'Investigation Of Impacts Of Environmental Management Practices On Performance Of Plastic Industry Firms In The UK

The aim of current study was to investigate the association of environmental management practices with the performance of plastic firms in UK. In order to fulfil this aim, the mixed method study has been conducted, which relied on both quantitative and qualitative approach. The questionnaire was used as a source of quantitative data collection, whereas, the qualitative data was obtained through interviews. The data was obtained from employees and managerial staff members of Amtek Plastics UK. The sample size of survey was 111 and it was 5 for interviews. The results of both quantitative and qualitative analysis has suggested that plastic firms of UK are readily engaged in adoption of environmental management practices and it is contributing to improve their performance. The results are in line with the prior studies and it has suggested implications for theory and practice. Along with this, there are some limitations which can be pursued by future researchers.

Chapter 1- Introduction

1.1 Background:

Recently, the notion of environmental management has become an important strategic concern for the businessesworldwide. It has been provided by the researchers that among reputational factors, environmental attitudes of the plastic firms are considered as an important factor for shaping public perceptions of the companies(Corbett and Cutler, 2000; Gupta, 1995). While operating in drastically changing environment, plastic firms need to follow regulations laid by Government authorities by considering environmental management practices (Claver, López, Molina and Tarí, 2007). Environmental management practices are the way of protectingthe environment from the organizational activities which is carried out by setting objectives, measuring targets and evaluating the operations of organization (Hofer, Cantor and Dai, 2012; Klassen and McLaughlin, 1996). Plastic industry is facing pressure from the community to incorporate environmental management practices and it requires them tocarry out extensive assessment of their environmental policies. The organization are striving for obtaining the certification of ISO 14001, which can only be achieved through implication of environmental management practices (Martínez and Pérez, 2005; Iraldo, Testa and Frey, 2009; Lai and Wong, 2012).

In current years, the organizations have recognised the importance of environmental management practices especially in plastic industry firms (Thompson, Moore, Vom Saal and Swan, 2009). Due to the usual global awareness of environmental issues like global warming and reduction of the ozone layer, many organizations have focused on management and control strategies for environment protection and safety (Ilomäki and Melanen, 2001). They are focusing on ways to address environmental issues for retaining global customers and getting success in competitive global economy. Environmental management practices focus on minimizing negative environmental effects in all operations of a firm. For enabling firms to gain competitive advantage, environmental management practices give a controlled approach to manage environmental issues (Chan et al, 2012).Therefore it can be argued that during the recent era of globalization, most of the organization are striving for gaining good reputation in terms of their environment protecting behaviour, and they are taking initiatives for enhancing compliance with standard environment management practices.

It has been provided by the previous researchers that incorporation of environmental management practices are effective for the organizations to reduce environmental cost and to improve the overall performance of the firm (Agan, Acar and Borodin, 2013; Comoglio and Botta, 2012; Genovese, Lenny, Kumar and Tripathi, 2014). The (Molina?Azorín, Tarí, Claver?Cortés and López?Gamero, 2009) has argued that the incorporation of environment management practices in the policies of the company are the way for creating a soft and positive image in front of public and it can assist the organization in development of strong customer base. It is evident from the prior research that the cost of implementing the environment management practices is less than the benefits that can be availed from implementation of such strategy(Tarí, Claver-Cortés, Pereira-Moliner and Molina-Azorín, 2010; Tsoulfas and Pappis, 2006). Due to these increasing benefits of environment management most of the organizations are considering this aspect as an important strategic issue and they are actively engaged in obtaining certification of ISO 14001 through implication of environment management practices. Moreover, the conception of the green production and green supply chain management are considered as the two methods of promoting the environment management practices and are the way of reducing waste and protecting the natural environment(Zeng et al., 2010; Zhu, Q., Sarkis and Lai, 2008).

The above mentioned research studies are clearly providing that the consideration of environment management practices are important for the organizations in terms of their improved image, and improved performance. The above studies are not carried out in the context of plastic industry which is considered as the most highlighted sector in terms of contributing in environment pollution. Similarly, the plastic industry is facing the enormous pressure form the regulatory authorities and from the public to comply their procedures with environment friendly practices. Therefore, the present research is aimed at investigating the level of compliance by the plastic industry, with environment management practices.

1.2 Aim and Objectives

The aim of the following research study to investigate the association between environment management practice and performance of plastic industry in UK.

The current research is aimed at achieving the following objectives:

  • To identify the current environmental management policies regarding UK plastic industry. 
  • To identify the compliance level of current environmental management practices of UK plastic industry with the existing policies.
  • To investigate the readiness of UK plastic industry for full compliance with respective environmental management policies.
  • To investigate the impact of environmental management practices on UK plastic industry

1.3 Research Questions:

The research on the association of environment management practices with the performance of plastic industry is carried out to answer the following research questions:

  • To what extent plastic industry of UK is incorporating the environment management practices?
  • What is the level of current environment management practices of UK plastic industry with respect to existing policies in UK?
  • Does the UK plastic industry is interested in seeking full compliance with best available environmental management practices?
  • Does the incorporation of environment management practices contributing to improved performance of UK plastic industry?

1.4 Scope and Limitations:

The present research study will be carried out in the plastic industry of UK and data will be obtained from the managers of the plastic firms of the UK. The reason of considering this industry is that plastic industry is mainly considered as contributing in polluting the environment through disposal of waste material (Thompson, Moore, Vom Saal and Swan, 2009). Similarly, the plastic industry is facing an extensive pressure from the public and regulatory agencies to take care of environment by following well formulated environment management practices (Tsai, Guo, Chen and Shieh, 2000; Corbett and Cutler, 2000; Perugini, Mastellone and Arena, 2005). Therefore, it is important to investigate the extent to which the plastic industry of UK is considering environment management practices in their long term strategic management and how they are gaining its favourable outcomes in terms of improved performance. The study can be of significant assistance in shaping the perceptions of people about the plastic industry and understanding that whether they are incorporating the environment concern into their policies or not.

Moreover, most of the industries in UK are striving for fulfilling the criteria of ISO 14001 certification and they are readily engaged in implication of environment management practices (Brammer, Hoejmose and Marchant, 2012). The consideration towards environment management practices is also a legal obligation for the firms that are operating in UK (Claver, López, Molina and Tarí, 2007). Therefore, it is important to investigate trends in plastic industry which can help the practitioners in making decisions about the usage of plastic in packaging. The research can help both the practitioners and academia in analysing the extent of green operations of plastic industry. Along with this, the research results will also assist the plastic industry in investigating the impacts of environment management practices on their ability to outperform within industry.

The current study can have some limitations as well. It could be directed towards the design of study which is aimed at collecting data only at one point time. The causal investigation requires analysis of same phenomenon over time with an aim of offering comprehensive justification of the results. However, the by keeping the time constraint into view, the current design is most suitable.

1.5 Research Methodology:

Present study is implying quantitative and qualitative research design and data from the respondents has been obtained through questionnaires and interviews. Along with this, extensive investigation of the existing literature has also been carried out with an aim of investigation of underlying phenomenon of environmental management practices with regard to performance of plastic firms of UK. The respondents for survey has been chosen from different level of Amtek Plastics UK and interviews of the 5 managers of Amtek UK plastic firm was carried out which were properly recorded with an aim of carrying out analysis in an appropriate manner. Reliance on both the qualitative and quantitative method of data collection has strengthened the study by offering validity and reliability. Along with the generalizability of the study has also been increased through adoption of two different designs. Therefore, the adopted research design is considered as an appropriate way of answering the research questions and it has widely been used by the researchers of the social sciences.

1.6 Dissertation Structure:

The study is comprised of five chapters. First chapter is about background of the research and significance of the study. It also discusses the objective of the research and questions that are needed to be answered by the study.  Second chapter pertains to the discussion of related work in the present area of research, along with theoretical justifications of underlying construct. It highlights the association of environment management practices with the performance of plastic firms in UK. Third chapter is comprised of study's design including participants, procedure of data collection and data analysis approach. The chapter also highlights the justification of the adopted research design and methodology. In fourth chapter results of the study are detailed along with interpretations in accordance with the research questions mentioned in chapter 1.Final chapter consists of discussion of results by relating it with previous empirical studies. Furthermore, practical and theoretical implications of the study are detailed along with limitations and recommendations for the upcoming research.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2- Literature Review

2.1 Introduction:

Current section is comprised of detailed review of the literature about the environmental management practices and its association with the performance of the firms. The chapter encompasses six sections, incorporating the detailed discussion on the environment management practices. In the first section details about the origin and adoption of environmental management practices have been given by focusing on main drivers of implementing EMP and the benefits of the implementation. The second section of the literature review is highlighting the association between environmental performance and financial performance of the firm by depicting that higher environmental performance assist the organizations in gaining competitive advantage. The next section pertains to the view of researchers about levels of implementation for EMP. Along with this, the proactivity of environmental management practices has been detailed along with its benefits in terms of competitive advantage. Three different levels have been highlighted that include operational level, tactical level and strategic level and the themes of EMP has been discussed in terms of these three levels. Along with this, the discussion is followed by the regulation in UK to incorporate EMP into the business operations of the UK plastic industry. Lastly, the summary of whole review of literature about the environmental management practices is mentioned.

