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Industrial Pollution Prevention Trends in New Jersey
December 1996 - Michael Aucott - Debra Wachspress - Jeanne Herb

The Legislature, by enacting the Pollution Prevention Act, intended to shift the focus of environmental regulation away from controlling pollution after it is created through end of the pipe technologies, to preventing its creation in the first place. This is both a more safe and cost effective way to manage potential sources of pollution. To this end, the Act requires about 700 facilities in New Jersey that use or generate the largest quantities of hazardous substances to develop Pollution Prevention Plans, maintain copies of the Plans at their facilities, and submit Plan Summaries to the Department. The Act establishes very specific and detailed requirements governing the planning process and the content of the Plans. The Plans must carefully document the use and generation of hazardous substances from each major production process within a facility, establish pollution prevention goals (e.g. reduce hazardous substance use and/or generation by 50% over five years), and identify pollution prevention strategies or practices that will achieve the goals. Some pollution prevention strategies and practices include: substituting a less or non-hazardous substance for a hazardous substance used in a production process; changing the design of a product; changing the equipment or the process of making a product; improving the operation and maintenance of existing production processes; and recycling hazardous substances within a production process. Plans must be revised every five years. Facilities are also required to submit annual updates to the NJDEP summarizing progress toward meeting its pollution prevention goals, including reporting information about hazardous substance use and generation for the previous year. Facilities covered by the Act are not required to implement the Plans they develop. In making the planning mandatory and the implementation voluntary, the pollution prevention regulations assumed that the economic benefits of implementation would become apparent and facilities would voluntarily implement them. Also, voluntary implementation would not discourage facilities from establishing ambitious goals.

To understand pollution prevention, it is necessary to understand the concept of nonproduct output. The Act adopted this term as a key measure of pollution prevention. The Act defines nonproduct output as all "hazardous substances or hazardous wastes that are generated prior to storage, recycling, treatment, control, or disposal and that are not intended for use as a product." Simply put, nonproduct output are all hazardous substances associated with a production process that are not product. Hazardous substances that are nonproduct outputs are subsequently recycled or treated and may arrive at a final destination as water pollutants, air contaminants, hazardous wastes, or fugitive emissions. Since nonproduct output measures hazardous substances before the substances are treated and recycled, it is a measure of losses of a hazardous materials of a production process. To this extent, nonproduct output serves as an estimated measure of the chemical efficiency of a production processes (i.e. more efficient processes have less nonproduct output losses per unit of product).

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Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2003
Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: November 22, 2005