POLLUTION PREVENTION/WASTE MANAGEMENT
In the decade following the passage of the Pollution Prevention Act in 1990, myriad government and
industry programs have been developed to prevent pollution. At the heart of these programs has been
the EPA’s emphasis on source reduction, based on the presumptions that (1) pollution control would
have already been addressed by other regulations, and (2) that most pollution was better controlled at
the source. EPA defines pollution prevention as source reduction: preventing or reducing waste where
it originates, at the source – including practices that conserve natural resources by reducing or eliminating
pollutants through increased efficiency in the use of raw materials, energy, water, and land.
Now a new multidisciplinary scientific field referred to as “Industrial Ecology” has evolved, using
new tools such as multimedia Life Cycle Analyses (LCA) that facilitate systems that incorporate
environmental considerations into their design. Such systems minimize environmental impact, and
thereby prevent pollution at its source. LCAs provide a comparative tool that would help one to
evaluate projects and product systems across the life cycle (i.e., raw material extraction, manufacturing,
use, recycle/disposal) on the basis of material and energy usage and, later, on the basis of environmental
impacts. Many leading industries have already begun to evaluate projects, proposed improvements, and
even product systems on the basis of LCA.
1. Technology Research and Development
DOE, DOD, EPA, and DOC should promote the development
of new pollution prevention and waste management
technologies through targeted research funding.
2. Behavioral Aspects of Pollution Prevention
NSF and EPA should fund research into the individual
and organizational behavioral aspects of pollution prevention
and waste minimization.
3. Material Flows
There should be more data collection and analysis throughout
the life cycle of products and processes, particularly material
flows and toxics, using data collected through regulatory
methods (EPA, Congressional action) and industrial disclosure
(DOC and USGS).
4. Pollution Prevention Assessment Tools
EPA, NSF and states should collaboratively document and
develop methods to assess the impacts of pollution prevention.
5. Social Dimensions of Pollution Prevention
- EPA, NIST, NSF, and the Consumer Product Safety
Commission should conduct and fund research into product
labeling, including its format, content, effectiveness, and
methods of implementation and other methods of raising
- NSF and EPA should conduct and fund research to better
understand and improve stakeholder processes.
6. Education and Outreach
- There should be federal funding for education and outreach
on implementation support through cooperative extension,
universities and local entities.
- EPA, NSF and cooperating universities should establish and
lead an international panel on multidisciplinary education
and curriculum development on pollution prevention.