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Helping communities and businesses access compliance, technical and financial assistance for their environmental needs.


25 Years of Pollution Prevention (P2) at Ohio EPA- A Retrospective

What is Pollution Prevention or P2? It is reducing or eliminating pollution at the source (source reduction) instead of at the end-of-the-pipe or stack. During the mid-1980s, government and business leaders were looking for ways to continue the environmental improvements achieved during previous decades. P2 offered a way to continue environmental improvements without adding more complexity and cost to environmental requirements. 

Ohio EPA’s P2 related efforts started in 1986 with a requirement that any business that land-disposed more than 200 tons of hazardous waste in the state needed to complete a waste minimization and treatment plan. Ohio EPA’s hazardous waste program created a P2 section shortly before the federal P2 Act of 1990.  The initial focus of P2 was on hazardous waste and toxic releases, including:

  • identifying ways that could make a waste less or non-hazardous,
  • reformulating products to reduce the amount and types of byproducts created, and
  • suggesting changes in manufacturing processes to increase efficiency and reduce waste.

In 1993, Ohio EPA’s hazardous waste program’s P2 section was expanded into an Office of Pollution Prevention (OPP); being one of around 20 state government P2 programs. This office focused on outreach and education, including:

  • providing technical assistance to businesses,
  • working with environmental regulatory programs to help focus their efforts on P2,
  • recognizing organizations for completing exemplary P2 achievements, and
  • establishing voluntary programs to challenge organizations to meet waste reduction goals and measure results.

In 2004, OPP was merged into the Office of Compliance Assistance and Pollution Prevention (OCAPP), and is now part of the reorganized Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance (DEFA).

Over the past 25 years, thousands of Ohio companies have received P2 assistance from OCAPP and hundreds have been recognized for their P2 efforts. P2 is now integrated into most aspects of environmental protection. The “green” movement uses P2 approaches to address common environmental issues. The P2 concept provides the basis for the many corporate sustainability programs. Environmental initiatives such as green chemistry, zero waste and byproduct synergy all have a strong P2 component.  As P2 has changed, so has the way Ohio EPA provides P2 services. Now, we rarely approach larger companies to ask if they need help in reducing waste. Instead, they have either developed their own expertise or contact us for assistance. Our focus is now on small and medium sized businesses that may not have the expertise or resources to understand how P2 can help. We also focus more time helping companies design waste reduction programs instead of educating them on P2. 

If you would like to speak with an environmental specialist about potential P2 options at your facility/company, request a free on-site P2 assessment, or find out about our Encouraging Environmental Excellence (E3) recognition program, please call our toll-free hotline 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday-Friday at (800) 329-7518.  

What are some examples of P2 assistance provided to businesses by Ohio EPA over the years?

Frito Lay, a snack food manufacturer in Wooster (Wayne County) generated large quantities of wastewater and solid waste in the form of used process water, packaging, scrap metal and other items. Through P2, Frito Lay reduced natural gas usage by 4.9%, water usage by 25.8%, electricity usage by 13.9% and solid waste generated by 22% after implementing several process changes suggested by Ohio EPA. Frito Lay now saves over $267,000 annually as a result of these efforts. 

Masco Builder Cabinet Group, a cabinet manufacturer in Jackson (Jackson County) generated large quantities of hazardous and solid waste in the form of used solvents, coatings, sawdust and industrial wastes. Masco saved over $1.5 million and reduced annual emissions by more than 31 million pounds after implementing several process changes suggested by Ohio EPA.