Business Ethics Case Study 500-700 words

PROMPT: Is It Ethical to Dump Toxic Waste in Countries That Allow It? Should a multinational company take advantage of another country’s lack of regulation or enforcement if it saves money to do so? A New York Times news correspondent reporting from Nigeria found a collection of steel drums stacked behind a village’s family living compound. In this mid-1990s case, ten thousand barrels of toxic waste had been dumped where children live, eat, and drink.

As safety and environmental hazard regulations in the United States and Europe have driven toxic waste disposal costs up to $3,000 per ton, toxic waste brokers are looking for the poorest nations with the weakest laws, often in West Africa, where the costs might be closer to $3 per ton. The companies in this incident were looking for cheap waste-dumping sites, and Nigeria agreed to take the toxic chemical waste without notifying local residents. Local people wearing shorts, t-shirts, and sandals unloaded barrels of polychlorinated biphenyls, placing them next to a residential area. Nigeria has often been near the top of the United Nations’ list of most corrupt nations, with government leaders cutting deals to line their own pockets while exposing their citizens to environmental hazards. A more recent example occurred in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) in 2006, when residents discovered that hundreds of tons of “slops” (chemicals) from a foreign-owned ship had been dumped near Abidjan, the country’s commercial capital. The ship was owned by a multinational energy company named Trafigura. According to a report from Amnesty International, more than 100,000 residents were sickened, leading to fifteen deaths. Trafigura had illegally dumped the toxic waste in Côte d’Ivoire after searching for a disposal site in several other countries.

43 Critical Thinking

  • Should a U.S. or European company take advantage of a country’s weak approach to business and political ethics?
  • Would your answer change if your decision saved your company $1 million?