Introduction to Prevention, Information Clearinghouse, Information Transfer, University Outreach, and Technical Assistance
In 1993, the Virginia General Assembly adopted legislation that establishes a state policy to encourage pollution prevention and to minimize the transfer of waste from one environmental medium to another. One requirement of the 1993 law is for the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to establish a pollution prevention technical assistance program and to submit a evaluation report on this program to the Governor and the appropriate committees of the General Assembly yearly on December 1. The Office of Pollution Prevention (OPP), a non-regulatory, voluntary pollution prevention technical assistance program, was an existing program within the Department's Division of Policy and Research in 1993; the legislation helped to add focus to the existing program.
From 1990-1993, the primary activities of the Office involved the Interagency Multimedia Pollution Prevention project, the goal of which was to establish a cooperative pollution prevention effort between the former Department of Waste Management, Department of Air Pollution Control and State Water Control Board before they were consolidated into DEQ in 1993. Currently, OPP is working to identify opportunities that institutionalize incentives for voluntary pollution prevention within the Department's regulatory programs, in particular within permitting, inspections, and enforcement operations.
Technical assistance and marketing are at the core of the program. The Office offers clients customized research, and clients have direct access to engineering staff and other researchers for pollution prevention advice. Other activities include developing publications and other outreach materials, and conducting site visits to evaluate pollution prevention options. The central resource of the Office is an information clearinghouse that contains an extensive collection of fact sheets, case studies, hardcopy publications, videos, journals, consultant and vendor files, and other materials related to pollution prevention. In order to meet the demands of the diverse audiences served by the program, OPP uses a variety of information transfer techniques, primarily training, presentations and information products in motivating organizations to adopt pollution prevention strategies and to educate these groups on how to implement pollution prevention projects.
From January, 1993 through the end of October, 1994, OPP received 629 requests for information, or approximately 1.5 per day. Requests, which come in the form of both telephone and written inquiries, concerned OPP informational products (69%), questions that required significant research relating to pollution prevention in industry- specific settings (35%), and requests for EPA pollution prevention publications (30%). Response to the program, its staff and its services has been overwhelmingly positive, as evidenced by survey responses and other feedback. Clients have indicated in surveys that the need in Virginia for the types of outreach efforts undertaken by OPP continues and is growing, OPP "customer service" is excellent, industry needs assistance in understanding environmental regulations, and industry is very interested in financial assistance for pollution prevention, preferably in the form of tax relief for equipment purchases. Businesses, particularly manufacturers who are subject to an increasing number of costly environmental regulations, appreciate the dual goals of pollution prevention: promoting environmental quality and economic growth.
In early 1994, the Department created the Virginia Pollution Prevention Advisory Committee, a 23-member panel that consists of representatives from industry, education, environmental and public interest groups, and local, state and federal government organizations. This committee has advised OPP to maximize the voluntary technical assistance that is available, to integrate pollution prevention within the entire Department structure, to coordinate with EPA regarding federal voluntary pollution prevention programs, to continue investigating ways of removing regulatory barriers, and to keep the program broadly focused to include organizations other than manufacturers.
The Department has made significant progress in its pollution prevention efforts from 1993-1994. Building on activities that were initiated before the creation of DEQ in 1993, with Virginia pollution prevention legislation as a guide, the Office of Pollution Prevention plans to continue promoting voluntary pollution prevention efforts within the Commonwealth.
The Office of Pollution Prevention (OPP), originally called the Waste Minimization Program, was established in the fall of 1988 in the Office of Policy, Planning and Public Affairs, a non-regulatory branch of the former Department of Waste Management, as a free, voluntary pollution prevention technical assistance program. Basic program services, such as an information clearinghouse and technical assistance, were established in the initial years of the program.
During the period 1990-1993, the primary activities of the Office were those associated with the Interagency Multimedia Pollution Prevention (IMPP) project, funded under a grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The goal of the IMPP project was to establish a cooperative pollution prevention effort between the Department of Waste Management, the Department of Air Pollution Control and the State Water Control Board, formerly the three principal environmental regulatory agencies in Virginia before they were consolidated into the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in April, 1993.
Under the IMPP project, several industries were targeted for assistance, including ship building and repair, wood furniture manufacturing and commercial printing. Outreach efforts conducted under the IMPP project included workshops for ship repairers, a video for commercial printers and a manual/guide for wood furniture manufacturers, all of which were completed with assistance from trade associations and representatives of the industry. In addition to outreach to industry, the IMPP project team developed a one-day training workshop for staff of the three regulatory agencies, including personnel from the air, water and waste programs.
DEQ was created as the single environmental agency for Virginia in April, 1993. Since that time, the program integration and cooperation begun under the IMPP project has continued. OPP, as a non-regulatory program, is established as an office within the Policy and Research Division.
The core of OPP is an information clearinghouse that contains an extensive collection of fact sheets, case studies, hardcopy publications, videos, journals and other materials related to pollution prevention. The Office offers clients customized research, and clients have direct access to engineering staff and other researchers for advice. Consultant and vendor files, provided to program clients on demand, also are maintained.
The current staff of OPP consists of three full-time (manager, environmental engineer and marketing/sales representative) and three part-time (environmental engineer and two environmental program analysts) employees. Two general functions are at the core of the program: technical assistance and marketing. Activities include providing both telephone and written consultation, developing publications and other outreach materials, and conducting site visits to evaluate pollution prevention options.
During the past several years, OPP has found that targeted training, in the form of workshops, presentations and teleconferences, is an efficient and effective way of transferring pollution prevention information to a variety of audiences. OPP staff has made more than 35 presentations over the past two years to various audiences across Virginia. Topics addressed include a general pollution prevention overview, how to conduct a pollution prevention opportunity assessment, and pollution prevention techniques for particular industries.
One of the primary ways that OPP has promoted pollution prevention is through the production, marketing and distribution of information products. The purposes of these materials are to motivate organizations to adopt pollution prevention strategies and to educate these groups on how to implement pollution prevention projects. OPP has taken a very broad approach in developing informational materials and tries to tailor each item for its intended audience. For this reason, OPP has moved beyond the traditional report format to means such as videotapes, posters and newsletters.
In addition to the various informational materials produced by OPP, the Office also provides facility-based technical assistance services, primarily in the form of pollution prevention opportunity assessments. The assessment includes the identification and quantification of all waste streams; recommendations are prepared regarding pollution prevention options that could be implemented by the facility to prevent or reduce waste generation. Examples of the types of facilities visited in recent years include chemical, wood furniture, electronics, textile and metal components manufacturers.
OPP has initiated an effort to identify opportunities to institutionalize incentives for voluntary pollution prevention within the Department's regulatory programs. Areas targeted by this effort include the traditional regulatory functions of permitting, inspections and enforcement. To guide the effort, the Department developed an implementation plan in 1994. The plan is intended to identify a process for assessing current pollution prevention activities and to guide future efforts.
The Office functions as the focal point for pollution prevention activities within Virginia. OPP staff members coordinate their efforts with other organizations, such as universities and trade associations. To assist the Department in implementing pollution prevention, an advisory committee consisting of representatives of industry, government, and citizen groups was established in 1993.
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Last Updated: October 11, 1995