Waste Not, Want Not

Pollution Prevention program aims to stop waste before it starts


Waste not, want not.

As with most proverbs, the source of this little nugget is unknown, but regardless of its author, the maxim captures the intent of TCEQ’s Pollution Prevention program, aka P2.

P2 came into being following legislation enacted by Texas lawmakers more than 30 years ago. The legislation created the Waste Reduction Policy Act, which directs TCEQ to develop guidelines to reduce the volume and toxicity of hazardous waste produced by industry in Texas.

The program has helped companies find ways to reduce waste at its source, become more efficient, and save money. And, of course, P2 helps lessen the adverse effects of hazardous waste on public health and the natural environment.

That’s what’s known as a ‘win-win.’

Chris Leahy, TCEQ’s P2 coordinator, will participate in the University of Texas at Arlington’s outreach training event on Earth Day 2022. At the event, Chris will share some success stories and provide professional development tips for industry leaders.

Check out some case studies, organized by the agency’s industry partners, for examples of how P2 has made a difference.

Stop Before You Start

‘Source reduction’ – a term that basically means eliminating waste or pollution before it’s created – is at the heart of P2.

The program requires generators of hazardous waste, along with companies who submit information on pollutants they emit under the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory, to prepare a five-year Pollution Prevention Plan and submit an Executive Summary of the plan to TCEQ.

Per TCEQ guidelines, the plans must contain certain elements, including:

  • A list of all hazardous wastes and TRI chemicals
  • Activities that generate waste or chemicals
  • An explanation of P2 projects and implementation schedule
  • Measurable P2 goals
  • An employee awareness program

Certain facilities that are required to maintain P2 plans must also submit an annual progress report to track progress toward their goals. For the most part, TCEQ’s role is to offer technical support and guidance to help facilities with applicability, planning, and reporting requirements.

P2 initiatives come in all shapes and sizes. Here are a few other programs designed to aid in preventing pollution:

The Texas Clean Rivers Program, a partnership between TCEQ and regional water authorities, provides a forum for managing water quality issues in a more holistic manner. The program coordinates the efforts of diverse organizations within each of the state’s river basins, to improve the quality of surface water.

The Texas Clean Bus Program, one of several initiatives within TCEQ’s popular Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP), helps reduce diesel exhaust emissions from school buses.

The Electronics Recycling program, which provides assistance to those Texans who choose to recycle or donate used TVs, computers, rather than disposing them in landfills. (Bravo!)

The Resource Exchange Network for Eliminating Waste (RENEW), a cooperative effort between TCEQ and the Zero Waste Network, which provides a marketing channel for industries, businesses, and governmental units to sell surplus materials, byproducts, and wastes for reuse.

Learn more about P2 Programs.

Meantime, it’s worth remembering that what we preserve today will help preserve us tomorrow.


Photo Credit: John Cameron