"Plasticolors (Ashtabula) reduced waste, lowered operating costs and used its saving to reward employees. It's a good example of how pollution prevention pays off for everyone."
Governor George V. Voinovich
This chapter outlines a method to incorporate a pollution prevention program into daily company activities. The steps involved include: designating a pollution prevention coordinator, developing a pollution prevention team, setting goals, increasing employee awareness and involvement, and rewarding and training employees.
While a pollution prevention program needs top down support and commitment, it also needs bottom up input and implementation. This means teamwork and participation from all levels within the company are essential. A key element for success is to find a good advocate and leader for the pollution prevention program.
The pollution prevention coordinator will be responsible for establishing the pollution prevention team(s), conducting meetings, and making sure the company is working toward its pollution prevention goals. The coordinator can come from any level in the company. He or she needs to be well organized, an advocate for the program, a cheerleader, and a motivator of people. If the coordinator has top management support and the confidence of supervisors and others on the team, he or she will likely develop a very successful program.
The coordinator will act as the key liaison to top management. This helps to ensure that the best pollution prevention ideas in terms of need, feasibility, and benefit to the company are delivered to top management for consideration. Also, the coordinator will need to obtain interdepartmental cooperation and resources on a continuing basis.
A pollution prevention team needs to be organized prior to beginning the assessment process. These responsibilities should not be assigned to any one department. Some suggested key personnel to consider including are: representatives (both supervisors and line workers) from maintenance, production, environmental, health and safety, purchasing, accounting, shipping and receiving, legal and engineering departments, research and development, and plant and executive managers. Not every company will have these designations, and other personnel may be more appropriate. The final composition of the team should be based on what is most appropriate for your company. It is important to include those individuals knowledgeable about the processes generating wastes and involve them from the beginning.
In addition to those individuals assigned duties on the pollution prevention team, others may wish to help. Do not turn away volunteers - everyone should be encouraged to participate in the pollution prevention program. All volunteers should be commended in some way (the in-house newsletter, etc.) for their interest in helping the company, their co-workers, and the environment. One important point to continually stress throughout the development and implementation of the pollution prevention program is the need to work together. Employee suggestions should continually be encouraged - supervisors need to listen carefully because innovative ideas can come from any employee. Pollution prevention must continue for the life of the facility; establishing a sound, cooperative program from the start will be beneficial in future years.
The initial pollution prevention team meeting should be an informal session to discuss what pollution prevention is, why the company should do it, and where and how to begin. General information about the company's processes and operational procedures should be reviewed. The team will be responsible for developing a formal pollution prevention plan as outlined in the next chapter. This is also a good time for the company to emphasize top management support for the pollution prevention program and for the team's planning process.
There are different types of goals a company should set when beginning their pollution prevention program. Some goals will be waste specific, while others will be activity oriented. The team should discuss what types of goals are appropriate for the company. For example, a company may want to set an ultimate goal of zero percent waste generation to acknowledge the fact that pollution prevention is a continuing challenge. This is very similar to company goals like "zero product defects" or "zero lost workdays". Another goal may be to replace some or all of the toxic substances used with non-toxic substances and thus reduce risk to employees, the public, and the environment. Numerical goals for waste reduction may be established once the wastes are characterized. Goals may consider economic and technical feasibility.
In addition to specific goals targeted at source reduction, more general goals should also be set. These could include improving worker health and safety in the facility or improving the company image and attractiveness to investors. Activity goals could include incorporating pollution prevention into performance evaluations of all management staff, installing a revised accounting system that charges the cost back to the production line generating the waste, training all employees in pollution prevention, or holding monthly team meetings.
Goals should be continually updated as they are achieved. This emphasizes the concept of continuous quality improvement and is an important component of a pollution prevention program. Do not remain static. Build on the successes achieved. Specific goals will vary over time and should be based on the size of the facility and the type of production processes undergoing change. It is a good idea to set a number of measurable goals to track progress within a given period.
One method of increasing pollution prevention knowledge is through a corporate/facility awareness program. Supervisors should discuss the status of the pollution prevention program at weekly meetings. They should encourage the employees to bring pollution prevention ideas to them so they can forward them on for the facility pollution prevention team meetings, or encourage employees to submit ideas directly to the team. Some companies may already have "quality circles" in place to improve product quality and production efficiency. The team should work with these groups to develop ideas for pollution prevention initiatives. The pollution prevention team should include the following aspects in developing their awareness program:
Specialized pollution prevention training programs tailored for management, line, and maintenance staff should be incorporated into company procedures. Consolidated training for different groups can also stimulate discussion between employees who would not interact otherwise. Additional personnel training may be needed if materials handling or accounting changes are made. The facility or company may want to include a pollution prevention orientation program for all new employees, regardless of their job function. Employees will need thorough training on any new technologies or techniques added to unit processes. Depending upon the size of the facility, this may require training on more than one shift.
Another option is to have performance evaluation systems reflect pollution prevention responsibilities. As pollution prevention strategies are identified, the training requirements must be considered by the pollution prevention team prior to implementation.
To stimulate additional interest and participation in pollution prevention, establish an employee incentive award or recognition program for the facility or company. Competition in larger plants may motivate participation. Shifts, departments, or even individuals can be encouraged to compete against their own past year's performance. Recognition in the form of an awards ceremony, a bonus, a special parking place, or added vacation time, provides a tangible reward to individuals and departments who have achieved their pollution prevention goals. Further recognition may be promoted in a regular pollution prevention column in the company newsletter which recognizes pollution prevention efforts and successes. When a company newsletter is not available, a short one page fact sheet on pollution prevention could be started that acknowledges employee participation and accomplishments.