Pollution Prevention: A Cornerstone of Sustainability

 By Frances Bernards and Paul Harding

As environmental scientists with DEQ’s Business Assistance Program (BizHelp), we help businesses
realize the environmental and cost-saving benefits of pollution prevention, known as P2. National Pollution Prevention Week, held Sept. 15-21, 2014, celebrates P2, the practice of reducing or eliminating pollution at the source.

P2 became America’s official policy in 1990 with the Pollution Prevention Act. Twenty-four years after the Act, the term P2 may appear to be second fiddle to sustainability; however, the idea of eliminating, reducing, or reusing waste—followed by recycling as a last option—is a cost effective step of becoming more sustainable.

It may seem that the regulatory world focuses only on “end of pipe” solutions (e.g., pollution control equipment, disposal of hazardous waste). But, there are numerous examples of how P2 practices are a part of how government, business, academia and the public operate on a daily basis.

At DEQ, P2 is an essential part of many of the regulatory programs. For example:

  • Best Management Practices (BMPs) are being promoted to regulated businesses by the Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste, the Division of Water Quality, and the Division of Air Quality (DAQ).
  • In the Division of Radiation Control, the X-Ray Program sets standards to ensure that X-ray units are calibrated properly to prevent X-ray exams from being taken twice
  • DAQ’s Clean Fuels Program provides financial incentives to businesses and government entities when converting a vehicle to operate on clean fuels, purchasing clean fuel vehicles, or retrofitting diesel vehicles.

Utah businesses are taking advantage of the new energy efficiency tools, technologies for using water and raw materials more efficiently, and the move to green chemistry to integrate P2 practices into the way they do business and save money.

Pollution Prevention
Secondary containment serves as a line of defense in the event of a failure of the primary containment, such as a bulk storage container (shown above).

DEQ’s Clean Utah Program was created to honor businesses with outstanding environmental compliance and successful P2 programs. Clean Utah businesses not only reduce their impacts on the environment, but they save money in the process.

This year’s Pollution Prevention (P2) Week highlights efforts in making P2 a cornerstone of sustainability. Join us in committing to P2 as a means for a green and profitable economy, a sustainable future and a healthier planet for generations to come. Visit DEQ’s BizHelp website to learn more about how we can assist you or your company in making P2 strategies a cornerstone of your sustainability program.
Pollution Prevention

Frances Bernards:
I am an environmental scientist working as a consultant for DEQ’s business assistance program. I provide businesses with pollution prevention and sustainability resources. Outside of work I am an avid mountain/road biker, hiker, and skier and enjoy the music scene in SLC.

Paul Harding:
I am a Utah native, and I graduated from BYU with a degree in geology. I’ve worked at DEQ for 20 years, the first 15 in the Underground Storage Tank Program and the last five in the Office of Planning and Public Affairs in business assistance. I’m part of the DEQ Ultimate gang who play Ultimate Frisbee for exercise at lunch. I live with my partner/fiancé of 23 years, Brett, and our three dogs Sarge, Frankie and Bernie.