Low Hanging Fruit

There are many ways pollution can be prevented. Some of the simplest, the "low-hanging fruit" involve basic housekeeping and maintenance modifications that do not include major capital investments, but may produce significant dividends in terms of cost savings for compliance and operations.

In an industrial setting, low-cost options can involve simply changing the filters on equipment more frequently, improving the maintenance of machinery, or replacing a solvent with a water-based alternative that performs just as well. In an office setting, it may involve requiring that all documents are printed on both sides of paper and that mugs are used instead of disposable cups. Less toxic alternatives, whether they be cleaners or office paper produced without chlorine, are green choices. A farming operation can reduce its use of toxic pesticides or explore the economic feasibility of becoming an organic operation.

Energy efficiency is a major component of pollution prevention and an increasingly important issue as we face shortages throughout the United States and global climate change. Again, low-hanging fruit opportunities abound. Options exist for more energy-efficient lighting and computer equipment. Simple business practices like turning equipment off at night can have a positive net environmental and cost outcome.

Even choosing an office building or a plant location can have dramatic environmental implications. Is the facility located near mass transit? If it is, it gives employees the option of using public transportation and reduces the emissions of greenhouse gases from automobiles.

Every state offers some type of pollution prevention assistance to aid companies and communities in identifying P2 opportunities. Because P2 is often not intuitive, government programs help provide a menu of available options to develop comprehensive programs. Many state agencies have engineers and planners on staff who have a wealth of expertise in working with a wide variety of industries. They provide training to company and community officials and disseminate technology, the sharing of information on technical issues and equipment. See the table for the results of P2 efforts in selected states over the past decade.

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