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Pollution Prevention - Pollution Prevention Regional Information Center Topic Hub

Strategies for reducing the use of toxic substances, eliminating hazardous waste, and conserving water and energy.


All operational activities generate waste streams or associated pollutants regardless of the enterprise. For a service company or office-type setting, the "wastes" may simply be dirty water, waste paper, and emissions associated with energy consumed in operating the office and commuting. The manufacturing world deals with these wastes and a much more complicated set of "wastes", for example, scrap or defects, process water, toxins, and wasted energy and water. 

The following input/output diagram helps illustrate the operations and processes that generate waste.

Sources of pollution or waste stem from less-than-best operating practices, outmoded or non-optimized processes, and resource intensive product designs. These sources can generate toxic or hazardous materials, or an intensive use of resources. Any output other than product indicates an opportunity to optimize the processes or input choices. 

Costs of waste

The impacts of these activities include: cost associated with waste treatment and disposal, health affects from chemical exposure, depletion of resources, loss of competitiveness, and degradation of environmental quality. Often overlooked are the subtle costs that could be avoided by eliminating a waste or specialized handling altogether. How does one address these costs and the challenges of reducing the environmental impacts? The answer is in avoiding generation of the waste and pollutants in the first place.

How P2 Works

A set of P2 options are typically considered when trying to identify options to remove waste generation: 

Product Modifications:

  • Material Substitution replaces hazardous substances with less toxic alternatives, and/or materials that less embodied energy (e.g., recycled content)
  • Product and Packaging Redesign uses fewer parts or less material
  • Design for Environment
  • Design for Disassembly and Product Takeback

Process Modifications:

  • Efficiency Improvements allow one to perform the same task with less energy or materials by designing new or modifying existing systems.
  • Equipment Modification or Replacement allows more efficient, newer technologies to replace costlier, older equipment.
  • Modification or Redesign improves materials management and work methods.

Good Operating Practices:

  • Inventory Control improves quality of input and reduces spoilage.
  • Supply Chain Management reduces waste coming into an enterprise.
  • Preventive Maintenance finds and reduces leaks and spills while prolonging equipment life.
  • Improved Housekeeping reduces opportunities of accidents and increases likelihood of finding spills.
  • Employee Training raises awareness and reinforces optimum practices.
  • Material Segregation reduces cross-contamination of resources
  • Facility Management provides savings in material efficiency, energy and water use.
  • Green Procurement provides savings in selection of products and services that have reduced environmental impacts.

The systematic steps for getting buy-in, planning and implementing P2 programs, as well as links to specific P2 opportunities, can be found in the P2 Opportunities sections. 


Great checklists to help you identify P2 projects.

Pollution Prevention Checklist for Your Business

Checklist for All Industries

Waste Reduction/P2 Checklist and Glossary

Pollution Prevention Through Good Operating Practices,tools,manual,Checklist

Essential Links