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Insights How protecting the environment can help grow our business

As part of our #PeopleDriveResults campaign, this week we have caught up with Lyndon Hanson, Vice President, Environment and based in Vancouver, Canada.

this is an image of a Lyndon skiing

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.

My name is Lyndon Hanson and I am based in the AtkinsRéalis EDPM offices in the Vancouver, British Columbia area.  I am a geologist with specific training in hydrogeology and have been practicing in the environmental field since 1983. Over this time, I have worked on projects related to water supply, environmental impact assessment and contaminated sites assessment and management on land and in the marine environment. Currently, I provide project management and strategic support to opportunities and projects in the environment sector, using my experience to help others successfully win and execute work.

How are you helping to reduce pollution in your job?

The projects we conduct are often related to the management of pollution – meaning contaminants at brownfield sites.  As much as we want to reduce or remove pollution from these sites, that isn’t always the most sustainable solution. Excavating, transporting and depositing contaminated materials at distant locations (i.e. landfills) involves emissions from heavy equipment and merely places the contaminated materials at a new, albeit permitted, location. This isn’t always the best approach. Rather, our teams use tools such as risk assessment and management to develop solutions that assess the risk that contaminants may pose to receptors (people, animals, plants). If the risks are deemed unacceptable, we embark on removing or otherwise isolating those contaminants from receptors. By reducing the excavation, transport and disposal of contaminated materials at distant landfill sites, we help our clients take a more sustainable and practical approach to contaminant management.

What inspired you to take an active interest in reducing pollution professionally?

I live in a province with incredible natural beauty, which also has significant mineral and petroleum resources. I enjoy the outdoors – skiing, hiking, kayaking and cycling. The development of these resources can be at odds with maintaining the quality of the environment that I enjoy. For me, finding solutions to reduce the effects of pollution caused by legacy resource development and to find ways to reduce pollution while sustainably extracting resources in the future, benefits the environment in which I live, work and play.

What technologies do you see emerging that will help us in our fight against pollution?

Rather than speak to technology, let’s keep it simple and personal—reduce, reuse, recycle, refuse.  Take public transit when you can. Think about your environmental footprint and find ways to minimize it.

In your personal life, what do you do to help reduce pollution at home?

At home, I try to reduce pollution by purchasing goods with limited packaging, clothes that will last, foods that are grown and produced locally and reducing the use of my car by trying to do several errands in one trip. I reduce emissions from my house by turning the thermostat down in the winter and wearing a sweater indoors. When possible, I take transit into the City, as opposed to using my car.  Simple things.

In my community, we have a waste transfer facility where we take our sorted recyclables, our compost, surplus electronics used clothing and garbage. Because the disposal of garbage in our community has greater costs than the processing of recyclables, each year the community measures the reduction in the volume of “garbage” disposed compared to recyclable and compostable materials to rally us all to do better.

How would you argue that preventing pollution is good for our economy?

The world needs the resources that British Columbia produces. The resource development industry provides good paying jobs in communities across British Columbia. Enlightened companies and their consumers want resource development in ways that prevent or minimize pollution. By finding ways to prevent pollution, we can intelligently develop our resources, providing good paying jobs that propel the economy – enabling improved social, educational and health services for the members of our province. 

Perhaps we are not yet at the point where we can fully develop our resources without pollution, but that doesn’t mean that we should stop trying to find ways to do so.