The scope of company programs varies considerably. Some are limited to one environmental medium, while others are multimedia. Some focus on certain types of pollutants, such as toxic release inventory (TRI) chemicals; others are more wide ranging. All include some forms of pollution prevention but vary in their emphasis. Most adopt the EPA's environmental management hierarchy: source reduction first, followed by recycling, treatment, and disposal.
A review of company pollution prevention activities reveals that some companies have programs they are willing to share with the public and other companies consider their efforts internal and proprietary. The more accessible programs are usually with large multifacility companies. Some programs such as Dow Chemical's Waste Reduction Always Pays (WRAP) and 3M's Pollution Prevention Pays (3P program) are well known programs.
Public interest groups have questioned the accountability and reliability of the accomplishments claimed. Legitimate questions remain on whether the cited reductions are real and result from pollution prevention methods or whether they are artifacts of changes in reporting requirements or analytical methods or from waste transfer between sites or between media (U.S. Printing Office 1990).
The concerns notwithstanding, a major change in the industrial perspective on the way business is done has occurred. The programs initiated by industry on pollution prevention are important because they raise the expecta tion for future progress. If the successes are real and include financial gains, other firms will likely follow the leaders into this new era of environmental protection.
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