2.2 Environmental Management Practices:

The debate on the notion of environmental management system and its association with the performance of the firms was not a mainstream in the literature two decades ago. It was the era of conventional wisdom when it was widely been believed by the practitioners that the environmental management efforts contribute to increase the cost and time for the operations of company and they are the tribute of penalties for firms (Tsai, Guo, Chen and Shieh, 2000; Khanna and Anton, 2002; Sotorrío and Sánchez, 2008). However, the shift into attitudes of the practitioners was made by sparking debate initiated by the Jackson and Lombard, (1993) with an aim of highlighting that protection of environment could be profitable for the firm. According to them the reduction of waste from the environment and contributing to reduction of pollution could never weaken the organization but it contribute to strengthen the competitive position of the firm. The opinions of Jackson and Lombard, (1993) were extensively criticized by the researchers but it changed the views of management and theorists incrementally and positively reinforced the consideration of environmental management practices with the regular operations of the firm.

It has been asserted that both types of environmental management activities including pollution control and pollution prevention hold the significant benefits for the organizations. The prior researchers on the linkage between environmental management practices and firm performance has shown that there is substantial amount of financial reward associated with the consideration of EMP into the business (Vachon and Klassen, 2008; Verboven, 2011). The financial reward could be in the form of minimization of cost in the long run and can help the organizations to reduce liabilities that are associated with harming the environment. Another perspective has been introduced by the researchers which provides that incorporation of environmental management practices enables the firms to efficiently use the resources, which is in line with the resource based view of the firm (Kassinis and Soteriou, 2003; Zhao, 2012). It has been added by the Molina?Azorín et al. (2009) that greater financial benefits associated with the EMP, acts as the motivation for different companies to embark on the incorporation of environmentally friendly behaviour.

The increasing significance of the environmental performance of the firms has initiated the changing scenarios for the companies and heightened the need of incorporating environmental management practices into the business. It has been highlighted by the Corbett and Cutler (2000) that the regulations of government are the key motivators behind adoption of practices that are friendly for the environment. However, a new paradigm was explored by Gonzalez, Sarkis and Adenso-Diaz, (2008) by adding that it is not only the pressure of regulatory authorities but the concern of key stakeholders as well which has driven the urge of encompassing environmental management practices. Similarly, the win-win argument offered by the Thompson et al. (2009) have provided that incorporation of environmental management practices to comply with the governmental standards of environment is the way for the organizations to gain competitive advantage over others. Moreover, it has been added that environmental management practices can offset the cost by bring innovation into the business and it acts as the mean for boosting up innovation thinking of organizations (Khanna and Anton, 2002; Vachon and Klassen, 2008; Buysse and Verbeke, 2003). Undoubtedly, the innovation is the requirements of modern organizations which are performing in constantly changing environment. Therefore, in light of innovation importance the EMP is significant in generating benefits for the organization.

The implementation of the EMP in the organizations has been considered as of significant benefits for the organizations in terms of identification of different methods which can help the organization in saving the cost through effective production (Kassinis and Soteriou, 2003; Kolk and Lenfant, 2010). Likewise, the view was strengthened by the opinion of Delmas and Toffel (2004) that EMP can help the organization in establishing better understanding of the production processes through which company can reduce the emission of contaminants into the environment and can protect the environment with the economic advantage of gaining competitive advantage. Furthermore, the Gonzalez, Sarkis and Adenso-Diaz (2008) have added in the benefits of the EMP for the organization and provided that incorporation of EMP in the operations of the organization is the way of enhancing the positive image of company at public level. It can be due to the fact that when companies understand and consider EMP at production and operational level then they are in the position to freely communicate with transparent reporting and it can generate positive perceptions of the company in the minds of stakeholders. In the light of these potential benefits of EMP for the firms, most of the companies have begun to make goals of waste reduction, pollution control and efficient use of resources and energy.

In terms of benefits of the EMP, a new paradigm has been opened by Christmann, (2000) by asserting that EMP is closely linked with the quality management of the firm. The quality management process requires the contribution of employees throughout the organization and likewise, the notion of EMP can be of greater effectiveness when employees get actively engaged in maintaining EMP. The insights from diverse employees throughout the organization not only contributes to improve the environmental and financial performance of the firm but is also found to be associated with greater harmony among the employees and increase shared sense of team oriented behaviour within organization. In this way, the EMP is associated with long term employee related outcomes which are the core for success of any organization.

By explaining the benefits of the EMP, one of the significant view is about improved customer relations, which has been provided by (Darnall, Jolley and Handfield, 2008). Better customer relationships are considered as the soul of any business organization as it can assist in strengthening the customer base and contribute positively in the revenues of the company. The modern day customers have increased awareness about the environmental concerns and they are more demanding about the protection of environment. The organizations that are extensively engaged in protection of environment are considered as one producing the better quality products (Delmas and Toffel, 2004). Therefore, following the EMP, enables the firms to build strong relationship with customers and establishes strong image of the company at public level. In this way, the organizations can achieve competitive advantage over the other firms which have low consideration for environment. The environmental management practices are cost saving and along with this they help the firms in huge market gains which are mainly beneficial for businesses and help them win the race of competitiveness.

2.3 Association of Environmental Performance and Firm’s Performance:

The understanding of the linkage between environmental performance and firm performance was made clear by the researchers through introduction of innovation offset (Gil, Jiménez and Lorente, 2001). According to this view, the cost of complying with the environmental management practices is reduced in two distinct ways; the first is to adopt approaches that can help the management to reduce the cost of polluting the environment while the second is to avoid the environmental pollution through adopting of environmental friendly work processes. The view was mainly criticized by the researchers with the view, that it is presenting only one aspect of the environmental management which is environment regulation and more comprehensive approach is needed to incorporate the benefits of environment management into account (Thompson et al., 2009). The critiques have then brought more detailed perspective of the proactive environmental management with an aim of linking the environment performance and firm performance (Handfield et al., 1997). In the light of this view, the proactive attitude of organizations toward protection of environment can bring competitive advantage of cleaner products and processes. Moreover, the voluntary participation to the protection of environment will be of greater assistance in reducing cost and creating image of business rather than seeking for compliance with the government regulations. The notion of proactive environmental management received greater support from other researchers as well (Thompson et al2009). Therefore, this stream of research is laying strong emphasis on the notion that there exists an important association between environmental performance and firm’s performance.

After the research stream on compliance with government regulations on environment and proactive environmental approach, the emerging phenomenon of the EPM included customer oriented approach that has been brought into discussion by (Zhu, Sarkis and Lai, 2008). According to the research on customer oriented approach, the customers value and demand the products and services which are environmentally friendly, which can contribute positively to the firm’s performance. Regardless of providing sound theoretical relevance between environment and firm performance, these studies have lacked in terms of empirical evidences. In order to fill this gap, the Jackson and Lombard, (1993) has carried out a study with an aim of empirical investigation of the notion that there exist a strong linkage between consideration of environmental concerns intro productivity, improvement of manufacturing and environmental performance. This study has aligned the concepts of productivity with environmental protection and provided an evidence of win-win notion laid by (Kassinis and Soteriou, 2003). It has been asserted by Zhu and Sarkis (2004) that practical context is missing in the study of Kassinis and Soteriou (2003) and they later on offered practical evidence of the linkage between environment and firm performance. The authors considered an approach of event investigation in which company was awarded with an award for offering due importance to environmental concerns into the business. They considered two aspects for establishing linkage between environment and financial performance of the firms. The first was market gain and other was cost saving. In terms of market gains the firm. In terms of market gain the company experienced substantiated increase in market shares and margins (Vachon and Klassen, 2008; Buysse and Verbeke, 2003). Whereas, in terms of cost saving the productivity of the firm increased due to reduced consumption of energy and firm has reduced the cost of environmental liabilities. Therefore, it has clearly depicted that the award has served the firm by reducing cost associated with environmental protection and has helped the firm by contributing positively in financial performance of firm.

