Pollution Prevention - Getting Started
Policies and Goals
Successful pollution prevention begins with a commitment to prevent waste generation through policies and goals. Support and direction from top management are critical to the development of company-wide pollution prevention policies. It is important to include a pollution prevention hierarchy in your policy development. Then examine all waste streams for source reduction and recycling potential - in that order.
Other important components of pollution prevention policies are:
Guidance and Review
Get the backing of top management as pollution prevention policies and goals are established to ensure successful implementation. Also, involve the individuals who will be most affected by operational changes, including maintenance staff, materials handling personnel and purchasing employees. This type of broad employee participation has been critical to success at many firms.
Select a pollution prevention task force or committee. This is a vital step for reviewing waste reduction and recycling alternatives, overseeing program development, recommending an action strategy and monitoring program implementation.
This group should meet on an ongoing basis to identify new ways to eliminate waste and develop new programs. Waste is an ever-changing commodity. As new materials such as plastic packaging find their way into your waste stream, you will need to continually identify new ways to handle materials.
Planning for pollution prevention begins with prioritizing waste streams on the basis of toxicity, volume, cost and ability to segregate materials.
As you develop a pollution prevention plan, consider adopting an incremental approach to reduction. First, target those waste streams that can be eliminated at the source; next target those waste streams that are easiest to recycle or reuse. For example, using water-based paints instead of solvent based paints is an easy, cost-effective method to prevent waste at the source. A thorough waste audit or assessment is always important to characterize waste streams and determine volumes for source reduction potential of various materials. Other planning approaches could include targeting the highest volume waste material, or the most hazardous waste material.
As waste streams are assessed for source reduction potential, develop accounting systems that calculate the true cost of disposal and recognize benefits of pollution prevention. This means going beyond handling, transportation, treatment and disposal costs. Lost revenue of materials that could have been sold as recyclables should be included in accounting systems, as well as the value of the wasted input material.
Again, the most important opportunity to prevent pollution is at the point of generation (source reduction). You can increase operating efficiency by substituting materials or changing processes so fewer waste materials are produced. Examples of solid waste source reduction include replacing disposable materials with reusable and recyclable materials or switching to returnable containers.
Planning for ImplementationA company-wide memo describing waste policies and goals will help kick off your pollution prevention program. Solicit employee involvement, especially if you are planning a program that will require widespread employee participation. Employee involvement can be encouraged through the use of incentives. Employees might be offered the opportunity to suggest changes that can result in company savings. A portion of these savings could be passed back to the employee or their department.
Employee education and participation is critical to program success. Those who must change how they handle materials will need guidelines and training. Provisions must be made to continue these educational efforts into the future to anticipate personnel turnover.
Develop a weekly or monthly waste report to monitor the success of the program, provide employee feedback and identify problem areas. Of course, the real proof of success will show up in reduced handling and empty waste dumpsters.
Pollution Prevention Planning Checklist
As you begin to develop a pollution prevention plan for your facility, review the following checklist. It is detailed enough to make sure your main bases are covered, however, you'll want to add some of your own specific ideas.
General Planning Tips
Once a management strategy has been established, you can identify some general pollution prevention activities which apply to a variety of waste types and will go a long way towards meeting your pollution prevention goals.
Tips for Small Businesses
Facility Pollution Prevention Guide U.S. EPA, 1992 , EPA/600/R-92/088
U.S. EPA, 1992.
Pollution Prevention Information Exchange System (PIES) User Guide. 1992. EPA/600/r-92-213
This is an updated version of the fifth in a series of fact sheets that Ohio EPA has prepared on pollution prevention.
The Office of Pollution Prevention was created to encourage multi-media pollution prevention activities within the state of Ohio, including source reduction and environmentally sound recycling practices. The Office analyzes, develops, and publicizes information and data related to pollution prevention. Additionally, the Office increases awareness of pollution prevention opportunities through education, outreach, and technical assistance programs directed toward business, government, and the public. For printed copies of this or other pollution prevention publications distributed by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Pollution Prevention, please call the Office of Pollution Prevention at (614) 644-3469.
A printed copy of the Office of Pollution Prevention publications distribution list, "Pollution Prevention Information Available from Ohio EPA", may also be ordered by calling (614) 644-3469.
Office of Pollution Prevention
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency
P.O. Box 1049
Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049
Phone (614) 644-3469
Fax (614) 644-2807
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October 5, 2000
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page last updated: October 5, 2000