Why paper mills clean up : determinants of pollution abatement in four Asian countries
The authors find strong evidence that despite weak or nonexistent formal regulation and enforcement of environmental standards, many plants in South and Southeast Asia are clean. At the same time, many plants are among the world's worst polluters. To account for the extreme variation among plants, the authors review evidence from a survey of pollution abatement by 26 pulp and paper plants in four countries: Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and Thailand. They incorporate 3 sets of factors affecting pollution intensity: plant characteristics, economic considerations, and external pressure from the government and private stakeholders. They find that the level of pollution abatement is positively associated with scale and competitiveness, negatively associated with public ownership, and unaffected by foreign links (in ownership or financing). Informal regulation, or community pressure on plants works to abate pollution, with high income being a powerful predictor of effectiveness. Privatization, to the extent that it increases plant efficiency, can significantly improve environmental performance. To prevent environmental injustice in poor or marginalized communities, the authors conclude, governments may want to consider strategies for improving their participation, and may want to target regulation to address pollution problems among them.
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