Analysis of industrial pollution prevention programs in selected Asian countries Page: 4 of 24
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emissions after they are generated. The concept is known as "end-of-pipe" (EOP) treatment.
Although EOP treatment is a proven effective method of protecting the environment, it has
some disadvantages. It is costly to control pollutants after they are generated; moreover, it can
transfer pollutants from one medium to another, thereby resulting in no net environmental
benefit. In some instances, for example, improper disposal of highly concentrated sludge
produced from treatment of industrial wastewaters can actually increase the risk to human
health and the environment.
The limitations of EOP treatment have caused environmental decision makers in many
developed nations to consider alternative methods of pollution control. Because it is clearly
preferable to avoid producing pollutants in the first place, rather than treating effluents prior
to discharge, EOP treatment is being replaced, where practical, by a preferred method of
environmental management. This concept, called "industrial waste minimization" (IWM),
"pollution prevention" (P2), and more recently "cleaner production" (CP), now pervades
environmental programs for protecting air, water, and land in many developed nations.
What Is Pollution Prevention?
P2 is a method of multimedia pollution control and management that focuses on reducing the
generation and discharge of pollutants (gaseous, aqueous, and solid) at their source to avoid
subsequent handling, treatment, and disposal. P2 encourages industry to reduce its hazardous
pollutants at the source and recycle, rather than to treat and dispose of pollutants in the
environment. This preferred strategy for addressing chemical pollutants is often referred to as
the "environmental management option hierarchy." This hierarchy ranks source reduction and
source elimination as the highest priority; recycling and reuse are next, followed by treatment
of effluents and emissions to reduce volume and/or toxicity. Finally, legally permitted disposal
(e.g., putting waste-filled barrels in secured landfills) is the least desirable waste management
technique. This environmental management hierarchy has been adopted by the United
Nations, the U.S. Congress and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), Greenpeace
International, the Chemical Manufacturing Association (of the United States), and many other
Source reduction practices include those that reduce the amount or toxicity of any pollutant
entering any waste stream (or otherwise released to the environment) before external
recycling, treatment, or disposal. They generally fall into four main categories: (1) design of
environmentally friendly products; (2) substitution of higher-purity and/or less-toxic material;
(3) adoption of new production technologies, increased automation, and improved material
handling, operating conditions, and equipment; and (4) improved operating practices by
providing proper training, requiring waste stream segregation and inventory control, and
changing operating and maintenance procedures.
The general category of recycling is a broad one that encompasses options with varying degrees
of transportation, handling, or processing. Some recycling options can be listed in order of
decreasing preferability: (1) on-site reuse or recovery, (2) reuse in an off-site process, (3) off-site
recovery, and (4) energy recovery. In this ranking, on-site options are preferable to off-site
options, as the latter options incur greater risk and liability because materials must be
transported and because generators generally do not control recovery and subsequent reuse.
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Chiu, S.Y. Analysis of industrial pollution prevention programs in selected Asian countries, report, May 1, 1995; Illinois. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc703712/m1/4/: accessed October 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.