The adoption of sustainable remediation behaviour in the US and UK: a cross country comparison and determinant analysis

Deyi Hou, Abir Al-Tabbaa, Peter Guthrie
Science of the Total Environment 2014 August 15, 490: 905-13
The sustainable remediation concept, aimed at maximizing the net environmental, social, and economic benefits in contaminated site remediation, is being increasingly recognized by industry, governments, and academia. However, there is limited understanding of actual sustainable behaviour being adopted and the determinants of such sustainable behaviour. The present study identified 27 sustainable practices in remediation. An online questionnaire survey was used to rank and compare them in the US (n=112) and the UK (n=54). The study also rated ten promoting factors, nine barriers, and 17 types of stakeholders' influences. Subsequently, factor analysis and general linear models were used to determine the effects of internal characteristics (i.e. country, organizational characteristics, professional role, personal experience and belief) and external forces (i.e. promoting factors, barriers, and stakeholder influences). It was found that US and UK practitioners adopted many sustainable practices to similar extents. Both US and UK practitioners perceived the most effectively adopted sustainable practices to be reducing the risk to site workers, protecting groundwater and surface water, and reducing the risk to the local community. Comparing the two countries, we found that the US adopted innovative in-situ remediation more effectively; while the UK adopted reuse, recycling, and minimizing material usage more effectively. As for the overall determinants of sustainable remediation, the country of origin was found not to be a significant determinant. Instead, organizational policy was found to be the most important internal characteristic. It had a significant positive effect on reducing distant environmental impact, sustainable resource usage, and reducing remediation cost and time (p<0.01). Customer competitive pressure was found to be the most extensively significant external force. In comparison, perceived stakeholder influence, especially that of primary stakeholders (site owner, regulator, and primary consultant), did not appear to have as extensive a correlation with the adoption of sustainability as one would expect.

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