Friday, September 21, 2012

Doing well by doing right – Pollution Prevention Planning

By K Seiler, Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction manager

This is Pollution Prevention Week (Sept. 17-23), designated at both the national and Washington State level. For more than two decades, government and business have worked together to build the concepts of pollution prevention into our daily lives and consciousness. So we are frequently asked, “Is the job done? Has 20 years been enough?”

I answered earlier this week, “No, we aren’t done.” I have the same answer today, but for a different reason. Any facility – government, commercial, or institutional – that creates more than 2,640 pounds of dangerous waste annually has to develop and put into practice pollution prevention plans.

In 20 years, more than 2,250 facilities in Washington have met this requirement. That’s a lot of waste to manage, track, and make sure it is properly disposed. But during that time, approximately 600 facilities have followed their plans to reduce their waste so well they no longer have to complete a plan! And the total amount of dangerous waste from another 600 planning facilities is half of what it was ten years ago.

On the one hand, reducing their creation of dangerous waste means they have less paperwork and reporting to do. It also means they are lowering their costs. Reducing the amount, toxicity, or both, of their wastes and reducing their use of resources saves money.

That often means they also reduce the amount of regulation they must follow – such as air permits, spill or solid waste regulations, or water discharge permits or modifications. This saves money too. Reducing the amount of toxics used and the wastes generated and released to the environment is also the smartest way to reduce risk and liability for individuals and businesses. All of which is especially critical in these tougher economic times.

Again, pollution prevention is the smartest, cheapest, and safest way to tackle toxic chemical issues. For more information, contact your regional Ecology office at:
  • Bellevue 425-649-7000
  • Lacey 360-407-6300
  • Spokane 509-329-3400
  • Yakima 509-575-2490
Or see:

Business Pollution Prevention resources

Pollution Prevention for Small Businesses

Pollution Prevention Successes

Pollution Prevention resources by Topic (NW Pollution Prevention Resource Center)

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