What Is Sustainability?
Sustainability is defined around the world in many ways. We view the concept as having the following key components:
Long-term view – use resources wisely today in order to leave enough for future generations.
Light footprint – take only what the planet can replenish, leave only what the planet can assimilate.
Balance – environment, economy and equity (people, planet, profits) should be considered in decision-making.
In practice, this means conserving natural resources through efficient operations, using renewable material and energy sources, recycling used materials into new products, and finding alternative to toxics used in manufacturing or products that could pollute the environment.
Pollution prevention can be a critical strategy for businesses working towards sustainability. Simply stated, pollution prevention (also called P2) is elimination of waste at the source where it is first produced. EPA defines “pollution prevention” to mean source reduction as defined in the 1990 Pollution Prevention Act, including any practice which:
(i) reduces the amount of any hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant entering any waste stream or otherwise released into the environment (including fugitive emissions) prior to recycling, treatment, or disposal; and
(ii) reduces the hazards to public health and the environment associated with the release of such substances, pollutants or contaminants….
P2 includes practices that reduce the use of raw materials, water, and energy through conservation and reuse (from EPA Facility P2 Guide).
P2 methods can include such actions as equipment or technology modifications, process or procedure modifications, reformulation or redesign of products, substitution of raw materials, and improvements in housekeeping, maintenance, training, or inventory control.