Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

June 17, 2005

Local Partners Needed for Pollution Prevention Project

A University of Guelph professor is enlisting local businesses for a project designed to both improve their balance sheets and help the environment.

The proposed five-year project headed by Nonita Yap of the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development will provide free consulting services in cleaner production and pollution prevention practices to small and mid-sized companies (fewer than 500 employees) in the manufacturing and service sectors.

She hopes to begin the project next year with about 10 partner companies willing to work with student interns trained to conduct waste audits and recommend ways to avoid or reduce wasted chemicals, water and energy. Up to 100 companies are ultimately expected to benefit from this project.

“We want to demonstrate that environmental practices and competitiveness can be compatible,” Yap said. She also hopes to learn how to encourage more companies to adopt pollution prevention techniques. “It’s a win-win. It will clean up the environment and improve your bottom line.”

Under the proposed project, she expects to hire a total of about 70 student interns during the next five years. She plans to submit a five-year, $1-million proposal to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for support. U of G researchers and industrial pollution prevention specialists at the Canadian Centre for Pollution Prevention — a partner in the proposal — will train and mentor undergraduate and graduate students to carry out waste audits.

Those students would come from the School of Engineering, where Yap is working with Profs. Warren Stiver, Dorothy Remmer and Khosrow Farahbakhsh. The project will also probably also involve students in environmental design and rural development, chemistry, economics, environmental sciences and the arts and science program.

Participating firms would be expected to designate staff to work with student interns and project researchers and provide pertinent information on inputs, processes, technologies and products.

Companies will receive written reports on waste sources, options for reducing waste and saving money, and hands-on staff training.
Small and mid-sized businesses need help to “green” their operations, said Linda Varangu, a senior adviser with the Canadian Centre for Pollution Prevention and project co-investigator.

“Small and mid-sized businesses do not have the time, expertise or resources to dedicate to what are often perceived as non-productive activities. They may not be aware of the environmental impacts of their operations. This project will not only help businesses recognize the potential problems but will also identify cost-effective solutions," Varangu said.

Yap added that such companies generate an estimated 50 to 70 per cent of industrial pollution and have attracted attention from governments considering more stringent rules on emissions of a growing list of toxic substances.

The project proposal has received support from various City of Guelph departments, business and labour groups, environmental organizations, and federal and provincial ministries. To get involved, contact Yap at (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56536, or

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rebecca Kendall, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982.

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