Ohio Pollution Prevention and Waste Minimization Planning Guidance Manual

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Chapter 12
Define Pollution Prevention Options

"The diversity of potential strategies for reducing wastes at the source parallels the diversity of pollution sources and opportunities for prevention."

Christine Ervin, World Wildlife Fund


Propose Options

A productive way to generate ideas is to conduct an informal meeting in which team members are encouraged to "brainstorm" and discuss options. The team members should also solicit ideas from other personnel at all levels, not only in their department but from the entire facility. Many times these personnel already have ideas for reducing waste but have never had the opportunity to express them. All options should be written down and given serious consideration.

Some of the options may be simple to identify and implement such as:

Other options that may not be as easily identified but must definitely be considered involve source reduction. Table 3 provides some examples. Generator checklists for identifying waste reduction opportunities developed by the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) can also be used to help identify pollution prevention options (MnTAP, various dates).

Table 3. Source Reduction Options

Source Reduction
Substituting less toxic or less hazardous alternatives for raw materials
Using raw materials that generate less waste
Using raw materials that require less frequent cleaning of equipment
Modifying products to eliminate the need for hazardous or toxic materials
Making process modifications and/or operating conditions that improve efficiency
Improving preventive maintenance and operating procedures

(adapted from Pollution Prevention: A Guide to Program Implementation, Illinois Hazardous Waste Research and Information Center, 1993)

Once these options have been applied to specific wastes/processes, further investigation or changes in product composition may be required. For example, it may be necessary to implement new or existing techniques/technologies or to identify raw material alternatives. At this point it may be helpful to contact other facilities, vendors, trade associations, state and local environmental assistance agencies, and publications for ideas. These groups may be aware of material alternatives or similar pollution prevention technologies that have been successfully implemented. Further pollution prevention opportunities may be identified through "upstream" suppliers and "downstream" consumers. These individuals should also be allowed input into the company's program.

Another way to identify pollution prevention opportunities is through benchmarking. In the benchmarking process, a company selects an area for improvement and identifies other companies who have similar practices that they consider to be the best in class. They then compare their own practices to those companies' processes to determine where differences exist. The company using benchmarking then implements measures to make their practices more like those of "best in class." A nine step benchmarking program developed by AT&T is described in detail in Benchmarking: Focus on World Practices (AT&T Quality Steering Committee, 1992). Working together, AT&T and Intel applied the benchmarking process to develop a pollution prevention program. Benchmarking teams from both companies followed the nine-step process to compare their own pollution prevention programs to the best in class programs of six other companies (Klafter, 1992).

Other waste management options may be considered after pollution prevention strategies have been exhausted. These include, in order of U.S. EPA's priority, recycling on-site to other processes, reclamation, recycling off-site or using material exchanges, on-site treatment (physical, chemical, or biological process that renders a waste less toxic, produces a byproduct that is recyclable or reduces the volume of the waste stream for disposal), treatment off-site; and lastly, proper disposal. These alternative waste management options are discussed in more detail in Chapter 19. For additional sources of technical assistance, refer to Appendix B.

Screen Options

A priority approach in selecting options may be developed. Ranking options on a high, moderate, or low continuum helps to ensure that pollution prevention is not a "one-shot" approach. Moderate and low priority options should still be considered since circumstances such as a change in raw materials, regulations or technology could occur.


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