What is Pollution Prevention (P2)?
Pollution Prevention means eliminating or reducing the amount and toxicity of potentially harmful substances at their sources, prior to generation, treatment, off-site recycling or disposal. It emphasizes preventing or minimizing pollution, rather than controlling it once it is generated. Pollution prevention has expanded as new challenges have come into focus - addressing climate change, combating sprawl, and promoting the use of green building techniques and renewable energy. The CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) continues to employ prevention as a way to make Connecticut’s environment cleaner and greener as we deal with these challenges.
Why not prevent pollution, rather than clean it up later?
It makes a lot of sense! For years, environmental protection has focused on pollution control - cleaning up the pollution after it occurred--rather than on prevention. The control approach has serious drawbacks, including high costs and increased liability. And when we try to clean up pollution, sometimes we just end up moving the pollutant from one place to another, such as from the air to the land or from the land to water. One example is factories using filters to clean the air before releasing it to the environment. When the filters are periodically cleaned, the pollutants are collected and often sent to a landfill for disposal.
What are CT businesses doing?
Many businesses, both large and small, are operated differently by thinking prevention rather than control. Pollution prevention practices can include changes in design, raw materials, production processes, and delivery of a product. These practices include:
- Raw material substitution: switching to less hazardous materials
- Process modification: changing the production process to improve efficiency and reduce the use of toxic substances
- Equipment upgrade: installing more efficient equipment to reduce raw material consumption and produce less waste.
- Product redesign: reducing certain raw materials in products or packaging, or improving manufacturability.
"Pollution prevention really pays in reduced environmental impact, and in new sales, lower cost, higher quality, less regulatory impact and fewer liabilities." Robert Bringer, Vice President of 3M Company, says of the benefits of 3M's Pollution Prevention Pays program.
What can be done at home or school?
You may be practicing practicing pollution prevention at home without even realizing it! For example, if you use a plunger to unclog a sink instead of a toxic drain cleaner, conserve energy by hanging clothes on a line or use mulch in your garden to control weeds instead of chemical weed killer, you are practicing pollution prevention. Schools can employ organic land care techniques and improve indoor air quality by using green cleaners.
What is DEEP doing?
The DEEP is "greening" our agency operations at our headquarters at 79 Elm Street in Hartford. We are reducing paper usage through defaulting copiers to double-sided copying and we purchase environmentally preferable products like less-toxic cleaners.
In addition, DEEP promotes alternatives to commuting alone by car through our employee website and by holding regular commuter fairs. Employees are also encouraged to use the State's hybrid vehicles for travel to meetings and field operations.
Since 1997 staff at DEEP headquarters has been recycling food waste. The finished compost is used at DEEP properties. We also recycle a long list of materials beyond the mandatory items such as Tyvek envelopes, printer cartridges, computer disks and DVD cases. DEEP received an Energy Star award in 2004 for energy conservation and efficiency at our 79 Elm Street building.
For more information on our "greening" initiatives and how you can form your own green team at work, please contact Connie Mendolia.
Content Last Updated December 2019