The need of empirical investigation was also felt and fulfilled by Walker, Sisto and McBain (2008) with massive evidence by collecting data from 243 firms. The study was carried out on the resource based view of the firms and it has provided an evidence that environmental performance contributed to enhance the competitive advantage of the firms. The author has emphasized on the notion that being green is economically beneficial for the businesses. The same has been provided by the meta-analysis of the 52 studies on the corporate social performance and has confirmed the views of preceding authors that the improved environmental performance of the firms contribute to improved overall performance of the firm (Vachon and Klassen, 2008; Buysse and Verbeke, 2003). These aspects highlighted on linkage of environmental and financial performance of the firm are mainly in line with the initial win to win notion of the environmental management practices which provides that being environmentally responsible brings vital benefits for the firms. The review of literature is therefore depicting that the investigation of linkage between environmental and firm performance has improved over time and it has presented that there exists a significant association between these two aspects of the businesses.

2.4 Three Level Approach to implement EMP:

There has been a significant debate among the researchers about the level of implementation for EMP in organizational settings. In the literature three different suggestions for implementation level of EMP has been found including; operational level, strategic level and tactical level (Ilomäki and Melanen, 2001). Organizations can choose from the three level on the basis of nature and timing of industry in which they are operating. However, it has been asserted by Iraldo, Testa  Frey (2009) that it is difficult for the organizations to choose the right level due to lack of clear lines between all of levels. The same notion has been supported in another research study with an assertion that borders between the three levels turn in fluid during the practice and careful examination is needed by the management of the company to establish fine lines between these levels while implementing EMP (Gupta, 1995). In the context of EMP, the operational level could be defined as the routine bases decisions and practices of the firm that are related to scheduling and sequencing (Hofer, Cantor and Dai, 2012). While the strategic decisions revolve around how the firm can create value and tactical decisions include product aggregation and production planning Genovese et al. (2014).

Research on the EMP implementation at the operational level provides that EMP can be applied in the form of reduction of waste, pollution prevention, recycling of waste through recovery of product and reduction of emission through higher employee engagement and application of better manufacturing technologies (Klassen and McLaughlin, 1996; Lai and Wong, 2012). According to the advocates of EMP at operation level, it is the most required and beneficial level for the incorporation of EMP and it offers economic way of reducing pollution through minimum cost. Later on the need was felt by the researchers to stretch the operational level beyond production and Molina?Azorín et al. (2009) have contributed to include the aspects of supply chain within operational level. According to them there is a greater need for the business organizations to eliminate waste from its supply chain and green supply chain can help in increasing the return of company. In this vein, the operational level is an important to start while contributing to reduction of pollution from the environment. Most of the plastic companies are making efforts to convert their waste into raw material again and it is the common practice in UK (Montabon, Sroufe and Narasimhan, 2007). Therefore, it can argued that plastic industry has implemented EMP at operational level. However, it has been asserted by Tsoulfas and Pappis  (2006) that just reduction of pollution of reduction of waste is at the earliest stage of progression and there is needed a more sustainable approach towards protection of environment. In the light of their argument, the comprehensive approach of EMP could include the integrated product recovery management system and awareness programs for the employees which can contribute to increase the sense of accountability among employees regarding implementation of EMP.

Moreover, the research on the tactical level of EMP is focusing on life cycle assessment, short term resource acquisition and decision regarding innovation and monitoring (Montabon, Sroufe and Narasimhan, 2007; Khanna and Anton, 2002). The more integrated and comprehensive approach in the tactical theme includes the purchasing and supply chain management. It is note able that supply chain is the common extension in both the operational level and tactical level of EMP. The arguments of the researchers on tactical level of EMP is presenting that small group of practices carried out in isolation are not effective for the organizations and more comprehensive view of process and environmental innovation is needed with an aim of gaining the benefits of tactical practices (Zeng et al., 2010). The research on tactical themes of the EMP seems to lagging in terms of interactions between different tactical factors and their association with effectiveness of EMP.

The strategic perspective of the EMP is more comprehensive and it offers benefits that are greater than both operational and tactical level and has long term effectiveness for the firm. It includes the immediate response of management to the environmental issues and response is in the form of implementation of environmental strategy (Brammer, Hoejmose and Marchant, 2012). Moreover, it has been highlighted by the Claver et al. (2007), that strategic focus of EMP is aimed at enhancing the positive image of the corporation through increasing the social performance and gaining sustainable development of the organization. The Comoglio and Botta (2012) have added more in this view and integrated the EMP with the resource based view of the firm. Similarly, most of the researchers on the strategic view of EMP has agreed on the notion of corporate social performance and has provided that reduction of pollution and protection of environment are the key areas for the firm that can help in gaining greater returns on the equity of firm (Corbett and Cutler, 2000).

While some researches on the strategic level of the EMP has focuses on the aggregate approaches to the environmental protection which include sustainability, resource productivity and responsibility towards environment (Montabon, Sroufe and Narasimhan, 2007). According to this view the firms need to incorporate the product stewardship and there is a need to develop clean technologies with an aim of achieving sustainability in environmental protection. Advocates of the EMP in theme of strategic level has focused on their attention on the phenomenon of innovation offsets and have provided that implication of EMP successfully at the strategic level can enhance the ability of the firm to innovate which is the requirement of globalized business environment (Sroufe, Montabon, Narasimhan and Wang, 2002). These views has strengthened the theme of EMP at strategic level and provided that there are number of benefits that can be achieved through enhanced tendency of innovation. 

Finally, the research on the trade-off zone view of the EMP has provided that firms need to categorize the environmental issues into three level; operational, tactical and strategic (Agan, Acar and Borodin, 2013). According to this view, the benefits gained from protection of environment are needed to be weighed against the destruction of value that can be caused through EMP. Therefore, the firms can clearly understand that EMP is in the direction of value creation for the firm that can be sustained for long term development of organization.

2.5 Proactivity of Environmental Management Practices:

There exist two approaches that can be taken by the companies with an aim of implementing EMP into their businesses. The first approach is of environmental reactivity that is typically used by the companies with an aim of showing compliance with the regulations laid by environment managing authorities (Perugini, Mastellone and Arena, 2005).These organizations only follow the minimal level of compliance with an aim of avoiding pressure from regulatory authorities and consumers. While on the other hand is the view of environmental proactivity that is adopted by companies with an aim actively participating in environmental protection through voluntary attitude (Rondinelli and Vastag, 2000; Brammer, Hoejmose and Marchant, 2012). These two approaches can be considered as two ends of same continuum and offer benefits for the firm. It has been highlighted by the researchers that in spite of benefits of both approaches of incorporating environmental management practices, most preferable approach is proactive and it shows the commitment of organizations towards natural environment (Vachon and Klassen, 2008). There exist different ways for the company to proactively consider environmental management practices.

The proactivity of environmental management practices is found to be associated with resource based view of the firm and assist the firm in gaining sustainable competitive advantage through inclusion of environmentally oriented resources and capabilities into account. Proactive companies can consider the clean technology phenomenon at earlier stage and they can enhance their knowledge and capabilities (Nikolaou and Evangelinos, 2010). The increased knowledge base can assist such companies to outperform other firms. Moreover, the companies which are aimed at incorporating the EMP at earlier stage are more likely be attractive for the employees with distinctive abilities due to their positive image of protecting environment (Perugini, Mastellone and Arena, 2005). In this way such organizations are in better position to attract the competitive human resources from the industry and it will provide them edge of gaining strong position relative to other companies using reactive approach to environmental management practices. Along with this, the proactive environmental companies are able to enjoy strong reputation at the public level due to their environment friendly policies and practices (Pun et al., 2012; Montabon, Sroufe and Narasimhan, 2007). Their good reputation and positive image helps them to satisfy their key stake holders and they face lower pressure from regulatory authorities. The satisfaction of stake holders help environmentally proactive companies to gain greater benefits in terms of financial performance and environmental performance.

Along with this, the proactive behaviour toward environmental management practices allow the companies to develop the capability of higher order learning (Rondinelli and Vastag, 2000). Therefore, the companies can explore alternatives in an appropriate way and with greater efficiency as compared to reactive companies, which can be of greater assistance for the organizations in gaining competitive advantage. The higher order learning also enables the proactive organizations to develop the potential of continuous innovation (Nikolaou and Evangelinos, 2010). It assists them to gain rich view of the procedures and policies by catalysing the learning process and helps in continuous innovation in terms of products, processes and operations of the organization. Moreover, it has been asserted by Sarkis (1998) that all of these benefits of proactive organizations are associated with higher competitive capabilities of the organization.

