The Pollution Prevention Act (P2 Act) was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush in 1990. It came as a follow-up to a focus on waste reduction. Many professionals worked on reducing the amount of waste from a process by removing the water from it, or separating it into components that could be properly disposed. People realized that much more progress could be made by evaluating the process, the materials being used, the equipment, and training of personnel. With implementation of the P2 Act, it became the goal to make changes so that the waste was not created at all – or at least so that less waste was created. Pollution prevention is different than recycling or zero waste, because it’s not about diversion but is about prevention. The P2 act established the “waste management hierarchy” of preventing waste before it is generated, rather than focusing on how to reduce the quantity of waste.
Many state and local programs currently provide some kind of technical assistance to businesses to help them implement P2 at their facilities. The U.S. EPA and state agencies are all incorporating P2 and the waste management hierarchy into their programs. P2 is the cornerstone of sustainability – it is still the best approach to make the biggest difference in the effort to conserve the Earth’s resources for future generations.
There are many ways to connect with professionals well-versed in P2. P2Rx, a collection of eight regional P2 Information Centers, has a nation-wide directory of P2 programs. EPA has many resources. The National Pollution Prevention Roundtable is made up of P2 professionals and offers resources. The federal government is taking leadership on pollution prevention at their facilities. New technologies are being developed to help prevent pollution and most P2 professionals have added behavior change initiatives to their programs to help ensure wider implementation of P2 projects. The P2 InfoHouse contains many documents from programs across the country – featuring case studies, informational booklets, and research projects. The recently published “P2 Results” report summarizes environmental outcomes from P2 projects throughout the country for the years 2010-2012. P2Rx created a press kit for P2 technical assistance programs to promote the P2 Results report and start a conversation about the value of P2.
Contact a P2Rx regional P2 Information Center today to learn more about P2 and get connected with information and assistance.