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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.

P2 Opportunities

So many opportunities, so little time! Take time and effort to do P2 and the benefits will astound you. This section provides some systematic steps to take in planning, implementing, and improving a pollution prevention program that will find and prioritize P2 opportunities around you. 

Typically, a little groundwork is required before jumping into P2 implementation projects. In some cases, simple research on off-the-shelf technology is enough get a project going. In other cases, significantly more attention, including cost justification, evaluation of alternatives, and actual testing is required to ensure a P2 solution is going to work for the application.

Often a dedicated program provides greater return with an ability to get buy-in, set P2 goals, establish and promote P2 company policy, and research and justify opportunities. 

How Do You Get Started with P2?

1. Evaluate company policy and culture.

Incorporate goals, controls and policy/culture changes to empower and enable source reduction. Remember that change isn't always easy - so be aggressive and help to justify changes with cost savings potential and reasons that provide wins for everyone involved. 

2. Characterize and document waste streams, including process wastes, hazardous wastes, non-hazardous wastes, solid wastes, and wasted energy or water.

  • Energy and water consumption, focusing on major uses of each and any use of renewable energy or recovered water
  • Raw material consumption
  • Use of toxic or hazardous materials
  • Generation of solid and hazardous wastes (including costs of purchase, disposal, treatment and management)
  • Generation of stormwater, wastewater, and effluents (including management, treatment, and sewer)
  • Release of direct emissions from production or equipment
  • Transportation of materials to, within, and after production

Process mapping, waste analysis tools, and simulation and other systems related/industrial engineering tools may also be helpful. 

3. Set measurable goals.

An example goal might be to reduce waste hauling and disposal costs by $5,000 annually, or reduce water consumption and process water effluent by 10%. Dow Chemical has a publicly available goal program from which you can glean some good ideas. Also, some environmental award programs andvoluntary programs have ready-made goals you can evaluate. 

4. Use Environmental Tools and Avail Environmental Resources to identify the opportunities

P2 Environmental Tools/Aids

The specific individual opportunities from which to choose within this broader framework are far too numerous to fit within the scope of this topic hub. But several resources do exist to help you research pollution prevention measures that are available, what your peers are doing, and to help you generate new and creative ideas to avoid wastes. These resources exist to provide a collective memory of the P2 wheel that has already been invented. Utilize any and all resources and technical assistance available:

  • Check the Where to Go for Help section of this hub to find P2 Specialists that can help you with your unique issues. You should also look at the other P2Rx topic hubs to find one that has a set of answers for your particular issue.
  • Look to internal resources. Involve staff, especially cross-functional teams, in the generation of P2 opportunities and alternatives. Those who work closely with the processes, equipment and materials often have some great ideas they would enjoy sharing.
  • Ask your peers. Network with similar businesses and agencies to share and learn P2 opportunities. Join listservs and ask your questions there.

5. Prioritize waste prevention opportunities

By considering cost, ease of implementation, payback (and cost savings or cost avoidance), and other criteria deemed important by the organization, such as increased employee safety.

6. Get Going

Start off small and easy and cheap—target one or two materials or pollution sources for reduction. Focus first on projects that require minimal capital investment and/or reduce large volumes of waste. Small successes and the resulting cost savings will result in buy-in and a green light for more P2 implementation. 

Promote P2

Teach and train employees how to prevent waste. Describe your waste prevention policies and goals, and provide training to employees who must change how they handle materials. Encourage employee involvement by asking for new suggestions and offering incentives. 

7. Measure Progress and Tout Successes

Quantify and track reductions and cost savings in:

  • Volumes of waste produced
  • Hauling/handling/treating/disposing of wastes
  • Energy and water use
  • Use of renewable resources
  • Raw materials consumed
  • Toxics Use
  • Emissions and effluents

Qualitatively, claim the less tangible benefits such as improved public image, improving or expanding production processes, employee morale and safety, etc. Seek an award for your successful efforts from a recognition/award program such as those listed at

For technical assistant providers, use the P2Rx measurement modules to compile and account for regional successes.

8. Reevaluate efforts on a regular basis

Conduct regular assessments to identify additional waste prevention opportunities. As long as you continue to generate waste, there are opportunities to reduce it. 


The web holds several collections of P2 case studies about specific P2 success stories. You can begin your search at any of the following:

EPA Pollution Prevention Case Studies

Cleaner Production Resources: Case Study Collections

Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange Case Studies

P2 Gems (TURI) Case Study Database Links and Individual Case Studies

Industrial Assessment Center Case Studies

Joint Service Pollution Prevention Technical Library

Essential Links