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Pollution Prevention

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Frequently Asked Questions About Pollution Prevention

What is Pollution Prevention?

Pollution Prevention (P2), also known as "source reduction," is any practice which reduces, eliminates, or prevents pollution at its source. By reducing the total amount of pollution that is produced, there is less waste to control, treat, or dispose of, and there are less hazards posed to public health and the environment. As Benjamin Franklin once said, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

How Can Pollution Prevention Be Achieved?

Pollution may be prevented by many types of approaches. Reduction of pollutants can be achieved by using raw materials, energy, and water more efficiently. Conserving and protecting natural resources can also reduce the amount of waste produced.

Actions which may prevent and reduce pollution include:

  • product redesign
  • substitution of raw materials
  • process or equipment modifications
  • improvements in maintenance, training, inventory control, or housekeeping

Why is Pollution Prevention Important?

Preventing pollution offers important benefits, as pollution never created avoids the need for expensive investments in waste management and cleanup. By anticipating the future, Pollution Prevention reduces both financial costs (waste management and cleanup) and real environmental costs (health problems and environmental damage). As a result, Pollution Prevention holds the exciting potential of protecting the environment and strengthening economic growth through more efficient production and natural resource use.

How Does Pollution Prevention Fit Into National Policy?

Pollution Prevention has been declared the "environmental policy of the United States." Under Section 6602(b) of the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990, Congress established a national policy to prioritize environmental management. Pollution Prevention was identified as the highest priority. The ranking of environmental management strategies is as follows:

  1. Prevention--reduce pollution at the source
  2. Reuse--reuse/recycle when you can not reduce
  3. Treatment--treat pollution when you can not reduce or reuse/recycle
  4. Disposal--safely dispose of pollution as a last resort

For more information on EPA's P2 Policy Statement, Statement of Definition, or Framework for P2, or on the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990, visit our National EPA Pollution Prevention website.

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