March 1998 Newsletter

Businesses helping businesses reduce waste in a way which simultaneously benefits the bottom line, and the environment.

Environmental Accounting

Dr. Margaret Tanner, accounting professor at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) was the featured speaker for the March INFORM meeting. Dr. Tanner has been associated with the Iowa Waste Reduction Center, and is interested in environmental issues, and how they are reflected in financial information. She also examines how environmental issues affect accounting functions within business.

Dr. Tanner began by explaining what is environmental accounting, how it works, and why it is necessary.

Environmental accounting is the collection, analysis, and reporting of company specific data to facilitate the assessment of accounting for contingent liabilities related to environmental issues, and to understand the risks associated with particular environmental aspects of the business.

Environmental accounting provides analysis and control of costs of energy consumption, waste production, disposal, as well as an assessment of the costs and benefits of pollution prevention initiatives. These provide information for capital budgeting, environmental performance measurement and reporting.

To fully utilize an environmental accounting system, Dr. Tanner suggested switching from a traditional cost accounting system to an activity based costing and management system. In a traditional cost accounting system, direct labor and material costs are assigned to a product or department, but general overhead costs are allocated in a somewhat arbitrary manner (i.e: based on labor or machine hours). In an activity based accounting system, the direct costs are identified, but the environmental costs are also identified, and charged back to the process or product which creates them.

"Financial goals are not necessarily incongruent with environmental goals" Dr. Tanner points out. In most companies, the environmental costs are seriously underestimated, causing an undercharge for a product, which unnecessarily reducing the profit margin. 

Accounting systems need to change to keep pace with the needs of a company. Accountants must be involved with this change, and evolve themselves, or risk becoming another outsourced statistic.

WasteCap of Lincoln will be previewing our new web site at the April INFORM meeting. Webmaster Tom Smith of Sandhills Publishing will be there to debut the site. The site is funded by the Environmental Trust Fund.

Also on hand in April will be Rick Yoder from the Nebraska Industrial Competitiveness Service. Mr. Yoder will provide general information on using the web, as well as site specific resources for recycling.

Information is available at your fingertips on the web, if you know how to use it. Without the necessary knowledge, the web is a tangled mass of useless noise.  

Welcome New Board Members

Two new Advisory Board Members were elected at the January INFORM Meeting held at Pegler Sysco. They are Gary Aksamit, and Katie Mullin. Gary is purchasing manager for Carol Wright Gifts, and one of the original INFORM members. Katie is a loss prevention specialist at State Farm Insurance. We are pleased and excited to have these two great people join our team.

Wastecap Hires an Intern


WasteCap of Lincoln has hired a part-time special events coordinator.  Tarie Summers is a senior at UNL, majoring in advertising with an emphasis in public relations. You have seen Tarie's work in the Annual Report, as well as the brochure publicizing the March INFORM meeting. 

March INFORM a great success.

March was the first INFORM meeting which was not only open to the public, but had the public invited. It was an experiment in a seminar style of meeting, featuring a short business meeting, followed by a longer presentation. Nearly 40 people attended.

Although the March meeting was a resounding success, it was decided the seminar format is too long for a monthly meeting. These seminars will be reserved for special occasions. The next seminar style meeting will be in June. 

Next INFORM Meeting is April 17, 8:30am. At Sandhills Publishing 120 W Harvest Dr (Original building, metal with brick front) Topic:  Using the web as a recycling tool.  Sandhills Publishing is located at 120 West Harvest Drive. The meeting will be held in the Forum Conference Room.