Environmental consulting firms help companies comply with environmental laws and regulations. An environmental consulting firm can also assist companies in assessing water, air, and land contamination. Consultants help prepare environmental impact assessments and help develop waste management systems. They can conduct field surveys, gather and assess data, and develop environmental assessment reports that will help companies to determine the impact a given project will have on the environment.
In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has regulations and guidelines in place for the disposal of waste and the protection of air, land, and water. If companies want to undertake certain projects — like building a new factory or disposing of industrial waste — they need to comply with EPA regulations. In Europe, the European Environment Agency (EEA) serves a similar function, regulating companies who produce pollutants or whose activities may threaten the environment. Compliance with EPA and EEA regulations can be difficult, and complex. An environmental consulting firm can help companies ensure they operate within the bounds of the law.
Complying with specific environmental regulations can require extensive study of the environmental impact of a proposed project. Many companies do not have the experience or understanding of how to conduct those studies. Environmental consultants are trained in preparing environmental impact assessments. It is often more economical for a company to hire an environmental consulting firm to conduct these studies, because the consultant is better equipped to understand how a given project will affect the environment. The consultant often knows what data to collect in order to write a proposal that will be approved by the relevant environmental protection agencies in charge of approving the project.
Companies also usually want to avoid illegally contaminating the environment. The EPA and EEA can require companies to participate in cleanup efforts and pay the cost of cleaning up environmental contamination. In many cases, heavy penalties are assessed if a company is found to be responsible for contaminating the environment.
An environmental consulting firm can help a company avoid contamination that will result in penalties and cleanup obligations. The firm can advise a company when an action would result in illegal contamination, and can help develop a waste disposal system that complies with the laws and requirements. This advice can be invaluable and potentially save a company millions of dollars.