisms. Other substances may not seem immediately harmful, but if nature cannot break them down rapidly they may – through gaseous, liquid or solid emissions – systematically build up in the environment to dangerous levels.
Substances of greatest concern include those that are scarce in nature (e.g. trace metals such as cadmium), those that are persistent (e.g. CFCs), and those that are emitted in large volumes (e.g. NOx). All such potentially harmful substances must be kept in tight closed loops, or not used in the first place. The context of this goal may vary from local (e.g. soil, rivers) to global (e.g. air, oceans) depending on the substance and mode of emission.
To be Future-Fit, a company must do three things:
- It must eliminate harmful gaseous emissions (e.g. air pollutants, toxic fumes);
- It must eliminate harmful solid emissions (e.g. scarce metals, use of hazardous fertilizers); and
- It must eliminate harmful liquid emissions (e.g. spills, chemical fluids).