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Pollution prevention is reducing or eliminating waste at the source by modifying production processes, promoting the use of non-toxic or less-toxic substances, implementing conservation techniques, and re-using materials rather than putting them into the waste stream.

Pollution prevention means "source reduction," as defined under the Pollution Prevention Act, and other practices that reduce or eliminate the creation of pollutants through:

The Pollution Prevention Act defines "source reduction" to mean any practice which:

The term includes: equipment or technology modifications, process or procedure modifications, reformulation or redesign or products, substitution of raw materials, and improvements in housekeeping, maintenance, training, or inventory control.

More information: Memorandum - Subject: EPA Definition of "Pollution Prevention" (PDF) (4 pp, 21.1K About PDF)

National Pollution Prevention Policy

Under Section 6602 (b) of the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990, Congress established a national policy that:

Specific Pollution Prevention Approaches

Pollution prevention approaches can be applied to all pollution-generating activities, including those found in the energy, agriculture, Federal, consumer, as well as industrial sectors. The impairment of wetlands, ground water sources, and other critical resources constitutes pollution, and prevention practices may be essential for preserving these resources. These practices may include conservation techniques and changes in management practices to prevent harm to sensitive ecosystems. Pollution prevention does not include practices that create new risks of concern.

In the agricultural sector, pollution prevention approaches include:

In the energy sector, pollution prevention can reduce environmental damages from extraction, processing, transport, and combustion of fuels. Pollution prevention approaches include:

Practices Outside the Definition

Under the Pollution Prevention Act, recycling, energy recovery, treatment, and disposal are not included within the definition of pollution prevention. Some practices commonly described as "in-process recycling" may qualify as pollution prevention. Recycling that is conducted in an environmentally sound manner shares many of the advantages of prevention - it can reduce the need for treatment or disposal, and conserve energy and resources.

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