PTI Releases White Paper on Pollution Prevention

By Dourrachad, Cecily | Nation's Cities Weekly, May 2, 1994 | Go to article overview

PTI Releases White Paper on Pollution Prevention


Dourrachad, Cecily, Nation's Cities Weekly


Public Technology, Inc. (PTI), the non-profit research, development, and commercialization arm of the National League of Cities, National Association of Counties, and the International City/County Management Association, recognizes that reducing pollution hazards at their source is more cost-effective than treating and disposing of "end-of-the-pipeline" waste. This May, PTI will issue "Pollution Prevention Implementation: Local Government and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Programs," a white paper outlining pollution prevention resources and showing how local governments are working to prevent environmental contamination at the source.

The Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 established pollution prevention as a key means of environmental protection. The act created a national policy for prevention and reduction of pollutants at the source of their generation and outlined proper treatment of pollutants released into the environment.

Pollution prevention involves two approaches. The first, source reduction, includes modifications to technology, processes and procedures; product reformulation; substitution of raw materials; improvements in maintenance, training, inventory control, and simple housekeeping; and efficient use of raw materials, energy, water, and other resources.

A second pollution prevention approach involves proper treatment of pollutants that cannot be prevented, including recycling, disposal, and, if disposal is unavoidable, release of the pollutant into the environment is as sound a manner as possible.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, one-third of all states require that private facilities have pollution prevention programs in place, and more than 8,000 municipal source reduction and recycling programs are in operation nationwide.

PTI's "Pollution Prevention Implementation" examines four areas of local pollution prevention action. Two of these, waste-water treatment and waste disposal and building design and operation, as well as EPA-sponsored initiatives, are detailed here. The PTI document also addresses two other avenues to pollution prevention: reduction of small quantities of hazardous waste from small businesses and households and improvement of air quality.

Water Treatment

and Waste Disposal

Many jurisdictions recognize that wastewater treatment and solid waste disposal facilities provide significant opportunities for pollution prevention. Over 200,000 pounds of potentially hazardous industrial, residential, and commercial pollutants enter the nation's 1,500 wastewater treatment facilities annually.

Only half biodegrade; the remainder concentrate in sludge or pollute the air and water. Over 145 million tons of municipal solid waste are disposed of into more than 6,000 active landfills across the country. Improperly disposed of, these wastes can pollute water, air, and soil. The PTI paper shows how two communities, Phoenix and Lincoln, Neb., have successfully reduced pollutants in their water treatment and waste disposal systems.

Building Design

and Operation

Environmentally sound building design and management can also prevent pollution at the source. Sustainable, or green, building practices are effective, state-of-the-art construction operations measures that save energy, materials, and water and reduce indoor and outdoor environmental pollution. …

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