Pollution Prevention (P2) Planning - The Basics

P2 Planning Fact Sheets


Pollution Prevention (P2) Planning - The Basics (PDF; 104 KB)

Pollution prevention should be an important part of the way business is done.

What is P2 Planning?

Pollution prevention (P2) planning is a process to examine current operations and develop a plan to eliminate or reduce pollution at the source. Reducing pollution can make a company more efficient. Pollution is often the result of process inefficiency, and can be thought of as raw material that is not becoming a marketable product.

A P2 Plan is similar to any other business plan. Management and staff need to have a clear understanding of why the plan is being implemented, what will be done, and who will do it. Such plans can target a specific pollutant, an entire production process, or the whole facility.

An Example of P2 in Action…

A commercial printer integrated P2 planning concepts by installing three new equipment systems for on-site recycling. This equipment enabled the facility to eliminate 90% of the hazardous waste generated that previously had to be hauled off-site for disposal. In addition, the company reduced water consumption by over a thousand tonnes and significantly reduced the quantities of chemicals and solvents that needed to be purchased. To help further minimize negative impacts of the chemicals used in the printing process, the printer established a green purchasing policy to exclusively use vegetable-based inks and ensured that any aqueous coatings purchased contained only 1% volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The new equipment installed in the pre-press and press areas was responsible for a source reduction of 39 000 litres of chemicals and solvents, a reduction in water consumption of approximately 1 117 000 litres, and the elimination of 18 tonnes of VOCs, on an annual basis. By continuing to operate as an Isopropyl Alcohol-free printer and using vegetable-based inks exclusively VOC emissions were further reduced by 3000 tonnes annually.

Getting Started

The P2 planning process can be broken down into 6 key steps.

6 Steps P2 Planning Process

Step 1: Commitment and Policy

This step sets the tone for company activities and practices, establishing P2 as a key part of how business is done. Start the process with a policy statement that summarizes the company's commitment to P2. This statement should be endorsed by the owner and distributed to all employees. Don't forget to assign a senior staff member to lead the P2 program.

Step 2: Baseline Review

A baseline review collects the information and builds the knowledge required to identify P2 options. Start by building a detailed profile of relevant production processes and all associated inputs, products and non-product outputs.

Quantify this profile, using materials accounting1 or materials mass balance2 to verify that all losses have been identified.

Step 3: Planning

Step 3 involves identifying P2 options based on information from the baseline review. Check out the The Nuts and Bolts of Pollution Prevention (P2) fact sheet for some ideas in this step. Key elements are identifying, evaluating, and ranking P2 options. Next, establish P2 targets and performance indicators. Evaluate options on the basis of technical feasibility, environmental and cost effectiveness, and other business considerations including facility security. Finally, select options, finalize targets, and schedule actions for implementation.

Step 4: Implementation

Implementing the P2 Plan requires a concerted effort by management and employees. Have one individual oversee implementation, with others having lead responsibilities for different P2 options. Such options could require changes to operating procedures, purchasing methods, or inventory control. Policies, procedures, and employee training may also be affected. Use training and incentive programs to help employees learn about new P2 procedures and equipment.

Step 5: Monitoring and Reporting

Don't stop now! P2 planning doesn't end with implementation. It is important to watch the performance of the plan, such as tracking performance indicators, costs, savings and progress toward meeting objectives and targets. Establish a means of sharing this information with all employees through reports to management or articles in the company newsletter. Successes can also be publicized in the local media.

Step 6: Review, Evaluation and Improvement

Pollution prevention should be an important part of the way business is done. Just like a business plan, the P2 Plan should be continuously improved to provide ongoing economic, human health and environmental benefits. Managers can review and evaluate program achievements on a regular basis to renew targets and objectives.

Build on the Momentum

Think of the P2 process as a continuous cycle with each step guiding the company towards developing and sustaining a successful P2 program. Based on experience, the P2 Plan should be renewed at regular intervals for continuous learning and improvement.

P2 Planning and Environmental Management Systems

Thumbs up to any facility with an environmental management system (EMS) in place! Pollution prevention can be integrated into an EMS. This practice can improve environmental performance, reduce duplication, and further support the objectives and targets established in the EMS. Refer to the Pollution Prevention Planning and Environmental Management Systems fact sheet for more information.

Want to know more?

Here are some additional sources of information about pollution prevention:

1. Pollution Prevention Planning Online Reporting Tool

This site contains valuable information such as:

  • Pollution Prevention Planning Handbook and model plan
  • Pollution Prevention Planning Fact Sheets

2. Canadian Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse (CPPIC)

An online P2 database and comprehensive resource that provides quick access to over 1800 relevant P2 resources including case studies, fact sheets, training manuals/guides, toolkits, Web sites, and much more.

3. Pollution Prevention Success Stories

A website showcasing over 100 success stories recognizing the P2 results achieved by companies, institutions, organizations, and facilities across Canada.

For further information, please contact

Environment Canada
Regulatory Innovation and Management Systems
c/o Innovative Measures Section351 St. Joseph Blvd.
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0H3
Phone: 819-994-0186
Fax: 819-953-7970
Email: LCPEPlansP2-CEPAP2Plans@ec.gc.ca


1Materials accounting, the keeping and verifying of records or statements of materials used in a process to provide a means of finding a general balance between the inputs and outputs of each separate substance.

2 Material(s) mass balance, a comparison of the inputs to and outputs from a process, usually written in equation form as “Mass/volume of inputs = Mass/volume of (outputs + non-product outputs)".