This view was strengthened further by the assertion of Theyel (2000) that proactive environmental management can help the organizations to gain low cost and differentiation advantage. It can be noted that the incorporation of proactive attitude toward environmental management can help in lowering operating cost by exploitation of ecological efficiencies. The reduction of cost can significantly contribute in increasing the level of profitability for the firm. Likewise, the ability of the organization to attract the customers also increase through presentation of green concept of the business (Melnyk, Sroufe and Calantone, 2003; Montabon, Sroufe and Narasimhan, 2007). Therefore, the proactive environmental management is in the favour of organizations and can help to gain benefits in terms of increased and strengthened base of customers. 

2.6 Need of EMP by Plastic Industry:

It has been highlighted by the researchers that although there are immense uses of plastic including packaging and manufacturing of material which has significantly improved the lives of people but the problem of improper wastes management has been linked mainly with the plastic industry (Mensah, 2006; Brammer, Hoejmose and Marchant, 2012). The plastic industry is facing higher pressure from the customers and regulatory authorities to incorporate ISO 14001 into their operations with an aim of contributing towards protection of environment. In UK, 5 million tonnes of waste is utilized each year and the companies are strictly obliged to follow the recycling methods with an aim of reducing pollution from the environment (BFP, n.d).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1. Waste Framework Hierarchy

Source: (BFP, n.d)

The waste hierarchy framework has been presented by the British Plastic Federation with an aim of recycling the 57% of plastics in UK by 2017 (BFP, n.d). According to this framework, there are five key steps which can be used by the plastic industry to follow the environment management practices. These five steps encompass prevention, preparing for re-use, recycling, other recovery and disposal of plastic material in the way which can protect the environment. It has been highlighted by the researchers that organizations who depict active involvement for obtaining the ISO 14001 are perceived to work in the environment friendly manner (BFP, n.d). The attitude of the plastic industry towards adoption of appropriate methods for recycling of plastic material and the usage of less hazardous material enables the plastic firms to incorporate EMP in their system. The incorporation of EMP, would be helpful in showing compliance with the regulations of UK government.

Furthermore, the Plastic Industry Recycling Action Plan (PIRAP) is laying pressure on the plastic industry of UK to incorporate environmental management practise into account. The PIRAP has aligned its operations with the local Government, central authorities, waste management sector, plastic processing sector and obligated businesses to increase the likelihood that all of the plastic companies strictly work for the recycling of the plastic and contribute in protection of environment (BFP, n.d). Therefore, it is evident that plastic companies in UK are facing immense form regulatory authorities to adopt and follow EMP into their businesses with an aim of operating smoothly in the industry.

2.7 Summary:

The section of literature review is comprised of deep investigation of the literature about environmental management practices and it highlighted that organizations performing in the globalized business environment are significantly considering the need of incorporating EMP in their business. The incorporation of EMP is motivated by the regulations of the Government, need for innovation, and demand of the key stake holders, cost reduction capacity of the EMP and to establish the strong image of the business at public level. In the light of these motivators, the EMP is mainly beneficial for the organizations and helps them to reduce pollution with an aim of gaining sustainable growth of the business. Moreover, with an aim of highlighting the tangible benefits of the EMP, the linkage between environmental and financial performance has been underlined in the section of literature review. The evidences from the prior research has depicted that the environmental performance is significantly associated with financial performance of the firm and help in gaining competitive advantage. Likewise, the study has incorporated discussion about proactive environmental behaviour of the firms and their likely benefits for the performance of the organization in long run. Furthermore, the three level approach for implementation of EMP has been considered in the literature review and it has provided many options for the firm to apply EMP including; reduction of emission, reduction of waste through development of clean technologies, cleaner production processes, recycling of waste and adoption of sustainable approaches. According to three level approach the decisions about the EMP needed to be divided into operational, tactical and strategic level. Furthermore, the section has highlighted the specific context of the plastic industry of UK in the light of waste hierarchy framework and regulation of PIRAP. The plastic companies in the UK are facing pressure to implement EMP with an aim of reducing waste, controlling emission of pollutants and increasing the recycling of the plastic material. The main variables of the current study were environmental management performance and performance of organization. The theoretical framework of the study is based on the association between EMP and performance of plastic firms.

 

 

2.8 Theoretical Framework

 

 
 

 

 


 

 

 

Chapter 3- Research Methodology

3.1Introduction

The following chapter focuses on the adopted research design for the study. The discussion of different available methodologies will be carried out by looking at their advantages and disadvantages. In the light of pros and cons and compatibility with current research objectives, the choice of methodology has been justified. The current section has detailed the rationale for selecting the research designs. Along with this, the sampling, reliability and validity and data analysis approach has also been detailed in this chapter.

3.2Choice of Research Methodology

Among the available research designs, thecurrent study is implying primary research design, which has been considered as an important method of obtaining data (Alvesson, & Deetz, 2000; Kumar, 2005). The reliance on primary data can assist in gaining more detailed information as per the specific requirements of the research. Therefore, it is considered as an appropriate methodology for investigating any underlying issue (Collins, 2010). Along with this, the primary is more reliable as it has been collected by the researcher himself (Cooper & Schindler, 2007). These reasons are providing that primary data is an important aspect for obtaining data about any study.

Along with this, under primary design, there are two available alternative including quantitative and qualitative (Schwartz-Shea and Yanow, 2013). In quantitative design, questionnaire are considered as most appropriate method. While in qualitative design, interviews, case studies, and observations can be implied (De Vaus, 2013). In current study the researcher has decided to rely on both qualitative and quantitative design with an aim of investigating the phenomena using numerical data and more comprehensive qualitative data. Both of these methods can complement each other and it can also provide a comparison point for gaining better understanding of causal linkage among variables (Yu and Cooper, 1983). Therefore, the choice of researcher is based on mixed method which encompass both quantitative and qualitative. It has been highlighted by the Schwab (2013) that mixed method allows more synergistic and complete understanding of notion by integrated two methodological philosophies into single study.

The mixed method offers voice to the respondents and it helps in ensuring that data and results of the study are free of biases (Bordens and Abbott, 2002; Bechhofer and Paterson, 2012). The concept of voice can be cleared with the fact that by only responding to close ended questions in questionnaires respondents cannot offer their own point of view which might be different from the choices given in questionnaire. However, supplementing their response with interviews allow them to provide more detailed information. In addition to this, the mixed method refers to add breadth to the study and are helpful in collection of rich and comprehensive data.

3.3Research Method/s Adopted

In current research study questionnaires and interviews have been used with an aim of analysis of plastic industry in UK and to find out effect of environmental management practices on performance of plastic industry in UK. The reason for relying on questionnaires as the source of data collection lies in the notion that it is considered as most focused method and has been referred as an appropriate method for understanding the phenomenon of causation (Bryman, 2015). Furthermore, the interviews are also considered as it can help to investigate an underlying issue in greater depth (Bryman and Bell, 2015).

3.3.1 Questionnaires

Questionnaires are considered as significant method of obtaining data from the respondents and it can be of huge assistance in obtaining the quantitative data of study (Agresti and Kateri, 2011). It has been provided by the researchers that questionnaires can assist in gaining responses in effective manner (Rovai, Baker and Ponton, 2013). The online survey is an appropriate method of reaching the participants in timely manner and it can help in obtaining in depth view of the focused sample (Miles and Huberman, 1994). The sample for the survey encompasses employees from different areas of Amtek Plastics UK which are the most suitable participants for gaining data about environment management practices of plastic firms. There were total of 180 respondents that could be considered as an effective sample size while investigating the phenomenon in single company. There are 58 males and 42 % females in whole sample which is indicating that gender representation is viable in current study.

3.3.2 Interviews

Interviews hold significant position in qualitative methodology and they serve as an appropriate method of gaining data in an easy manner(Miller and Salkind, 2002). In preliminary study, interviews can assist to obtain detailed view of EMP of company and chosen design is completely aligned with objectives. Moreover, the selection of questions will remain consistent for entire sample which will assist in reduction of bias from the sample (Zikmund, Babin, Carr and Griffin, 2012; Schwartz-Shea and Yanow, 2013). The reason for choosing managerial level staff members’ lie in the fact that managers can provide most accurate information regarding  environmental management practices of the Amtek Plastics UK and information provided by them can serve as significant basis of investigating effectiveness of EMP in plastic industry of UK. The interviews were conducted from 5 respondents of Amtek Plastics UK.

