Of all environmental programs, pollution prevention programs are especially ambitious in that they address all environmental media (air, water, land) as well as natural resource consumption (energy, water, chemicals) and habitat conservation. In addition, P2 programs endeavor to achieve the ambitious goal of providing economic and social benefit in terms of cost savings and worker safety.
The National Pollution Prevention Roundtable and the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange collaborate on an ambitious effort to grow and maintain a national database of P2 Results. The database focuses on a variety of measures with a goal to document the efforts of some 90 U.S. government agencies and technical assistance providers to improve environmental performance. Such efforts include activities by government and technical assistance providers; behavior changes by industry; reductions in waste, energy consumption and water usage; and economic gains achieved through these activities.
The tri-annual NPPR report of these results is to be released next month during National P2 week. It will show that between 2010 and 2012, cumulative results of reporting organizations and their clients added up to:
8.9 billion pounds of waste reduced— this is the amount of waste produced by 5.5 million people in a year (the population of greater Atlanta.)
8.8 billion gallons of water conserved— the amount of water needed to supply 400,000 people per year (the population of Reno, Nevada.)
1.5 billion kWh of electricity saved— this is equivalent to the energy usage for 140,000 homes (the population of Des Moines, Iowa.)
$5.4 billion in cost savings— this is equal to the annual GDP for the country of Bermuda.
Because numbers such as ROIs are a necessary but insufficient motivation to change, the report also includes success stories that demonstrate how organizations are striving to save resources.
For instance, take Eastern Bag and Paper Company of Milford, CT. Its sustainability initiative focused on accomplishments in three areas:
Electricity Usage: To reduce electricity usage in each warehouse, approximately 450,000 square feet, the company replaced of all light fixtures with new, more efficient fluorescent lights that consume less energy. They also installed motion sensors throughout the entire building. The sensors automatically shut off lights when not needed. This resulted in a 22-percent reduction of electricity usage, which amounts to 121 metric tons of CO2 removed from the atmosphere, or the equivalent to saving 20,000 gallons of gasoline or planting 147 acres of pine trees.
Materials Recycling: The company purchased a baling machine that bales all wrap into tight bundles, which are then sent to a recycler, and a machine to recycle all cardboard with similar procedure as Stretch Wrap; developed a policy of only using recycled wood pallets; and recycled fluorescent light bulbs, Nickel-Cadmium batteries and CRT’s.
Fuel Consumption: To reduce fuel consumption, they use software that routes delivery trucks in the most efficient manner. They also acquired 15 new trucks utilizing new diesel technology, which resulted in a 16-percent reduction in fuel consumption and a 90-percent reduction in exhaust emissions.
We intend for examples such as this one to show how pollution prevention can be done, and to inspire others.
Finally, the report will share future efforts by the Pollution Prevention Results Task Force to improve the collection and sharing of P2 results. Let's keep the conversation flowing.
Top image by David Shankbone via Wikimedia.