Six Steps to Making Pollution Prevention Work

June 20, 2000
A speaker at the Air & Waste Management Association conference lists six steps to success for pollution prevention projects.

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There are six common elements that spell success for pollution prevention projects, according to Edward D. Daniels of Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems. Daniels addressed a session of the Air & Waste Management Association''s Annual Conference & Exhibition on Monday in Salt Lake City.

1. Sound pollution prevention idea. Daniels noted that there are a number of resources for ideas on the Internet, such as the EPA home page (www.epa.gov), EnviroSense (es.epa.gov), National P2 Roundtable (www.p2.org) and Environment Canada (www.ec.gc.ca/envhome.html). Periodicals and books on the subject are available at public libraries. Daniels said another way to find ideas is to "look around your own plant." Investigate waste streams and see where the plant is paying for disposal. Each of those situations has potential for a pollution prevention project.

2. Top management support. Daniels advised environmental managers to "sell the boss first." Use estimated savings, compliance, environmental and public image improvements to bolster the case. He also suggested using visual aids to make the presentation more powerful. When the boss agrees, let everyone in the organization know that he supports the idea.

3. Education at all levels. The education process begins with senior and middle management. Everyone should be involved at some level, Daniels noted. Make sure to stress the benefits of the program and help each person understand their job in improving the environment. Use existing training resources and employee safety meetings to get out the message. Consider making a video on the project if a large audience must be reached.

4. Worker level involvement. Workers have to live with the process, so get their inputs early in the planning process and include their ideas and suggestions. Their active involvement helps ensure buy-in for the project, Daniels said.

5. Planned implementation. Daniels urged attendees to develop a written plan for any project that addresses all key areas. Managers should avoid disrupting production during "critical" business periods, such as when products are being shipped for busy holiday retail periods. He said plants should also use proper phasing and sequencing. For example, if two process lines are involved, finish one and then do the other. He also urged managers to publicize the change.

6. Follow-up and periodic retraining. Follow-up allows plants to "fine tune" the process and address unforeseen problems. It helps develop maximum benefits from the project. Moreover, he noted, it is human nature to revert to old habits, so follow-up and retraining helps keep process changes on track.

Since beginning pollution prevention projects in 1984, Daniels said, the Air Force Plant A4 where he works has saved $38 million in waste disposal costs alone, and millions more from other initiatives.

by Stephen G. Minter

About the Author

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Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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