3.3.3 Development of Research instrument

In the current mixed method design, the instruments encompass both questionnaire and interview questions. The questionnaire is comprised of total of 9 items and the data has obtained on 5 point Likert type scale ranging from Never to Always. The content of questionnaire is successfully covering the concerns of researcher mentioned in objectives of the present research. Some of the sample items of the scale include; “Your Company supports prevention of pollution and emissions?”, “The Company has a relationship of cooperation with stakeholders (government, clients, suppliers, etc.) for environmental protection?” and “Environmental audit is primarily a means of identifying opportunities for improving environmental performance?”

This questionnaire has previously been used by researchers to investigate the impact of environmental management practices in the organizations and has been tested for reliability and validity. Therefore, it will help to collect data in most reliable way. The scales has also been analyzed in terms of reliability in present research and the value of Cronbach’s alpha was equal to 0.87 which has been considered as reliable range.

On the other hand, the questions of interview were developed specifically for the current research and they followed the open ended design. The respondents were free to answer the question in the way preferred by them and they were not compelled to choose among given options.

3.3.4 Piloting

However, the adopted questionnaire in the current study has been used and tested by the previous researchers and has good reliability and validity. Yet, the piloting was carried out by collecting data from people who were the subject matter experts in relevant field and were engaged with different environmental research centers. The piloting of the scale has reported good reliability. Along with this, the face validity was also checked by showing the questionnaire to researchers in relevant field. No changes were suggested by them and questionnaire has been used in its original form.

3.4Choice of Sample

The focused population for the current study is plastic industry of UK and reason for choosing this population lies in the fact that it is the most heightened sector which has been criticized for causing pollution and has pushed for incorporation of environmental management practices. Among the plastic industry of UK, the data has been obtained from Amtek Plastics UK. 

The sample for the survey in present research is the employees of the Amtek Plastics UK. Employees from all management ladders were selected as the sample. The selected sampling method is purposive sampling in which researcher has the option to choose respondents according to the requirement of study and knowledge of population (Miller and Salkind, 2002). The purposive sampling is the type of non-probability sampling and it allows to form the sample which is representative of the target population (Miles and Huberman, 1994). The questionnaire has helped to gain perceptions of employees about the EMP practices of Amtek Plastics UK and their impact on overall performance of company.

Along with this, the same method of purposive sampling has been used to select respondents for interviews. The interviews will be conducted from managerial staff of the Amtek Plastics UK which are expected to have more comprehensive knowledge of the notion that to what extent environmental management practices are implied by the company and how they are impacting performance of company. There was one general manger that has been interviewed to gain view of EMP adopted by Amtek Plastics UK. Moreover, several other managers like one responsible for managing the environmental practices of the company were interviewed.  For conducting the interviews, the present research has chosen the five managers from Amtek Plastics UK. The chosen participants had the sufficient information about practices of underlying company, therefore, sample for both questionnaire and interviews was most relevant to the present study and it has contributed to provide unbiased source of data collection.

3.5Data Collection and Recording:

Questionnaires:The data through questionnaires was obtained by relying on online survey method and link of Google Doc questionnaire was distributed to employees through email. The online survey has been considered as an appropriate way for reaching the target respondents and data can be managed easily as the data file is created automatically in Google Docs and no manual data entry efforts are required. The respondents were given the time period of 1 and half weeks to respond the questionnaire in an appropriate way. The reminder was also sent to the participants and out of 180 respondents the responses were obtained from 111 employees which depicts the response rate of 61%. Response rate is really good for the currents study. The excel file of the data has been created automatically in the google docs and it will serve as basis of investigation.

Interviews: The face to face interviews were carried out and data was obtained from the respondents of Amtek Plastics UK. The consent of interviewees were obtained prior to the interviews and the interviews were recorded properly to reduce bias at analysis stage and to accurately record the response.

3.6Data Analysis

The unit of analysis in the current study is organization to identify the patterns of EMP adopted by Amtek Plastics UK. The reason for selecting this organization has already been presented in previous chapters which lies in the fact that waste of plastic industry and gases emitted by plastic industry can contribute to pollute the environment. The industry is facing pressure form the environmental authorities to incorporate aspect of EMP into its system and it can widely contribute to improve the performance of company. Therefore, the choice of researcher to investigate phenomenon of EMP in Amtek Plastics UK is rationale.

The data of the current study has beenanalysed by using two different methods. For the questionnaires, the data has beenanalysed mostly by frequency distribution tests. Different graphs and charts have made to visually representing the responses of participants to draw causal inferences in an easy way. This method is beneficial as it allowed to view the trend of responses in an appropriate way. Among the graphs, bar charts and pie charts has used based on the frequency distribution of responses.

On the other hand, the data from interviews has beenanalysed by using content analysis which helped to clearly identify the response patterns of interviewees. Transcription of interviews has been carried out and summary of their responses has presented in an analytical way to make a link with the underlying objectives of the research study.

3.7Data Validity and Reliability

In terms of reliability and validity the current study has gave prominence to check the face validity of both questionnaire and questions which were asked from the respondents during interviews. The result of the face validity has shown that all of the questions were clear and easy to understand by the target group.  Therefore, there was minimum bias which can lower the standard of data quality in current research. Along with this, the in order to increase the understand ability of the participants, there were provided a brief definitions of the key terms which has been used in the questions, mainly in case of online survey.

Along with this, the respondents were well qualified and they have relevant knowledge due to more than 5 years of experience with the focal company. It has also ensured that they were well aware of polices which has been implied by the company in respect of environmental management practices. In addition to it, the pilot testing of the questionnaire has also been conducted and data was obtained prior to the study to ensure that there is no vagueness in questions. In the light of these pre-conditions it can be argued that validity of the data is significant and there is minimum bias in the results due to validity issues.

Similarly, there are no issues related to reliability of the data due to previously developed questionnaire adoption and the reliability has been reported in the past studies.  Along with this, for items of questionnaire, reliability has also been investigated for currents study and it has depicted value of Cronbach’s Alpha equal to 0.87. Therefore, it can provided that in addition to validity there no issues related to reliability of data and results are free from bias.

3.8Ethical Concerns

It has been highlighted by the researchers that ethical aspects are important to consider while the condcution of research (Ramamurthy, 2011). The personal information of the respondents will not be shared with any one and confidentiality of the respondents will be maintained (Creswell, 2009). Along with this, the confidential information of Amtek Plastics will not be shared. In case of survey, the employees have full discretion to either respond to the link of online survey or not. Therefore, the consent of employees has been taken before collecting data from them and their will and wish has been respected by the researcher. Along with this, the interviewers also have the discretion to participate in the survey.The manager of the Amtek plastics UK were not forced for being the part of study. Therefore, it can be argued that current research has not deceive any respondents and ethical concerns has been incorporated fully.

3.9Summary

The adopted design for the current study is mixed research design which is the combination of both quantitative and qualitative and is aimed at fulfilling the objectives of study which have been stated in Chapter 1. Among the quantitative and qualitative design of study, questionnaire and interviews were used respectively. The sample was chosen by using purposive sampling method and data was obtained from Amtek Plastics UK. The analysis of questionnaire has been carried out through graphs, charts and frequency of responses, while the qualitative content analysis has been used for analysing the data of interviews. Along with this, the validity and reliability of the data has been reported in the current section.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4- Analysis and Investigation

 

4.1Introduction

The current section is presenting the details of the participants in terms of their age, experience and the detail of Amtek Plastics UK which is the unit of analysis in present study. The main findings of questionnaires and interviews are presented in greater detail. As mentioned in chapter 3, the data collected through questionnaires has been analysed using charts and graphs based on frequency of responses, while the data of interviews has been analysed through content analysis. Moreover, the results are synthesized with the relevant literature with an aim of linking results with objectives of the study and with findings from past studies.

4.2Details of the Participants

The unit of analysis for the current study is individuals and the focus of researcher is on Amtek Plastics UK. The data has been obtained from employees and staff form managerial level of organisation, with an aim of recognizing the patterns of environmental management practices adopted by the Amtek Plastics UK. The questionnaire was dispatched to 180 employees of the company and out of them 111 has responded to the questions.

4.3 Job Role and Average Years of Experiences

The below mentioned table 1 is depicting the details of job roles and experience level of respondents for survey. It can be clearly seen that employees are from different departments and it is expected that they have enough knowledge about the operations of the company regarding environmental management practices.

