Community Based Pollution Prevention for Two Urban Cities—A Case Study

Meegoda JN, Watts D, Hsieh H-N, Bezerra de Souza B. (2021). “Community Based Pollution Prevention for Two Urban Cities—A Case Study.” Clean Technologies 3(1),59-78. https://doi.org/10.3390/cleantechnol3010004

Abstract: Pollution prevention is an approach for generating less waste using fewer toxic chemicals while conserving water and energy. Even though pollution prevention practices have been encouraged for over thirty years, many smaller businesses have not considered or adopted such techniques. This study examines the effect of a community-based approach designed to emphasize the benefits to the health and economic well-being of urban communities when source reduction practices are implemented by businesses in the community. Partnering with existing community groups in Newark and Jersey City, NJ, technical assistance was provided to small and medium-sized businesses under grant funding from Region 2 of the US Environmental Protection Agency. In this research, 32 small and medium-sized businesses were evaluated for source reduction opportunities and implementation plans were drawn up. After these businesses implemented operational changes, emission and cost savings were determined and reported back to respective small business owners as well as to the communities during community meetings designed to encourage additional participation. Based on 32 case studies, several measurable benefits were achieved, including the yearly saving of 932 pounds of hazardous waste, 3917 pounds of non-hazardous waste, 13.62 metric tons of carbon equivalent (MTCE) of greenhouse gases and $5335 USD. The initial findings suggest that community-based programs such as this can be beneficial but must be sustained over a period of time. One issue that was repeatedly observed, and is likely widely believed, is the concern of small business operators that cooperation with any group funded by a government program may lead to the assessment of fines or penalties for environmental violations. This concern limits the willingness of many smaller businesses to participate. The findings of this study suggest that a sustained community-based program may overcome that concern through demonstration of the benefit to the business and the community, and through credibility building achieved by regular community reporting and the absence of official intervention. 

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