An official website of the United States government.

This is not the current EPA website. To navigate to the current EPA website, please go to This website is historical material reflecting the EPA website as it existed on January 19, 2021. This website is no longer updated and links to external websites and some internal pages may not work. More information »

Pollution Prevention (P2)

An Introduction to Environmental Accounting as a Business Management Tool: Key Concepts and Terms

This primer focuses on the application of environmental accounting as a managerial accounting tool for internal business decisions. Moreover, the term environmental cost has at least two major dimensions: (1) it can refer solely to costs that directly impact a company's bottom line (here termed "private costs"), or (2) it also can encompass the costs to individuals, society, and the environment for which a company is not accountable (here termed "societal costs"). The discussion in this primer concentrates on private costs because that is where companies starting to implement environmental accounting typically begin. However, much of the material is applicable to societal costs as well.

You may need a PDF reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA’s About PDF page to learn more.