Table 4.1. Details of job role and year of experience of respondents of questionnaire

Job Role

Code

Number of Responses

Avg. years of Experiences*

Molding Manufacturer

MM

22 (20%)

2.7

Plastic Injection Molding

PIM

17 (15%)

3.5

Lamination Operators

LO

12 (11%)

2.4

Production

PR

35 (32%)

3.3

Extrusion Molding

EM

10 (9%)

4.5

Blow Moulding

BM

15 (13%)

4.6

Total

111

3.5

 

The table 2 given below is indicating the details of interviewees regarding their job roles and level of experience. There are 5 total interviewees who are managers of different departments in Amtek Plastics UK. The main departments include; production manager, plant head, project manager, lamination manger and manager of Health Safety and Environment. They all have substantial experience with the company which is indicating they are most appropriate persons for providing information regarding EMP.

Table 4.2.Details of job role and year of experience of respondents of interviews

Interviewee

Code

Role

Years of Experience

Interviewee 1

INT1

Production Manager

5

Interviewee 2

INT2

Plant Head

5.5

Interviewee 3

INT3

Project Manager

6

Interviewee 4

INT4

Lamination Manager

7

Interviewee 5

INT5

Manager HSE

9

4.5 Main Findings

4.5.1 Questionnaire

Q1. Support for prevention of pollution and emissions

The below mentioned figure 1 is depicting the responses of participants about the company’s efforts to prevent the pollution and emission caused by operations of company. The respondents of Amtek Plastic UK have provided the support to the notion that the focal firm is prone to support the environmental protection. The 46% respondents have strongly agreed that Amtek always supports prevention of pollution while 30% has agreed that they support the environment. On the other hand, only 24% of respondents have provided that they do not have neither agreement nor disagreement with the fact that Amtek is supporting prevention of pollution. It can be seen by 3% of responses coded as strongly disagree, 4% as disagree and 17% as neutral. Overall, the inclination of responses is more on positive side and it can be argued that Amtek Plastic UK is readily engaged in supporting the control of pollution and emission of hazardous gases into environment.

Figure 4.1. Extent of Prevention of pollution and emission

Q2. EMP for Disposal of Hazardous Material

In the second question of the survey, it has been asked from the participants that whether their company is disposing hazardous material in an environmentally friendly way or not. The responses to this question can be viewed in the figure 2 which is showing the frequencies of responses for given options. Followed by preceding question, it is also showing that most of the responses are supporting the view that their company is keeping environmental concerns into account while disposal of material which can be harmful for environment. It can be viewed that 30% have strongly agreed that they follow EMP for waste disposal while 43% have agreed that appropriate disposal of waste is carried out. On the other end of continuum, 5% have strongly disagreed that disposal is carried out to protect environment while 2% have disagreed that EMP is followed. The remaining 20% have mentioned that they have no knowledge about the waste disposal of Amtek Plastic UK. 

Figure 4.2. Extent of EMP while disposal of hazardous material

Q3. Desire to Reduce Pollution Emission by Company

The third question has focused on the extent to which Amtek Plastic UK has developed the desire to work for reduction of pollution that has been caused by the emission of gases and wastes by the company. The figure 3 is depicting the responses of participants and it showing that half of participants, 50% have provided that Amtek has desired to work for reduction of pollution. Along with this, 35% have delivered that they agree with the notion that company has extensive desire to work for reduction of pollution. The aggregate of responses on positive side is 85% which is clearly reflecting that focal firm has extensive desire to work for reduction of pollution which has been caused by its actions. The remaining 15% is being divided between “neutral”, “strongly disagree” and “disagree”. It can be seen as 2% have strongly disagreed, 3% has disagreed and 10% remained neutral. Again it is clear that focal firm has the desire to reduce pollution that has been produced by emission of the substances released by Amtek Plastic UK.

Figure 4.3. Desire to reduce pollution caused by company

Q4. EMP will reduce pollution emitted by Company

This question is laying emphasis on the extent to which Amtek believes that pollution can be reduced by adopting EMP. The responses to this question are presented in figure 4 below. It is presenting that again the responses are inclined towards positive side and most of employees have quoted their responses as “strongly disagreed” and “disagreed” on the given scale. It can be seen that 55% and 20% of respondents have reported that there is a connection between EMP and pollution reduction and emitted pollution by the Amtek can be reduced by adoption of EMP. While, only 1% and 2% have reported negatively to the question. Finally, 22% employees have remained neutral. It can be concluded by the results of this question that the Amtek is focusing on the phenomenon that incorporation of EMP can help them to reduce pollution in an effective manner.

Figure 4.4. Association between EMP and reduction of pollution emitted by company

Q5. Extent of attending courses for reduction of pollution

The fifth question of the questionnaire has inquired about the extent to which Amtek Plastic UK is engaged in attending the courses which can enhance learning regarding reduction of pollution. It can be seen that 60% of responses are directed towards positive side and remaining 40% are distributed among the “strongly disagree”, “disagree” and “neutral”.  Although there is no inclination of responses wholly on single side, yet the more respondents have shown agreement and it can be argued that there is extensive trend of attending courses which can help in reduction of pollution within Amtek Plastic UK.

Figure 4.5. Pattern of attending courses for reduction of pollution

Q6. Know how in management about impact of pollution on environment

This question is specifically about the knowledge of management regarding the effect of pollution on environment. Here the perceptive data is obtained from the employees about the knowledge of managers. The responses can be seen in figure 6 and it can be seen that there is a hierarchy from strongly disagree to strongly agree. 50% of the participants have reported that managers have knowledge that there is significant impact of EMP on reduction of pollution and 30% has shown agreement with the statement asked by them. On the other hand, 3% have strongly disagreed and 7% have disagreed with the point that management have knowledge about reduction of pollution through EMP. Finally, 10% have remained neutral. It can be provided that in Amtek Plastic UK, managers have knowhow about the association of EMP and pollution reduction.

Figure 4.6. Knowledge of management about EMP and reduction of pollution

Q7. Follow Procedures to address environmental performance

In this question focus in on the consideration of procedures which can lead to address environmental management practices. It can be seen in figure 7 that most of the responses are inclined towards strong agreement and agreement, which is 30% and 45% respectively. While the level of disagreement is 10% which has been divided into strong disagreement and disagreement as 2% and 8% respectively. The remaining 15% of participants have remained neutral. Therefore, it is evident that most of participants are agreeing and it is depicting that within Amtek Plastic UK, the procedures for addressing the environmental performance are extensively followed by the company.

Figure 4.7. Procedures are followed for addressing EMP

Q8.Extent of company’s relationship with environmental protection groups

The responses about cooperation of company with different environmental groups can be seen in the figure 8. It can be seen that almost 66% of the responses are in the direction of agreement that Amtek is actively engaged in collaborating with different stake holders with an aim of protection of environment. Out of this, 26% have strongly agreed, while 40% have agreed. On the other hand, 5% have shown strong disagreement and 15% have shown agreement. Remaining respondents have neither shown agreement nor disagreement, which are 14%. Again, it can be argued that Amtek plastic UK has collaborated with different groups for strengthening their EMP.

Figure 4.8. Extent of cooperation with stake holders for protection of environment

Q9. Conduction of environmental audit to improve environmental performance

The last question of the questionnaire has focused on the extent to which focal firm is carrying out environmental audit with an aim of improving environmental performance. It can be seen in figure 9 that 24% participants have reported strong agreement and 36% have reported agreement. Along with this, 25% respondents have shown disagreement and remaining 15% has stayed neutral. It can be stated that Amtek is considering it important to improve their environmental performance by conducting audit with an aim of pursuing opportunities for strengthening their environmental management practices.

 

 

Figure 4.9. Extent to which company conducts environmental audit

4.5.2 Interviews

The interview was carried out from the managerial level staff members of Amtek Plastic UK. The interview was initiated by asking the question that whether company is relying on environmental management practices or not. The answer to this question was almost similar from all of respondents as quoted by one respondent:

“The Amtek plastic UK is the prestigious company in plastic industry due to adoption of EMP with an aim of reducing pollution from environment and to shape the operations of company in way that can lower emission of hazardous gasses and substances in environment.”

Followed by this, it has been provided that “there is strong emphasis from the Government and regulatory authorities to show compliance with environment management practices and to be a better global citizen.”

One of the respondents has reported that, “the Amtek is continually engaged in showing higher level of compliance with the regulations laid by Government regarding protection of environment. The level of compliance has helped the company in reduction of environmental cost and it has also contributed to enhance positive image of company within plastic industry of UK.”

Next the focus in interview has moved towards the reasons of EMP and respondents were asked to choose among compliance with government regulations and proactive approach for protection of environment. Mainly, the results have shown that incorporation of EMP was derived by proactive approach of management and company has readily participated in protection of environment. It has been mentioned by one of the respondent that:

“An early approach to voluntarily contribute for protection of environment has been adopted by the Amtek Plastic UK due the reason that environment has always been given importance by the company. The proactive approach has benefited the company in improvement of its performance.”

