Pollution prevention is defined as the use of materials, processes, or practices that reduce or eliminate the creation of pollutants at their source. This includes: equipment, process or procedure modifications, reformulation or redesign of products, substitution of raw materials, and improvements in housekeeping, maintenance, training, or inventory control that result in reduced waste generation. Even though recycling, energy recovery, treatment, and disposal are not included in this definition, some forms of "in-process" recycling may qualify as pollution prevention.
Pollution prevention is an important part of long-term planning and more recent sustainable development efforts. Where sustainability has been defined as: “meeting the needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.”
NBC Pollution Prevention Program
In September of 1991, the Narragansett Bay Commission (NBC) received a $300,000 grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) to initiate a technical assistance pollution prevention program within its servicing districts. The goal of the NBC's Pollution Prevention Program is to assist the industrial community in eliminating the creation of pollution through the use of source reduction techniques and technologies. Since that time NBC has receive nearly $2,000,000 in additional grant funds to implement a variety of industry specific pollution prevention and energy management programs (see NBC Pollution Prevention Projects for more detail).
Pollution Prevention Assistance
NBC pollution prevention assistance can range from supplying information about consultants and equipment vendors to conducting detailed on-site pollution prevention assessments of industrial facilities and operations. During on-site assessments, the NBC pollution prevention team looks for source reduction and pollutant elimination opportunities as the primary methods for reducing waste generation and the ultimate need for waste disposal. Particular attention is focused on waste stream segregation, process modifications and water and energy conservation. By incorporating simple conservation techniques like water recycling, significant cost savings can be achieved over a short period of time. In many assessments, it has been determined that hazardous materials can be easily replaced by less or non-hazardous substitutes.
A preventive approach to addressing environmental problems and concerns has many advantages over conventional waste management and pretreatment methods. Savings can be realized through reduced permit fees, treatment chemical purchases, waste disposal costs, and regulatory compliance costs. In some cases the use of pollution prevention methods and technologies has resulted in the complete elimination of a particular waste stream and/or zero discharge of process wastewater.
Participants can be assured that all information shared with NBC's Pollution Prevention Team will remain confidential and no regulatory repercussions will occur from participation in the program. To assure confidentiality, NBC's Pollution Prevention information files are not available to NBC's regulatory staff. Although regulatory requirements are taken into consideration when making recommendations to a company, no attempt at assessing a company's regulatory compliance status is made during waste reduction assessments or facility site visits.
The Narragansett Bay Commission provides Pollution Prevention Assistance to its customers free of charge. To request a free Pollution prevention Assessment or more information on these projects contact NBC’s Environmental, Safety and Technical Assistance Program Manager: James McCaughey P.E., BCEE at (401) 461-8848.