Indonesia’s Experiment: Using Public Pressure to Reduce Pollutants
Indonesia’s National Pollution Control Agency recognized that it needed public awareness and pressure to stem the increasing water pollution from rapid industrialization. In 1993 the Agency worked with researchers from the World Bank to compile information on a comprehensive list of pollutants at 187 factories. Using a computer model that integrated toxicological information about each chemical they condensed information on each factory into a single number. They then ranked the companies into five possible categories: gold = excellent; green = very good; blue = adequate; red = violators of environmental standards; and black = worst polluters.
In June 1995 the government publicly launched the Program for Pollution Control, Evaluation and Rating, also known as PROPER, by awarding green status to five companies (no company received a gold rating). The names of the other companies were not released. Instead the government announced that 115 of them were ranked as red, and six were ranked as black. Polluting firms were warned that their names would be made public in six months if they were still in violation.
The announcement triggered a wave of reporting about industrial pollution in the Indonesian press. At the National Pollution Control Agency telephones range incessantly as factory owners — including some who had previously spurned the agency — called to ask how they could improve their rating before the public disclosure deadline. Companies that received a green rating called to ask how they could further improve their performance in order to qualify for gold.
By the time the Environment Minister revealed the names of polluters, more than 20 additional factories had joined the program. The Agency claims the scheme achieved a 50% reduction in the number of very serious offenders.
For more information see the Resources for the Future report at http://www.rff.org/rff/Documents/RFF-DP-04-34.pdf