It has been provided by another respondents that:

“The Amtek Plastic UK has adopted efficient technology which can help to use the resources in an effective manner and can reduce the level of substances which are emitted into the environment and cause pollution. The proactive approach of EMP has returned the company in the form of sustainable competitive advantage and has mainly improved the performance of firm”.

Moreover, the focus moved to the level of adoption of EMP in the plastic frim and the respondents were offered a brief speech about the three level of EMP which include strategic, tactical and operational level. The responses have shown that:

“The Amtek has adopted the EMP at operational level and it has incorporated resource based view into the consideration for adoption of efficient and clean technology and practices which can improve performance of organisation. The EMP has reduced cost, reduced emission of gases and waste and has improved operational efficiency of the company by recycling of waste material.”

Finally, the focus has moved to association of EMP with the performance of company. The respondent of Amtek has provided that:

“The Amtek is readily engaged in protection of environment and it has contributed to improve the performance of company, both environmental and financial” Another respondents has offered that:

“Higher level of compliance with EMP and engagement of company to improve the environment by reduction of pollution has contributed to improve the image of company at public level. The improved image has led us to enjoy the strong customer base and more people are attracted by the positive environmental image of the company. It has helped us in improvement of our performance and we have felt significant increase in our cash flows and revenue stream”.

This view was further strengthened by the view of another interviewee that:

“Incorporation of EMP has enhanced the positive image of company and it has attracted number of highly talented and skilled workers towards Amtek Plastics UK. It has increased the ability of company to retain the competitive workforce, which is an intangible resource and it inimitable by other firms. The skilled workforce has contributed as a key of improving the performance of company, which is mainly linked with the high level of compliance with environment management practices”.

Therefore, on the basis of these reactions, it can be argued that responses of interviewees have readily supported the view that Amtek Plastics UK has increased the level of performance by relying on EMP. The EMP has offered them a competitive advantage which has not only made the company distinguished but it has strengthened the sustainable position of focal plastic firm as well.

4.6Discussion and Synthesis

4.6.1 Key Findings of Questionnaire

The main aim of this research was to identify association between environmental management practices and performance of plastic firms in UK. The study has highlighted the extent to which UK firms are showing readiness towards adoption of environmental management practices and their current level of compliance with policies of protecting environment. In order to support the research objectives, findings were drawn from two sources of data that are; questionnaire and interviews from Amtek Plastic UK.

The findings of questionnaire have reflected that plastic firms are adopting methods which can help them to control emission of pollutants into the environment and in this way they are actively engaged in protection of environment. Similarly, the material which are hazardous for the environment are disposed-off in the manner which can help in reduction of pollution. Therefore, the environmental management practices are actively considered by these firms and they are significantly making efforts for protecting the environment form hazardous materials caused by operations of plastic firms. The results have further indicated that plastic firms have desire to incorporate environmental management practices into account which is showing their readiness towards compliance with regulations of environmental management practices.

It has been depicted by the results as well that incorporation of environmental management practices can help to overcome the problems associated with environmental protection. Therefore, the plastic firms are considering EMP as an important source for reducing the negative effects of their operations on overall environment and society. Along with this, it is evident from the results that management of plastic firms is engaged in attending different courses which can help them to improve their compliance with environmental management practices. Similarly, the results have indicated that there prevails extensive knowhow in the management of the company about the effect of lack of compliance with EMP. They know that their action can cause harm to the environment and their awareness is fostering them to further improve their processes with an aim of reducing pollution form environment.

Of greater importance are the findings that in plastic firms of UK, there exists well formulated procedures which are used to check and revise the environmental management performance. The active consideration towards environmental performance is showing that it is paying them back in the way to support their performance. Along with this, the plastic firms in UK are showing active engagement with the key stake holders of the firms which can include; government, society and clients. The active involvement with the stake holders can help to ensure that good understanding of stake holder’s interests is gained which can further help in directing the operations of the plastic companies in the way which can satisfy concerns of stake holders and can help in improvement of performance of firms.

In related vein, as suggested by findings of the current study, the plastic firms carry out an extensive environmental audit which is helping them in exploring and exploiting new opportunities for improvement in environmental performance of firm. Therefore, it is evident from the results that consideration of environmental management practices is considered as the way of improving environmental performance which adds positively in overall financial performance of firm according to the evidences from prior researches.

4.6.2 Key Findings of Interviews

The interviews taken form the managerial level members of Amtek Plastics UK have revealed that the plastic firms of UK are facing enormous pressure from the Governmental and other regulatory authorities to incorporate environmental management practices into their operations. According to them, the plastic firms are perceived as the significant cause of environmental pollution and therefore, it is crucial for them to consider aspects of EMP. The focal company in this research has reported high level of compliance with the regulations regarding EMP.  Along with this, the results of interviews have suggested that compliance with EMP has significantly contributed to improve their performance, both environmental and financial. The reason has also been mentioned which is providing that consideration for environmental management practices has conveyed positive image of company and the reputation of company has strengthened at public level. The well reputed firms are more attractive for the general public and therefore, the customer base of environmentally friendly plastic firm’s increases. 

Furthermore, the results of interviews have reflected that plastic firms are relying on proactive approach towards environment management practices. It has indicated that just to comply with the minimum level of regulations laid by government and environmental protecting groups, they are actively participating in reduction of pollution and protection of environment. The plastic firm is continually seeking to comply with the standards for ISO 14001 with an aim of winning the hearts of public. According to interviewees, the proactive attitude towards EMP has contributed positively in reduction of cost, increase in efficiency and learning of new ways to increase efficient utilization of resources. The evidences have suggested that plastic firm is incorporating EMP at operational level with an aim of bringing improvements into its production and processes. Reduction of waste, pollution prevention, recycling of waste through recovery of product and reduction of emission through higher employee engagement and application of better manufacturing technologies are considered as the way of EMP at operational level.

The company has continually shown engagement to audit the success of environmental management practices and it has found that compliance with environmental management practices has contributed to improved performance of the Amtek plastic UK. Likewise, the findings also presented that environmental management practices can lead to the sustainability of the businesses and it is the modern method of gaining competitive advantage in long run.  Therefore, the key findings of interviews has supported the objectives of study and provided an evidence that adherence with environmental management practices contribute to improved performance of organisations, specifically in plastic industry.

4.7 Relationship of main findings with Literature

The findings of current study are in accordance with the results of the prior studies from the relevant field of research. The detailed investigation of literature has been carried out and mentioned in chapter 2, which is laying emphasis on the notion that environmental management practices are crucial to consider for sustainable growth of businesses. The initial stream of research has focused on the compliance requirement of environmental management practices and has reported that regulations of government act as a motivation to move towards EMP (Pun et al., 2012; Montabon, Sroufe and Narasimhan, 2007). The current study has shown aligned findings with the view of prior research and presented that plastic firms are showing high level of compliance with the government regulations regarding EMP. The researchers have highlighted that companies friendly towards environment should have contribute towards the prevention of pollution and emission of dangerous gases into the environment (Perugini, Mastellone and Arena, 2005; Klassen and McLaughlin, 1996; Lai and Wong, 2012). The results have shown that the plastic firm is contributing to reduction of pollution and they are disposing their waste in the way which cause minimum harm to the environment.

Furthermore, the results have shown that EMP helps to find out ways for increasing efficiency of organisation, minimization of waste, effective utilization of resources and adoption of new technology which is friendlier towards environment. These results are clearly supporting the views of past researchers who provided that EMP is the way of creating an efficient and environment friendly organisation (Melnyk, Sroufe and Calantone, 2003; Montabon, Sroufe and Narasimhan, 2007). The results have also presented that incorporation of environmental management practices are the way of improving learning of organization and the plastic firms are engaged in attending different courses to pursue opportunities related to EMP. This is aligned with the notion presented in literature that EMP enhances learning capacity of organizations and help them to adopt new and efficient technologies with greater easy (Mensah, 2006; Brammer, Hoejmose and Marchant, 2012).

Along with this, it has been highlighted in the literature that there are three possible levels in which organizations can establish EMP with an aim of reaping its benefits. These levels include strategic level, tactical level and operational level (Rondinelli and Vastag, 2000). The results have shown that Amtek Plastics UK has mainly adopted the EMP at its operational level and improvements have been brought in the production and processes of the company with an aim of reducing pollution and bringing more efficiency into the organization. The findings of current research have shown that EMP is the way of gaining sustainability in the performance level and it is in line with the findings of prior researches (Khanna and Anton, 2002; Hofer, Cantor and Dai, 2012).

