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Pollution Prevention (P2) Internships: Recruiting Internship Clients
Table of Contents
Background and Overview
Getting Started - Scope of the Program
Recruiting Students
Recruiting Internship Clients
Technical Assistance and Support
Internship Tasks
Student Training
Program Costs
Measuring the Impact of the Internships
Where to go for Help
Complete List of Links

Appropriate businesses, institutions, and agencies can act as hosts for P2 student interns, including manufacturing facilities, trade associations, local governments, commercial facilities, environmental groups, non-profit organizations, public agencies, communities and municipalities, and small businesses. The number of clients recruited by each program is dependent on staff support for the program, funding, and interest. The program client that is recruited to host a P2 internship should have a P2 project that is attainable and can provide the student with a safe working environment where they can gain greater skills and knowledge. In many cases, the interested companies and organizations must complete an application for participation in the program.

For example, Nebraska's P3 Internship Program places students in one of four groups: non-profit and public agencies, industrial consulting, industrial on-site placement, and small business. Usually three to five interns are placed in each of these groups, except the small business category, which involves six to nine interns.4 For small businesses, the interns mainly conduct site assessments, which take a week or two each. They can, therefore, provide assistance to multiple businesses.

Depending on the goals and objectives of the program, P2 internships may be sector-specific. For example, in 2007, the University of Wisconsin's Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center received a P2 grant from EPA Region 5 to start the Wisconsin Student Intern Program for "Pollution Prevention in Healthcare." The program placed four interns at healthcare facilities in the state. The interns worked on pollution prevention and waste-related issues specific to the healthcare industry. This pilot project proved to be such a success, that EPA Region 5 has decided to award another P2 grant to enable the program to continue for another year.

In 2008, the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning's Pollution Prevention Program partnered with Buffalo State College for a P2 technical assistance (P2TAP) project entitled, "Pollution Prevention for the Hospitality Sector." Under this project, Erie County P2 staff provided training workshops for college students to learn how to conduct pollution prevention assessments for the hospitality sector. The students conduct on-site P2 assessments at hospitality businesses (i.e., hotels) using a "checklist" approach developed by Erie County that identifies possible P2 strategies as well as the associated cost savings.5 The assessments are confidential, non-regulatory, and free-of-charge for the participating companies, which is a motivating factor that helps to recruit hospitality businesses. Participating businesses range from small motels to large hotel chains.

Another example is the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program's (MnTAP) program, which recruits participating businesses first (i.e., prior to recruiting student interns). MnTAP staff work directly with the clients to help identify and develop possible internship projects that have the potential for cost-savings. This helps the companies have a more focused project and allows MnTAP to have a firm understanding of the work that the project entails and whether it is likely to be successful. MnTAP staff evaluates each company's project proposal using a weighted-score that considers all aspects of the project, including safety, likelihood of implementation, ability for the information to be shared among other businesses, and whether the project has been done before or involves new information. Other aspects that are taken into consideration include the company's financial outlook, whether there is a company champion on staff for the project, what type of supervisor the intern will have (technical vs. non-technical), and the company's commitment to implementation.

The P2 RETAP Internship Program, a partnership initiative between the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Retired Engineer Technical Assistance Program (RETAP), academic institutions, and businesses, has strict eligibility requirements for companies wishing to participate in the program. Eligible companies are those that have less than 500 employees and have had a prior RETAP assessment. Priority is given to those companies participating in other DEQ P2 partnerships, such as Practice Greenhealth (formerly H2E - Hospitals for a Healthy Environment), or Michigan Business Pollution Prevention Partnership (MBP3). The companies must show that their proposed project meets specified P2 requirements, with an overall waste reduction goal of at least 20 percent.6 Appropriate projects are those that will prevent pollution and reduce waste generation, including reuse and recycling; waste treatment projects are not eligible.

In some cases, host companies choose to participate in the internship program more than once - either to get assistance implementing the P2 recommendations made from past interns, or to gain more insight about the type of P2 opportunities available to them. Over the years, these participating companies build lasting relationships with the state and university-based programs.

Programs have developed outreach materials to use in recruiting companies (e.g., fliers, brochures, website announcements, newsletters, and meeting presentations). For example, Michigan's P2 RETAP Internship Program published a brochure that they use to encourage company participation by highlighting the benefits of the program and explaining student and business eligibility. The Southwest Ohio Pollution Prevention Internship Program, organized by the local Departments of Environmental Services in Butler County (BCDES) and Hamilton County (HCDES), created an Internship Handbook in 2008 to provide information about the program for interested students and businesses.

In order to recruit host companies to participate in its P2 Internship Program, the University of Missouri's Environmental Assistance Center (MOEAC) sent invitation letters to Missouri businesses beginning in December 2007, in anticipation of the program's launch in May 2008. The announcement was also posted online where interested companies could find links to the application and information about submitting a project proposal.7

The results from past internship projects, especially those that have saved money and prevented pollution, are often posted on program websites as a way to engage the interest of potential internship clients. Many companies, especially small and medium-sized businesses, do not fully understand pollution prevention and/or do not have the necessary resources to explore pollution prevention opportunities and how they might enhance their operations. Hosting a P2 intern is one way for businesses or organizations to overcome financial and staffing hurdles associated with researching pollution prevention or waste reduction opportunities and implementing P2 techniques. Program clients can save money by using an intern to do research when compared with the cost of hiring a professional consultant.


4 Dvorak, Bruce I., et al. "Nebraska Pollution Prevention Project: Engineering Education through Technical Assistance." Environmental Quality Management. Spring 2003.
5 Erie Country P2 Program:
6 P2 RETAP Internship Program brochure: [PDF]
7 Missouri Environmental Assistance Center News:


The Topic Hub™ is a product of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx)

The Pollution Prevention (P2) Internships Topic Hub™ was developed by:

Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association
Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association
Contact email:

Hub Last Updated: 10/8/2013