Pollution Prevention Program

Pollution Prevention-- The Healthy Way to Save Money!

Did you know that by practicing pollution prevention, not only will you be able to cut down hazardous and toxic material exposure to your employees, but you will also be able to save your company money? If maintaining healthy profit margins, as well as maintaining a healthy workforce interests you, then you've picked up the right fact sheet! Welcome to the world of Pollution Prevention!

What is Pollution Prevention?

Simply stated, pollution prevention (P2) is putting into practice the common sense idea that the best way to manage waste is to avoid generating it in the first place. In more detailed terms, pollution prevention is any practice which reduces the amount of any hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant entering any waste stream or otherwise released into the environment prior to recycling, treatment or disposal. Pollution prevention focuses attention away from the traditional end-of-pipe treatment and disposal of waste, toward eliminating or reducing substances used in the production process itself. Pollution prevention practices include the cost effective use of resources through source reduction, improved housekeeping, energy efficiency, reduced water consumption, and reuse of input materials during production.

Why Prevent Pollution?

Some of the advantages of pollution prevention include savings in costs for input material, waste treatment and disposal. Other advantages can include reduced regulatory burdens, reduced permit fees, better worker health and safety conditions and enhanced public image.

Program History

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) Office of Technical & Customer Assistance's Pollution Prevention Section was created in 1987 to assist business and industry in their efforts to eliminate or reduce their use of toxic and hazardous materials. Today, the Pollution Prevention Section has matured into an interdisciplinary program which takes a team approach to problem solving. Technical assistance to business and industry is supported by scientists, engineers and planners from a network of institutions including the Center for Pollution Prevention at the University of Rhode Island (URI), the Narragansett Bay Commission's (NBC's) Pollution Prevention Program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA New England) and the National and Northeast States Pollution Prevention Round tables.

URI's Center for Pollution Prevention was created by the DEM in 1988 and continues to serve in a technical support capacity to DEM program staff throughout all phases of research, process design, and project implementation.

What Does Rhode Island's Program Offer?

DEM's Pollution Prevention Program is a non-regulatory business assistance program that offers free technical assistance to Rhode Island companies interested in incorporating pollution prevention into their processes. Technical assistance can range from answering a simple waste-related question to conducting a detailed on-site pollution prevention assessment of an industrial facility. This assessment is an opportunity to have a fresh set of eyes look over your company's processes and help identify waste reduction opportunities that could improve your bottom line. The program is completely voluntary and non-regulatory. The program also provides training seminars, grants, and clearinghouse programs that promote pollution prevention through source reduction in solid and hazardous waste, air emissions, and wastewater.

In addition to conducting on-site pollution prevention assessments, program staff also: answer questions, conduct pilot scale testing of P2 equipment, perform laboratory analyses, perform economic analyses, provide vendor information, conduct technical research, and much more. All these services are available to Rhode Island businesses free of charge.

Conducting a P2 Assessment

A pollution prevention assessment begins with an initial meeting between the company manager (or other staff) and the assessment team. The team leader will describe the program and how the assessment can be expected to proceed. The company representative(s) then give an overview of the facility's operations and voice any environmental goals or concerns they might have. From here the assessment team is given a tour of the facility's operations with a thorough review of all waste streams. The assessment usually lasts about an hour and a half.

A written report is issued within four weeks of the completed assessment. The report will explain issues in plain English and provide realistic recommendations for reducing the generation of waste at the source. Pollution prevention opportunities will be presented with associated cost/benefit information. Companies participating in the program are encouraged but not obligated to follow the recommendations provided.

DEM's P2 Program - A Measure of Success

DEM's Pollution Prevention Program staff, with engineering and scientific support from URI's Center for Pollution Prevention, have performed more than 250 on-site assessments of Rhode Island manufacturing facilities. These assessments have resulted in the elimination of more than 55 million gallons of industrial waste (e.g., hazardous waste and volatile organic compounds) and wastewater.

DEM's award-winning Pollution Prevention Program demonstrates a strong track record when it comes to open competition for regional and national grants. More than $900,000 in competitive grant dollars for business and industry has been awarded to Rhode Island by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Science Foundation.

For more information on how your company can benefit from implementing P2 strategies and technologies, please contact:


Office of Technical & Customer Assistance, Room 250

235 Promenade Street

Providence, RI 02908

(401) 222-6822

Additional Resources

Service Alert

Walk-in service at DEM's Permit Application Center (PAC) at DEM Headquarters in Providence is now available

Contact 401-222-4700 ext. 77265 or email DEM.PAC@dem.ri.gov with questions or if you wish to set up an appointment for other services. If you are seeking assistance for wetlands or OWTS/septic systems, please call 401-222-4700 and ask for the person on-call for the specific program.