4.8 Implication of the Findings for Industry

The findings of current study have many implications for the industry. Mainly, it is emphasising on the fact the EM is a significant practice which needs to be incorporated by the firms with an aim of gaining sustainable competitive advantages. The plastic firms can have an integrated view of the benefits of EMP, which are being offered by the results of current study and can make a trade-off between EMP and traditional practices. Along with this, the decision can be guided regarding level of management which is most appropriate for the adoption of EMP.

4.9 Summary

The results of both the questionnaire and interviews have been presented in the current chapter which has mainly supported the objectives of the study and helped in answering the research questions. It has been provided that plastic firms of UK are showing high level of compliance with the regulations laid by government of UK regarding EMP. They have readiness to incorporate EMP into its operations and auditing of environmental performance is carried out continually to improve the performance. The significant motivation depicted by the results is the proactivity to avoid any challenges due to lack of compliance with EMP. The results have depicted that EMP is the way of improving the performance of organizations, both environmental and financial performance. The EMP has been identified as the way of gaining sustainable competitive advantage in long run. All of the results of currents study have shown alignment with the prior literature. The findings of current research have greater implications for the industry as it can contribute to increase the motivation of firms to adopt proactive approach of EMP by highlighting the advantages that can be gain from adoption of EMP.

 

Chapter 5- Conclusions

5.1Overall conclusions

The current study was conducted with an aim of investigating the impact of environmental management practices on the performance of plastic firms of UK. The objective of study was to find the compliance of UK plastic firms with the environmental management practices. Along with this, the focus was on readiness of plastic firms to comply with environmental management policies and to look at the impact of EMP on performance of firms. The extensive literature related to adoption of environment management practices has been explored to base the foundation of study of extant literature. In terms of motivation behind adoption of environment management practices, it was find out that EMP can be guided either through governmental regulations or a proactive approach can be pursued to incorporate environment management practices. The environment management practices of the organization are found to be related with the quality management of the firm and it can be entailed that it help in improvement of performance as well.

It has been highlighted through the results of prior studies that adoption of environment management practices is the way of enhancing positive relationship with the customers. The image of company gets improve and it succeed in gaining strong customer base, which helps in performance improvement of the organization. The main emphasis of current study was on the notion that performance of organization is the combination of its financial as well as environmental performance. In order to achieve the aim of study, data was collected from Amtek plastics UK, through questionnaires and interviews. In this manner, the current study is both quantitative and qualitative in nature. The sample size for survey was 111, whereas, it was 5 for interviews. The choice of sample was carried out by using purposive sampling method with an aim of selecting the respondents which are most relevant and qualified for providing information about the current phenomenon. In case of survey, the focus was on employees of Amtek plastics UK, whereas, the interviews were conducted from 5 managerial level members of the same plastic firm.

The information obtained through both the survey and interviews have reflected that plastic firms have high compliance with the environmental management policies and they are actively incorporating the environmental management practices into their system. Along with this, the plastic firms of UK have readiness to adopt environmental management practices in an effective manner with an aim of reducing and controlling pollution emission into environment. The findings have also depicted that the focal firm has readiness to attend programs which can help in their knowledge regarding environment management practices. Along with this, the plastic firms adopt the approaches for disposal of hazardous material which are supported towards protection of environment. This has supported the objective that company has willingness to comply with the environment management practices.

Likewise, the results have reflected that plastic firms have appropriate knowledge that how their operations are contributing to pollution of environment and it is enabling them to take necessary steps for reduction of pollution and protection of environment. Moreover, the results have reflected that there is high level of association between the adoption of environmental management practices and improvement of firm’s overall performance. The results have reflected that compliance with environmental management practices has extensively contributed to enhance the performance of plastic firms by reducing the cost and efficient utilization of resources. Therefore, the results of current study are well aligned with the objectives laid in first chapter and it is providing that plastic firms of UK have incorporated the environment management practices in an appropriate manner.

5.2Recommendations

The current study holds significant implications for both practice and theory and it can not only guide the decisions regarding adoption of environmental management practices but it can also suggest new paradigms of research in relevant area of research.

5.2.1To the industry

The results of current study can help the management of company in relation of the fact that environmental management practices are of significant importance for the firms. It is evident that plastic industry has faced bad image due to believe that plastic contributes to polluting the environment. The traditional views of plastic industry, which offer that there is high cost associated with adoption of environmental management practices can be modified on the basis of results of current study. The managers of plastic firms can extend their training and awareness programs regarding environmental management practices, by keeping the benefits of EMP into account. The department responsible for researching about the effects of company’s operations over environment should be active to incorporate changes in internal system of organization in accordance with EMP requirements. The management should bring some modifications in their structure with an aim of offering substantial authority to the environmental management department of the plastic firms. This authority can help them to take timely actions with an aim of gaining greater advantage through environmental management practices. Therefore, the management can bring structural changes within their organisation to support their EMP and it can help them in aligning the objectives and strategies of organization with EMP. It can enhance the strategic competitiveness of modern organizations.

Along with this, the results of present study can also motivate the management of plastic industry to establish high quality relationship with the external agencies which are responsible for promoting environmental protection. This association with integrated environmental authorities will not only strengthen the public image of plastic companies but it will help them in strengthening their financial position as well. In addition to this, the management of the company should focus on extending the open communication system within their organization to enhance learning about environment management practices. The findings of current study can help the plastic organizations in defining new paradigms regarding adoption and maintenance of environment management practices. They can use the approach of EMP for marketing purposes by highlighting the maximization of efficiency, minimization of energy usage, minimization of waste and effective recycling of waste material. By focusing mainly on the environment friendly policy of the organization in marketing, the firms can have greater advantages in form of improved image and huge customer base. The plastic industry can develop good public relation on the basis of environment management practices and it is of the significant benefit for them to gain sustainable competitive advantage.

In related vein, the environment drive should be fostered within the organization by evaluating the current environment management practices followed by the company. The management can realize that the evaluation of environment management practices can help them in findings gaps in current approach of plastic firms. The gaps can then be filled by taking necessary steps with an aim of improving the approach of organization towards environment protection and management. It is also evident from the review of prior studies that most significant aspect of performance for most of organizations is financial. Therefore, by looking at the association of environment management practices with the performance of plastic firms, it can be realized by the organizations that along with financial performance they should also improve their environment performance. Therefore, the sustainability in competitive advantage can be obtained through reliance on the notion of EMP which has been emphasized further by the result of preliminary study.

5.2.2To the Academia

The results of current study offers fruitful avenue for the academia as well. The current stream of literature has focused on environment management practices, yet the specific literature on plastic industry is much less. Therefore, the present study can add positively in the literature related to this field and is mainly beneficial for the future researchers who want to explore the similar phenomenon. Along with this, the results of interviews have relied heavily on the motivations of plastic firms behind the adoption of environment management practices. It has added substantially in the current literature of environment management practices. The academicians who are engaged in understanding the environment protection policies of plastic industry can mainly gain help form the current study’s findings.

Along with this, the focus has been maintained on the notion that in which level of organization, environment management practices have been incorporated. The views of managerial level members of plastic firm can help the academicians in gaining the clear view of the adoption of EMP at different levels of organization including; operational, strategic and tactical level. Overall, the study is of huge prominence for the clear understanding of conceptual association of environment management practices with performance of organizations. 

 

 

 

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Appendices

A.Questionnaire of EMP

Source: (Saad et al., 2015)

Provide response on a given scale below.

1

2

3

4

5

Strongly disagree

Disagree

Neutral

Agree

Strongly agree

  1. Your company supports prevention of pollution and emissions?
  2. Are hazardous materials disposed of in an environmentally suitable manner?
  3. Do you have the desire to work towards reducing pollution emitted by the company?
  4. Do you think focusing on the environmental aspects would reduce the pollution emitted by the company?
  5. Do you attend courses that would be beneficial to addressing the problem of pollution?
  6. Do mangers in your company know pollution could badly affect the environment?
  7. The company has procedures to check and revise the environmental performance?
  8. The company has a relationship of cooperation with stakeholders (government, clients, suppliers, etc.) for environmental protection?
  9. Environmental audit is primarily a means of identifying opportunities for improving environmental performance?
  1. Questions of Interviews
  1. To what extent regulations of Government are laying emphasis on incorporation of EMP?
  2. Have the company adopted EMP as a proactive approach or to comply with regulations?
  3. If the Amtek has adopted proactive approach how it had impacted its performance?
  4. At which level the company has adopted EMP and how it has contributed to the firm’s operations and processes?
  5. How the EMP has contributed in performance improvement of Amtek Plastic UK?

 

 

 

 

 

 


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